The very surprising 12-4, NFC South Champion Carolina Panthers will host the identical 12-4 San Francisco 49ers this Sunday for the second NFC Divisional-round game. Will Super Cam Newton be able to take down Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers? Here are five bold predictions for the game.
5. Cam Newton is held to 150 passing yards, one touchdown
Newton had just 16 completions for 141 yards, no touchdowns and one interception while being sacked three times when these two teams met in week 10- a 10-9 Panthers victory.
Facing the 49ers 7th-ranked pass defense, Newton will once again find it difficult to take on this secondary. Aside from Steve Smith, he doesn’t have enough receivers, and the offense is clearly overmatched by the secondary, which is why the Panthers quarterback won’t put up too great of a game offensively.
4. Colin Kaepernick is held to 200 passing yards, one touchdown as well
Kaepernick had one of the ugliest games of his career. He had 46, yes, 46 passing yards on 11 completions while throwing one interception and was sacked six times. With Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree (if he’s healthy) back in the fold, Kaepernick’s play should be a lot better.
Expect Kaepernick to improve his awful numbers, but they won’t be mind-boggling. The Panthers have the sixth-best pass defense, and completely shut down Kaepernick’s offense last time they met.
But with more weapons at his disposal, Kaepernick should reach 200-plus passing yards, but will be held to one touchdown.
3. Both rushing offenses combine for 300 yards, combine for three touchdowns
Both of these teams play old-fashioned football. Have a tough defense, and run the ground and pound game.
Last time these teams met, there was a total of 214 rushing yards but just one touchdown on 55 carries, but that will change this time around.
Both of these teams will try to just run the ball all game and kill the clock. Such is the way when you’re facing an elite defense and both quarterbacks are two of the fastest and most mobile in the league.
With DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, Newton for Carolina, and Kaepernick with Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, expect both rushing offenses to combine for 300 yards, while scoring three touchdowns in this one.
2. Each defense forces two turnovers, records three sacks
Two of the best defenses in forcing turnovers and getting after the quarterback, expect both of these defenses to have plenty of potential game-changing plays.
After we saw a total of nine sacks a week ago, both defenses have sustained the strong pass rush that lifted them to the playoffs. We shouldn’t see too much of a change here.
Each quarterback will find it hard to find open receivers, and being forced to run on some plays, you can expect each quarterback to be sacked multiple times.
In what will a low-scoring affair, both quarterbacks are also likely due to make a couple of bad decisions- forcing throws that will be intercepted. With two physical defensive lines as well, fumbles are very likely to occur.
In the end, there should be a total of at least four turnovers and six sacks.
1. Panthers win 24-20
It will be a low-scoring, tight defensive affair when these two teams meet. You have two solid, but not great offenses that rely heavily on the running game against two of the league’s overall best and physical defenses.
After what we saw in week 13, there will be more offense in this one, but the Panthers should be able to win on home-field. After what we saw from this team in the second half, they’re on a mission to win their first playoff game in eight years, and in the end, Super Cam orchestrates a clutch-game winning drive to send his team to its third NFC Championship in 11 years.
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