This week the Carolina Panthers go up against the St Louis Rams. First thing I have to note: The Rams don’t suck as much this year. But I have to call this a Toilet Bowl for the second week in a row simply because it’s the Rams, and they look like they are a two-faced team this year. They’ve won every game they’ve had at home, but lost every game that they’ve had at away games. And guess what? The Panthers face the Rams at their house, so they’re going to have to break that streak if they want to extend their winning streak to two.
Aren't we lucky?
If we play like we did last week, we should be fine. Once Matt Moore was lighting it up in the passing game in the 2nd half, the Panthers were crushing the 49ers. It the first week that the Panthers actually started punishing other teams for stacking 9 players in the box so often. A little late, but if we keep this up, we can very well go on a winning streak and continue winning games till the rest of the NFL wises up and realizes that stacking the box for the whole game doesn’t work on us anymore. How long that will take is everyone’s guess, but for the moment you can bet your house that the Rams will start the game stacking the box against the Panthers, daring them to beat them though the air.
Matt Moore vs Rams Secondary
This game will be won and lost by the holy hand of Prince Matt Moore. The Rams secondary comes into the game with a lot of injuries. Their starting corner, a couple of their safeties, and their defensive line are not going to be playing at 100% due to injuries. Steve Smith will probably have a lot of 1 on 1 coverage if the Rams follow the same old formula all the other teams have been playing the Panthers with. Matt Moore has to come through. Last week, he slaughtered the 49ers with several deep balls to David Gettis and Brandon Lafell. Good job, but he needs to do it again if we're going to be successful.
As far as the rest of the NFL is concerned, last week could be a fluke. Until the other teams stop stacking the box, the Panthers need to keep passing. Throw a run in there every now and then, but keep passing until the other team shows us they can stop it. As long as we don't turn the ball over and Matt Moore is accurate with the football against the 1 on 1 coverage, the passing yards should keep piling up.
Offensive Line vs Defensive Line
The battle in the trenches is going to be key against a defense like the Rams. Their defense is built around providing pressure to the QB and forcing sacks and fumbles. Expect to see a lot of blitzes early on. We have to hold our own and keep Matt Moore upright. With our rebuilt offensive line in Week 7 finally performing to pre-season expectations, expect them all to stay in their positions in Week 8 to try to replicate that success. Expect a lot of dump passes to Beef-Stew to take some heat off the blitz early and give our line some help. Davidson might not be calling screens in the play book, but Matt's a smart guy. He knows that's what he's going to have to do in order to force the Ram's DC to respect him.
Running game vs Rams Defense
The way the Rams are going to play us, the yards are either going to come in big chunks or none at all. The Rams are going to stack the box the entire game, and I don’t see how any running back can be successful in that kind of defense. Jonathan Stewart will try though, and I imagine that he will have a couple of plays where he runs for 30 or 40 yards and maybe break free for a TD. I’ll enjoy seeing him do that. But right now, especially with DeAngelo Williams out of the game this week, the real value will be when we get into the Red Zone and we’re a couple yards away. Just hand the ball to Beef-Stew, and let him pound it in for six.
Tight ends vs Rams Linebackers
I’ll give you two names that don’t scare me. Larry Grant and Na’il Diggs. Those are the two outside linebackers of the St. Louis Rams, and their stats don't impress me. Then you have Daunte Rosario, who very quietly ranks 3rd on the team in receptions and caught 5 balls against the 49ers when Matt Moore was under center. It’s enough to make you go "Hmm."
But then again, nothing can truly be predicted with our Panthers. They have been the model of inconsistency this season. But what we saw last week can give us a little hope. Guys, we can actually pass the ball now. If the Panthers do it again in Week 8, we will win the game no problem.