Don’t look now, but the Carolina Panther may be on the prowl. A 30-15 victory last week against St. Louis and having knocked starting quarterback Sam Bradford out for the season with a torn ACL has me thinking the defense for this team is coming along.
The offense just needs to play steady ball.
This week, Carolina is blessed with playing Tampa Bay, the team that could self-destruct at any moment. The quarterback play has been good for Tampa Bay since Josh Freeman was released and it would appear that Mike Glennon is the man of the future with this team. There is only one little problem. The team is without Doug Martin for the game and the franchise cannot expect the rookie to lead this team for the next nine games of the season to victory and turn the woe around.
This is a game where the defense would have to play its best game of the season; the secondary would need a killer performance from Dashon Goldson or Darrelle Revis.
This is also a game where Cam Newton could have the biggest day of his year so far. I think Carolina gets the win, but who knows what happens in a game where it is Thursday night and Tampa Bay so needs a win?
Here are three bold predictions for Thursday’s big clash.
The visiting Panthers look for a third consecutive victory
If the Panthers win for the third time in a row and take their record above .500, then people are going to start thinking this team might be real.
They very well may be.With New Orleans firmly entrenched as the best team in the division and Atlanta and Tampa Bay struggling, Carolina is in a good sport claim some fame for itself. While the defense is playing well, the offense could put up 30 or more this week, again and fly home with a win.
The Bucs will struggle all night long
Martin, whose 3.6 average yards per carry is a yard fewer than he recorded while rushing for 1,454 as a rookie in 2012, was injured during Sunday's 31-23 loss to Atlanta. In a report by CBSsports.com, Schiano said it probably will be a stretch" for Martin to play Thursday, but has not gone into detail of the severity of the injury despite reports that the second-year back suffered a torn labrum…"I'm not going to get into specifics of exactly what his issue is," he said. "If it was season-ending I'd let you know. But I don't feel that it is right now. ... We're just going to play it by ear and go from there."
Welcome to the game, Mike James
James will start in the place of Martin. He has huge shoes to fill.
James rushed for 45 yards on 14 carries Sunday, is expected to start against a Carolina defense that's fourth in the NFL giving up 84.5 yards per game on the ground. And if the Buccaneers try to alter that game plan and pass all night, Carolina has a way to stop that as well. The Panthers are fifth allowing 217.7 passing yards per contest, which also doesn't bode well for a Tampa Bay offense entering this game 31st in both total yards (297.8 per game) and scoring (14.5 points per game).
"(The Panthers are) definitely really talented. They're one of top defensive teams in the league statistically with how they're playing," said Glennon in the CBSsports story. The North Carolina State product who threw two TDs and no interceptions against the Falcons, but has attempted at least 43 passes in each of this three starts.