I still can't believe that the Panthers are 0-3. The playoffs seem like a far-off dream by now, and the Panthers are entering their 3rd must-win game in month. This game we're either going to see a team that has found its soul during the Bye week, or a team that has returned to break the spirit of Panther fans everywhere.
The good news is that this is a very winnable game. The Redskins are 2-2 against a fairly easy schedule, with one of their losses against the Detroit Lions, the undesputed worst NFL team in the league last year. We have the Redskins, the Bucs, and the Bills in three straight games in an easy stretch of our schedule. We could very well win all three of these games and even out our schedule at 3-3. Could that be enough to build momentum and get us to play inspired football again to get us into the playoffs?
I hope so.
LG Travelle Wharton/C Ryan Kalil vs NT Albert Haynesworth
What is there to say about him? Albert Haynesworth is a beast. He's one of those defensive tackles that absolutely demands that you double team him each and every play or else he'll make you hurt. Expect Wharton and Kalil to be on him all game, with our fullback Brad Hoover having added responsibilities in the backfield to pick up the linebacker blitz if it comes. He'll also force us to use more TE sets than we usually use, so you won't see as many 3 WR formations as you usually do during the game.
Jake Delhomme vs The Bye Week
Oh the dreaded Bye Week. Jake Delhomme threw 9 interceptions last year in the two games following his week off of football. It hasn't stayed with him his career or anything, but it was very weird for the fans to see him go off on vacation off a good game and return in the next playing like Jamarcus Russell. The fans don't like him, and he's not going to get their respect for the rest of the year. He needs to get back to making smart decisions, and get the ball to his playmakers in Steve Smith and Daunte Rosario. If he does that, he can fight off the critics for another week.
Deangelo Williams vs Redskins Defense
If Deangelo Williams is given the ball, he should be able to have a good game against these guys. The Redskins rank bottom half in the league against the run after facing three of the worst teams in the NFL in their schedule in the Rams, the Lions, and the Bucs. The most important thing is that the coaches run Williams to the outside and keep the ball away from Albert Haynesworth. Keep pounding away, and eventually someone will make a mistake or Williams will make a play and break out on a large run.
The Panthers need to get back to running the football. Give Jake Delhomme some help. Deangelo Williams needs to get his 20 touches, regardless of whether you're losing the game or winning. That's the strength of this team. That's been the strength of this team ever since our team came into existence. Start blitzing the QB if your D-Line isn't providing any pressure. You can hope that Julius Peppers makes a play all day, but if he doesn't actually get off his rear and do it then nothing is going to happen. If we play by the strengths of our team, we should be fine.
I expect the panthers to win this game, and easily at that. The Redskins will be successful in running the football, but Jason Campbell will have a problem completing passes on third down. Meanwhile, John Fox gives the Redskins a heavy dose of the run and shuts down Albert Haynesworth with constant double teams. Deangelo Williams gives the fans hope by running for over 125 yards and two touchdowns, bringing down the Redskins 27-14.