Before every Denver Broncos game this year, the MHH staff will predict the final score and explain the reasoning behind their prognostications.
First up, we've got the Week 1 season opener against the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. The Broncos begin their defense of Super Bowl 50 led by seventh-rounder Trevor Siemian and the return of the league's best defense. Let's see what everyone thinks.
Khalid Alshami (@KhalidHAlshami)
Denver trots out a new offensive line surrounded with plenty of questions. The quarterback tasked with taking the reins initially had a very uneven preseason and was a seventh round selection for a reason. Carolina starts an inexperienced corner tandem, which should help Siemian in his first start. They return the majority of their offense with Kelvin Benjamin returning healthy this season as well. In the end, I don't think Denver does enough on offense to win this game despite a stellar defensive performance.
Broncos 19, Panthers 20
Josh Carney (@JCarney_Sports)
The Panthers have a new starting cornerback tandem tasked with trying to cover Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to start the season. That's never good, especially for a road team. Although Denver starts a relatively new offensive line and a new quarterback, Gary Kubiak is a master at simplifying things for quarterbacks (see Schaub, Matt and Flacco, Joe). Carolina will likely load the box to try and stop C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker, but Trevor Siemian will be able to do just enough offensively while the great Denver D adds a score of its own.
Broncos 24, Panthers 16
Chad Jensen (@ChadNJensen)
This game carries an inordinate amount of pressure for a season opener. The Broncos have so many question marks and balls in the air. It's probably going to take a few weeks to iron out the kinks on offense, and get this team firing on all cylinders. The Panthers had an unimpressive preseason but that doesn't mean much. They'll come to Denver hungry for revenge. This time around, Cam Newton eeks out a narrow victory.
Broncos 17, Panthers 20
Will Keys (@WillKeys6)
Trev will come out guns-a-blazin' in his glorious debut and attack the Carolina's rookie corners to the tune of over 200 yards and a pair of scores. On defense, Denver will allow the Panthers a little more success than they did in February as Cam finally uses his legs, but a defensive touchdown makes the difference. Also, for what it's worth, the Broncos are 6-0 in home prime-time games over the last two years. I say they make it seven.
Broncos 27, Panthers 23
Luc Polglaze (@LucPolglaze)
I think Denver will have to settle for a couple field goals. I don't see this offense fully clicking just yet. It's going to come down to if the cornerbacks can win their battles on the perimeter with these giant receivers that Carolina has. Another aspect that people aren't really talking about is Denver has struggled historically to defend against tight ends, and Greg Olsen is a top-three tight end in this league.
Broncos 20, Panthers 27
Ray Roybal (@RoybalSportTalk)
Bold prediction: Chris Harris, Jr comes away with two interceptions, while Demaryius Thomas hauls in two scores. Siemian finishes the night with 275 yards, two TDs and one interception.
Broncos 20, Panthers 13
Adam Uribes (@auribes37)
The offense sputters, but does just enough to turn good field position given to them by the Denver D to get points on the board. Cam once again is hurried, but gets the Panthers on a last minute drive that Denver foils as time expires.
Broncos 20, Panthers 17
There you have it. 4-3 in the Broncos favor. The average score was Broncos 20, Panthers 19. Check in every week to see whose predictions are most accurate throughout the season.
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Will Keys is an Editor for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.