This Sunday the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Carolina Panthers in a feline fisticuffs that is sure to delight the senses. Carolina is coming off a painful (but expected) loss to the Atlanta Falcons while the Bengals are 2-0 and coming off a nice long week following their Thursday night victory over the Ravens. This is not going to be an easy game for the Carolina Panthers, far from it. Are they up to the task?
Andy Dalton, while not a world beater, currently has a QB rating of 108.5, which is nothing to sneeze at. Of course, it helps that he has AJ Green on the receiving end of his passes. Green already has four touchdowns in only two games. Green is a freakish receiver in the mold of Randy Moss and will likely give the less than stellar secondary of the Carolina Panthers fits. It would not shock me to see Green rack up another two touchdowns this Sunday.
On the ground the Cincinnati Bengals are hurting. Their second year starter Joe Mixon is out at least two weeks following surgery. Their capable backup Giovani Bernard was limited during practice on Wednesday with a knee injury and may not be 100% come game time. This is great news for the Carolina Panthers who featured a less than impressive run defense in Atlanta. If the Panthers don’t need to worry as much about the Bengals run game, Andy Dalton’s job just got exponentially more difficult.
On offense, the Carolina Panthers should be able to keep pace. The Bengals defense currently ranks a poor 27th in the league. After seeing an average performance from the Panthers offensive line in Atlanta (yes, I am excited about an average performance at this point), I have fewer concerns that the Panthers will be able to score.
The Carolina Panthers are promising a more involved DJ Moore in this game, but I worry that will be forced. I never like promises of a certain player getting more involved. Let things develop quietly and naturally, there is no need to telegraph the plan.
I haven’t been wrong in my predictions yet this season, and hopefully I am not wrong here. I see this being a “get right” game for the Carolina Panthers defense. The Bengals will struggle to run the ball and when that happens the Carolina Panthers can pin their ears back and get aggressive on pass rush. Keep an eye on Julius Peppers.
Cincinnati Bengals – 17
Carolina Panthers – 33