Sunday, February 7, 2016
If You're Betting on the Broncos Be Prepared for a Loss
Okay, I admit that my team, the Green Bay Packers, is not in the Super Bowl - having been bested by Arizona in the Divisional Round. But hey, they did deliver a good spanking to the upstart Washington Redskins! Now, the only team left to root for - a sentimental favorite and the team of my niece, Vanessa - is the Denver Broncos. But then there is that task mistress called "reality".
The Vegas line is now Carolina by 5 1/2 and I don't see it getting better for Denver.
I have looked at both rosters and the match ups and simply don't see any advantages for the Broncos, despite sporting the putative No. 1 defense in the NFL (and we've all heard the old saw of how "the defense win championships"). Well, maybe not in this case.
The Carolina D is relentless and though ranked 6th to Denver's 1st, they will have a mostly healthy crew with the exception of LB Thomas Davis. Davis, recall, broke his right forearm in the AZ game and soon after had surgery with 12 screws and a plate inserted into the arm. He will wear a protective brace Sunday.
I at first believed he'd hurt his team more than help it, but watching NFL HQ yesterday a.m. with a report from the Panthers' training, he evidently has had sterling performances in practice - including knocking lots of balls down with his left hand. In addition, Jared Allen - always a tough competitor - will be ready to play. (He gave Aaron Rodgers and the Pack fits when he played for the Vikings and Bears.)
The only hope for the Denver O is big Demaryius Thomas and that assumes he can get into space and more importantly catch the damned ball. As he will be likely going up against the best corner in the NFL, Josh Norman, I give his chances at slim and none. But to grab the first odds he will need to avoid getting into a trash talking match with Norman. (Recall Norman caused O'Dell Beckham's head to blow in the Giant's game and he lost it - being ejected and fined.)
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos D will have to tame Cam Newton, a QB the size of most defensive tackles who can run, jump for TDs, and pass as mightily as any in the game. Even Von Miller - who may be charged with trying to get this guy down - won't have as easy a time as he did with Tom 'the crybaby' Brady. (He suggested he ought to be awarded two sacks for every one of Cam).
A bigger problem awaits the Denver Secondary, namely the two safeties Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward. Both are injured (sprained right knee for Ward, Stewart with an ankle injury) and its hard to see how they can keep pace with Cam Newton's favored target - TE Greg Olsen. And if the Panthers' running game gets going, watch out! It could make for a long time of possession wearing out the Denver D and ultimately leading to collapse.
Peyton and the Broncos will likely make a game of it for at least a quarter, maybe more, but I wouldn't bet on more than that. However, if they can keep the scoring low - and maybe no more than a two score difference by the end of the 3rd quarter (say Carolina 20, Denver 10) they might have chance.
I just think by then it's more likely to be Carolina 35 Denver 10.
I could be wrong, and for Vanessa's and Peyton Manning's sake - so he can ride out into the sunset with a 'W' on his "last rodeo"- I hope I am.
Well, it turned out that the Denver D did get its mojo on and a consistent pass rush of such virulent proportions that "Superman" Cam Newton (named NFL MVP the night before) was sacked 7 times, tying a record. Von Miller had two of those sacks and rec'd the game's MVP. Even though the Denver O played a very pedestrian game (194 yards for Peyton who had only a 56.4 QB rating) it still eclipsed the Carolina O which fell flat in the biggest game of the year.
So much for the on paper comparisons. As one wit once said: "Ya still have to go out and play the game". Indeed. At least everyone in the Denver area is now happy, including my niece Vanessa, and there will be no wife beating in the Mile High City tonight. In Charlotte? Well, who can say?