Cam Newton was the story of 2011, a rookie quarterback takes control of a team and looks like he is the savior of a franchise. Fast forward to 2012 and we have a similar story line. RG3, a highly coveted quarterback out of college gets drafted early in the first round only to light up the NFL in his rookie campaign. There are certainly similarities between the two; both can produce big plays with their legs as well as their arms. Something that will take Griffin a long way is his leadership skills, however. Newton’s character has been in question this season, but I don’t see the same issues with RG3. Griffin appears to be a player that takes his job seriously, while Newton has been going through the motions this year. For one week at least, Griffin and Newton will have the opportunity to settle this debate on the field against one another.
Cam Newton has had the beneficiary of having an operational defense to work with. Griffin on the other hand, well, it’s almost like opposing offenses are playing against air. Okay, it’s not that bad, but the Redskins’ defense is rather deplorable. They rank near the back of the pack in terms of total team defense in 29th. The ‘Skins allow 406.4 yards per game with 28.4 points. They are particularly bad against the pass, dead last in the league at 32nd allowing an average of 314 yards a game. Injuries have been an issue, most notably linebacker Brian Orakpo is sitting on the IR. Veteran cornerback Deangelo Hallo was supposed to be that “glue” that held this group together, but after cursing out an official in week 9, the defense was unraveling even further before our eyes. Hall has 54 tackles with 2 interceptions this year, so he has produced on the field, but there are no other playmakers on the current healthy roster. It’ll be interesting to see how the defense responds to their “leader” spewing obscenities to an official last week.
The Panthers offense is an interesting bunch. If Newton feels like playing on that particular Sunday, they have a fairly good offense. If the offense played just a smudge better than they played last week it probably would have been a victory. Newton finished with 314 yards passing, but also threw 2 interceptions. Receiver Steve Smith had an excellent day, hauling in 7 passes for 118 yards. Chicago isn’t the only stingy defense they have played this season, because they have been tested against some of the best, including the Cowboys, Seahawks, Giants, and the Falcons. When they did have a chance against a bad defense they torched them. The Panthers scored 35 on the Saints abysmal defense en route to a 35-27 win.
The Panthers themselves a pretty decent defense, unlike the Redskins. They rank 15th in terms of total defense, allowing 343 yards per game. They are also 15th in passing and 20th against the run. They don’t do anything particularly well, but they are miles better than the Redskins’ defensive unit. The Redskins offense shouldn’t be an easy to contain, though. Last week against the Steelers on the road was really one of the only times this year that RG3 hasn’t looked invincible. The Redskins dropped that contest 27-12. Griffin only managed to pass for 177 yards on 16-34 passing. His running game was neutralized as well, holding him to only 8 yards. Nevertheless, the offense still has big play capabilities, especially against average defenses.
Panthers vs. Redskins Spread and Betting Odds:
Carolina Panthers +3.5 (-120)
@Washington Redskins -3.5 (+105)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Panthers vs. Redskins Pick:
What I see when I look at both of these teams is one that could very well have more wins that they have and another that could easily have less wins. A play here and a play there and the Panthers may be a .500 team. They have played in competitive games against good teams and were usually in games until the final few minutes. The Redskins have been living on a prayer in many of their games, and with a defense as terrible as they have, I think they may begin to unravel in the second half of the season. RG3 is a good player, no doubt about it, but he can only do so much.
I could very well see this game coming down to the last couple of minutes, a field goal either way. If there is going to be a game Cam Newton shows up for this season, this is going to be the one. He has heard the rumblings about RG3 being better than him, and I think he steps up with the spotlight on him. This will be the worst defense they have faced since the Saints, a team in which they put up 35 points on. As I alluded to earlier, the Panthers have run into some pretty potent defenses thus far this season. I’ll take the Panthers in a game that should finish 27-24 for either squad. I think this is an even matchup, I’ll take the better defense in this spot.
PICK = Panthers +3.5