By Ted Fleming
Oakland Raiders by the numbers
2012 Record: 4-10
Record vs. Panthers: 2-2
Streak against Panthers: L1
Last Meeting: Panthers 17, Raiders 6 (11/9/08)
Next Game: Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte (73,504)
Sunday will mark just the third time the Oakland Raiders have visited the Queen City since the Panthers entered the league in 1995. The last time the Silver and Black played at Bank of American Stadium was in 2004, when they nipped the Cats by three points, 27-24. That year they finished 5-11 and they would need to win either of their final two games to equal that mark this season, but will have to do it away from the Black Hole as they have completed their home schedule.
Oakland has not had a winning season since 2002, and are on their seventh head coach, Dennis Allen, who is the team’s third in three years. This is Allen’s first NFL head coaching job.
Coming off an 8-8 record in 2010, the Raiders thought they had solved their quarterback issues when they acquired Carson Palmer from the Bengals, but in nine starts he was unable to push them over the .500 mark, going 4-5 after sitting out training camp and missing the first six games. For the second year in a row, Oakland finished at 8-8, although there were high hopes that with Palmer there from day one, they would be able to turn things around. It hasn’t worked out that way.
The Raiders are coming off a rather lackluster 15-0 whitewash of the Chiefs, but they will take anything at this point because that win snapped a six game slide and during that span scored 109 points, 32 coming in the first defeat. The five games that followed have them averaging a shade over 15 points a game. They are not exactly an offensive juggernaut, ranking just 26th in scoring, although they are in the upper half of the league (12th) in yards. Palmer is also leading a 7th rated passing game with nearly 271 yards per contest.
Brandon Myers (743 yards), Denarius Moore (724) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (562) lead a talented receiving corps, and while they would give many defenses the heebie-jeebies, the Panthers can hold their own against anyone where they are 10th in the league against the pass. The Raiders have also had a hard time finding the end zone despite Palmer being on the cusp of throwing for 4,000 yards, which he will do on Sunday. He is 13 away.
On the flip side, the Raiders’ defense has been atrocious, allowing a league worst 28.7 yards a game with their best ranking comes against the run – 21st. The Panthers have been more committed to the run than at any time this season and are on a roll looking for their first three game-winning streak in three years. Cam Newton is the team’s leading rusher with 647 yards, but DeAngelo Williams is closing the gap with 508 despite being relegated to the number two back most of the season. Since taking over for the injured Jonathan Stewart, he has not had a 100 yard game. However, he was pulled from the Chargers’ game last weekend just seven yards shy. Williams is also showing he can be a double threat as well being on the receiving end of two huge gainers the last two games.
The Panthers are perfectly positioned to equal last season’s win total and after the miserable start, it would be quite an accomplishment. It is not exactly a must-win, there are no playoffs at stake, but with the Saints up next in New Orleans it would be a nice way to close out the home season and give their fans some real hope for 2013, if they don’t look past the Raiders.
Oakland has given up 20 more touchdowns than they have scored so win number six is ready for the taking.
Prediction: Panthers 31, Raiders 10
Raiders: Quarterback coach John DeFilippo spent 1997 with the Panthers as a coaching intern,
LB Omar Gaither spent the 2011 season with the Panthers and hails from Charlotte..
RB Mike Goodson was the Panthers’ fourth-round pick (111th overall) in 2009 and played 28 games with three starts for Carolina.
Panthers: WR Louis Murphy was selected by the Raiders in the fourth round (124th overall) in 2009 and was with the team from 2009-11.
T Bruce Campbell was the Raiders’ fourth round selection in 2010 and played 14 games in 2010-11.
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Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.