Week 3 preview: Panthers visit Cardinals and other NFL storylines

Carolina Panthers

Every week, CBS 17’s Black & Blue Huddle will give you a preview of the Carolina Panthers’ upcoming matchup. We’ll also dive into storylines surrounding the Panthers and the rest of the NFL.

Panthers travel to Arizona to face Cardinals

The Carolina Panthers opened Week 3 of the NFL season as the only 0-2 team favored to win.

The Cardinals are also winless — not 0-2 type winless, but nonetheless, winless. A bit of Week 1 magic from rookie QB Kyler Murray helped them get into a tie with the Detroit Lions. I can’t stand ties.

We could dive into statistical measures as to why the Panthers have looked iffy this season, but let’s get straight to it. The Panthers need to do something about their offensive lineman as quarterback Cam Newton has had little to no time to make correct reads or even just look comfortable in the pocket.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – SEPTEMBER 12: Carlton Davis #33 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates after a play as #1 of the Carolina Panthers watches on during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 12, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Newton has made a living with his running ability and has set records doing so. He has seemed reluctant to do it to this point in the season. On five carries, he has accumulated -2 yards. Ouch.

Unfortunately, Cam is dealing with a foot injury that kept him out of practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It’s the same injury that he suffered in the third preseason game. That could be why he’s yet to throw a touchdown in two games this year and hasn’t been the dual-threat guy we’re accustomed to.

Head coach Ron Rivera said there is nothing wrong with Newton’s shoulder or foot that prevented him from running the ball. 

In Week 1, star running back Christian McCaffrey looked as good as ever, racking up 209 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on 29 touches. The team nearly pulled off an upset of the Super Bowl runner-up Los Angeles Rams.

But in Week 2, there was no running room for McCaffrey — even on a questionable fourth-and-one call that ultimately sealed the team’s loss to the Buccaneers. He only achieved 37 yards on 16 carries and 16 yards on two receptions.

Tale of two games

Cam Newton has only looked like a shell of himself to this point of the season. With pressure mounting around him in the form of the team drafting a quarterback in round 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft and no hint of contract-extension talk (ends after the 2020 season), I’m expecting him to step up and lead the Panthers to their first win of the season.

“It’s tough. He wants to be out there for his teammates. I appreciate our conversation. He was very honest and he was up-front about it. He said he’s going to do everything he can. We’ll see what happens,” head coach Ron Rivera said.

If Newton can’t go against the Cardinals, Rivera confirmed that Kyle Allen will step in as the starting quarterback.

Cam doesn’t need your excuses, and with a pivotal and very winnable game ahead, he’ll be out there Sunday.

The Panthers will take on the Cardinals on Sept. 22 at 4:05 p.m.

Around the NFL

Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs face off against Lamar Jackson’s Ravens

Two leaders of the new school of quarterbacks. If there were a “way-too-early” MVP list, these two guys would be atop it, in whatever order.

These two went at it last season with the Chiefs pulling out a 27-24 win in Arrowhead Stadium, giving Jackson his first loss in his young NFL career.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – DECEMBER 09: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs shakes hands with quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens after the Chiefs defeated the Ravens 27-24 in overtime to win the game at Arrowhead Stadium on December 09, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Now, with the starting quarterback job being undoubtedly his, Jackson is surely looking for some get back. It will be tough to derail the reigning MVP Mahomes, although the Ravens boast arguably the best defense in the league.

Simply put, Jackson will have a field day vs. the leaky Chiefs defense and Mahomes — albeit the tough matchup — is “matchup-proof”. He will get his regardless.

This should be fun to watch.

Perennial playoff teams missing their Hall of Fame quarterbacks

It’s hard to decide who’s in a tougher position with the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers both missing their future Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

Drew Brees tore a ligament in his right thumb in the first quarter against the Rams. He is expected to miss a couple of weeks in the Superdome as the Saints play two of their next three contests at home.

As for Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger is gone for the remainder of the season after a non-contact injury to his right elbow.

On one hand, the Steelers look like they’ve found a solid Roethlisberger successor in Mason Rudolph, although there is sure to be some regression between the two. But can the Steelers withstand the storm for an entire season? Are they still good enough to sneak into the playoffs?

PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 15: Mason Rudolph #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after rushing for a first down during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on September 15, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

They replaced All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell with James Conner and receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has looked just as good as former Steeler Antonio Brown. Achieving a seamless transition at quarterback is just a different dynamic.

On the other, the Saints have to only deal without the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader for a few weeks. But the road will be daunting.

Head coach Sean Payton has two dynamic quarterbacks on the roster in Teddy Bridgewater, who has won a good amount of games in this league, and Taysom Hill.

The latter, Hill, may serve as the Saints’ version of ‘Slash’, aka Kordell Stewart — a guy who can pass, run and also catch passes. Hill caught a touchdown pass from Drew Brees in Week 1, so he’s definitely worth game-planning against at all three levels of offense.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 15: Nickell Robey-Coleman #23 of the Los Angeles Rams attempts to tackle Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the New Orleans Saints during the second half in the game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 15, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Payton have won Super Bowls, both with their hall of fame quarterbacks at the helm. It will be interesting to see them try to recreate similar magic in their new situations.

Former Duke quarterback Daniel Jones named starter of New York Giants

It’s now Daniel Jones’ time for the New York Giants after two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning was benched ahead of their Week 3 tango with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jones, who was drafted sixth overall in April’s draft, made 36 starts for the Duke Blue Devils from 2016-18 says that he is “excited for the unique opportunity” to be a starter at the NFL level.

He showed off his talents in the preseason, going 29 of 34 passes for 416 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions.

Manning, who made 210 consecutive starts for the Giants while winning 116 games said he knew the change was a possibility.

CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 22: Daniel Jones #8 and Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants talk during the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 22, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

“We’re 0-2 and you are looking for answers,” he said Monday. “I get it. We drafted a guy early and you are not winning games, these things are going to come up. I just have to keep working and do whatever my job is.”

Ultimately, Manning seems like a standup guy willing to support Jones in any way he can. Jones has gone on record to say that Manning has been supportive of him since day one.

I believe no parts of the playbook should be off-limits to Jones, as letting him know that everything is in play may give him the extra boost of confidence he needs to quarterback them to a win.

Week 3 schedule and odds

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (+1.5, 39)
Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers (-8, 42.5)
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5, 46.5)
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5, 54.5)
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills (-6, 44)
Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts (-2, 47)
Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings (-8, 43.5)
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-23, 43.5)
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys (-21.5, 47)
New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5, 48)
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals (+2.5, 46.5)
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (-4, 44.5)
Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers (-3, 47.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers (-6.5, 43.5)
Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns (+3, 49)
Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins (+4, 41.5)

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