Trevor Siemian has the unenviable task of replacing Peyton Manning as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. No, he’s not replacing 55-touchdowns Peyton Manning, but he is replacing Super Bowl-winner Peyton Manning – and he’s doing it against the Carolina Panthers.

What can we expect out of Siemian on Thursday night?

“I don’t think it’s so much as replacing Peyton Manning; it’s more about facing the Carolina defense – and it’s a real good defense led by Kuechly in the middle,” Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “So obviously his focus is on the Panthers tonight, but in the back of his mind, all the media are talking about, ‘Who is this guy? Where did he come from? And he’s replacing the great Peyton Manning?’ But in his mind, all that is really secondary to what he has in front of him – and what he has in front of him is very big. After what happened in the Super Bowl last year, that’s fresh on the minds of the Panthers, and it’s tremendous motivation for them.”

Indeed, Cam Newton hopes to avenge Carolina’s loss in Super Bowl 50, a game in which Newton failed to score a single touchdown and was criticized for not diving on a fumble in the fourth quarter.

Newton will try to redeem himself against an ultra-talented Denver defense, which will be no easy task.

“Well, if he didn’t have as much talent as he has, it would be very difficult,” Fouts said. “But he is so talented both throwing the ball and running the ball that in his mind he can just rely on that and put what happened last year behind him – because you have to. You can’t go back and change it. As you know, you got to go to the next step in your career. He’s a young quarterback. He’ll learn from obviously the game itself. Hopefully the coaches will have a better game plan on how to protect him and keep Von Miller away, but the big thing for Newton is getting off to a good start and not dwelling on what has happened in the past.”

Elsewhere in the AFC West, a lot of analysts believe the Oakland Raiders will make the playoffs this season, but Fouts isn’t ready to make that leap just yet.

“I am buying their offense, but I’m not ready to buy the defense,” he said. “Khalil Mack is a superstar in waiting. He’ll be able to do some good things for the Raiders, but they’re still a little suspect (in their secondary). So going against Drew Brees. in the Superdome, that’s a tough order for Oakland. They have a brutal schedule. Brutal as far as the travel is concerned. They’ve got to go to Mexico City, there’s a short week on a Thursday night – so there’s a couple of things there that are against the Raiders. But they are a team to keep your eye on, especially if they can improve the defense.”


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