All we have heard from the Carolina Panthers this week leading up to the season opener with Denver is this is NOT a Super Bowl rematch.
They are right.
When the time runs out, the NFL will not bring out the Lombardi Trophy and award it to the winner. The winner will just get 1 win in their column and the loser will get a L in their column. That's it. Nothing more.
BUT, does this game mean something more to the Panthers in their souls? I believe it does.
Sure they want to get the W and start 1-0, but a win over the team that ended their dream season will be great for the psyche of this team.
While a loss wouldn't be the end of the world, it might be something that could be the beginning of a potential bad season. Consider this for a second.
Denver will be starting Trevor Siemian at QB. Later today, he will throw his first ever pass in the NFL against the great Panthers defense. A QB with no real game experience getting the start against a defense that could be one of the best in the NFL.
You see that and instantly have to think that Denver has no shot. Hold on and consider this too...
Peyton Manning was only 13 of 23 passing in the Super Bowl for 141 yards and 1 INT and the Broncos still won. In other words, Siemian doesn't have to do much because the Denver D is just that good. And last I checked, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller still plays for the Broncos. You remember him right? The Panthers offensive line and Cam Newton certainly do.
So a small warning here. Let's all guard against overconfidence in this one. Sure I was one who thought Denver had no shot in the Super Bowl until after the 1st quarter and UH OH!
This is the NFL and any team can beat any team on any given game day.
The Panthers have questions too especially at cornerback where 2 rookies (James Bradberry and Daryl Worley) will get the start.
Expect the Broncos to try to attack those young guys early and put them right in the fire-- even with Siemian at the starting QB spot.
I believe this is going to be a good game and a great way to kickoff the 2016 season for the NFL and most importantly the Carolina Panthers.
I think Cam Newton is going to have an outstanding game. The reigning NFL MVP wants to get the bad taste out of his mouth from that Sunday in February in Santa Clara and put it on Denver and I think he will tonight if he and the Panthers offense can do one huge thing.
A key to watch for tonight is can the Panthers keep 3rd down manageable? The Panthers were 3 for 15 on 3rd down efficiency in the Super Bowl. That is not good. They were 3rd and 8 or more 12 times and only converted 1. It is a must to keep it 3rd and short if they want to have success tonight. If it is 3rd and long, it is an obvious passing down and that will let guys like Miller and Demarcus Ware pin their ears back and get after Cam.
With that said, I'm predicting a Panthers win over the Broncos 24-14.
Let's put the ball on the tee and kick this thing off. Pro football is back folks.