Friday, November 8, 2013

My pick for Panthers vs 49ers and a few pregame notes



It has been a long time since a Panther contest has had a national "big-game" feel, but it's about to happen twice in an eight-day span.

As I've said before, the Panther need to at least split these two upcoming games -- at San Francisco Sunday at 4:05 p.m. and then at home vs. New England and Tom Brady on "Monday Night Football" on Nov.18th. Going into the final six games of the season at 6-4 makes the 10-6 record likely needed to ensure a playoff berth much more likely.

-- Of the two opponents, I think the 49ers are slightly better. Carolina will really have its hands full with the NFL's No.1 rushing offense, paced by running back Frank Gore. The 49ers' defense is also incredibly stout, which is a big reason why San Francisco has won its past five games by 24, 31, 12, 14 and 32 points.

-- Of course, the Panthers are on their own four-game winning streak, and they have won those games by huge margins as well. Quarterback Cam Newton (above) will try to fly into San Francisco and grab what would be a signature victory for the third-year quarterback. Both of these teams have scored at least 30 points in at least their last four games, but I don't see either one doing that Sunday. The defenses are just too good. I think the first one to get to 17 will win.

-- Unusual stat: The Panthers lead the all-time series against San Francisco, 10-7, and most surprisingly they are 5-3 on the road at Candlestick. The most memorable of those games was the first one, when the expansion Panthers upset the 49ers, 13-7, in November 1995.

-- Candlestick is closing after this season, and what a history that vintage stadium has had. It has hosted the Beatles and a papal mass as well as all those years of Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice and their five Super Bowl wins.

-- San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh never threw an official pass for the Panthers, but he did briefly play for Carolina in the 1-15 season of 2001 -- his 15th and final season in the NFL, backing up Chris Weinke. He told me this once when I asked him about that time in his life: “I didn't get in any games that year. I signed late, and they had eight games to go. I loved it – loved the coaches that were there and the organization. I especially loved throwing to Steve Smith. We were both on the scout team at that time. It didn't take me long to realize that he was really good. I just kept throwing the ball to him and we were making plays and having fun.”

Smith was a rookie that year and was only used as a kick returner -- that's how long ago it was.

-- I've hit on my Panthers' pick six weeks in a row, and thank you for noticing enough that I've had some folks lobby me to choose the Panthers this week to spring the upset in San Francisco. Sorry, guys, I just can't quite pull the trigger on that one. My prediction: San Francisco 17, Carolina 13.

16 comments:

samurai said...

Here is hoping you are wrong for the first time in seven weeks. :)

Thoughtful write up, and not full of fluff and smoke.

~ john

Anonymous said...

Don't go patting yourself on the back there too much for correctly picking the winner of the Panthers game 6 weeks in a row. When we play a team that totally sucks you pick the Panthers and when we play a team considered just halfway decent you pick the opponent. Big deal. So you picked Carolina and we lost to Buffalo, which was your last miss...because they suck. Proven by fact that other than beating the Panthers they have gone 2-6. Now we play SanFran, they are good so you pick them. Your system isn't all that complicated. Thanks for having the confidence to pick the Panthers....only when we play the weakest teams in the NFL. Who you got on Dec 1st vs Tampa Bay??

Anonymous said...

Carolina holds the series advantage overall. Carolina is averaging 25.5 ppg and SF is averaging 27. Statistically Carolina's defense is better overall (YPG, turnovers, etc.)
SF's only win this season against a team with a winning record was in Week 1 vs. GB. Everyone is talking about how Carolina has won these games due to playing bad teams. I believe the same can be said for SF. Not a bad analysis Scott. CAR 20 SF 14

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:51 (above): Who pi**ed in your drink? Why are your panties all in a bunch? Is Fowler supposed to pick the Panthers against the 49ers to bring good luck to the team because they're a nice story around here? That would be called being a Homer- he's a journalist. He calls em as he sees them. And at the time he picked the games for the previous six weeks, nobody knew yet how good or bad most of those teams were at the time (except the past two weeks). In fact, he actually picked AGAINST the Panthers with Arizona when everyone though we'd beat them. The Panthers were favored against the Cardinals- so you're wrong. I'd say Fowler's been pretty dead on. Hope he's not this week...

Anonymous said...

PANTHERS win 20-17...

Anonymous said...

6 picks in 6 weeks, WOW! Scott, I think it's time you missed one sir, no disrespect. I think even you'll agree, this would be a good one for you to miss on.

Anonymous said...

I think it's time you missed one Scott. I mean 6 and 1 will still get you mentioned in talk about the sportswriter's playoffs.

Anonymous said...

OMG WUT A FAKE FAN!!!!!!!

I'm assuming all of you have Carolina winning the Super Bowl then, right?

It has nothing to do with Scott's personal preference - he's talking football, and unfortunately he's probably right.

Do you play Fantasy? I'd expect your entire lineup to be Carolina. Oh, wait. It's not?

I love the Panthers, but I'm not starting Smitty over Megatron this week. Same logic here.

I must not really be a fan.

Scott I appreciate your column, sir!

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:51

I have never seen someone break down somebody's picks with such meticulous scrutiny. You must be a Vegas handicapper with the knowledge bombs you are dropping. I bet your Crystal-full, penthouse suite is so phat. I bet you can't wait to sit back and go 10-0 on your weekly picks and then laugh all the way to the bank. Who ya got this weekend?

Anonymous said...

When it's all said and done, it's just another silly ball game.

TRAVIS DUPREE said...

Yeah, i gotta agree with this guy, Thx alot for confidence in the home team bright guy!!! Can we get a writer who is actually a panther fan???

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I would prefer a writer who is a fan. This writer picks the opposing team and after patting the Panters on the back.

Caliman said...

Good call Scott but I think you need to double the 49ers score.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is missing the point. Scott mentions he has picked 6 Panthers games in a row, like that is some big accomplishment. Well 5 of those games were total no brainer picks. Called the Arizona game right as a Panthers loss, fine. But the other 5 anyone with half a brain would have called. Because the opponents were horrible. So picking the Panthers to win those isn't very impressive. It's like me saying I am 8 for 8 with my picks...I predicted the Jaguars would lose every week. Impressed? If I write a sports column should I mention that so you know I am a great picker and on a hot streak?

Jerry King said...

All winning streaks must end. Sorry, Scott, but this week it will be yours and not the Panthers'. Panthers win 24-21!!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your work Mr. Fowler (I'm also a Spartanburg native). I respectfully would have to disagree with you though that the most memorable game at Candlestick for the Panthers was in 1995. Elvis Grbac not Steve Young started that game. The most memorable game was 1996- late in the season at Candlestick. I remember some more than usual jawing going on before the game. However, this was the case when the Panthers beat them in Carolina earlier that year. Basically, the NFC West was on the line. In a thriller, the Panthers defeated the 49ers 30-24 (with Steve Young, Jerry Rice and rookie Terrell Owens). Kevin Greene had a big hit on Young late in the game. Eric Davis had a pick as well...