Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning.
The Broncos signal caller was solid yet again completing 27-of-38 passes for 301 yards and one touchdown. His offensive line was very impressive and gave Manning all kinds of time to find Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker among others downfield.
Whenever the Panthers defense would show one look to the Broncos, Manning would audible to the perfect play and find the open hole in the defense. Manning was effective with no help by his running game, which finished with just 65 total yards.
The Panthers defensive line this week - non-existent.
After back-to-back weeks of having a consistent pass-rush from defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, the Panthers defensive line against the Broncos was for the most part a no-show.
Give credit to the Broncos offensive line, but also to the coaches from Denver for having a short to immediate passing game that allowed Manning to get rid of the ball quickly and effectively. Greg Hardy was able to strip-sack Manning in the third quarter, but take that play out and the defense did not get the performance out of this unit that they expected.
The Panthers offensive line cannot protect Newton.
Cam Newton was pressured all afternoon and was unable to step up in the pocket and deliver the football to his receivers with any kind of velocity or accuracy. He took numerous hits from the Broncos' defensive line and linebackers and late in the second half it even looked like he may have been injured. When he did have time, he held onto the ball too long and took some bad sacks. In the third quarter, Newton threw an awful pass falling to the ground which was intercepted by Tony Carter which was returned for a touchdown. The poor protection, Newton's bad decisions and the wide receivers unable to get open against the Broncos corners factored into the loss for Carolina.
The offensive gameplan just cannot come together for the Panthers.
After starting the game with a traditional running game that saw Jonathan Stewart gash the Broncos for big gains and lead to a Greg Olsen touchdown; the Panthers went away from it. Why? Beats me, but the Panthers went back to their read-option running style which found some success, but not nearly enough to sustain drives. The Panthers find themselves in so many third-and-longs because of a lack of running game on first and second, and when they do complete a pass for a third down conversion, they get flagged for holding or something self-inflicted.
Good teams find ways to score.
There was nearly identical offensive numbers from the Broncos and Panthers with rushing yards and passing yards in the first half of this game, but the difference was the Broncos being able to consistently put points on the board. Manning threw a touchdown, Prater kicked field goals and the Broncos defense also got into the action with a pick-six of Cam Newton. The Panthers find themselves in the red zone a handful of times, but their drives stall there many times. Whether its the playcalling or failure to execute the Panthers struggle mightily at scoring. The Broncos do not.
Buccaneers @ Panthers, 1 p.m. FOX
Chargers @ Broncos, 4:25 p.m. CBS