Tomorrow, Sept. 15, the Carolina Panthers travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium to face off against the 0-1 Buffalo Bills. Both of these teams have the record of 0-1 after the first week, but they both demonstrated great potential. The Panthers held the dynamic Seattle Seahawks to only field goals until late in the fourth quarter. The Panthers had a great chance driving down the field and getting into the red zone, until DeAngelo Williams coughed up the football and they lost all momentum. The Bills were defeated by the New England Patriots. The Bills had the lead late into the fourth quarter, until Tom Brady took the Patriots down the field and got them into field goal range with seconds remaining on the clock.
In Week 2, both teams will be looking to bounce back and show the rest of the NFL that they are a team worth fearing. Both teams have great players that can change the outcome of any game. The Panthers have a great, young, mobile quarterback in Cam Newton. He is maturing into a team leader, but needs to take control and get some points with the offense. The Bills have a very similar situation at quarterback. EJ Manuel is a rookie this year, but he showed good potential and also proved he has speed to scramble if needed. I don’t expect either teams to call plays involving a quarterback sneak, but expect to see both quarterbacks scramble to extend the plays and earn around 30 yards on the ground for the game. I give the edge to Newton, because he has a few more years of experience in the NFL and has more to prove this week. I predict he will throw over 225 yards and two touchdowns.
The running backs for both teams have great potential and are expected to have a good season. Williams had a solid game for the Panthers in Week 1, minus his two fumbles. He was kept out of the end zone but ran over 80 yards with only 17 attempts. The running back for the Bills, CJ Spiller, was more disappointing in Week 1 against the Patriots. For 17 attempts, he only rushed for a little over 40 yards. I give the advantage to Williams because he didn’t split carries with anyone in Week 1, and Spiller was splitting with backup running back Fred Jackson. Also, the Panthers’ defense seems more dominant, restricting Marshawn Lynch to 43 yards and no touchdowns. The Bills’ defense, however, allowed two running backs on the Patriots to rush more than 80 yards a piece. I think both Williams and Spiller will rush for well over 50 yards and have at least one touchdown.
The key to this game is how the defense on both teams prepare for this week. With both teams sporting a mobile quarterback, the major focus would be containment and pressure. Whichever team gets to the quarterback more often, whether its a sack or just a hand in the face, will come out on top.
Another main focus is turnovers. Both teams should be looking to pressure the quarterback and force them into throwing dangerous passes. Whichever defense can take advantage of careless plays and force turnovers will almost guarantee a win for their organization. I give the advantage to the Panthers, based off of their previous performances. The Panthers have a fantastic linebacker core and other great veterans who know how to make plays on the ball. The Bills allowed more offensive yards and points in Week 1 than the Panthers. I expect to see a few turnovers this game, mostly in favor of the Panthers.
I expect this to be an exciting game to watch. Both teams should come out firing on offense, and it’s just a matter of how well the defense can handle it. I predict a 24-17 victory of the Panthers over the Bills.