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By Sharon Thorsland

Carolina Panthers v Baltimore Ravens

What goes around, comes around. For the Panthers, that means they’re back to Sam Darnold at quarterback as they take on the 3-7 Denver Broncos on Sunday. Darnold is the third quarterback to start for the team this season, and the hope is he can get their stagnant offense moving. That won’t be easy against an excellent Broncos defense that ranks third in the league in total defense, passing defense and points allowed, and is number one in red zone defense. Meanwhile the Panthers offense is next to last in the league picking up just 287 yards a game. Can Darnold kick start that? “You know, I think the biggest thing for me is playing consistent and taking what they give me,” said Darnold. “I’m excited to go out there and do what I can to help this team win.”

Darnold will have his hands full with the Broncos secondary that features elite young cornerback Pat Surtain and a pair of excellent safeties in Kareem Jackson and All-Pro Justin Simmons. Star edge rusher Bradley Chubb was traded to Miami but the front seven still has plenty of talent, including former Clemson defensive end DeShawn Williams and Dre’Mont Jones he leads the team with 5.5 sacks. The Broncos allow nearly 5 yards per rush though, and the Panthers are hoping to get their run game going after D’Onta Foreman was held to just 24 yards last week.

The Broncos offense is nowhere near as good as its defense, in spite of having Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm. The longtime Seattle signal caller hasn’t been able to spark a stagnant offense that is managing just 14.7 points per game, that’s worst in the NFL. Wilson has just seven passing touchdowns on the season with five interceptions, and he’s been sacked 32 times. But those numbers aren’t fooling the Panthers. “Russell to me is still effective,” said coach Steve Wilks. “He is a winner in my opinion, he finds a way to get it done.” The Broncos run game has not been getting it done – they’re averaging just 102 yards per game on the ground, that’s 25th in the league. After parting ways with fumble prone back Melvin Gordon last week, the Broncos are left with Pro Bowler Latavious Murray to carry the load.

This is a great week for the Panthers to get back on track. The Broncos offense is struggling just as much if not more than the Panthers, and now they’re without their leading rusher. History is not on their side, though – the Broncos lead the all-time series 6-1. The Panthers would no doubt like to flip that script around and head into their bye week with a win.