Inexperienced QuarterBack Makes Defending Super Bowl Champs Home Underdogs

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The Denver Broncos will begin defense of their Super Bowl title on Thursday night against Cam Newton and a Carolina Panthers team they shut down in a 24-10 victory last February. But without future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning under center, the Broncos sit as three-point home underdogs against the Panthers.

Replacing Manning is former third-stringer Trevor Siemian, who won the starting job over rookie Paxton Lynch and veteran Mark Sanchez in the preseason. You can certainly argue Denver would be favored by three points or more had Manning returned rather than retired after winning his second Super Bowl. Instead, the uncertainty revolving around how Siemian will perform puts the Broncos in a tough spot even though it was their defense that carried them in their most recent win over Carolina.

Denver has won four of the past five meetings with the Panthers straight up and is also an impressive 25-4 SU in its last 29 home games. The key for the Broncos will again be their ability to put pressure on Carolina quarterback Newton, who struggled mightily in Super Bowl 50 when his team came up short and was upset as 4.5-point chalk. Newton did not have wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin available all of last year due to a torn ACL, and he may make a big difference in the passing game as a large target.

The Panthers had won five straight games versus AFC foes prior to losing the Super Bowl and finished last season with an NFL-best 15-1 record. They have won eight in a row both SU and against the spread when favored by three points or less and will obviously be playing with revenge in mind here following that disappointing defeat in the big game.

Because Siemian will be making his first career start, bettors can expect Carolina head coach Ron Rivera to put major pressure on him defensively in an effort to disrupt Denver’s offense. However, Rivera’s defense will be without top cornerback Josh Norman, who was traded to the Washington Redskins in the offseason.

While the public enjoys wagering on nationally televised games to go over the total, this looks to be a low-scoring affair based on betting trends. The under has cashed in the previous four regular-season openers for the Panthers along with four of the past five meetings with the Broncos. In addition, the under is 5-0 in Denver’s last five games after consecutive wins. The closing total on Super Bowl 50 was 43 and easily finished under.

 

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