The Peyton Show is on the road this week as the (5-3) Denver Broncos go into Carolina to take on Cam Newton and the (2-6) Panthers. On paper, this game doesn’t appear to be close as the Broncos have been rolling lately, with Peyton Manning coming back to MVP form. It also brings former Panthers head coach John Fox back to take on his former team for the first time since being canned two years ago.
The key to victory for Carolina is simple – keep Peyton off the field. If Newton and the offense are moving the ball and scoring touchdowns and not field goals, they will make this game interesting. The running game will be key for the Panthers, and they showed flashes of the power running game last week against the Redskins. Personnel wise, Carolina’s running game matches well against anyone. The difference will lie in the hands (or legs) of Cam Newton’s ability to pick up third down plays. If he does, the Panthers can be successful.
Brandon Lafell’s status still remains unclear, which means that Steve Smith will have to do whatever he can to get open and move the chains. It will be a tough assignment, since he will drawn the attention of All-Pro corner Champ Bailey. This means that tight end Greg Olsen MUST step up and have a big game.
On the Broncos side, the offense has been rolling into juggernaut form, and against a porous defense it is more than reasonable to expect a huge game from all members of the Denver offense.
Manning has shown good chemistry with Eric Decker, who had a pair of touchdowns last weekend against the Bengals. My prediction is that he hauls in 8 catches for 100ish and a score. On the other side, I would bank on Demaryius Thomas to have a big game as well. The physical Georgia Tech product WILL score a TD this week, and will stretch the field allowing Manning to pick apart the D.
With all the receiving weapons Denver has, it makes you forget that Manning also has Willis McGahee at his disposal running the ball! I don’t think Willis will put up a huge game, but he will be his consistent self and will most likely punch one in from the goal line. I would say 70-85 yards and a TD is a good expectation for him.
Denver wins this game – Carolina puts some pressure on them early
Fantasy studs: Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Johnathan Stewart,
Sleeper: Greg Olsen, Matt Prater