Five fearless predictions for Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game at Washington:
1. Panthers will crack 100-plus rushing yards.
Washington ranks No. 4 against the run, but the numbers are pretty funky. They’ve faced, in turn, the No. 32 rushing offense (Arizona, 64.6 yards per game), the No. 29 rushing offense (Indianapolis, 74.6 yards per game), the No. 19 rushing offense (Green Bay, 101.2 yards per game) and the No. 18 rushing offense (New Orleans, 103.2 yards per game).
Arizona ran for more yards than its average against Washington in Week 1 with 68. Same for the Colts in Week 2, with 104. Washington held Green Bay just about at their average with 100 rushing yards allowed, as well as New Orleans with 98.
Carolina is averaging 154 rushing yards per game. I think they at least pop off 100 or more on Sunday.
2. Cam Newton versus Josh Norman, or not?
Carolina has so many playmakers on offense, I doubt the much-anticipated Newton-vs.-Norman battle actually happens all that often.
I think the Panthers divvy up the catches to at least five different receivers, with Norman’s guy targeted three times.
3. D.J. Moore scores.
Last week, it was second-year receiver Curtis Samuel’s turn to score a touchdown. This week, rookie D.J. Moore will score his second career touchdown — but Samuel will be on the field, offering some misdirection pre-snap that helps Moore get some space.
4. Pass rush has had enough.
The Panthers’ pass rush watched a lousy Giants offensive line give up four sacks and 13 quarterback hits on Thursday, days removed from Carolina only getting one sack and two hits on Eli Manning in Week 5.
Could that be motivating for a Panthers pass rush whose motto is “We Rush?” Head coach Ron Rivera was quick to remind media on Friday that the circumstances are different.
Regardless, I predict a banged-up Washington rushing attack means the Panthers will go to bat on Sunday afternoon with four sacks on Washington quarterback Alex Smith. It would be the most sacks they’ve recorded since Week 1.
5. Panthers, and Cam Newton, keep rolling.
Cam Newton rushes for two touchdowns as the Panthers win it 31-17.
Panthers at Washington
FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
Sunday, 1 p.m.