24 hours later and once again I'm changing my mind about the game.
Right after the Steelers game I was satisfied in having a good season and just glad they made to the big game against New England which would probably be a loss. A few hours later, I started believing the wrong team was favored. When I looked into the numbers and history of the Patriots, I saw that Denver had a full half-yard per play differential advantage. I also noticed that New England hasn't done very well in Denver or in ANY playoff road game. Yards per play is HUGE. I first noticed this back in '97 against the Packers when nobody gave the Broncos a shot. They had the advantage in yardage per play differential: Formula = (Total Yardage per play on offense - minus - total yards per play given up on defense. )
Carolina has had a very easy schedule - under .500 cumulatively. They barely hung on against Seattle. Would Denver's defense give up 24 points so easily at home? I don't think so.
When you look at the results, Carolina looks so much more dominant overall, especially on offense, but the statistics tell a different story. The Broncos actually hold a .4 yardage per play differential advantage. The reason for the advantage is that the Broncos defense has been that much better despite a somewhat anemic offense, and they've done it against a much more difficult schedule. Carolina is hot right now and it is reasonable for them to be the favorite, but I'm not counting the Broncos out. And the more people who say they don't have a shot, the more I start to believe they do.