Week 1 NFL Picks - Expert Final Thoughts On Panthers vs Broncos Season Opener

Denver Broncos bench looks happy

Thursday, September 8, 2016 2:59 PM GMT

The NFL 2016 Season is finally here! As the clock winds down to the first game of the season between Panthers and Broncos in a Super Bowl rematch our capper provides his NFL picks and predictions

Are you ready for some Football? You better be, as the 2016/17 NFL Kickoff Opener from Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver will be on your TV before you know it as the defending Super Bowl Champions Denver Broncos host Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night in a Super Bowl 50 rematch and the first game of the NFL's Regular Season. So, let's hop back into The Lab after a spectacular 17-3 weekend of picks here at Sportsbook Review in all sports (NFL, NCAAF, MLS) and see if we can keep the Money Train moving forward with a passel full o' picks for our NFL readership.

Panthers vs Broncos
The defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos start the post-Peyton Manning Era with Trevor Siemian getting his first Regular Season start for the hosts as they welcome Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to Sports Authority Field in Denver on Thursday night for a Super Bowl rematch and the 2016/17 NFL Kickoff opener.

Current Odds at Offshore sportsbooks have the visiting Panthers favored in a 3 to 3½-point range with the Total Points in this game now ranging from a low 41½ to 42.

In the Money Line marketplace, the Panthers are priced at -178 with the host Broncos lined at a high of +160 on the takeback and this is a game Denver can win, even with a new starting QB in there. The Denver Broncos Total Team Points is at 19 while the Carolina Panthers Total Team Points is at 22, while the First Half Total is 21 while heading into Week 1, the Broncos Regular Season Win Total sits at 9½ while the Panthers Regular Season Team Win Total is currently at 10½.

Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers Lifetime Series Final Scores

2016—Broncos 24 Panthers 10 (CAR -4½) Total Points Scored: 34 (Under, 43½)—Super Bowl 50 @ Glendale, AZ

2012—Broncos 36 @ Panthers 14 (DEN -3½) Total Points Scored: 50 (Over, 46½)

2008—@ Panthers 30 Broncos 10 (CAR -7½) Total Points Scored: 40 (Under, 48)

2004—@ Broncos 20 Panthers 17 (DEN -5) Points Scored: 37 (Under, 37½) (@ Invesco Field)

1997—@Broncos 34 Panthers 0 (DEN -7) Points Scored: 34 (Under, 41) (@ Mile High Stadium)

>Broncos leads series 4-1-0 SU, Denver 3-2-0 ATS

Thoughts On The Total
This number—which opened at 44—has been trickling down on Under money early this week and now, there are only a couple of 42's left in the Offshore market, so if you plan on betting the Under, best do so now and shop around. With Denver and 2nd-year Head Coach Gary Kubiak (10-7-2 ATS) breaking in a new QB here in 24-year-old Northwestern-product Trevor Siemian and the Broncos strong tendency to play 1st Quarter Unders last season, expect this one to get off to a sluggish start with the visiting Panthers looking to try to get something going against one of the two toughest Defenses in the NFL and trying to keep the crowd out of it which will be a near impossibility with the Crowd knowing its importance here. The Broncos last actual real coming in the Super Bowl against this very same Carolina side which could only muster 10 points in an environment seemingly much more conducive to Cam Newton and the Cats putting up a bunch of points in this particular spot and we all remember how Newton reacted when that loose football was on the turf late in Super Bowl 50. Winning football is not for the timid.

Why Take the Denver Broncos on Money Line?
The Broncos seem worth plays both plus the 3 or 3½ points as well as on the Money Line on Thursday Night Football in NFL Week 1 for a bunch of seemingly simple reasons. Here's why...

1—This is the NFL Kickoff Opener, the Broncos first Regular Season game at Home this year and all eyes of the football world will be on this storied AFC franchise which will certainly not want to start the Regular Season off with a nasty Loss to a team from the Southeast it just disposed of in professional football's biggest game last February. Expect Denver to look to try to establish its Rushing attack early to try to take some Pressure off learning QB Siemian meaning that RBs CJ Anderson and Utah Rookie Devontae Booker should get the bulk of the carries with Ronnie Hillman having been released over the weekend. Denver just doesn't lose much at Home and with Head Coach Kubiak giving its 1st Round Pick (#26) and Memphis Rookie Paxton Lynch a full game in a QB in Preseason Week 4 in Denver's 38-17 loss to the Cardinals in Arizona last Thursday, no matter who ends up becoming the Broncos starting QB—Siemian or Lynch—will be in a good spot with former a former Broncos QB as his HC and another former Broncos QB and NFL legend as the team's GM.

2—The Altitude. Denver is used to playing and breathing Oxygen at 5,280 feet above Sea Level whereas the Panthers—who haven't played here in The Mile High City since 2004 and at Invesco Field—will be in a strange, hostile and unfamiliar setting and are used to playing at 571 feet of Altitude in Charlotte. No matter how much an opponent prepares for the Altitude and the Crowd in Denver, it's still worse than they thought once the game gets going. Way worse.

3—The Body Clock Time Difference and Travel. The Panthers will be flying 1,563 miles westward and will be playing two Time Zones later (EDT to MDT) and with a scheduled Kickoff Time of 8:30 p.m. EST, that means it will seem late to the visitors from The Tar Heel State and with NFL games lasting around 3 hours, it will be almost Midnight for the Body Clocks of Carolina who probably aren't pushed until Midnight in practices by Head Coach Ron Rivera in the Queen City. A little advantage, but a distinct Site advantage nonetheless here.

4—Taking Denver and WRs Demaryius Thomas, Jordan Norwood, Cody Latimer and TE Virgil Green seems safer in this unique spot than hoping than backing Carolina. This one should be very close throughout and the potential absence of Broncos star WR Emmanuel Sanders—still a contract holdout at press time—is also a good thing for the Over and should let Panthers DBs focus more on star WR Thomas.

5—The Broncos Defense. Denver had the best Defense in the NFL last season behind Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller and we all know the old adage 'Defense win Championships' as Denver just proved. Backing the hosts here by searching sportsbooks and finding a 3½ in the current market as well as backing Denver on the Money Line seems to be the wisest approaches.

Thursday Night Football Trends and How Could This Week 1 NFL Opener Actually End Up Playing Out?
The Thursday Night Football Trends see Denver be an impressive 7-3 SU and 7-3 ATS with the Broncos going a stellar 7-1 ATS in their L8 Thursday night games while Carolina is just 1-4 SU and 1-4 ATS on Thursday Night Football, so this one could end up playing out an awful lot like last year's Super Bowl. Newton and the Panthers are 7-1 ATS in their L8 games on Grass but those games were against much lesser opponents and usually at Home in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium where this NFC South team is slowly creating its own very nice Home-field edge. But maybe the most impressive niche Trend here that the Super Bowl loser is a pathetic 2-14 ATS the L16 years in their first game (12.5%). Not good. Then toss in the fact this is in Denver and it really seems that the original Broncos -1 sent out as the opener here in April seems closer to what should be the real Point Spread here. The Over is 12-5-1 in the L18 Panthers games overall and the Over is 12-5 in the L17 Panthers' Road games, but with the Broncos Defense being so strong and the Crowd and Site providing such a huge advantage, fading Carolina—which was only 3-4 ATS on the Road last season—seems like the logical thing to do here. And the Broncos +10 seems to provide a nice 7-point Teaser element with so many other great games on the NFL Week 1 betting board. So, it's the Horses over the Black Cats in the Rocky Mountains on Thursday night.

Thursday Night Football Prediction: Broncos 20 Panthers 16
NFL Week 1 Predictions: Broncos +3 at Heritage, Broncos Money Line +150 at Bovada, Under 41.5 at 5Dimes

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