Sunday in Carolina, the Titans take on the Panthers in what has become a must win after the team has fallen on hard times as of late.
Last week the Titans couldn’t hold a lead, losing to the upstart Bengals at home. Now they take on rookie wonder Cam Newton and the Cats on the road. Below are our keys to the game, as well as our final prediction.
1. Get to Newton - The Panthers haven’t been able to string consecutive wins together this season, but they can get the first step out of the way if Newton protects the football and the offense gets both running backs started off early. The Panthers, however, have established themselves as a passing team this season, and that could solely guide them to victory if the Titans aren’t prepared.
2. Keep Getting CJ the Ball – Chris Johnson was a dual threat against the Bengals in a losing cause. Munchak has tried all season to get his franchise player going and will attempt to strike again while the iron’s still hot against Carolina’s struggling run defense. If that scheme fails early, expect to see Hasselbeck airing it out like he has through the first eight contests, though the Titans are far more dangerous when Johnson’s productive.
3. Force Turnovers – Turnovers have been a major issue for the Panthers, who are 2-0 when having a positive turnover margin and 0-6 when finishing with either an even or negative margin. The defense was able to rattle Minnesota rookie quarterback Christian Ponder in Week 8, but will face a savvy veteran in Hasselbeck this time around. He hasn’t thrown a pick in the past two weeks.
Prediction – Cam Newton and the Panthers return to the field this week, and you can expect them to start playing better, given the fact Newton is playing well, and they had a week to tweak some things. The Titans are in a free fall, they had a lead last week against the Bengals, and couldn’t close it out. Look for a big day from Newton and the Panthers, and Carolina to get a huge home win. Carolina 27 Tennessee 17