Predator vs. Prey is a new weekly column that will feature a preview of the Panthers’ opponent for that given week. We will breakdown the X’s and O’s, matchups on both sides of the ball, and predict the outcome for the game. Whether it’s Sunday, Monday or Thursday night, CatCrave.com has you covered for everything you need to know leading up to the big game.
Predator: Carolina Panthers
Prey: Kansas City Chiefs
Environment: Bank of America Stadium
Time of Kill: 8pm
Welcome Cat Crave Nation to Predator vs. Prey. For week two of the preseason, the Carolina Panthers host the Kansas City Chiefs at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers have had eight days to prepare for this matchup against a team coming off of an explosive 41-39 shootout against the Bengals.
The Chiefs feature an offense that centers around running back Jamaal Charles. WR Dwayne Bowe was suspended for one game earlier this week for violating the substance abuse policy, but is eligible to play and practice for the remainder of the preseason.
Alex Smith is under center and he will look to connect with Bowe early to keep the Panthers’ defense honest in stacking the line against Charles. Outside of these two weapons, the Chiefs are still trying to find complimentary weapons to help Smith move the chains.
Defensively, the Chiefs have some experience up front and run an aggressive 3-4 defense. Dee Ford is the big name draftee that the Panthers will have to keep an eye on as he is having an impressive camp thus far. Sean Smith and Eric Berry are the enforcers in the defensive backfield, but Berry will miss tonight’s game with an injury.
Though most teams wait until game three to showcase their starters, Carolina will use tonight’s game to do so. Carolina plays at New England on the 22nd, so rather than risk injury on a shortened week, the Panthers will roll the starters out longer tonight.
Predator on Offense:
Cam Newton will make his first appearance on the field since the devastating playoff loss at home to the 49ers. Along with Newton, the Panthers add running back Jonathan Stewart to the lineup to help propel Carolina’s offense. The Chiefs run a tricky 3-4 defense that is predicated on speed and attacking the quarterback. Look for Newton to balance the play calling with an equal dosage of “Double Trouble” along with his newest connection, rookie Kelvin Benjamin.
Cam will be limited in how much running he does personally, so look for Carolina to add Ed Dickson on the line to help with pass protection. Newton is looking to get on the same page as his receivers early, so any additional blockers to slow down the speedy Chiefs defense, will be welcomed.
The Chiefs’ defensive backs should be targeted often and utilizing players like Kelvin Benjamin and Tavarres King to stretch the defense vertically will be critical in this game.
Eric Berry is out, so Kansas City is looking to its’ youth to try and stop the Panthers’ aerial attack. Look for Derek Anderson and Joe Webb to hook up with the plethora of young receivers trying to make the final roster.
Predator on Defense:
The Chiefs’ offense will utilize Jamaal Charles early on, but after the first quarter who will be the featured player?
Carolina is happy to have veteran Charles Johnson back on the field for the first time this preseason and he will look to get acclimated quickly. Since the front seven is pretty much set, look for the Panthers to play it safe and get the second string unit in by the second quarter.
The Chiefs’ receivers are not very tall, so Antoine Cason and Melvin White should have a good size advantage on them. The battle between Charles Godfrey and Bene Benwikere will continue to see who will claim the starting nickel spot. Aaron Murray is a rookie quarterback that has the skillset to be a starter in this league. Running back De’Anthony Thomas is electric in the return game, so the Panthers will need to minimize his touches tonight.
The Panthers will have a different mindset heading into this game, as they will use this as more of a dress rehearsal than the usual third game of preseason. Keeping their premier players healthy is the most important factor for this game. Continuing the progression of Kelvin Benjamin and getting the running game started will be important for Carolina, though the Chiefs defensive line is pretty stout.
FINAL VERDICT: CAROLINA - 23 KANSAS CITY - 17