As expected, the two QBs have dominated headlines for much of the season. However, the content of those stories has been very different.
Manning's Broncos are 5-3, and their recent three-game winning streak has the folks at Mile High thinking Super Bowl. The sure-fire Hall of Famer, who missed the entire 2011 season after multiple neck surgeries, is leading the league with a career-high 69.5 percent completion percentage.
He's also thrown three touchdowns in each of his last five games. During that stretch, the Broncos are 4-1 and averaging over 31 points per game.
Meanwhile, Newton's Panthers are 2-6, and last week's eight-point victory over the Washington Redskins was their first win since September 16. Newton is completing just 57 percent of his passes, and he's thrown more interceptions (eight) than touchdowns (six).
Last week, the second-year player did show some flashes of what made him so successful as a rookie. He threw for 201 yards and a touchdown, ran for another score and didn't commit a turnover for the first time since Week 5.
If Newton can put together a similar performance this week, the Panthers will have a chance to pull off the upset.
Here is all the vital information you need for Sunday's showdown.
When: Sunday, November 11 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
TV: CBS (check local listings)
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Spread Info: Broncos -4.5 (via Bovada)
Panthers (via ESPN as of Friday, Nov. 9)
Charles Johnson—DE, Probable
Dwan Edwards—DT, Probable
Thomas Davis—LB, Probable
Mike Tolbert—FB, Probable
Broncos (via ESPN as of Friday, Nov. 9)
Eric Decker—WR, Probable
Demaryius Thomas—WR, Probable
Fantasy Big Plays
Panthers: Cam Newton, QB
Newton had a solid game last week against Washington, putting up 238 total yards and two touchdowns, while throwing zero interceptions. If he can build on that positive momentum, he will start to provide fantasy owners with the contributions they were expecting at the beginning of the season.
Newton hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in consecutive games since Weeks 1 and 2, but I expect that to change on Sunday. Look for him to find Steve Smith for several big plays while trying to keep up with Manning in a shootout.
Projected Stats: 17-of-30 for 255 yards, two touchdowns and one interception; six carries for 40 yards.
Broncos: Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, WRs
Assuming they play, both Broncos wide receivers should put up big numbers on Sunday.
Over the last five games, Thomas is fourth in the league with 94.5 receiving yards per game, while Decker has caught seven touchdown passes. Both players are benefiting from Manning's MVP-caliber season, and they should continue to rake in points for fantasy owners.
Projected Stats: Decker: seven catches for 91 yards and one touchdown; Thomas: seven catches for 114 yards and one touchdown.
Key to Victory: Turnovers
Like many NFL games, this one will be decided by turnovers. The Panthers are an incredible 7-1 when Newton doesn't turn the ball over. In order to treat the home fans to a victory on Sunday, they'll need a nearly flawless performance from their young QB.
The Panthers have the worst record in the NFC, but with their talent level, they're capable of beating anyone. Unfortunately, I don't see them coming away with their second upset victory in a row.
Manning is simply playing at too high of a level, and I don't expect Newton and the Panthers offense to be able to keep up. This one will be competitive, but eventually Manning and the Broncos will prevail.
Final Score: Broncos 27, Panthers 17
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