Walt over at www.walterfootball.com has thrown down the gauntlet for the Broncos this week. I had been arguing my case for the Broncos with him earlier this week. I warned him not to bet too much money on the Panthers covering their spread...ouch, he is going to be hurting with this pick! By all accounts, the Panthers should win big...but they won't and it appears only us familiar with this years' Bronco team understands why. I almost feel bad for Walt, but I did warn him. lol
The following was linked from http://walterfootball.com/freenflpicks2008_15late.php
Denver Broncos (8-5) at Carolina Panthers (10-3)
Line: Panthers by 7.5. Total: 47.5.
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 14): Panthers -6.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 14): Panthers -7.
Sunday, 4:15 ET - Buy Tickets
The Game. Edge: Panthers.
Injuries: Broncos: OUT: QB Patrick Ramsey (IR), RB Peyton Hillis (IR), RB Michael Pittman (IR), RB Andre Hall (IR), TE Nate Jackson (IR), OT Erik Pears, C Tom Nalen (IR), OLB Boss Bailey (IR). Panthers: OUT: LB Dan Connor (IR).
DENVER OFFENSE: The Broncos are one of the more erratic teams in the NFL. How do you explain winning at Atlanta, losing at home to the Raiders, clobbering the Jets on the road and then barely beating Kansas City in successive weeks? It really doesn't make much sense.
Or does it? Here's how I see it: Denver can beat anyone because of its terrific offense. But the team can also lose to anyone because of its abysmal defense.
The Broncos should be able to light up the scoreboard in Carolina. If you watched the Monday night game, you saw that Jeff Garcia was able to go deep on the Panthers a few times. Garcia going deep...? That hasn't happened in years!
Cutler should be able to dissect Carolina's secondary, which will open up some lanes for whomever the running back is. The Broncos should seriously do what the NCAA Football video game does and call their backs "RB #34" or whatever. They keep going down with injuries, so I think it would be cheaper to have a few set jersey numbers available for these guys.
CAROLINA OFFENSE: Getting back to Denver's problem, the Panthers will steamroll the Broncos. Getting Jeff Otah in the draft basically gave Carolina two upgrades up front because it allowed Travelle Wharton to move inside, where he has simply been dominant this year.
If the Panthers were able to rush for 301 yards against the Buccaneers, imagine what they'll do against Denver's 30th-ranked rush defense. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart could both eclipse the century mark again, setting up easy throws for the inconsistent Jake Delhomme.
Carolina's ability to cover could depend on whether or not Delhomme makes crucial errors. Given that he'll have plenty of time in the pocket (Denver has 23 sacks this year), I can't imagine him having a terrible game.
RECAP: As mentioned below, I'm not sure how much this game means to Denver. All they need is one win or a San Diego loss in these last three weeks to clinch the AFC West. There's actually a good chance that could happen by kickoff (I have the Chiefs beating the Chargers.) Carolina, meanwhile, is chasing homefield advantage.
I like the Panthers' energy coming off a big Monday night victory. Teams coming off Monday night blowouts tend to play pretty well the following week (check out the section of the site if you don't believe me.) On the other hand, I don't like Denver's energy level right now. They could still be flat off their huge upset victory at the Meadowlands two weeks ago. These things tend to linger. Just ask the Jets and Redskins.
The Psychology. Edge: Panthers.
The Broncos barely have anything to play for. In the next three weeks, they either need one win OR one loss by San Diego to clinch the AFC West. There's no desperation here. Plus, Denver could still be a bit flat from putting so much energy into that Jets victory. Carolina, meanwhile, will build off the momentum it established with a blowout win on Monday night. Remember, the Panthers have a lot to play for because they'll capture homefield advantage if they win out.
The Vegas. Edge: Broncos.
I thought more people would be on the Carolina bandwagon. Apparently not.
The Trends. Edge: Panthers.
Week 15 NFL Pick: Panthers 41, Broncos 27
Panthers -7.5 (4 Units)
Over 47.5 (1 Unit)
As you can see, I was right about the rest of the world slobbering all over the Panthers this week. The stats really do belie reality in this situation. It's not always the case, but people outside of Broncoland just don't understand this Bronco team. On paper they "have nothing to play for", but in reality the Bronco players have everything to play for. The Bronco players have publically stated they feel slighted by the media and what better way to prove yourself than against the Falcons...or Jets...or Panthers? Our team is a young football team, which goes a long way to explain flat performances against lesser teams. They get cocky and go out expecting win without playing very hard against teams like the Raiders or Chiefs.
However, they have proven time and again that when they face a team they are expected to lose too this Broncos team comes out and smashes people in the mouth. I think Walt is dead wrong in his analysis, but his analysis is in line with the rest of the nation right now as it was when the Broncos went into New Jersey and when they went into Atlanta in recent weeks. As I said earlier, I almost feel sorry for Walt betting 4 units on the 7.5 point spread.
I would like to point out also that I like Walt. I think he is a smart dude and I respect his opinion. I just think he got this game all wrong. ;-)
Besides, we have OWNED the 4th quarter in recent weeks:
|New York Jets||7||7||3||0||17|
|Kansas City Chiefs||10||7||0||0||17|
I'll even go a step further and say the Broncos have owned the SECOND HALF in recent weeks. Offensively and Defensively. In their four wins, the Broncos have outscored their opponents 58-30 in the second half and 45-14 in the fourth quarter. The Panthers are not head and shoulders above all of these teams listed, in fact, they recently lost IN Atlanta 45-28. The Panthers better beware come Sunday!