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But, today is the day.
Let's get on with it.
There are two major storylines surrounding this game, both surrounding the quarterbacks: the current MVP, versus the record holder for the most MVPs in NFL history (five!!!). There are many rumblings that no matter the outcome, this will be the final game of Peyton Manning's career. I actually share this opinion, which adds an extra layer of intrigue to what is obviously the biggest game of the season. The career of one of the greatest players in the history of the NFL is coming to a close, and this game will decide a lot about how he's remembered. He'll either continue the Peyton Manning who "can't win the big one," or, a guy with two Super Bowl rings, despite the fact that a win today will not be aided much by Manning's play.
Under center on the other side, this game could cap off the Year of Cam with a bang, a day after securing the MVP award. Newton has been carrying this offense on his back all year, still scoring the most points per game in the NFL, despite lacking a true number one receiver. I'm also not the biggest Jonathan Stewart fan in the world, so the fact that Greg Olsen is the only truly great weapon on a team that scores over thirty points a game is truly a testament to Carolina's defense and quarterbacking.
Speaking of defense, this game features the two best defenses in the league, led by dominant pass rushes. Obviously, one of these quarterbacks is more equipped to avoid the rush with his feet, while Manning is notorious for releasing the ball quickly enough to avoid his pursuers, so a lot of this game will be decided by how the offensive lines can handle the opposing pass rushes.
The Panthers are the better team, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they'll win. However, I think that they will. They have absolutely bowled over some great teams this season, and while I don't think this game will be a blowout, I can't pick against the Panthers.
Broncos (+5) over PANTHERS.
Panthers 24, Broncos 21
Last Week: 1-1