After picking the Panthers correctly each of the past five weeks -- I am sort of the anti-Sorensen in this respect -- the pressure is on. Here are my thoughts on Sunday's Denver-Carolina game, with the pick at the bottom.
** Denver is nothing if not entertaining. The Broncos can score from anywhere – and also give up scores from anywhere. Only four teams in the league give up more than the 25.8 points per game that the Broncos allow.
** Underestimating Denver would be a huge mistake. QB Jay Cutler has one of the strongest arms you’ll see. And watch No.15. WR Brandon Marshall is Denver’s version of Steve Smith and once caught 18 passes in a single game this season.
** Incidentally, there are only two active NFL players with the last name of Marshall – Brandon and Panthers’ nickel CB Richard Marshall. They should face off at least a few times today as part of the Panthers’ – wait for it – Marshall Plan.
** Look for a relatively high-scoring game that will make the NFL glad it moved this game to a later start. Denver’s defense is ranked 28th overall. I’d be surprised if DeAngelo Williams doesn’t have yet another 100-yard game with at least one TD, and Jonathan Stewart may join him on those plateaus, too.
** This could be a “trap” game for the Panthers, who are coming off a short week and face a game with huge playoff implications Dec.21 at the New York Giants. But I think Carolina will take advantage of Denver's weak defense just enough. My prediction: Carolina 30, Denver 24.