Well, very unfortunately, I got last week's game correct, having picked the Packers to win 31-20. So I'm 1-1 on the year. Sunday's game vs. Jacksonville is pretty intriguing on many levels. Let's get right into it:
1. The Panthers have had difficulty running the ball this year against a blitzing Arizona defense and a stout Packers defensive line. This week should be more of the same. Under Jack Del Rio the Jaguars run defense has always been a strength of the team. They really shut down the Jets' strong running attack last week. Greene, LT, and McKnight combined for 28 carries for just 71 yards.
2. This means Cam and the passing game will again need to be successful for us to score points. So if you're looking for a more balanced offense from the Panthers, this might not be your week. Look for another game of over 300 yards passing for Cam and company.
3. I don't know how good Blaine Gabbert is at this seminal point in his career. If I were Coach McDermott, I would bring a safety up to stop the run, and trust my defensive line to get pressure on their rookie QB and trust my corners to cover one on one in this game. The Jaguars are a good running team, we are weak at stopping the run. So in this game, it makes sense to stack the box and make the kid try to beat you. The Jags have not been a good passing team since guys like Mark Brunell and Jimmy Smith wore their uniforms. Here's hoping that won't change Sunday in Gabbert's debut. We should learn this week if the Panthers are better than dreadful against a strong running offense.
4. Both teams are coming off 4 turnover games. I know it's stating the obvious here, but if one of the teams do it again this week, they will come out on the losing end. I believe Cam will make a special effort to avoid the dumb play this week, as he is a good student of the game and a quick learner.
5. Intangibles. First, the Panthers are hungry for their first win. This is accentuated further by winning only twice all of last year. Second, the Panthers are at home, which (if this fan's lungs have anything to do with it 6 rows from the top,) should provide an advantage to the young Panthers team, and a disadvantage to Gabbert.
The Jags remind me alot of the 2010 Panthers. Del Rio is getting very close to wearing out his welcome there, with little success achieved during his tenure. If Blaine Gabbert struggles in his first year like Jimmy Clausen did, resulting in a season with less than 7 wins, this might prove to be the end for Del Rio.
Here's hoping this game is the beginning of that demise (sorry Jack, loved you while you were here, but that was then and you are no longer a Panther).
The Jaguars were embarrassed last week, and it is unusual for a team to be blown out like that 2 weeks in a row. Because of that, and because the Jags' defense is pretty decent, my prediction for Sunday's game is:
Panthers 23 Jaguars 16.
How about you Panther fans?
You make the call: How do you see this week's game panning out? Let's hear it!!