NFL Week One: Five things to watch including Panthers @ Broncos preview

Can Cam Newton get a handle on the Denver defense this time?
Can Cam Newton get a handle on the Denver defense this time?

The NFL is back and resident US Sports fan Neil Monnery is here to preview the Thursday night game between Denver and Carolina and take a look at the other big stories for the week...

"Dallas may have lost their starting QB for 6-10 weeks but Minnesota have lost theirs for the season and possibly for good. Desperate times need desperate measures but trading a first round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for a player they didn't even want? Wow. Just wow."

Carolina Panthers @ Denver Broncos

Friday, 01:30 GMT
Live on Sky Sports 1


As is now custom, the defending champs get the honour of opening up the new season in a Thursday night special. This year the NFL have decided the best match-up for this game is a repeat of Super Bowl 50. So in come the wounded Panthers, who are busy sulking that they have to open up on the road even though they won the NFC. Go cry me a river Carolina.

Denver go into this game with an obvious change at quarter-back. Peyton Manning will not be suited up and Brock Osweiler has left town. This has led to seventh round pick and Northwestern's own Trevor Siemian getting the nod. He will become the first quarterback in NFL history to start the season opener for the defending Super Bowl champion without having thrown an NFL pass. It doesn't fill me with confidence but all he has to do is not suck and he'll keep his team in the game.

The Panthers had everything going for them in February but an arrogance and lack of game planning led to their dismantling. I don't expect them to make the same mistake again. They've seen the film, they know what is coming from the Denver D. They are going to try and overload the Carolina o-line and confuse Cam Newton whilst the excellent defensive backs will play one-on-one with the wide receivers.

I tipped Denver to repeat as Champs earlier this week based on the markets value of them even though personally I'm really worried. It takes a special team not to have a dip in concentration after winning a title, we've seen that in many sports. I do think this defense though will still light it up and whilst I'm not putting my worldly wealth on it, I've picking Denver straight up at 2.526/4 on the Exchange.


Can Dallas survive another Tony Romo absence?


Can Tony Romo not catch a break? Another bone in his back broken and another two months on the sidelines. Just how many mirrors has he broken whilst black cats were crossing his path? Rookie Dak Prescott will get the call and unlike the plethora of players the Cowboys trotted out in Romo's absence last season, I think this kid actually has something about him. I saw him a fair bit at Mississippi State and he's a player. The big question is can he keep the Cowboys head above water whilst waiting for Romo and I truly believe that they can.


For Dallas read Minnesota and for Tony Romo, read Sam Bradford


Dallas may have lost their starting QB for 6-10 weeks but Minnesota have lost theirs for the season and possibly for good. Desperate times need desperate measures but trading a first round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for a player they didn't even want? Wow. Just wow.

Sam Bradford is rolling into town but guess what? He won't even be the starting QB this week! Shaun Hill will suit up with his ten touchdown passes in the past five years. Minnesota are still in the mix thanks to a legit D and of course they have the best running back in football but you don't want to lose in Week 1 at Tennessee, that would concern me a lot.


Who needs Tom Brady anyway...?


The New England Patriots do. THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS DO! Sadly he's on an enforced four game sabbatical, so we get to see what Jimmy Garoppolo can do. It is never a great thing for any team when I have to double check the spelling because the player hasn't done anything yet. I have incredible faith that the Patriots will always be competitive as long as Brady and Belichick are in tandem, heck even the year the Golden Boy got hurt, Matt Cassel led them to a 11-5 season.

They open in the Sunday night game in Arizona and it is a genuine marquee match-up. I need to see whether Garoppolo can deal with a great Arizona team and whether the Patriots can keep their heads above water whilst they await for #12 to ride back on to the field.


I need to see what all the Packers hype is about...


My colleague Romilly Evans says that the Packers are his pick to win the Super Bowl. I'm extremely sceptical so I'm very excited that their game on Sunday will be live on television over here. I'm genuinely excited to see Jordy Nelson back. He's a class act who is Aaron Rodgers' comfort blanket.

I'm less interested in seeing Eddie Lacy, who has always been a bit over-hyped for me. Running Backs coming out of the University of Alabama always seem to fail to live up to their hype and it'll need a lot for me to warm up to him. This game though should be terrific.


A bet from every game mentioned in this column...


1pt Back Denver to win straight up in Carolina @ Denver at 2.526/4 on the Exchange
2pt Back over 48.5 points in Dallas @ NY Giants on the alternative total points line at 5/4 on the Sportsbook
1pt Back under 37.5 points in Minnesota @ Tennessee on the alternative total points line at 13/10 on the Sportsbook
2pt Back over 51.5 points in New England @ Arizona on the alternative total points line at 27/20 on the Sportsbook
3pt Back over 51.5 points in Green Bay @ Jacksonville on the alternative total points line at 11/8 on the Sportsbook

Romilly Evans and Neil Harvey will be here later in the week with a tip sheet for all the Sunday games in the early and late window along with betting preview for Sunday and Monday nights games

Neil Monnery NFL P/L 2015 Season

Staked - 226pts
Returned - 311.15pts
P&L - +85.15pts

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