Carolina Panthers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Two of the worst four teams in the NFL last season meet for a week three preseason game as the Cincinnati Bengals host the Carolina Panthers. The Bengals are -3 point favorites over the Panthers with an over/under point total set at 34.
With his back against the wall, Cincinnati Bengals’ Head Coach Marvin Lewis prepares his team for the 2011 season. With Carson Palmer retiring rather than having to endure another season in Cincinnati, the starting spot under center has been passed to rookie QB Andy Dalton and while he was a four year starter in college at TCU, this is a whole different animal as he is finding out in a hurry. The Bengals are hoping that Dalton and receiver A.J. Green, Cincinnati’s first round pick, are a combination to build the offense around. Jermaine Gresham gives Dalton another target as does Jordan Shipley and Andre Caldwell. Cedric Benson is back to carry the load in the backfield but this might be a year where Brian Leonard sees more action as he’s proven more than capable. Lewis is regarded as a defensive guru but his defense is going to need to come up big this season with Rey Maualuga in the middle of it all and Geno Atkins on the defensive line. The Bengals secondary has a chance to be very good but they are going to need Reggie Nelson to return to the form he had in his early days in Jacksonville and for Nate Clements and Leon Hall to play big on the corners. Lewis’position reminds me a lot of how John Fox was in Carolina last year where he needed to win now but there was no expectation nor talent pool that he could get it done.
The Carolina Panthers have a lot of work to do and while they may be a few years away from being a contender, they should be greatly improved over the team we saw just a season ago. Ron Rivera has taken over at head Coach and while John Fox was one of the best in the game, it may have been better for both sides to get a change of scenery. The Panthers put all guessing to rest this week as they announced number one overall pick Cam Newton would be their starter as he should be. DeAngelo Williams decided to remain a Panther signing a new deal and he and Newton should get the benefit of a returning Jeff Otah who Carolina is taking their time with as they would rather have hime ready for the regular season but with Ryan Kalil and Jordan Gross all of the sudden the Panthers have a nice line to work behind. Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell look to be the primary wide receivers but Leged Naanee is the biggest receiver in the NFL, Armanti Edwards is multi-talented, and David Clowney can play. Newton also has two great receiving tight ends in Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen. Carolina never recovered last season from losing Julius Peppers but they didn’t make the same mistake this time around as they kept Charles Johnson happy and with Greg Hardy looking to be recoevered from an off season motorcycle accident the defense is shaping up. The Panthers secondary hasn’t been much of an issue.
I see both of these QB’s continuing to have some growing pains and I see this game being not very high scoring as we may have a better chance of finding material for a blooper reel than a highlight film. Take the under 34 here.