If you’ve been to a Panther game recently, and even if you haven’t, I’m sure you’ve seen the off-brand shirts that have a simple phrase plastered across the chest, “Cam Town”. Simple phrase, but it gets the point across, Charlotte is “Cam Town”.
The Carolina Panthers have really been coming into their own in the past four games, and it’s a real shame that it’s happening so late in the season. The real reason all this is happening at all is because of one man, Cam Newton.
Cam has been responsible for all eleven of the team’s touchdowns in the past four games, whether it’s been through the air or on the ground. That’s compared to twelve in the first nine games. Another change comes in the form of turnovers. Cam has not turned over the ball once in the past four games, compared to thirteen turnovers in his first nine games. The difference between the two parts of the season is night and day.
So coming into Ron Rivera’s homecoming game, things should really be a cake-walk for the Panther’s Superman lead offense. The Chargers defense does rank ninth in total defense, but does rank 22nd against the pass, something Cam has been excelling at in the past two months. Their run defense is the only thing that keeps their defense afloat, only allowing the Steelers to accumulate sixty-nine yards on sixteen carries. But the Steelers backfield pales in comparison to Tolbert, Newton, or Williams. The defense does have a knack for finding the end zone, tying with the Bears in defensive touchdowns. So looking forward all we really need to do is protect the ball, and establish the run early on.
As for the defense, we should be able to handle Philip Rivers. The N.C. State alum has only one real threat in Danario Alexander. Antonio Gates has been seemingly irrelevant the entire season. Ryan Matthews has also been a disappointment for the franchise as well, so don’t expect to see too much out him. As long as we play solid, aggressive defense up front, and keep pressure on Rivers, we should be golden. My biggest concern however is the Secondary. I’d expect to see Godfrey and rookie D.J. Campbell starting at the safety positions, while starting Cornerbacks will probably be… I have no clue! That’s the problem; the somewhat stable position has been very unstable in the past week. Josh Norman was benched for some strange reason (I don’t buy Rivera’s actual reason), and Munnerlyn got the shaft halfway through the game to open up opportunities for James Dockery and first time starter, Josh Thomas. I completely understand why Rivera pulled the stunt, and I agree we should give young players more time, but they are young and inexperienced, so expect Rivers to exploit the openings in the secondary.
Cam is coming into the game red-hot. Cam isn’t the only one playing exceptionally well, Greg Olsen is breaking team records, and Steve Smith is one yard away from breaking the one thousand yard barrier for the seventh time in his career. We are missing two key players though, Dwan Edwards and Geoff Hangartner, and our Offensive Line makes some big switches with Jeff Byers, Thomas Austin, and Gary Williams all coming in and filling the Center, Left Guard, and Right Guard positions respectively. Brandon LaFell might not play again for a second consecutive week, though he is a game time decision, but I expect him to play since his turf toe injury isn’t as serious as previously thought.
With all that in mind, I plan on making my first game prediction on Cat Crave. Cam again plays an exceptional game, and Kuechly has a better game than he did against the Falcons. I think Rivers will pick our secondary apart, and throw for over two hundred yards, while Antonio Gates has his best game of the season. Cam will keep us in the game however with three touchdowns, one of them to Olsen, and the other to LaFell or Smith, while the third will be on the ground. Graham Gano proves to be clutch making two field goals. Panthers take this one 27-24.
So that’s my prediction, but what do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
I found all my information on the official San Diego Chargers website.