Avoiding The Trap

This week’s game has all the makings of a classic trap game. The Carolina Panthers, at 3-1, are coming into the game as the favorite against the struggling Kansas City Chiefs. The problem is, Kansas City isn’t as bad as their 1-3 record shows.

We all know the big stories from last week; Carolina’s pass game found it’s rhythm, the run game is finding moderate success with its split back attack of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, and the defense is playing beautifully. But as good as that is, the penalties (11-90 yards) last week could be a huge problem if they resurface this week.

To win this game, Carolina is going to have to play a near-perfect game. With Jordan Gross out and Jeff Otah doubtful, the offensive line is going to be weakened against a defense that has only managed to record 3 sacks all season. The key to the game is to start strong with the rush and compliment with the pass.

Ranking 30th in rush defense (176.5 yards a game), J-Stew and D-Will should be able to find ample running room, enough to match their average of 102 yards a game, if not more. Stewart comes into the game with four touchdowns already this season; Williams is still looking for his first.

The Chiefs are only allowing 202 passing yards each game, so trying to force a pass to Steve Smith and Mushin Muhammad isn’t going to be easy. Jake Delhomme is looking solid right now, with 860 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, only one interception, and a passer rating of 86.8. He’s shown he’s healed from his Tommy John surgery and that he’s still capable of being our captain.

Key Points For The Game:

  • Larry Johnson has rushed for 415 yards and three touchdowns this year. Carolina has to make their priority to stop him early, and continue their season streak of not allowing a 100 yard rusher.
  • Kansas City’s pass game has been less-than-efficient, scoring 4 touchdowns, throwing 6 interceptions, and allowing 12 sacks. Carolina’s front four needs to get penetration all day on the Chiefs. This will force another interception or add to the sack count.
  • Kansas City managed to put up an amazing 33 points on the Denver defense. Carolina is only allowing an average of 17 points a game, and we’re going to want to keep it that way, or run the risk of the game turning into a shootout.
  • Both teams will be short-handed this Sunday. Carolina will be without the services of Gross, Possibly Otah and Quintin Teal is listed as questionable. Kansas City will play without Brodie Croyle, tackle Branden Albert, and linebackers Donnie Edwards and Erik Walden. A large part of the match up will be whose back-ups perform the best.
  • Carolina needs to shore up their mental errors. Having 11 pre-snap penalties is ridiculous. Doing it at home is inexcusable. Don’t expect Carolina to try too many hard counts to catch the defense, because at this rate, they may just catch themselves.

Normally, I like to avoid making score predictions for games, but I think this week, I’ll give it a try.

Carolina wins it, 21-7.

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Tags: DeAngelo Williams Jake Delhomme Jeff Otah Jonathan Stewart Jordan Gross Kansas City Preview Steve Smith

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