Broncos at Panthers -- Week 10

Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C. (grass, outdoors)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)

Spread: Broncos by 4

Forecast: Sunny; projected kickoff temperature: high in the 60s.

Records: Broncos (Overall: 5-3, AFC West: 2-0); Panthers (Overall: 2-6, NFC South: 1-2)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Dec. 14, 2008: Panthers 30, Broncos 10; Oct. 10, 2004: Broncos 20, Panthers 17. Series record: Broncos hold a 2-1 edge.

What matters: The Panthers broke though in Washington last week. The offense showed a balance between run and pass, while the defense kept the Redskins under control and Carolina snapped a five-game losing streak. The Panthers had been falling just short in previous games. “We’re making progress,” coach Ron Rivera said, “but it’s hard to talk about progress when you’re not winning.”  Now, Carolina faces former coach Mike Fox and a reborn Peyton Manning.

Who matters: After missing last year with a neck injury thought to be career-threatening, Manning had a string of five straight 300-yard passing games snapped when he threw for 291 in Cincinnati in Week 9. The Panthers are second in the league in sacks, led by defensive ends Charles Johnson (7.5) and Greg Hardy (6.5).

Key matchup: Manning against cornerback Josh Norman. Peyton said he talked to brother Eli for a scouting report on Carolina. The Giants quarterback targeted the rookie most of the evening in a 36-7 blowout in Week 3.  

Injuries of note: The Panthers had several players sit out practice early in the week, including LT Jordan Gross, G/C Geoff Hangartner, DE Charles Johnson and LB Thomas Davis.  All returned to practice by Thursday. DE Antwan Applewhite (hamstring) was the only one still out.  For Denver, CB Tracy Porter has missed practice with an illness.

Inside stuff: Manning’s 2,404 yards passing through eight games would have led the Panthers team in three of Fox’s final four seasons as coach. His 20 touchdown passes already this year would have led Carolina in seven of Fox’s nine seasons.  

Connections: Fox coached the Panthers for nine years, from 2002 to 2010, including Carolina’s only trip to the Super Bowl, in 2003. Several Denver assistants also worked for Fox in Carolina, including Jack Del Rio, Mike McCoy, Jeff Rodgers, Sam Garnes, Dave Magazu, Ron Milus, Richard Smith, Eric Studesville, and Tyke Tolbert.  

Stat you should know: Manning has five straight games with at least three touchdown passes for the first time since 2004.  Cam Newton has two touchdown passes since the start of October.

Record watch: The Panthers have never beaten a former coach. They lost to Dom Capers and the Houston Texans, 14-10, in 2003 the only time they’ve faced one.

Bulletin board quote: “It’s the most important game, because it’s the next one … it’ll be just like any other week.” -- Broncos coach John Fox downplaying his return to Carolina  

Looking ahead: Both teams have home rematches against divisional foes. The Panthers face Tampa Bay, who beat them in the season opener. The Broncos play San Diego after winning the first meeting 35-24 in Week 6.

Prediction: Broncos 28, Panthers 14

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Carolina Panthers from blogger Shawn Krest, follow @CBSPanthers.