Broncos vs. Panthers: 5 questions with Panthers Wire
Ahead of the Denver Broncos’ showdown with the Carolina Panthers, we asked Anthony Rizzuti of Panthers Wire five questions about his team and Sunday’s matchup. Check out our questions and Anthony’s answers below!
Do you think naming Sam Darnold the starter was the right move for the Broncos?
I do believe the Panthers and interim head coach Steve Wilks were essentially cornered into this move—and not necessarily in a powerless way.
For one, they’ve just about reached the end of their rope with Baker Mayfield—who turned in yet another underwhelming performance in Week 11. With their loss to the Baltimore Ravens, one where they held Lamar Jackson and company to just 13 points, Carolina moved to 1-5 in six uninspiring starts under Mayfield.
On top of that, PJ Walker—who seems to have caught on as Wilks’ favorite—is still dealing with a high-ankle sprain and won’t be available on Sunday. So, at 3-8 with a horrid passing offense, why not see what Darnold can give you?
Does Carolina have any glaring weaknesses Denver might be able to exploit this week?
Ah, that’s one heck of a segue we have here, Jon. We can start with that anemic Panthers passing “attack.”
Sadly for Carolina, they’ve had one just game this season where their quarterback pieced together a 300-yard passing game—and they needed nearly a full overtime period in Atlanta for that. Whether it’s been with Mayfield or Walker, the Panthers haven’t been able to establish any sort of vertical threat in 2022—which has made their offense painfully one-dimensional.
It’s even turned wide receiver DJ Moore, who’s made a living off of playing with bad quarterbacks, into a dud. He’s hit the 70-yard receiving mark just once all year and didn’t pass 30 in any of the last three outings.
And although this isn’t a particularly great week for Denver to focus on their ground game, Carolina’s defense has wilted tremendously against the run quite a few times. They’ve allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game (137.0) and are just a few weeks off of letting Joe Mixon and the Cincinnati Bengals run them into oblivion.
Any there any under-the-radar Panthers players who Broncos fans should be aware of this week?
While Moore has struggled to produce, the Panthers do have a bit of a breakout brewing at the wideout position with Terrace Marshall Jr.
A mixture of injuries and a lack of opportunities have hampered the 2021 second-rounder’s career thus far. Up until Week 5, he only had 12 more receptions than he did inactive nods.
But over his last four games, he’s amassed a team-high 259 receiving yards. If Darnold takes some shots downfield, Marshall Jr. will likely be on the end of a few of them.
You get to go back in time to the 2021 NFL draft: Do you pick Jaycee Horn or Pat Surtain?
Oh, I’d probably pick quarterback Justin Fields. But if we’re limited to just these two incredibly talented studs, I won’t put up much of a fuss.
Horn and Surtain are turning out to be slam-dunk selections. Coming into the NFL—they both had the talent, the skill, the size, the pedigree and the dog teams look for in a prototypical No. 1 corner. A few years from now, we could be talking about them (along with New York’s Sauce Gardner) as the very best this position has to offer.
While you can’t go wrong with either, I’ll stay in the good graces of the Carolina folk and side with their guy in Horn—who’s allowed the lowest passer rating against (31.3) amongst all starting cornerbacks in 2022.
What's your prediction for Sunday -- who wins and why?
I feel as though we must warn fans that this’ll be a matchup of the two most broken offenses in the league. So brace yourselves, everyone, and make sure you can hold down those Thanksgiving leftovers if you’re watching.
And apologies for siding with the Panthers again (not a homer—I promise), but I do believe they’re packing more of a punch than the Broncos are at the moment. Look for this to be a battle of the backfields—and if that’s the case, it’s D’Onta Foreman and Carolina in a close, old-fashioned battle.I feel as though we must warn fans that this’ll be a matchup of the two most broken offenses in the league. So brace yourselves, everyone, and make sure you can hold down those Thanksgiving leftovers if you’re watching.
And apologies for siding with the Panthers again (not a homer—I promise), but I do believe they’re packing more of a punch than the Broncos are at the moment. Look for this to be a battle of the backfields—and if that’s the case, it’s D’Onta Foreman and Carolina in a close, old-fashioned battle.