Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
This week we see yet another team that reminds us of the past. The Kansas City Chiefs are a young, talented team who just can't seem to put it all together. And part of the problem lies in the quarterback play. However, for any Panther fan who believes this to be an easy win, you might be surprised. The Chiefs have some great pieces for a good team, and will give the Panthers a run for their money with some of those pieces.
Eric Berry, at one point, looked to be the next superstar safety at the NFL level. However, after injury, Berry is having a quiet season on a losing team. That being said, he still has the talent and the physical ability to cause problems for the Panthers' tight end. Olsen is having a good season when he gets the targets, and Cam will certainly look his way in this game with Steve Smith going up against Brandon Flowers all day. Look for Eric Berry and Derrick Johnson to try and shut down Greg Olsen, who may have trouble against such an athletic safety and the always consistent veteran linebacker.
At one point, Jamaal Charles was considered one of the best in the league at the running back position. Statistically, he has still been solid this year with a 4.8 yard average per carry, even on an offense that has struggled in most facets of the game. Charles has the break away speed that can cause huge problems for the Panthers, and his performance will directly correlate to a Panthers win or loss.
If the Chiefs learned anything from the Philadelphia game tape, it should be that they will have success if they can scheme their runs against Luke Kuechly. The Eagles were able to get a blocker on Kuechly on almost all of their successful running plays, and this will lead to Thomas Davis needing to step up on the weak side in order to hold back Jamaal Charles. Anderson and Kuechly will undoubtedly face some blockers, Davis will have to use his speed to slow down the Chiefs running attack. But, Jamaal's last name isn't "Brown", so we may have a chance this week of holding him to under 100 yards.
Sione Fua vs. Open Space
No, this isn't a knock on Sione Fua.
If I have learned anything this week, it is that whenever the ESPN ScoreCenter app goes off on my phone, it usually means one of two things; 1.Someone got fired, or 2. Someone got injured. And this week was no exception, as the Panthers lost yet another starter to injured/reserve, Ron Edwards. Some of you may be scratching your head here, asking Why is this loss so significant?" To be honest, Ron Edwards was nothing spectacular. He did exactly what he is paid to do, and that is to eat up blockers, and therefore eat up space for running room. While he certainly isn't the best, and has his flaws, Edwards was able to get the job done as players like Dwan Edwards benefited from his presence. Now, Sione Fua will need to step up and be the space eater this weekend. If he wants to ever be a starter in the league again, here is his chance to do what he was drafted for. And his role will certainly impact how the run defense operates, for better or worse.
Steve Smith vs. Brandon Flowers
I think I have used Steve Smith as a key matchup in nearly every article I have written, but it really is true. How Steve Smith plays, and how opposing defenses adjust to his presence, almost always directly impacts whether the Panthers win or lose. Last week, we saw some of the indirect results of him being on the field. Brandon LaFell had a touchdown catch where he was almost uncovered, and another long reception where the Eagles rolled coverage to Steve Smith, leaving LaFell wide open. If the Chiefs roll coverage to Steve Smith, LaFell will beat Javier Arenas up and down the field. If Flowers can cover Steve Smith by himself with success, we might have a problem.
This is another game the Panthers SHOULD win. And us Panthers fans know how that goes when we are heavily favored...