Friday, December 19, 2014

My pick: Panthers to beat Browns, Manziel

There is no magic number in the NFL, but with 20-20 hindsight you can see for the Carolina Panthers that 20 comes close.

If the Panthers score 20 or more, good things happen. They are 4-1-1 when they do that this year. When they score 19 or less, they are 1-7.

The only time the Panthers won with a score under 20 was last week, when Carolina ground out an ugly win, 19-17, over Tampa Bay.

Against Cleveland, 20 should be more than enough. I just can't see the Browns getting out of the teens against Carolina's resurgent defense and rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Manziel will undoubtedly play better than he did last week against Cincinnati -- a horrific 30-0 loss in his first start -- but I remain unconvinced he will ever be more than a mediocre NFL quarterback. He does have Josh Gordon on his side, however.

-- It will be pretty hard not to scoreboard-watch on Sunday, with the Atlanta-New Orleans game going on exactly at the same time as this one. The Panthers badly need Atlanta to win, because then Carolina can control its own destiny in the final week of the season if it can also beat Cleveland.

-- Memo to Chicago Bears: If Jimmy Clausen is the answer, you are asking the wrong question.

-- How long ago was it that Cleveland and Carolina played? So long that Jake Delhomme was the quarterback for Cleveland and Clausen for Carolina. That was in 2010. John Kasay uncharacteristically missed a 42-yard field goal as time expired, leaving Delhomme to beat his former team, 24-23.

-- Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen will both likely go over 1,000 yards for the season Sunday against the Browns. Olsen has 960 yards and Benjamin 952. Look in particular for quarterback Cam Newton to target Benjamin. The Browns have had trouble against big receivers -- Benjamin's rookie classmate, Mike Evans, hit them up for 124 yards and two touchdowns when Tampa Bay played the Browns.

-- Prediction time. I am 8-5-1 picking the Panthers this season after (barely) picking them correctly to beat Tampa Bay last week. I think this game was decided in Carolina's favor the day the Browns decided to start Manziel. My pick: Carolina 23, Cleveland 13.

Josh Gordon (12) might give Johnny Manziel (2) his best shot of being significantly
 better  in his second start for the Browns. ( Jason Miller, Getty Images)


TruthOnlyHurtsForTheIgnorant said...

Jimmy Clausen would be a better QB of the Panthers than what we have right now. Cam is a born loser sporting a below .500 winning percentage with less leadership skills than your average Girl Scout. ANY change is a positive.

Anonymous said...

What is your prediction for ATL @NO?

Anonymous said...

The way this season has gone I would not be surprised if Cleveland and Manziel lay 42 on the Panthers and put them out of their misery.

Tim said...

Does everyone knot that Atlanta is undefeated in the NFC South.

They are 4-0, Carolina is 3-2 and New Orleans is 2-2.

Something to think about going into the final 2 weeks. If we win and Atlanta wins which needs to happen, Atlanta will be in the drivers seat going into week 17

Anonymous said...

Nothing to think about if we win and falcons win this week. Panthers have better record and will be in drivers seat, not falcons.

joe said...

Well Teddy Bridgewater made Cam look like a chump lets hope Johnny M. doesnt do the same. Remember Rivera will not yank Cam no matter how bad of a day hes having.

K. Clay Dawson said...

I'm against starting Cam again this year. Are we going to start giving him injections 30 minutes before game time, like Jerry Jones' team does to Tony Romo? Cam will have to live the rest of his life with his injury, however well it heals, or heals improperly.