Can the Carolina Panthers Catch a Tiger by the Toe?

Who would have Sanu, you really can catch a tiger by the toe.

Sunday, the Carolina Panthers will attempt it when  they venture to Cincinnati to take on the 3-1 Bengals. Cincinnati, who are 7 point favorites and have won 11 straight home games, are looking to wipe the egg of their face from the Patriots prime-time beating this past Sunday.

This is going to be a tough match-up for the Panthers. Cincinnati is good. Prior to Sunday, the Bengals defense allowed only 11 points per game. Cam Newton will need to be quick and decisive against this stifling defense because the Bengals defensive front is guaranteed to get pressure. Geno Atkins will get push up the middle on the youngins and Nate Chandler, given his performance so far, will be easy work for Carlos Dunlop.

A.J. Green
Newton has been great so far, and I expect him to play well on Sunday despite these challenges. Carolina indicated Cam’s improving health and mobility when calling a few designed run plays against Chicago, but this could have been mostly a smokescreen to open some lanes up the middle for the Panthers backs. Cam’s health does seem to be improving, however, adding a dangerous dynamic to Carolina’s offense.

If Carolina is going to win this game, though, it will it will be because of their defense. It’s the team's identity. It’s also what travels best in the NFL. Carolina’s defense has been vulnerable this season, however. Giving up tons points and yards, Cincinnati’s respectable offense will be a challenging opponent.

Carolina’s defense caught caught a break Wednesday. Green, who is arguably the NFL’s best receiver, was carted off the practice field because of a debilitating toe injury. Thursday, a specialist advised Green to sit out Sunday due to the severity of this injury.

Green is a guy the Panthers can’t cover, nobody can really. The best corners in the league have trouble with this guy, so there’s no way the Panthers secondary could stop even an injured Green.

For Cincinnati, this means Dalton and Bernard will need to tow the line. Suddenly this became a much more winnable game for the Panthers. Without Dalton’s pet superstar, the Bengals become more one dimensional. Mohamed Sanu will certainly be more manageable for Carolina's secondary.  He hasn’t been all that effective throughout his career, and in his best season yet, the numbers aren’t that intimidating.

Without Green to worry about, Carolina can focus more on hurrying Dalton and containing Bernard. The more pressure on Dalton the better for Carolina, both literally and figuratively.

If Carolina’s offensive line can hold up long enough for Cam to move the ball, Carolina’s defense has a good shot at limiting Cincinnati’s production. Sunday, we may just see the Panthers catch this tiger by the toe!

By the Professor aka +Cat Chronicles
Follow me on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles