I am not one of those people who likes to predict way into the future about the fortunes of a team, especially a team as raw as the Panthers. However, basing all assumptions on the outstanding performance of Cam and the Panthers with the average scores of those listed on their schedule, I think I can make some decent predictions. Let’s take a look at the numbers in the division for week #1.
Taking into account Carolina’s numbers for last game (First downs-26, Total passing yards-413, Total rushing yards- 74, Total TD’s-3, Total turnovers- 0, and Total time of possession- 32:47) plus individual numbers by Cam Newton (422 yards, 3 TD’s [2 passing, 1 running], 1 INT), we can see how they might match up with others in the division.
vs. New Orleans Saints
The Saints put up 34 points totaling 396 yards passing and 81 yards rushing against Green Bay on Thursday. Drew Brees threw for 419 yards and 3 TD’s and they held the ball for 27:06. The numbers are pretty even despite the Saints scoring two more TD’s than the Panthers. Being that the Saints also had 9/14 3rd down conversions compared to the Panthers 3/11, I don’t see the Panthers winning in their first meeting, maybe both. Many would’ve have said that since day one but so far there have been many shocking upsets. The Saints have been plagued by injuries and their defense was not as dominant as expected so if the Panthers lose, it should still be a fairly close game.
vs. Atlanta Falcons
Either Atlanta is not who we thought they were or Chicago has a scary defense this year. Atlanta scored a measly 12 points with only 1 TD. Matt Ryan threw for 319 yards, 0 TD’s and 1 INT. Their running game scored the only TD and amassed 110 rushing yards. The team also suffered 2 turnovers and kept the ball for a total of 26:41. If the key to beating Atlanta is shutting down the passing game, the Panthers might have a shot at this team. Larry Fitzgerald was reduced to 62 yards against the Panthers and Arizona lacks a strong running game. Carolina has to shut down Tony Gonzalez and 1st round draft pick Julio Jones if they want a chance, especially if their running game only produces 1 TD per game. With 3 TD’s and stats alone, Carolina takes this one. When we see the matchup on the field, it will not be that easy.
vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In Tampa’s 27-20 loss to the Lions yesterday, the team racked up 259 passing yards and 56 running yards good for 2 TD’s. Josh Freeman put up 259 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT and fumbled twice, although neither were marked as turnovers. The team kept possession for only 23:35 but still only lost the game by a TD. Not bad but certainly not good either. This is a team that is in a very similar situation as the Panthers. Both have inexperienced QB’s and are in reconstruction years. I did mention to some folks before the preseason was over that this is the team that the Panthers can sweep in the division. Tampa’s running game will not be a dominant threat this year and Josh Freeman is backed by a young O-line and D-line. The Detroit Lions are expected to be good this year, but they are not that further along than Tampa Bay. Unless Josh Freeman starts putting up Cam Newton numbers, I see the Panthers taking this match up more than once.
After analyzing week #1 stats, there is hope that the Panthers will not come in last in the division. Will it be as easy as the numbers? Of course not, but it does show some serious potential for our Cats. Scores alone, Carolina wins two of the three games. Along with the immense passing yards and great time of possession, already we can see how this season could translate into a Playoff berth in 2012. So what are the predictions for this year?
(3) Panthers VS.
(1) New Orleans 0-2
(2) Atlanta 1-1
(4) Tampa Bay 2-0