Broncos plus 4 at Panthers 

Down Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore plus possible defensive starters due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the 4-8 Panthers have no business being this high of a favorite. 

Denver also is 4-8, but the Broncos showed last week they are still fighting hard covering against the Chiefs in a 22-16 road defeat. 

The Broncos are minus their two top cornerbacks with A.J. Bouye suspended and Bryce Callahan out with a foot injury. They also are down injured cornerback Essang Bassey, who was drawing playing time covering the opponent’s slot receiver. But I trust defensive guru Vic Fangio to put together a solid game plan. 

All is not lost for Fangio in the secondary as the Broncos have a pair of talented safeties – Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson – and defensive end Shelby Harris is back healthy to bolster the Broncos’ defensive line. 

The key is Drew Lock, who has been a turnover machine. If Lock doesn’t turn the ball over, I like Denver’s chances of winning straight-up. What I appreciate about Lock is he looks to extend plays and will take downfield shots, something meticulous, short-passing Teddy Bridgewater rarely does. 

This is only the third time Carolina has been favored this season. They lost both times straight-up in that role by seven points at home to the Bears and by eight points to the Falcons at home. 

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