The Carolina Panthers, yet another tough NFC South opponent, come to Oakland this week. The Raiders are still smarting from last week’s 24-0 loss to Atlanta. It was complete domination by the Falcons. Do we expect anything different this week?
The Panthers bring in a balanced offensive attack. A solid running game led by DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart opens up a very good passing game (the Panthers may be without Stewart though as he’s suffering a heel injury). Jake Delhomme is a very efficient QB, with good wideouts in Steve Smith and Mushin Muhammed. On the defensive side of the ball, they give up the 3rd fewest points per game. They’re ranked 8th best in total yardage allowed.
Carolina’s balance provides a huge challenge for the Raiders. They’ve had no luck slowing the run over the last few weeks, giving up over 190 yards in each of the last 3 contests. The pass defense will also likely experience some trouble, as the team tries to adjust to losing DeAngelo Hall. On offense, nothing has worked of late. Making matters worse, starting QB JaMarcus Russell is questionable with knee issues. Andrew Walter will probably start if Russell can’t go. One would think they have to do better than last week’s total of 77 yards.
On paper, this game is a complete mismatch. The Raiders are in a state of flux on both offense and defense. There’s little reason to believe the result will be much different than the last two weeks. My prediction – Carolina 35, Oakland 10.