The Carolina Panthers started the 2013 NFL season 0-2. In Week 3, the Panthers face a great, high-powered offensive team, the New York Giants. The Panthers defense leading up to the Week 3 matchup looked solid, but the offense was lacking spark and unity. However, at home against the Giants, the Panthers came out with a fire that fans haven’t seen in a while. Quarterback Cam Newton was hitting his targets and was more accurate on the deep ball. Newton also utilized his ability to escape the pocket and sneak for some first downs. Running back DeAngelo Williams was fantastic running the ball on the ground and catching the ball on screenplays. The Panthers receiving core showed depth when Brandon Lafell and Ted Ginn combined for three total touchdowns. The defense remained solid, racking up seven sacks and one interception.
The Panthers need to somehow find a way to carry that momentum through the bye week and into Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals. The Panthers still have a lot to prove to their fans and opponents. They need to show they weren’t a one-hit wonder who got lucky at a home game. If the Panthers really want to contend for first place in a division that is struggling, now is the time to do it. The Cardinals aren’t the best team in the league. They currently hold a 2-2 record. They have a good defense and offense. The biggest factor that will determine the outcome of the game depends on which Panthers team shows up to play. The defense has been solid and consistent for the Panthers. The offense, however has been very shaky and not very productive.
It starts with the quarterback Newton. One thing he didn’t do in the first two weeks was scramble for positive yardage. In Week 3, he extended plays and picked up solid yards on the ground. He also needs to be confident in his abilities and be accurate with the football, especially down field. If Newton and his wide receivers are on the same page, Newton can release the ball before the route is even finished, expecting the receiver to get there. By doing this, he eliminates the opportunity for the defense to make a reaction on the ball. Newton needs to anticipate the route, this will help him get rid of the ball quicker and give the advantage to his receivers.
Williams needs to take control on the ground and do what he does best. He needs to pound the ball down their throats for a few plays and then bounce the ball outside the tackles for a huge game. It will wear the defense down and keep them guessing. Once again, the Panthers second and third-string receivers need to step up and make their presence felt on the field. This will open up the options for Newton and relieve pressure from Steve Smith and Greg Olson. If the Panthers can stretch the field hitting multiple targets, it will help open up the run game. Week 3 was a different Panthers offense that played with pizzazz and trickery. They were confident and unstoppable. If they come out with the same intensity and game plan, expect the Panthers to win the game and take the No. 2 spot in the NFC South Division.