By: Vince Holmes
A slow start to the Rhule Era of the Carolina Panthers to start the season. Untimely injuries and inconsistent play among other things have contributed to the Panthers 0-2 start for this season. While it hasn’t been all bad for the Panthers, the players have been able to compete enough to be in position to win both games. I predict more of the same for this young and inexperienced team and coaching staff. Here is why I believe the Panthers will fall short yet again despite putting forth a valiant effort.
The 2019 NFL OPOY RB Christian McCaffrey has been put on IR for at least the next 3 weeks and facing a stout defense without your best player is always tough. McCaffrey has been the lifeline of the Panthers offense for the last 2 seasons and adjusting to life without McCaffrey will be tough against this stout Chargers defense. Final score prediction is: Carolina 20 Los Angeles 24.
RT Taylor Moton vs. the pass rush edge duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram will be key if the Panthers want to win on Sunday. This matchup also is key for Moton off the field as he seeks his first long term deal. Handling Bosa and Ingram would be a good start to him getting a new deal.
Rookie QB Justin Herbert makes his 2nd NFL start against a struggling Panthers secondary. Herbert will be making his 2nd start but this week will be his first, preparing throughout the week as a starter. I expect Herbert to be confident and well prepared to spread the ball around to his weapons on Sunday and build off an impressive start from last week vs. the defending Super Bowl Kansas City Chiefs.
Players To Watch
Rookie RB Joshua Kelly has been impressive early in this season. A struggling Panthers run defense will have it’s hands full slowing him down and his running mate RB Austin Ekeler. Neutralizing both of these players should be priority #1 for Panthers defensive coordinator Phil Snow and company.
RB Mike Davis is getting the start for the Panthers. For the last two seasons the offense has run through McCaffrey. I’m interested to see how Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady uses Davis on Sunday and how that impacts the overall offense. If Davis can provide a semblance of a running game while contributing in the passing game, it bolds well for Brady and the offense to put up points on Sunday.