Panthers-Bengals preview

The Panthers now sit at 0-2 going into Week 3 as they prepare to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. These teams actually have a lot in common when you think about it, especially their defenses. When I look at both teams defenses, I see a lot of solid, effective players but not one stand out. They all work well as a single unit. The difference is that the Bengals defense has played a lot better than the Panthers. Another thing they have in common is that both have a lot of weapons on offense and neither have delivered. The difference you ask? Carolina is starting a rookie QB with a shaky o-line and questionable receivers while the Bengals have more proven targets. Still, both offenses haven’t been unleashed yet this could determine if this game will be a blowout or not.

Matchups:

Jimmy Clausen vs. Bengals defense

The Bengals defense dominated Joe Flacco last week. They were in his face the whole time and forced him to throw 4 awful interceptions. The front four did their jobs. They got into the backfield, made Flacco panic and he made terrible throws as a result. I saw a lot of blitzes, too. DE Michael Johnson was in Flacco’s grill multiple times last week. Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer is going to go with the same strategy against Clausen and have the Bengals defense get into his head like they did to Flacco last week. Clausen gets rid of the ball quicker than Flacco, though. He’s good at delivering quick, accurate passes which will work in his benefit. Going up against the Bengals should be a good test to see how much “poise” and confidence he has.

DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart vs. Keith Rivers/Ray Maualuga

It’s obvious that the Panthers are going to try to establish the run first since they have the backs to do it. The problem is that neither have gotten the wheels clicking. The O-line is partially to blame for this but they are going to have a breakout game sooner or later. They’ll have another tough test against a solid Bengals LB corps. Maualuga is their “Jon Beason” in a way. He never gives up on a play and is usually good at sniffing out running backs. Rivers is a good run stuffer as well and he is expected to return after missing last week. One other guy Double Trouble should look out for is DE Robert Geathers who did a pretty good job at stopping Ray Rice last week. That brings us to the next matchup

Geoff Schwartz and Mackenzy Bernadeau vs. Robert Geathers and Tank Johnson

This is where we really wish we had Jeff Otah… Neither Schwartz nor Bernadeau have been good in his place and our running game has definitely suffered because of it. I maintain confidence in Ryan Kalil and Jordan Gross in stopping Antwan Odom but these two really need to pick it up. Odom is going to be double covered by Gross and Wharton which opens the door for Tank and Geathers to reak havok.

Panthers tight ends vs. Bengals secondary

Look,  everyone knows that Steve Smith is our best WR and he is likely going to be double covered by the Bengals. The Bengals also have one of the best corner tandems in the league, which is going to make things even harder for us. They blanketed almost every receiver Flacco tried to throw to last week and look to do the same to our receivers. This is where I want to see Dante Rosario, Jeff King and Gary Barnidge get involved with the passing game. Rosario is capable of making plays on both long and short routes and he has a chance to get open if he gets a good matchup against this defense.
Carson Palmer vs. Panthers pass rush

Carson Palmer hasn’t been great this season and he had a very mediocre outing against the Ravens last week. Many are saying that this is the year that Palmer “needs” to prove that he’s still a good QB given the weapons around him. I give him the benefit of the doubt for the first two weeks since he was up against two of the best front 7’s in the league. He’s got an easier task on his hand against the Carolina Panthers front 4, which hasn’t done much so far. Charles Johnson and Everette Brown need to find their pre-season form if they want to stop Palmer at all. Now, they did get into the backfield against the Bucs yesterday but they couldn’t finish their tackles and Freeman was able to avoid the pressure. Palmer won’t be able to do that as well so hopefully the Panthers pass rush can get to him. I’m expecting us to dial up a few blitzes from the linebackers and safeties as well. The pass rush needs all the help they can get.

Terrell Owens/Chad Ochocinco vs. Richard Marshall/Chris Gamble

In all fairness, the Panthers pass coverage wasn’t that bad. Tackling, QB containment were another story. The new dynamic duo in Cinci have been decent so far but fans have been expecting more and this could be their chance to have a huge game. Panthers have had a vulnerable pass defense this season and it needs to get better. Giving up big plays kind of comes with the territory of playing in a Tampa 2 defense but I would like to see the pass defense improve. A lot.

Jermaine Gresham/Jordan Shipley vs. Captain Munnerlyn

This is a very favorable matchup for the Bengals. Munnerlyn has been absolutely terrible at the nickelback position and this creates a big chance for both Shipley and Gresham to have a breakout game. I would not be surprised to see us put Beason or Anderson in coverage against Gresham, though. That seems like the best thing to do here. That or rely on Sherrod Martin and Charles Godfrey to disrupt the passing game as much as possible.

Cedric Benson vs. Panthers rush defense

The rush defense has been one positive thing for this defense. While it hasn’t been great, it’s been solid. Benson is apparently “frustrated” with the Bengals offense thus far and rightfully so. He did get his fair share of carries against the Ravens last week though and was shut down for the most part. I’m not sure he will have that much success against our linebackers but we shall see.

What I Want From This Game:

Jonathan Stewart to get more involved

He needs to be getting more than 5-8 touches a game. He getting more explosive with each year and it seems dumb to let him sit on the bench. The only explanation I can think of is if he still has that lingering pre-season injury. Then by all means let him rest.

Defense to get more than one sack

Preferably from the defensive line. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask for but after watching the footage of Freeman running away from all of our linemen it might be…

Jimmy Clausen not to turn the ball over

Well…I don’t want him to throw an INT that’s his fault if you know what I mean. No passes into double coverage or trying to force passes. That sounds fine. There’s always a chance that the ball will go off one of our receivers hands and into the hands of Jonathan Joseph.

Armanti Edwards to play

It’s time to see what he can do. We might as well suit him up for this game and get him involved in a few plays.

Greg Hardy to get more snaps and be involved with blitz packages.

Every time I see him he’s always making some kind of play. Let’s use him more.

No more weak-ass arm tackles from the secondary

Seriously.  See Tampa’s second TD to see what I mean.

The offensive line to have some unity.

I have a feeling that I’ll be asking this question until Otah gets back.

Prediction:

I really hate to pick against my own team but I don’t see us winning unless the Bengals defense has a performance like they did against the Patriots.

Bengals 19, Panthers 14

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