Panthers Schedule Review & Prediction: 2nd Quarter

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 2: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers passes against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 2, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

When the NFL released the 2012 regular season schedule, we were all anxious to see how many prime time games the Panthers had been appointed. Now that we know the answer to that question, let’s take a look at some of the individual matchups of note. This morning, I’ll be specifically analyzing the second quarter of the season when the Panthers play the Seahawks, Cowboys, Bears, and Redskins. Besides the fact that this may be the most entertaining and intriguing quarter of the entire season, it very well may be the most pivotal, especially as it relates to how good or bad we fared in the first quarter. With that being said, join me after the jump for a quick examination of those four games.

Game 1: Vs. Seattle Seahawks October 7, 4:05 pm

The Panthers dodged a bullet with this one. If this game had been scheduled on the road, the Panthers would certainly have been presented with a much more difficult task. As it stands, they will have the opportunity to take advantage of the fact that Seattle may be a bit weary from traveling across the United States. Presumably, Matt Flynn, their most important free agent signing from this off-season will be entering only his fourth game as starter in the Seahawks offense, and the Panthers can only hope that he looks nothing like he did during his last game in a Packers uniform. Even if the Seahawks bring their ‘A’ game, I like our chances. I predict the Panthers will begin the second quarter with a win at home to go 1-0 just before going into their bye week.

Game 2: Vs. Dallas Cowboys October 21, 1:00

The Cowboys will be looking to take the next step under the guidance of second-year head coach Jason Garrett, who will likely find himself on the hot seat if the 2012 season gets off to a rough start. I also believe this is a make or break year for Tony Romo, who doesn’t seem to have the consistency it takes to get the Cowboys to the next level at this point in time. Even so, Romo is more than capable of leading his team to a victory over the Panthers, especially if we are unable to contain Demarcus Ware, who finished last season with just under twenty sacks. The Panthers could certainly stand to add one more penetrating DE/DT who can wreak havoc on Romo(along with every other QB), and I can think of at least one prospect in the upcoming draft that seems to fit that bill perfectly. I’ll let you use your imagination on that one, and in the meantime, I’ll use mine. The Panthers will beat the Cowboys for their second straight win of the second quarter, and at 2-0, they now have their sights set on a trip to the Windy City.

Game 3: @ Chicago Bears October 28, 1:00pm

This may very well be the toughest game of the four. This game will be less about containing a guy by the name of Julius Peppers, and more about limiting Matt Forte. He’s definitely put himself in the upper echelon of running backs over the past several seasons, but the Panthers seem intent on making him out to be the second coming of Walter Payton. Much has also been said about how little Cutler has had to work with when it comes to his receiving corp. That shortage of talent received a major boost when they traded two third round picks in order to acquire the ever dubious, but dynamic Brandon Marshall, and the Bears certainly don’t seem content to stop there, because they’ve already brought in Alshon Jeffrey, Rueben Randle, and Kendall Wright for pre-draft visits. I would like nothing more than to predict a win on this one, but I won't. The Panthers fall to 2-1 just before heading to the Nation's Capital.

Game 4: @ Washington Redskins November 4, 1:00pm

I’m a bit surprised the NFL didn’t put this game on prime time. I guess they valued the Vick vs Newton headline more than the RGIII vs Newton one. They could have featured both, right? Anyway, it will be very interesting to see how much Robert Griffin III has progressed by the time this game comes around. Either way, the Panthers will have their work cut out for them. Many of the same challenges that opposing teams now have when facing our Newton-led Panthers will now be presented to our own team. I think RGIII will have some early success because of all the tools he has to work with: Intelligence, poise in the pocket, manipulation of the pocket, speed, accuracy, and arm strength. But it won’t be enough on this Sunday as the Panthers finish the second quarter of the season 3-1 with a win over the Redskins.

If Jaxon and I are right, the Panthers will finish the first half of the season at 6-2, which would set them up nicely for a playoff run over the final eight games. Stay tuned for our third and fourth quarter schedule reviews and predictions over the weekend.

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