Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Panthers-49ers prediction



So where will Sunday's game be won or lost?

By the two quarterbacks, the two defenses and two players whose names we don't know yet.

Carolina's Cam Newton and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick will be the acknowledged stars on Sunday, and much of their teams' fortunes will depend on how they do.

But it's not all about the quarterbacks. These are two of the three best defenses in the NFL (with Seattle being the other). The Panthers were No.1 in the NFL in sacks and No.2 in both scoring defense and total defense. The 49ers were No.3 in scoring defense. Not only do these defenses make you punt frequently, but they often cause the sort of turnover mayhem that decides a playoff game (you know what I'm talking about if you remember Jake Delhomme's six-turnover monstrosity in the Arizona game five years ago).

And then there's the X factor. Every big game has a couple of players emerge that you weren't sure could handle this big stage -- the guy who recovers the fumbled punt or comes in as the sixth defensive back and makes the big interception. A couple of those players will emerge Sunday and ultimately tilt the balance.

-- Do not miss The Observer's special Panthers section on Sunday while you are waiting for kickoff. It will be a stunning array of stories and photos that will include a complete regular-season review, all you want to know about the Panthers-49ers matchup, a column based on a revealing interview I had with Ron Rivera and much, much more. Check it out on newsstands or online.

-- I will be signing copies of my new Panthers book "100 Things Panthers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" at the Birkdale Village Barnes & Noble in Huntersville on Saturday from noon to 1:30 p.m. The book's first printing sold out and I am sorry for those who were frustrated around the holidays trying to find one, but the second printing is now hitting local stores and online retailers.

I will be joined during that time slot at Barnes and Noble by WBT radio host Keith Larson, who will be signing his excellent book, "That Season of Hope."

-- To say interest in the Panthers' first playoff game in five years is high would be quite an understatement. Not only were the single-game tickets gone in three minutes, but I have received calls I have never gotten before this week.

My colleagues at The Observer and myself do a fair amount of sports radio, but mostly for radio stations in the Carolinas. This time I went on what the producers assured me was the "No.1 sports radio show" in Dublin, Ireland, where the host (they called him a "presenter," and he had quite an accent) asked a number of knowledgeable questions about "Riverboat" Ron Rivera and Newton's development. I spoke Southern, he spoke Irish, and we got along just fine.

-- Let's move on to the prediction.

I don't think 10 points will be sufficient to win this game -- the Panthers can't get away with another 10-9 victory as they did two months ago, when DeAngelo Williams (above) scored the game's only TD. San Francisco has wide receiver Michael Crabtree back, and covering him will be a key for the Panthers' "Legion of Whom" secondary that has to prove itself one more time.

I think the Panthers' defense is ultimately just a bit better, but Newton will have to play as well as Kaepernick does. If he doesn't, the Panthers will lose. If he does and those two young stars cancel each other out, the Panthers should have just enough in front of what should be one of the loudest crowds in franchise history.

My prediction: Carolina 20, San Francisco 16.

21 comments:

banks said...

X = Ted Ginn

Anonymous said...

Bring the Lombardi trophy to Charlotte! Be Encouraged, let no one take it from you! GO PANTHERS!

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious! No real reason for his prediction. The Niners have better personnel on both sides of the ball, including a returning Crabtree and Davis for the Niners. 49ers 23-13

Anonymous said...

Can't agree with Banks enough. Hopefully this is the game he breaks one.

T said...

Great job Panthers. As a 47 year old niner fan I remember the great 1990's Panther team with Kerry that broke my heart. Nice classy coach and team (Seattle could take some notes) can't wait for Sunday. May the best team take the Super Bowl!!!!!!

Wade said...

This is a stat that I found somewhere else. There have been 4 times when the HOME playoff team was the underdog in the divisional: 1996 Carolina, 1992 Miami, 1991 Detroit, 1982 Miami. In all 4 games, the home team won.

And why is everyone impressed by a last second win against a team that barely made the playoffs, already had a sorry defense, was without its best linebacker, and then lost several linebackers during the game? I will say it now: so-called "experts" are very rarely experts.

Anonymous said...

I predict...Ginn with one return for a td

KB said...

i agree go carolina panthers...

StonerLab said...

There's going to be ALOT of Bummed Out Panther fans come late Sunday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

The Panthers will (very sadly) lose in a LOW scoring game. The defense will play its best game ever, but Can Newton is just not up to the job and will let Charlotte down.

Anonymous said...

gosh I hope you are right!

Anonymous said...

Rise up. Take no prisoners. See the end and never let up. Win your individual battle man to man and the team will win the game on the scoreboard. Let's go Panthers, let's go!!

Panther Fanatic said...

this game will rival the Green Bay game back in the 90s. I am both excited and anxious, and I hope the 'diss' of being a home underdog will tick them off enough to amp up the energy.

Cats 23, Niners 21 .

Farthington J. Weatherbottom said...

Repel them! Repel them! Make them relinquish the ball!

irishfan said...

I wish I heard that radio in show Dublin, I'm from there. All I can say is Go Panthers, Keep Pounding!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

So you only post responses that are in favor of the Panthers. Very bias on your part. Will you post this??? SF 24 Panthers 23

Anonymous said...

Panthers will fumble twice in the red zone and Kaepernick will run for over 100 yards. San Francisco wins: 27-13.

Anonymous said...

Being the underdog is exactly what will help us. Lord knows what happened the last time we were favorites to dismantle a Team In The Playoffs. We are our best when underestimated, 9ers fans. Jdowc

Anonymous said...

People, People, remember, when it's all said and done, it's only a silly ball game.

Hugh said...

With Smith back and a healthy defense The runners will give the game an advantage, Defense this is a gimme.

Anonymous said...

Silly game with a dumb silly mediocre QB, silly bandwagon fans, silly owner and extreme sillier dumb media with naive silly writers who stupidly predict scores for a silly loser team. Blow out.

San Francisco 49ers by 49