Friday, December 23, 2011

Picking the Panthers to win again

Two rarities about Saturday's game -- it's being played on Christmas Eve and the Panthers are favored.

Because of the schedule, it will be interesting to see how many Panther fans actually show up for this one (or stay for the whole thing). Lots of people are traveling or involved with Christmas events. Any scalper who manages to make a lot of money Saturday is one fine scalper. If you've never seen a Panther game before and want to go see Cam Newton play without spending a fortune, this is the day. Just show up and make a deal.

One guarantee, though -- it will be more crowded at Bank of America Stadium than it was in Tampa three weeks ago. I was there for Carolina's 19-point win that day, and Raymond James Stadium looked about half full for most of the game and was far less than that in the fourth quarter.

-- If ever there was a chance for Newton to commit a turnover and still win a game, this is it. Even with Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman returning -- Josh Johnson played three weeks ago -- the Bucs aren't very good.

One of the most startling statistics about this year's Panthers is that the team is 5-0 when Newton doesn't make a single turnover and 0-9 when he commits one or more. That's too much pressure on Newton -- it's not realistic for a quarterback to have one turnover-free game after another, as much as the ball is in his hands. The unraveling Buccaneers, though, have lost eight games in a row and are a team that can be had even with some errors.

-- Hard to imagine that the Bucs on defense will do anything but stack up the middle of the line in all short-yardage situations Saturday. Newton ran for three touchdowns in the first meeting -- a 38-19 Carolina win -- and they were all from one yard away.

-- The Panthers won so convincingly the first time in part because they were the best in the red zone that they have been all year. Five times Carolina's offense got inside the Tampa Bay 20, and all five times the Panthers scored touchdowns. Carolina's run defense was also surprisingly good against the Bucs and will need to be again Saturday. Freeman has a better arm than Johnson, too, so he will likely attack deep against Carolina's injury-depleted secondary.

-- I misfired on Carolina's upset win over Houston Sunday, incorrectly picking the Texans to win. I'll try to get back on track with this prediction: Carolina 32, Tampa Bay 23.


CEREBRUM said...

Panthers DT Shirley has been a blessing to the D line. D has to come up big like they did against Houston because no W is a gimmee. As long as the Panthers stay hot in the 1st half and grind it out with drives that eat up the clock then rack this one up as a W for the Panthers!

Anonymous said...

Shirley and Kearse will be the starting DTs next year with Neblett and Edwards (maybe) in the mix. McClain and Fua have potential but are not ready to be starters and might not make the team next year. If the Panthers had Shirley and Kearse all year we would be in the playoff hunt....

Anonymous said...

Doubtful Ds will manhandle $cam after 14 games of sissy girlie-man freebies per TPU bosses who run the league.

Word is Morris got in troub holding uninjured Freeman out last time & ejecting his own LB for sacking the Qb. Teams all have to watch WWE injuries now.

Bucs 1st string by 20

Anonymous said...

11:24...Yes, just like the Texans number 1 defense handled "Scam" last week. You are a pathetic looser. Carolina 31
Puddle Pirates 17

Anonymous said...

I know this is off topic but wouldn't it be awesome if the Panthers picked up Reggie Wayne from Indy? I don't think they (Indy) will retain him next year so it is feasible.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Smith, Wayne, Lafell and company would be hard to handle.

Anonymous said...

Waterboy nerd pedophile azzsuckz real brave hiding behind their pc screen with all their teeth intact.

Scam had 150 yds passing against a 3rd string Texan defense that is better than most 1st string defenses.

Tampa is unpredictable in 2011 & Morris on shaky ground but the last place team beating the next to last place team with Freeman at QB is a toss-up.

4-10 team or 5-9 team? Two losers.

Toss up

Anonymous said...

if tampa wins both non-playoff teams will be tied for last place at 5-10 each.

this battle of league midgets will be a big game and a lot of pride riding on this one. vegas odds is a toss up.

Sportsdon said...

The real stat that is not surprising is that the Panthers win when they commit less turnovers than their opponents.

Since the defense rarely forces turnovers this year, it's strictly up to the offense not to. In a close game with lot's of passing that is hard to do. It's not so much Cam turnovers are the only reason for 0-9.

Anonymous said...

All you mofo chumps not on "MY LEVEL"