NOTE to readers: I'll be blogging live during and after the Carolina-Kansas City game at 1 p.m. Sunday in Charlotte, so check back on this blog to see that... Here are my thoughts going into this game between Carolina (3-1) and Kansas City (1-3)....
** The best thing that could have happened to Carolina was for Kansas City to play so superbly a week ago in its 33-19 victory over Denver. Without that, Panther coach John Fox would have had a hard time convincing the Panthers they weren’t going to beat the Chiefs by at least 14. With it, he and his staff had ammunition.
** I believe a Carolina running back will surpass 100 yards today for the first time this season – even with franchise offensive tackle Jordan Gross missing the game. I don’t know if it will be DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart, but one of them will. The Chiefs are 30th in the NFL in defending the run, and they are about to get a steady diet of it today. And when the Chiefs commit more defenders to stop it, I expect Carolina to try at least 2-3 deep balls today to Steve Smith and to connect on one.
** Kansas City isn’t the worst team in the NFL (hello, St. Louis!), but the Chiefs would make my Bottom 5. There are no gimme putts in the NFL, but this is about as close as it comes – a two-footer, straight uphill. If the Panthers miss this one, they’ll be regretting it the rest of the season.
** Watch for Carolina to keep a safety in the tackle box for most of the game, meaning at least eight Carolina defenders will line up near the snap. The Panthers know Larry Johnson could beat them, but they would like to dare Kansas City quarterback Damon Huard to do so.
** The Panthers won’t do everything right in this one – it won’t be the rout that some people expect – but they will do enough. My pick: Carolina 30, Kansas City 17.