Carolina Panthers

Fearless predictions: Can Panthers, Cam Newton continue breakneck pace in Pittsburgh?

Panthers’ owner David Tepper learned valuable lessons while growing up in Pittsburgh

David Tepper, founder and president of Appaloosa Management, L.P. and new owner of the Carolina Panthers, gained his love of football, a passion for treating people right and for philanthropy while growing up in his hometown of Pittsburgh.
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David Tepper, founder and president of Appaloosa Management, L.P. and new owner of the Carolina Panthers, gained his love of football, a passion for treating people right and for philanthropy while growing up in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

Five fearless predictions for Thursday night’s Carolina Panthers (6-2) game at Pittsburgh (5-3-1).

1. Second-drive scoring streak

The Panthers haven’t scored on a first drive since Week 2 at Atlanta, and that was a field goal. On Thursday, that streak continues as Carolina gets settled into prime time.

But the second drive will include a touchdown pass from quarterback Cam Newton to tight end Greg Olsen.

2. James Conner is Panthers’ toughest test

Carolina smothered Ezekiel Elliott in Week 1, and did the same to Saquon Barkley on the ground in Week 6.

But the Steelers’ James Conner, who is both a power runner and a threat in the passing game, might be Carolina’s most physical test yet, and he’s on a roll with 706 rushing yards, nine touchdowns, and 379 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Carolina will hold him under 100 yards on the ground, but I predict he scores a touchdown as a pass-catcher.

Panthers QB Cam Newton talks about offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

3. Donte Jackson gets a little Antonio Brown

Speed will have to duel speed on Thursday night, with Carolina’s coverage varying to contain.

Because of his speed and tenacity, rookie corner Jackson will square up with top-3 receiver Antionio Brown for at least five targets.

Brown will finish the day with 90 yards and a touchdown - though not all against Jackson.

4. Carolina continues explosive 1st, 2nd and 4th quarters

The Panthers’ explosive offense seems to stall in the third quarter, with Carolina amassing just 13 third-quarter points all season.

Thursday will be no different, with a potential shootout versus big Ben Roethlisberger and his prolific receivers in the first, second and fourth quarters. The Panthers will struggle in the third period, but rally to score twice in the fourth.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton showed support for the victims of a Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 people dead and six injured along with the city of Pittsburgh with a special pair of cleats during his pregame warmup on Thursday.

5. A Cam Newton-Christian McCaffrey win

Newton and running back/receiver McCaffrey will combine for four touchdowns - with Newton rushing in two, and McCaffrey catching both of his scores.

But a bad third quarter for Carolina will give Pittsburgh the edge in a high-scoring affair, 38-35.

Cam Newton talked about Christian McCaffrey's form when he made a huge jump over a player.

Panthers at Steelers

Where:

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

When:

Thursday, 8:20 p.m.

Watch:

FOX, NFL Network

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