The Carolina Panthers (5-5) welcome the Washington Football Team (3-6) to Bank of America Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Panthers are coming off of a 34-10 win at Arizona against a Cardinals team that didn’t have star quarterback Kyler Murray.
Meanwhile, the Football Team earned its third win of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, picking off quarterback Tom Brady twice en route to the win. Unfortunately, defensive end Chase Young tore his ACL during the game, ending his season. The second-year player won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award last year and earned a Pro Bowl nod.
Let’s dive into how the Panthers offense could potentially fare against the Washington defense.
Yards per game: 320.9 (27th)
Pass yards per game: 204.9 (28th)
Rush yards per game: 116 (14th)
Points per game: 20.5 (21st)
The Panthers offense presents a question mark just as the Washington defense does. In Charlotte the question revolves around how Cam Newton will perform as usual starter Sam Darnold is on injured reserve.
Will Cam do just enough to help the Panthers defense out and earn the team a win? Or will he show that he’s an aging quarterback and a shadow of his former self?
I suspect more the latter, unfortunately.
I’m not sold on Cam as a passer and I would imagine Matt Rhile and Joe Brady will rely on a heavy dose of Christian McCaffrey and Chuba Hubbard on Sunday. And while I like Cam as a person and even as a leader, I suspect we can’t expect much from him at 32 years old. My proof was last year in New England and even before that nearing the end of his time in Carolina.
As well, at this point in the year we know from the data that the Panthers are an average running team with a very poor passing game.
Despite that, they seem to come out of nowhere with decent performances every once in a while. Sure, the Cardinals didn’t have Kyler Murray, but a P.J. Walker-led offense put up 34 points against the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense at the time (last week). I’m not sure what to expect this week!
Yards per game: 376.4 (27th)
Pass yards per game: 279.3 (30th)
Rush yards per game: 97 (6th)
Points per game: 27.3 (28th)
Turnovers: 17 (3rd)
Aren’t we all wondering how Washington’s defense will play without its franchise defensive piece? It’s a huge question mark and the loss of Young will undoubtedly hurt them.
If I had to guess, it’s going to significantly affect Washington, the NFL’s 27th-ranked defense. Washington is good at stopping the run - just 97 yards per game - but their pass defense is pretty bad, allowing nearly 280 pass yards per game, third worst in the NFL. Washington is also currently allowing 27 points per game, good for fourth worst in the league.
On the positive side, cornerback Kendall Fuller is tied for seventh in the NFL with eight passes defended. Meanwhile, linebacker Cole Holcomb leads Washington with 78 tackles, 13th best in the league so far, while former first-round pick defensive tackle Jonathan Allen has six sacks, tied for 11th.
The Panthers seem to throw a curveball every time I make a prediction, so I really don’t know what to think about this Sunday.
I think Washington will take this one, but if Cam comes in and really galvanizes his teammates, and if they really feed off his enthusiasm, then it could be really fun to watch. And, as we’ve seen with Washington’s defense, this Sunday is yet another golden opportunity for the Panthers to capitalize on an underperforming unit.
I’m predicting a below-average, run-heavy Panthers offense with opportunistic passing, but for some reason I still think Washington will come out on top.