Now that things have settled down a bit after the draft, let’s get back to looking ahead at the Broncos 2012 schedule. We will continue to take a game-by-game look at the season that the team has in front of them.
The Broncos hit their third road game in four weeks when they travel to the land of John Fox. The team heads to Carolina for Fox’s first game against his old team. The Panthers finished 6-10 last season, a marked improvement from their 2-12 season the year before.
The last time the Broncos and Panthers met was in December 2008 when the Panthers beat the Broncos 30-10 in Carolina. Owner Jerry Richardson found out before the game that he needed a heart transplant and coach Fox asked how he could help. Fox guided the team to wins in their last four of five games of the season.
The Panthers have some star power on offense with Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, and Steve Smith. Last season,their offense was ranked 6th (25.4 points per game), their run game was 3rd, and their pass game was 13th.
If their defense kept pace, they could have made a dent in the playoffs. They ranked 27th on defense allowing 26.8 points per game. Their rush defense was 25th and their pass defense was 24th.
The Panthers made a big splash in free agency when they re-signed Steve Smith to a three-year deal and then signed RB Mike Tolbert to add depth to their already deadly backfield.
The Panthers picked up seven new players in the draft, and really got great value all over the board. Their draft was highlighted by first round selection (9th overall) linebacker Luke Kuechly out of Boston College. This kid is a great athlete and will make an immediate impact on the side of the ball that needs the most help.
Early Prediction: Broncos – 24 Panthers – 21 in overtime. The Panthers are a team quickly on the rise, and they will give the Broncos a serious run for their money. However, John Fox knows player tendencies and his game preparation will prevail.
Panthers Leaders in 2011:
Cam Newton – 310-for-517 (60.0%), 4,051 passing yards, 21 TDs, 17 INTs, 14 rushing TDs
DeAngelo Williams – 836 yards (52.3 per game), 7 TDs, 0 fumbles
Steve Smith – 79 receptions, 1,394 yards, 7 TDs, 0 fumbles
James Anderson – 145 tackles
Sherrod Martin, Chris Gamble – 3 INT each
Charles Johnson – 9 sacks