Saturday, September 22, 2018
Coming off a tough loss to division rival Atlanta, the road to winning the NFC South won’t get any easier as the Panthers host the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday at 1:00 PM ET on CBS.
The Bengals continue to impress early in the season. In only two games, quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown for 508 yards with six touchdowns. By comparison, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has thrown for 496 yards with three touchdowns. Bengals star wide receiver AJ Green already has four touchdowns this season, one more than Cam has thrown for as the Panthers quarterback.
The last time these two teams met was during the 2014 regular season in Cincinnati. The game ended in a tie at 37 apiece, as the Bengals missed a 37 yard field goal wide right to win in overtime. It was a game filled with scoring and critical mistakes in execution. Some of the key players have since changed, some remain, and in one case, one remains but will not play. Greg Olsen, who had 62 yards and a touchdown the last time they played, is still out of action.
The Bengals, who are averaging 34 points a game thus far, will face their biggest test on defense to date against the Panthers, on the road. The Panthers defense are giving up 23.5 points per game thus far.
For the Panthers to win, they must avoid playing from behind and putting Cam in a situation to make forced throws. Cam must trust his receivers and offensive coordinator Norv Turner must avoid too much of last week’s dink and dunk offense. They must establish a running game to take pressure off Newton and avoid costly turnovers. Lastly, the defense must contain the Dalton deep ball and keep pressure at the line on.
For the Bengals to win, they simply must keep doing what they’ve done the first two weeks of the season. Without Greg Olsen, I don’t think the odds are good that the Panthers offense can keep up with the Bengals in an offensive shoot-out. The Bengals must keep a close eye on Christian McCaffrey and Newton trying to run with the ball.
Carolina is the three point favorite, but Cincinnati presents as a difficult match-up for them.