This wasn’t the way I wanted it to happen, but I will be glad to see Matt Moore as the Carolina Panthers’ starting quarterback Sunday.
I’ve been campaigning for Moore to get a chance since Sept.29, when Carolina dropped to 0-3 with a loss to Dallas. For whatever reason, this just isn’t Jake Delhomme’s season.
But John Fox has stuck with Delhomme until a broken finger has forced him to make this change, in large part because he doesn’t trust Moore to make the right decisions. That’s somewhat understandable. But Moore has an arm on him – watch him throw the deep ball today if you’ve forgotten that. He’ll make a lot of mistakes, yes. But so did Delhomme.
-- Moore couldn’t get a better opponent for his first start since 2007 – a 1-10 Bucs team that doesn’t play the run well (30th in the NFL) and that Carolina has already beaten once this season. The Panthers won that first game because they ran the ball for 267 yards. Remember, it was after that one that Steve Smith said: “I am no longer an asset to this team.”
-- Tampa Bay will try to rattle Moore with blitzes and dare him to beat them with any receiver except Smith (whom the Bucs double-covered almost exclusively in the first matchup). He needs to get someone besides Smith very involved early to get some confidence. More than anything, though, he needs to complete a lot of successful handoffs for six-yard gains.
-- I have been trying to swear off picking the Panthers to win another game for the rest of the season, because every time I seem to pick them to win, they lose.
However, I can’t quite break the habit yet. I guarantee that I’m going to pick them to lose each of their final four games, but on Sunday: Carolina 24, Tampa Bay 16.
The stats: I dropped to 6-5 in 2009 picking Panther games last week when Carolina laid an egg against the New York Jets (I had thought the Panthers would win). My prediction record is not much better than the Panthers' 4-7 real record, which is cause for me to again proclaim: Don't ever bet on anything I predict in the sports world.
5 weeks ago