Panthers, Patriots picked to win

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The Panthers not only disappointed folks in the Carolinas with their Super Bowl performance in February, they also let down Pro Picks. With a chance for a winning record for the 2015 season, we went with Cam Newton and Co. over the Broncos. So we got run over by Von Miller, too.

Now here we go again: Panthers vs. Broncos to open the 2016 schedule Thursday night. And call us stubborn, stupid or whatever, we're right back on the Panthers (No. 1 in AP Pro32), who are 1-point favorites.

Here's why.

While Denver's defense still will approach all-world, the offense is in the hands of an untested second-year quarterback, Trevor Siemian. Against Carolina's solid D featuring as good a set of linebackers as the NFL has, the Broncos (No. 6 AP Pro32) aren't likely to find the end zone much.

Nor will the Panthers, but Cam Newton, last year's MVP, believes he has a lot to prove after that mediocre Super Bowl. Prove it he will in the kickoff game.

PANTHERS, 21-16

KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP

Pro Picks struggled throughout 2015 with such selections. With a fresh start, the choice is KANSAS CITY.

No. 25 Miami (plus 7) at No. 4 Seattle

Seahawks looking to avoid slow starts that sometimes plague them. Good chance here.

BEST BET: SEAHAWKS 24, DOLPHINS 10

No. 17 New York Giants (plus 3 1-2) at No. 22 Dallas

Someone explain this Romo-less line to us. Two also-rans from last year, but Giants are improved on D.

UPSET SPECIAL: GIANTS, 20-13

No. 5 New England (plus 5) at No. 2 Arizona

So if Jimmy G goes 4-0 as Brady's replacement, does Tom Terrific become a backup?

PATRIOTS, 23-20

No. 30 San Diego (plus 6 1-2) at No. 8 (tie) Kansas City

A healthy Chiefs team will be a tough out all season. But KC isn't real healthy now. Still ...

CHIEFS, 26-16

No. 3 Green Bay (minus 4 1-2) at No. 18 Jacksonville

Lots of folks like the Jaguars' promise. Packers delay any fulfillment of it.

PACKERS, 27-24

No. 7 Pittsburgh (minus 3) at No. 11 Washington, Monday night

Could be a fun shootout in prime time. Steelers have more weapons.

STEELERS, 33-28

No. 21 Buffalo (plus 2 1-2) at No. 14 Baltimore

Rex's banged-up defense still shows some improvement.

BILLS, 17-16

No. 20 Tampa Bay (plus 3) at No. 19 Atlanta

It won't be Atlantans doing tomahawk chop Sunday, it will be former Seminole Jameis Winston.

BUCCANEERS, 27-20

No. 29 Chicago (plus 5) at No. 12 Houston

Texans have their QB in Osweiler, but will they have an effective J.J. Watt?

TEXANS, 20-13

No. 13 Oakland (plus 2) at No. 24 New Orleans

Big Easy has become too easy a place for visiting teams to win.

RAIDERS, 30-27

No. 8 (tie) Cincinnati (minus 1) at No. 15 New York Jets

It's not a playoff game, so Cincinnati isn't the Bungles yet.

BENGALS, 19-16

No. 10 Minnesota (minus 3 1-2) at No. 27 Tennessee

Hill or Bradford? Tempted to take Titans. But Adrian Peterson swings the pick.

VIKINGS, 20-17

No. 23 Detroit (plus 5) at No. 16 Indianapolis

Not expecting much out of either team this season.

LIONS, 22-21

No. 26 Los Angeles (minus 2) at No. 31 San Francisco, Monday night

If Rams are to make any noise in first year back in Hollywood, they need big opening scene.

RAMS, 19-16

No. 32 Cleveland (plus 4) at No. 28 Philadelphia

A mismatch in the NBA and MLB, but almost a toss-up in NFL.

EAGLES, 14-13

2015 RECORD: Against spread (126-126-7). Straight up:(162-105)

Best Bet: 8-10-1 against spread, 11-8 straight up.

Upset special: 9-9 against spread, 6-12 straight up.


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