When and where: September 22, 2019, State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ, 4:05 PM ET
Cam Newton and the slumping Carolina Panthers go on the road for a head-to-head Week 3 showdown with Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. There are plenty of questions regarding the health of Newton after a pair of lackluster performances in losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Panthers can only go as far as Newton takes them this season, and if the first couple games are any indication, that doesn’t appear to be very far.
Meanwhile, Murray appears to be picking up steam as the new leading man behind center in Arizona. The rookie quarterback has still yet to win a game as a starter in the NFL, but he did push a possible playoff contender in the Baltimore Ravens to the brink in Week 2. Not bad for a guy that was criticized for being too short to play the quarterback position.
What is wrong with Newton?
Something is wrong with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, and I’m not talking about his Whitney Houston head attire from the ‘90s hit movie “The Bodyguard,” either.
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He has lost his last eight games as a starter, and he has yet to even throw one touchdown pass this season. After two weeks of football, he has thrown for 572 passing yards and one interception with a 26.4 QBR. Those stats are unbecoming of a former NFL MVP and Super Bowl contender. Perhaps the most telling statistic is the fact he’s only attempted five rushing attempts for minus-two yards.
Yes, something is clearly amiss with Newton.
He is currently day-to-day with a foot injury, and there’s a chance he won’t be on the field for Sunday’s game. Obviously, there is more going on with Newton than simply the foot injury considering his losing streak dates all the way back to the 2018 season.
Backup quarterback Kyle Allen could get the start against the Cardinals. An interesting side story is the fact that Allen beat out Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray for the starting quarterback job at Texas A&M. Whether Newton is in or out of the game, the Panthers will have to lean on their best player, running back Christian McCaffrey, to continue to serve as the ultimate Swiss army knife weapon on offense. It is also imperative that the defense steps up and makes some plays. Newton isn’t capable of shouldering the load right now, and neither would Allen be if he’s given the start.
Update: (9/20/19): Allen will get the starting nod now that Newton has been ruled out due to a lingering left foot sprain.
“He’s actually coming along well,” coach Ron Rivera said Friday on a conference call. “The unfortunate part was last week he was playing on a short week and the foot didn’t have time to come back, as far as I understand it. It was pretty sore. It was just one of those things where we have to wait it out and see where it is [next week].”
“The one thing we don’t want to do is have another setback.”
Fitzgerald still an ageless wonder
At a time when quarterbacks are playing longer, Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald is also extending the expected shelf life for receivers. If I had no previous knowledge of him as a player, you wouldn’t be able to convince me Fitzgerald was a 36-year-old man the way he was attacking the Ravens defense in Week 2. He has racked up 100-plus yards in the first couple games of the season and looks to already be Murray’s favorite receiving target.
Although we’ve seen some struggles, the Cardinals offense hasn’t been the disaster most expected after the preseason. The problem for the Cardinals is predominantly their defense giving up an average of 477.5 total yards per game. Granted, I’d like to see them strike more balance in Kliff Kingsbury’s air raid offense with running back David Johnson on the ground, but it’s also hard to win games when the defense is getting lit up on a weekly basis.
After dealing with the Ravens’ fearsome rushing attack, they’ll be tasked with trying to slow down McCaffrey on Sunday. Their goal should be to make Newton do more than he’s capable of doing if he’s cleared to play. If Allen is on the field, however, they’ll want to force him into trying to play hero ball. Yet, the primary goal should be shutting down McCaffrey and the Panthers’ run game.
- Cardinals are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games on grass.
- Cardinals are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in the previous game.
- Cardinals are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in the previous game.
- Panthers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring less than 15 points in the previous game.
- Home team is 6-0 ATS in their last 6 head-to-head meetings.