Carolina 20 @ Denver 23: Seven months ago, these two teams met on a neutral field with a diminished Peyton Manning at the helm of Broncos, and the Denver defense overwhelmed Carolina on its way to a Super Bowl title. Trevor Siemian replaces Manning at QB for Denver, Josh Norman exits the Panthers' secondary, but a lot about the teams remains the same from that meeting in Santa Clara. The majority of the so-called experts that I've heard appear to be dismissing any chance that 1) Denver can defeat the Panthers tonight and 2) the Broncos even make a run at the playoffs. Did I miss some cosmic shift in the rotation of the earth that would create such changes in gravitational pull to alter the laws of football in the Panthers' favor? True, Siemian has never thrown an NFL pass or even played a meaningful down. But Manning was barely functional, at least from a physical sense, by the time the Super Bowl rolled around last season. The defense that totally manhandled Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is largely intact and the offensive line that they ran through and around is pretty much the same one that led the Panthers to a 17 - 1 record prior to the Super Bowl. John Elway and Gary Kubiak, both former quarterbacks who are extremely knowledgeable of the position seem confident that Siemian can do he job, at least well enough for the offense to complement the still potent defense well enough for the Broncos to continue winning. Additionally, the game is being played in Denver, not at a neutral site where neither team is at a disadvantage relative to the crowd. And Carolina is still considered the favorite? I just love when momentum and fashionability get in the way of logic. I also heard a number of prognosticators picking Carolina to either win or at least get to the Super Bowl. No loser has even reached the Super Bowl the following year since Buffalo did it three times in the 1990's, much less win one, last accomplished by the Miami Dolphins in 1973. So I guess I'm not understanding this immense optimism for a Carolina victory tonight. I'm taking the Broncos. My first college weekend was 32 - 0 shutout, so we'll see if I can continue the unbeaten streak in the NFL.
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at email@example.com.