True, this game would be considered irrelevant compared to other games on the Sunday slate. However this has the potential to be a solid quarterback duel in Charlotte.
The Carolina Panthers come into this game winners of two straight including a win over the NFC best Atlanta Falcons 30-20 two weeks ago.
The Panthers dispatched the San Diego Chargers last week 30-7 and will be facing it second straight AFC West opponent in the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders come in after a 15-0 win over the lowly Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders gave up only 10 rushing yards to the Chiefs on 10 carries in the win after giving up an average of 122.5 YPC this season.
Cam Newton's 113.1 passer rating has been the best in the NFL over the last four weeks. He has thrown for 1,006 yards and nine TDs during this stretch. Oakland defense has given up the 4th most passing TDs in the NFL with 25. Cam should be able to exploit the Raiders in the air especially with the deception that comes with the spread option attack he runs.
I am looking for Cam to throw for 275 yards with two or three touchdown passes in this game. Steve Smith and Gregg Olsen should have big receiving games on Sunday. Louis Murphy could see the end zone as well this game going up against his former team!!!
The Raiders will have to run the ball effectively in this game to be competitive. Darren McFadden had a solid game rushing against the Kansas City Chiefs last week carrying the ball 30 times for 110 yards. The Raiders would like to keep the Carolina offense off the field if they can and winning the time of possession battle would go a long way toward doing that.
Carolina does yield 117.9 yards per game to the run. I see the Raiders using Darren McFadden in the rushing game similarly to how they did last week, except this week he will have a few more catches out of the backfield and less carries.
The main thing for the Raiders is to get McFadden 20-25 touches. McFadden should get about 100-120 total yards and a TD this game.
Now, it goes without saying that the Raiders will not be holding the Carolina Panthers to 10 yards rushing like they held the Chiefs last week. The Panthers have quietly ran for and average of 175 yards in their last two games. Last week versus the San Diego Chargers, DeAngelo Williams was the man in the running game with 95 yards.
The week before versus the Atlanta Falcons it was Cam Newton who was the star rushing the ball with 119 yards on nine carries. This week I expect a collaborative running effort from the Panthers. When this offense is going right they can keep defenses completely off balance.
The Raiders' defense is going to be confused and the Panthers will feast on them. This is going to be a Carolina Panthers holiday blowout for the home crowd. Panthers will trounce the Raiders 34-17.