Rookie QB Jimmy Clausen will get his first start of his young career but he will be thrown to the Bengals defense that held the Ravens offense to 10 points last week and made life miserable for QB Joe Flacco (4 interceptions) all game long. The (1-1) Cincinnati Bengals will walk into Bank of America stadium for an afternoon affair with the (0-2) Carolina Panthers, kickoff slated for 1 PM EST. The Carolina Panthers are trying to avoid starting 0-3 for a second consecutive season and head coach John Fox might be out of a job soon as he has been on the “hot seat” quite some time now. These teams have met just three times, with the Panthers leading the series, 2-1, the last meeting, a 17-14 Bengals victory, was on October 22, 2006. The Panthers and Bengals will battle it out Sunday afternoon in what is a game that features many interesting storylines.
The Cincinnati Bengals were quick to prove critics wrong after their embarrassing outing in Foxborough 2 weeks ago, as they were able to keep their winning streak alive against the Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals defense picked QB Joe Flacco off 4 times and was consistently penetrating the backfield in what was a total defensive onslaught for four quarters. The double trouble combination of WR Chad Ochocinco and WR Terell Owens has been productive, the pair have combined for 313 receiving yards and a touchdown and most importantly seem to be focused and poised. QB Carson Palmer did not have a spectacular day last week, finishing 16-35 for 167 yards, but he did manage the game effectively and did not commit any errors. First round pick, TE Jermaine Grisham has gotten off to a fast start and has already secured 9 receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown. The product from Oklahoma boasts a very powerful, speedy game and creates mismatches through the middle of teams’ defenses. On the horizon for Cincinnati in Week 4 and 5 are games against Cleveland and Tampa Bay, which are teams that are either in flux under center or feature a young starter. It will be very important that they do not look beyond Carolina (0-2), which heads into Sunday with the league’s least experienced starting quarterback. The Bengals will look to secure another win Sunday afternoon in Charlotte and will look to make life difficult for QB Jimmy Clausen early and often.
Coming out of the preseason, analysts had this team projected to rebound from a dismal 2009 campaign, there are no signs of this projection as of yet. The offense has looked inept and the running game does not look as lethal as it has in recent years. Head coach John Fox finally made the move this past week to bench struggling QB Matt Moore and insert Notre Dame sensation, rookie QB Jimmy Clausen. Jimmy Clausen will be making his first career NFL start, becoming the second rookie QB to get a starting nod this season (Sam Bradford). Clausen is second on Notre Dame’s all-time charts in passing yards (8148) and passing touchdowns (60). Last week the Panthers were stymied from a Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rush and aggressive secondary pursuit, QB Matt Moore went 6 for 16 with an interception and a fumble. The usually ferocious one-two-punch of RB’s DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart has been absent thus far, as the two have only accounted for 171 yards on the ground, solid by league standards but this pair has the ability and potential to put up staggering numbers. Third year starting FS Charles Godfrey has found his game again as he already has 2 interceptions and has accounted for 7 tackles thus far. In fact, the Panthers secondary is rated as 6th best in the league as of this moment and have garnered considerable attention league wide. The secondary was a glaring hole last year for the Panthers, but it looks as though Godfrey, as well as the other secondary members have come to play this year. The Panthers need to find a way to make Clausen cool and collected in the pocket this Sunday afternoon, a steady rushing attack and a manageable game plan against the Begals would be just the ticket.
Bengals vs Panthers Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Cincinnati Bengals -3
@ Carolina Panthers +3
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Bengals vs Panthers Prediction for Week 3:
Spread Prediction (TOP PLAY) – When we look at teams making a change at the QB position we usually consider the benefits of such a move. A new pivot might bring a different style of game, a more focused approach, he might bring more pure talent, but I believe QB Jimmy Clausen is being fed to the wolves hear and the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. This Bengals defense is relentless, as was shown last week against the Ravens, and I believe Clausen will have a tough time getting the ball down field. There are no genuine ATS stats to back up this assumption as they all point to the Panthers favor, but I just believe this Bengals team is actually for real this year and is a force to be reckoned with. One tidbit of information, the Panthers have been outscored 138-62 in dropping their last five games in the month of September. My top play not only for this game but for this week will be the Bengals and the points.
Game Total Prediction – Mathematic formula for the week—— Rookie QB making first start + strong running teams + strong defenses + poor home field advantage = UNDER! This game has all the makings to push under the total and I believe we are looking at a very low scoring affair that will be consumed with ground attacks and defensive struggle. Like Carolina, Cincinnati hasn’t had much consistency through the air. Carson Palmer was outstanding in the second half against New England, going 22 of 31 for 215 yards and two touchdowns, but he’s been rather ordinary otherwise. The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Carolina’s last 9 games and has gone UNDER in 5 of Carolina’s last 5 games at home. I believe the Panthers will give rookie QB Jimmy Clausen a fairly easy and scripted game plan to follow and I look for them to use the running game early and often. Strongly consider taking the UNDER 38 in this defensive struggle. Cheers!
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