Here's the requisite Bill Simmons take (omg bill simmonz sux!!! he hates the broncos!!!):
PANTHERS (+4.5) over Broncos
John Fox's emotional return to Carolina! (What? It's not emotional at all? Not even a little? My bad.) A couple of things to remember about this one …
• The Panthers haven't played a bad game since their memorable Thursday-night stinker against the Giants that briefly turned everyone against Cam Newton and led to people frantically selling his rookie cards on eBay like the Dukes selling their oranges stock at the end of Trading Places.2 Their last five games: two-point loss in Atlanta; four-point loss to Seattle; five-point loss to Dallas; one-point loss to Chicago; eight-point win at Washington. And in all four losses, they had the ball with the chance to win in the final few minutes. This isn't your typical 2-6 team just like Baltimore isn't your typical 6-2 team and the Knicks aren't going to finish 82-0.
• If the Broncos beat Carolina, that would give them a four-game win streak with the following games looming: home for Fraudulent San Diego … at Nobody Will Be There Because Everyone Will Be So Bitter and Angry Kansas City … home for Dangerously Dangerous Tampa … at Stinky Oakland (Thursday night) … at Doing It With Mirrors Baltimore … home for About to Fire Their Coach Cleveland … home for Soul-Suckingly Crappy Kansas City. They're really going to run the slate and win 11 straight with The Artist Formerly Known As the Noodle? Come on. My upset special: Carolina 33, Denver 30.
(Win or lose, we can't allow Sunday's game to distract from Peyton Manning's brilliant move a few weeks ago of purchasing 21 Papa John's restaurants in Colorado right before the state legalized marijuana. What a comeback for Peyton! Remember when the Broncos were 2-3 and I was still making Mr. Noodle jokes? Now he's an MVP candidate AND a future billionaire.)