Like I've said before, this is going to be an exciting game this Sunday. What would be interesting is if both defenses collapsed and we had a shootout game with Williams and Stewart running the football and keeping pace with Jay Cutler and his receivers. It has a fair chance of happening. The Panthers gave up 200 yards to Antonio Bryant last week in our blowout of Tampa Bay. And that's when you only have one good receiver among your line-up that can really make plays for you in the passing game. If the Panthers play the same way against the Broncos, this game will turn into a shootout. Very entertaining to watch.
If the Panthers can force them to be one dimensional and stop their running game it probably won't happen. History is on their side as well, for earlier this year they shut down the #1 and #2 passing attacks. ((Saints and Cardinals.)) So it's not like they haven't been down this road before. If they can stop the running game, they'll be able to do good things. In particular, I think Ken Lucas has to have a big game. He's carrying a big fat contract into 2009, and we have 3 starting caliber corners if you include Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall. He's got the ire eye of the public as he often covered Antonio Bryant during his big plays last game, and if he continues to play like that it won't be long till he loses his starting job.
I think Jake Delhomme finally gets rid of his interceptions this game. We wage a good war of passing and running and the Panthers romp all over the Broncos. The front 7 of the Broncos are steady but undersized. Williams and Steward have no problem pushing them around once they get past the line of scrimmage. Deangelo Williams should break 100 yards, and the Panthers should glide by 2,000 rushing yards for the season. Jay Cutler will keep his team in the game for quite a while but the game fades by the 3rd quarter as Panthers outscore them and they win the game by a sizable margin. After all, the Broncos don't have much to play for now that they've won their division. Remember, a single victory by the Broncos or a loss by the Chargers clinches their playoffs. They don't have to win this game, it's just a nice bonus.
Jake/Receivers vs Broncos back seven
The Panthers have won the last couple of games or so relying heavily on the rushing game. That's not wrong, but Jake Delhomme should use this game to show the fans that the Panthers have a successful passing game. One of the small damp spots we had when we faced the Bucs was when Jake Delhomme threw those two INT's. That shouldn't happen against the 27th ranked passing defense of the Broncos. They've lost one of their starting corners for the game.
It goes without saying that Steve Smith should be able to break loose sometime or another. Add that onto the fact that they've lost one of their starting corners and he should have a big game. 100 yards is possible. Moose should continue his role as the 3rd down receiver. He's been making big plays all year to move the chains, and he should keep that up. DJ Hackett will start this game, don't expect much from him and Jarrett though. We don't bring them on the field enough for them to make a statement.
Smash and Dash vs Broncos defensive line
After watching the Panthers dominate the Bucs last week, anything less than 100 yards rushing would be a major upset. All of the Broncos linebackers are suffering from one ailment or another, and their defensive line proved all season that they can cause any pressure on the QB. That won't fly against the Panthers offensive line. Expect Williams and Stewart to take full advantage of this and run all over the Broncos all game long. If the Panthers play the same run defense that they did against the Bucs the week before, they'll probably abandon it and attack us through the air.
Still, the Broncos passing game is dynamic enough to make this a game. They have Brandon Marshall, they have the emerging rookie Eddie Royal. Those are two solid receivers that can may a play anytime. If they start hooking up early in the game, I expect this to be a shootout. If they don't and the Panthers show good defense, they win by no less than 14 points.