A few notes prior to Carolina's season opener against Philadelphia, with my prediction at the bottom...
** Big key for Carolina: cornerback Chris Gamble. The Panthers are paying him shutdown corner money. Time to earn it.
** The matchup I’ll watch most closely today is Carolina’s offense vs. Philadelphia’s defense. The Eagles were excellent on D in 2008 – a Top 5 defense in every significant category. But Carolina probably needs to score at least 20 points to win this one. With DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith, they’ll at least have a chance.
** The Eagles have their own injury problems, and the big question mark is running back Brian Westbrook. He’s a great threat when healthy. But – after trying to fight through both knee and ankle injuries -- is he healthy?
** If you’re watching the game on TV Sunday (1 p.m. on Fox), you get the pleasure of Dick Stockton on play-by-play. He’s such a reliable voice and one of my favorites. You will likely not be familiar, however, with analyst Charles Davis. He’s broadcast college sports almost exclusively in his career – it will be interesting to see how Davis performs on this big stage.
** The Panthers’ 0-4 preseason vanishes in everyone’s mind today if Carolina can win its opener. I can see it happening if Carolina rushes for 150 yards as a team. But I don’t think that will happen. My prediction: Philadelphia 20, Carolina 16.
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