The Carolina Panthers unfortunately started their season with a close loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The loss was not an ideal result but the team showed some promise on both sides of the ball. As many projected the young defense struggled; they were unable to create much of a pass rush and the run defense was almost non existent. The young secondary played ok but they were unable to contain the Raiders passing attack. There were however a few bright spots. Rookie Jeremy Chinn was all over the field and recorded the second most tackles in a game by a rookie in franchise history with 8. Despite giving up 34 points the defense was able to hold the Raiders to a field goal late in the game to keep hope alive for the team.
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On offense Christian Mccaffrey picked up right where he left off last season recording 97 rush yards and 38 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Teddy Bridgewater was good but not great. He threw for 269 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers which is a plus. The offensive line looked better than any Panthers o-line in recent memory, keeping Teddy upright and opening holes for Mccaffrey to run. Surprisingly it looks like Robbie Anderson may be the Panthers new number 1 receiver. Many expected DJ Moore to take over this role but the 3rd year player struggled in the first game of the season. But the offense as a whole was good enough to have a chance to win late in the 4th quarter.
Now i want to talk a little bit about the coaching. It was the first NFL coaching game for Head coach Matt Rhule, Offensive coordinator Joe Brady, and Defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As a whole i thought the staff did pretty well with what they have; a young and inexperienced roster. There were however some head scratching decisions. I thought the defense didnt get enough pressure and did not bring enough blitzes. With the current d-line they’re going to have to bring extra blitzers if they want to get pressure on the opponents QB. On offense i thought they did pretty good except for one thing; Give Christian Mccaffrey the ball, hes your best player and although he did get alot of touches hes gonna need it more. Especially on 4th and inches with the game on the line, just give him the ball. They gave it to fullback Alex Armah and failed to get the first down essentially ending the game. Wow.
Week 2 @ Tampa Bay
The thing with football is the only thing you can do is look ahead to the next week. Week two the Panthers will travel to Tampa Bay to take on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are also coming off a loss in week one so both teams are looking for a rebound. The Buccaneers will be heavily favored and rightfully so. They have “The GOAT” Tom Brady plus two pro bowl receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Not to mention the running backs; Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, and Lesean Mccoy. So they’re loaded offensively. The defense not so much but they were solid in week 1 against New Orleans.
However, I am going to pick the Panthers in an upset, let me tell you why. Tom Brady is not the same Brady that won 6 super bowls in New England, hes 42 and you can tell. He threw a bad pick six last week that gave the saints a lead they would not relinquish. The run game looked good but not great and Chris Godwin, one of their top receivers, may not play this week. On the other side of the ball i think the Panthers have the offensive firepower to keep pace with the Bucs and if Teddy can stay turnover free watch out. Also if the Panthers defense can get some pressure on Brady (bring the heat) and can force a turnover or 2 that will put carolina in good position for an upset victory.
Maybe i’m overly optimistic or maybe I’m just crazy but I don’t think this game will be a blow out. In fact i’m saying the Panthers win in a shootout 42-38. The Panthers are a team quietly on the rise and should get better every week this season. Maybe they don’t win but this one is gonna be close, it is of course a rivalry game. If the Panthers can prove me right and get a win, they will definitely turn plenty of heads and talk of Tom Brady’s early retirement will start up.
As always, Keep Pounding Panthers fans.