By Danny Cox
The Carolina Panthers came out and demolished the Minnesota Vikings this weekend and it showed that they still have what it takes to win in this league. Cam Newton looked like the player that everyone expected him to be and the defense is really showing signs of electricity and strength.
Many underestimated them, and the Panthers had better not underestimate the St. Louis Rams.
Sam Bradford and the Rams have now won two in a row, but the most recent victory was a gigantic 38-13 demolition of the Houston Texans. The thing is that Bradford didn’t have to do a whole lot to really help the team win.
One of the biggest threats to the Panthers will be a Rams defense that is led by linebacker James Laurinaitis.
Against Houston, the Rams recovered two fumbles and intercepted two passes off of quarterback T.J. Yates. One of those interceptions was by linebacker Alec Ogletree, who returned it 98 yards for a touchdown to put the Rams up 38-6. Yes, a linebacker ran it back the length of the field.
St. Louis also racked up five sacks, including two by defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
This kind of pass rush is something that the Panthers truly need to watch out for because the Rams have a dangerous defensive line and linebacker corps. Brockers actually has 3.5 sacks this season and all of them have come in the last three games.
Cam Newton doesn’t have a lot of rushing yards this season, but he’s going to have to stay on his toes against St. Louis so that he doesn’t end up on his back all day.
Offensively, the Rams are not the most prolific and are far-removed from the “Greatest Show On Turf.”
Bradford has over 1,400 yards this year along with 13 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. The thing is that he doesn’t have a whole lot of weapons.
Jared Cook, Chris Givens, and Austin Pettis are all decent wide receivers, but nothing that can’t be handled by Captain Munnerlyn, Quintin Mikell, and the rest of the secondary.
Believe it or not, the Panthers have to watch out the most for the running game of the Rams. That is kind of hard to take in, considering that Steven Jackson is no longer in town.
Daryl Richardson and Zac Stacy are a formidable duo in the backfield, but the problem is that they can’t seem to both be good on the same day. Usually, it is one or the other that stands tall in a game, and most recently, it was Stacy. Still, they put together a running game that can get through the line with the ground-and-pound or even catch it in the flat and take it the distance.
Carolina’s defense should be able to handle the offense of the Rams. It is the defense of St. Louis, most notably the pass rush, that Cam Newton and the Panthers need to keep a close eye on. With that being said though, Carolina should be able to move up to .500 this weekend.
For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.