This is my favorite play of the week. I love Carolina for the following reasons:
1. This spread is at least four points off. I have the Panthers as a three-point favorite. These teams are right next to each other in my NFL Power Rankings, so given that Carolina gets a field goal for homefield advantage, the line should be -3. The spread is +1, however, because...
2. The public is overreacting to San Francisco's victory at Lambeau. It was one of the most-watched football games in league history, and everyone saw Kaepernick run around and beat Aaron Rodgers. Now, everyone has the 49ers winning this contest. The analysts on ESPN are going nuts. For example, Bill Simmons and Cousin Sal both hinted that it was a lock the 49ers would win by three. Bill Plaschke called San Francisco the best team in the NFL. Perhaps they are, but how can you possibly tell that with a three-point victory over an 8-7-1 team missing two of its best defensive players? If Micah Hyde didn't drop that interception, the Packers would be battling Carolina right now.
3. Speaking of the public, they are absolutely pounding the 49ers, yet the sharps are all over the Panthers. They know value when they see it, and there's no reason Carolina should be a home dog.
4. The 49ers have to deal with some Circadian rhythms, as Roger Goodell, in his infinite wisdom, scheduled this game to kick off at 1 p.m. This screwed over the Seahawks in Atlanta last year.
In today's NFL, all DBs are hitting low. I don't think it was a dirty hit. Just the unfortunate reality of the rules. You can never assume that someone is going to go out of bounds, that's a one way ticket to getting burned and benched.
Read this earlier. While I completely agree that Newton definitely needs to be more consistent with his footwork (which affects his accuracy and always leads to 3-4 WTF throws per game), I think his pocket awareness is pretty good and I disagree with Benoit in that it seems like he thinks Newton isn't good at reading the field. I thought it was a bit disingenuous for him to pick an example from Week 1 about his ability to read the field (against a great D and with a new OC and QB coach's system to implement).
Newton's gotten progressively better at reading the field as the season has gone on and as he's gotten more comfortable with Shula's playcalling and his own ability to audible and directly contribute to the offensive gameplan (I'm reminded of this great article by FO comparing Kap and Cam and their ability to go through their progressions: http://www.footballo...epernick-newton).
The breakdown between static and hybrid defenses was really interesting though. Definitely the next step in Newton's growth is being able to decipher disguised pre-snap coverages as those definitely give him the most trouble. But I would think in general those types of coverages are the ones that give most QBs in the league the most trouble.