Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers get another shot at the Denver Broncos, seeking revenge on the national stage as the NFL opens its 2016 regular season. It’s Panthers at Broncos to kick it all off.
This will be a different spin on a Super Bowl rematch, however, considering Peyton Manning has since retired and Josh Norman now plays for the Washington Redskins.
That’s two key members from last year’s conference winning rosters… gone.
So, who wins the NFL’s debut game on Thursday Night Football?
Pick Your Knows: Panthers at Broncos
LINE: Carolina (-3) at Denver
Cam Newton is all smiles heading into the opener and there has to be a fire in his belly and a desire to win this game, especially after every negative moment that the world witnessed during last year’s Super Bowl 50 post-game interview.
As for Denver, most of us couldn’t even spell “Trevor Siemian” if we were quizzed on short notice. But the new Broncos starting QB is taking the front stage and making his NFL debut.
Siemian certainly has weapons to throw to, with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas at his disposal. Then again, a ferocious Carolina defense is likely to lead to hiccups and misreads. The key will be if Siemian can take advantage of two youthful corners starting in the Carolina secondary.
Cam Newton has the big-bodied Kelvin Benjamin back, who will be another massive target alongside of the always productive Greg Olsen.
Both defenses will be strong, likely leading to multiple turnovers on either side. The weapons are also there in each team’s passing game.
So, who wins?
Carolina head coach Ron Rivera is a defensive mind that will have his young corners ready and in the end, this game comes down to quarterback play, where it’s hard to pick against the more seasoned Newton, who has revenge on his mind and an extra hop in his step.
KP’s Pick: Panthers 24, Broncos 17
THE WIFE also picks the Panthers, but has no comment as to why.
Pick Your Knows: NFL Week 1 Picks
For the sake of time, I’ll be posting the rest of my Week 1 picks here. Next week, look out for a more elaborate and creative full-week “Pick Your Knows” segment.
Oh, and just in case you couldn’t figure it out, my pick against the spread is highlighted in GREEN.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) at Atlanta Falcons
There has been a lot of chatter surrounding the continued growth and maturity of Jameis Winston. This should be a tight game throughout.
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Tennessee Titans
Momentum in Minnesota was derailed when Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season, although a deal for Sam Bradford has cautious hope. Don’t be afraid to stick with Minny, despite Shaun Hill starting under center. The Vikes have a solid ‘D’.
Cleveland Browns (+4) at Philadelphia Eagles
This one is almost certain to draw a record television audience (yes, that’s your sarcasm meter tipping off the charts). Do we really think that Carson Wentz isn’t going to take a whole lot of lumps in his first game?
Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) at New York Jets
The Jets surprised a lot of people last season, but this is a well-rounded Cincinnati team and let’s face it, this is the regular season where the Bengals actually play well.
Oakland Raiders (+1) at New Orleans Saints
Everyone has a major crush on the Raiders this season. Sure, they may take the next step, but this is still Drew Brees and the Saints at home.
San Diego Chargers (+7) at Kansas City Chiefs
I think San Diego’s offense will be improved now that they are healthy and have Travis Benjamin to help stretch out the field.
Buffalo Bills (+3) at Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are healthy and there are just too many Ryan’s on the other side of the field.
Chicago Bears (+6.5) at Houston Texans
Houston made the biggest splash in the offseason and now it’s time to see how that one-two punch of Osweiler and Miller will perform.
Green Bay Packers (-5.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags should give Green Bay a fight, but the Pack is healthy. In Jordy we trust.
Miami Dolphins (+10.5) at Seattle Seahawks
It’s hard to pick against the 12th man. Real hard.
New York Giants (-1) at Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott will soon see how tough the NFL really is.
Detroit Lions (+4) at Indianapolis Colts
If you like offense, tune into this game.
New England Patriots (+6) at Arizona Cardinals
I changed this pick last minute and have a feeling I may pay for it, because… well, Belichick. But with Gronk and Brady both out, I’m taking the Cards at home.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at Washington Redskins
I think this game comes down to whether we see the 2015 second-half version of Kirk Cousins or not. Pittsburgh will score, but can the Redskins keep up?
Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at San Francisco 49ers
No one is giving Chip Kelly’s new team a chance and in fact, most of this game’s focus is likely to be on the National Anthem.
Happy football, everyone!