Good chance for shootout, more Moore, streak is alive
Five fearless predictions for Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game against Tampa Bay:
1. A SHOOTOUT, FOR REAL THIS TIME
I’ve been predicting shootouts in each of the past two games, but Carolina came back from a 17-point deficit to beat Philadelphia and then took Baltimore to the wood shed.
But with Ryan Fitzpatrick starting for Tampa Bay this weekend, I think the chances he gets into a shootout with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton are high.
2. PANTHERS STAY POROUS AGAINST TIGHT ENDS
Before the victory over Baltimore, Carolina had struggled to limit tight ends in the middle of the field. Tampa Bay tight end O.J. Howard is dynamic in the passing game and has 24 catches for 419 yards and three touchdowns this season. He will present a problem for Carolina.
3. FITZMAGIC OR FITZTRAGIC?
If Carolina can get its pass-rush to pop early, they can turn “Fitzmagic” into “Fitztragic.”
Expect defensive coordinator Eric Washington to be aggressive early, but take warning: Living by the blitz can make the back end vulnerable, leaving guys in one-on-one situations, if the pass-rush doesn’t get home early on.
4. DJ MOORE DOES IT AGAIN
Panthers veteran receiver Torrey Smith has been ruled out with a knee injury, so that means more time for rookie DJ Moore. He had a career-high 90 yards on five catches and two carries for 39 yards last Sunday, but hasn’t scored since Week 2. This Sunday, he finds the end zone.
5. PANTHERS’ STREAK STAYS ALIVE
Newton hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 6 against Washington, and him continuing to take care of the ball on Sunday ultimately gives the Panthers the edge. Carolina improves to 6-2 en route to a short week, and takes care of Tampa Bay 34-28.