NFL Week 9 Preview: Panthers vs. Rams
Maybe a bye week was just what the Panthers needed to turn their season around. After four straight losses, Carolina finally got that elusive second win of the season against the Arizona Cardinals. The Panthers head into Los Angeles to face a 3-4 Rams squad that’s fresh off their bye week. Sunday’s game will be Cam Newton’s first game ever in Hollywood and plenty of eyes around the league will be watching to see how he fares after his one on one with Roger Goodell about questionable officiating. With the Falcons creating a sizeable lead in the NFC South, each game is a must win for Carolina.
Can the Panthers defense continue Todd Gurley’s struggles?
Todd Gurley, 2015’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, has had a horrible start to his sophomore season. His yards per carry are down to 3.0 after averaging 4.8 in his rookie season. He’s rushing for just under 58 yards per game and he’s yet to reach the 100-yard mark in a game, a feat he accomplished 5 times in his debut season. With Case Keenum under center at quarterback, defenses have routinely placed eight in the box against LA and Carolina will most likely do the same. Keenum’s the worst quarterback the Panthers have faced since Blaine Gabbert so the run defense should have plenty of chances to show why it’s ranked 3rd in the NFL. After shutting down Cardinals running back David Johnson last week, all signs point to a similar performance from the Panthers defense on Sunday.
Cam Newton vs. The Rams Front Four & The Refs
After receiving another no call on a hit that later cost Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell $18,000, Cam Newton had seen enough. Newton’s grievances finally reached the commissioner’s office and it’ll be interesting to how the game is officiated after many players around the league have hinted that Newton should just shut up and play. The Rams have one of the best d-lines in all of football and linemen William Hayes and Dominque Easley have both stated they won’t change their aggressive style of play on Sunday. Therefore, Cam shouldn’t expect any mercy from the Rams defense when he decides not to hand it off on the read-option or when he’s left unprotected in the pocket. LA has seen two defensive players get ejected this season and they have 68 penalties on the year as well. Boasting a secondary that’s struggled all year, the Rams d-line will have to limit the penalties and play a clean game if it wants to slow a Panthers offense that’s finally started to click the past two games.
Carolina’s not losing to Case Keenum.
Final Score: 21-17 Panthers