If you are a Carolina Panthers fan who attends games and can’t stand to see the opposing team’s colors in Bank of America Stadium, you are about to be in for a rough night.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the NFL’s most prominent teams and boast one of the deepest fan bases. You can bet there will be a lot of black and gold in the crowd Sunday as the prices that displaced Pittsburgh fans will pay on StubHub.com and the like are often too tempting for Panthers fans to pass up.
Pittsburgh and Carolina play almost every year in an exhibition, but this is only the sixth time in Carolina’s 20 years that the two teams have played a game that counted. Carolina is 1-4 in the series. But those who were there for that win in 1996 won’t soon forget Chad Cota’s end-zone interception of Kordell Stewart that sealed the game on the way to Carolina’s first playoff appearance.
• Don’t be surprised if quarterback Cam Newton looks in safety Mike Mitchell’s direction several times Sunday, including at least one deep ball. Newton is very familiar with Mitchell’s strengths and weaknesses from their 2013 season together.
• I think the Panthers, for once, are going to be able to run the ball against Pittsburgh. It feels to me like a night where Jonathan Stewart will play well.
• This is the first time that “Sunday Night Football” has made an appearance in Charlotte since Dec. 20, 2009. That game featured the Minnesota Vikings and Brett Favre – a very good team headed to the playoffs. The Panthers were going nowhere. But Matt Moore outplayed Favre, the Panthers scored 20 fourth-quarter points and Carolina won 26-7 (while Favre had a vehement argument on the sideline with Vikings coach Brad Childress). It was one of the last really good moments of the John Fox era.
• The Steelers are trying to right the ship. Pittsburgh has been outscored 50-9 in its past six quarters. Carolina is trying to make everyone understand there’s a lot more to this team than Greg Hardy. Ultimately, I think the Panthers will be the team that succeeds. I am 2-0 picking the Panthers’ games so far this season.My prediction for Week 3: Carolina 20, Pittsburgh 13.