Fearless prediction: Panthers to start fast
Five fearless predictions for Sunday’s Carolina Panthers (6-3) game at Detroit (3-6):
1. MOTOR GOES EARLY IN MOTOR CITY
Carolina needs to start fast on both sides of the ball, and they will do so. Cam Newton and the offense will score on their first drive, which would be the first time this season they’ve been able to do so in consecutive games.
On defense, Carolina will feel comfortable leaving its cornerbacks in more one-on-one situations against a Detroit receiving corps missing Golden Tate. That means they will blitz early to try to disrupt the Lions’ offensive rhythm, and capitalize on a shaky offensive line.
2. WHEELS DON’T FALL OFF
A first-quarter turnover led to a huge momentum swing in Pittsburgh, but this week the Panthers will win the turnover battle 2-0. I predict a stripsack by defensive end Wes Horton, and a fumble recovery by linebacker Luke Kuechly.
3. GREG OLSEN IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
Tight end Olsen didn’t score a touchdown against Pittsburgh after scoring one in three straight games, so he’s due. He’ll be one of two leading receivers for the Panthers, with the other being running back Christian McCaffrey.
4. PANTHERS KEEP FOOT ON THE GAS
Carolina averages a league-worst 1.4 points in the third quarter this season. But all-around fixes Sunday will include a better third quarter, when Newton will throw a touchdown pass to receiver Curtis Samuel.
5. ALL ROADS LEAD TO 7-3
Carolina improves to 7-3 as the Panthers win decisively, 34-14.