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Anthony Rizzuti

SPOT: Panthers Primer: Week 10 vs. San Francisco 49ers

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2013 Regular Season (Week 10): Carolina Panthers (5-3) vs. San Francisco 49ers (6-2)

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Candlestick Park

Time: 4:05 PM ET


Weather: (Partly Sunny) 59° F with 0% chance of precipitation and 7 MPH ESE at kickoff

Last Week's Results:

Carolina: Win vs. Atlanta Falcons (34-10)

San Francisco: Bye (Previous week: Win @ Jacksonville 42-10)

Injury Report:


Questionable: Chase Blackburn (foot)

Out: Chris Scott (knee), James Dockery (shoulder)

San Francisco

Probable: Frank Gore (ankle), Anthony Davis (shoulder), Mike Iupati (elbow), Alex Boone (shoulder), Quinton Dial (ankle)

Questionable: Justin Smith (shoulder), Ahmad Brooks (stinger), Ray McDonald (biceps)

Out: Quinton Patton (foot)

What to Watch For:

1. Off to the Races. Or not.

Despite having a couple of the game’s young superstars at the quarterback position, the Panthers and 49ers have seen their offenses thrive off the ground attack. San Francisco, at 153.0 yards per game, currently boasts the NFL’s top rushing offense. The Panthers aren’t too shabby either, ranking 8th in the league with a 130.1-yard rushing average.

Unfortunately, however, for both offenses—both of the teams’ defenses have proved greedy against the run. Led by Carolina’s highly acclaimed front seven, the Panthers allow the second fewest rushing yards per game at 79.1. Opponents have run for 104.6 yards per game against the 49ers thus far, good enough for 11th in the league.

So something may very well have to give.

San Francisco’s defense, with a returning Aldon Smith, will be tasked with slowing down the four-headed rushing monster that resides in Charlotte. DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, Cam Newton and a freshly debuted Jonathan Stewart give offensive coordinator Mike Shula an extremely diverse game plan. Hopefully as it did this past week against Atlanta, the proverbial logjam doesn’t start flooding the offense in a negative manner.

We’ll see if Shula can keep it on the ground and if the Luke Kuechly-led front seven can stop Frank Gore and company.

Regardless, the media will be making this a game of…

2. Cam vs. Kaep

We all know the preface for this matchup: two quarterbacks drafted in the same year with similar size, skill set and potential. Both Newton and Kaepernick have two of the most powerful arms in the NFL and are also adept to taking off on their feet if need be. Yada, yada, yada.

What really intrigues me about these two is not so much what they similarly bring to the table. It’s, rather, how they are bringing it.

Carolina (25th) and San Francisco (32nd) aren’t exactly shredding up opponents through their aerial attack despite having two incredible arms. So why is that?

In addition to placing the emphasis offensively on their run games, the Panthers and the 49ers are experiencing some notable maturation from their quarterbacks. Newton and Kapernick appear to have taken more methodical approaches to game plans.

Surely, both have the talent to go out and sling for over 350 yards on a ton of attempts any given game. But why risk it big when you can win it small?

Simply put, the Panthers and 49ers win when Newton and Kaepernick protect the ball. In the Panthers’ five victories, Newton has thrown for 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. In their three losses, Newton has gone for only three touchdowns and four interceptions.

The case is similar with Kaepernick. In six wins, Kaepernick has a nine to one touchdown to interception ratio. In the two losses, he’s zero to four.

Although the pace of each offense will depend on the two making some big plays, the outcome may be reflected upon who makes better decisions against two very good defenses.

3. Is This Real Life?

Does anyone remember the last time the Carolina Panthers had the most intriguing game of the week? Well, you’ll have to go back almost five years for that.

On December 21st, 2008, the 11-3 Panthers traveled to the Meadowlands to take on the 11-3 Giants. Flexed to the primetime slot on Sunday night, the game featured a matchup between the NFC’s top two teams. A win for either team would clinch them the conference’s No. 1 seed and home field advantage. Unfortunately for John Fox and the Panthers, a missed John Kasay field goal would force overtime and allow the Giants to steal the win off a Brandon Jacobs two-yard touchdown run.

But what’s past is past. The Panthers are finally back on the league’s center stage for the week and it’s already been showing. According to head Ron Rivera, the Panthers practice on Friday was carried out with a bit of nerves.

The Panthers must make the most out of this game to remain relevant and in playoff contention.

Top Matchups:

1. Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy vs. Joe Staley and Anthony Davis

Here’s a really juicy one to keep an eye on. Two of the top offensive tackles in Staley and Davis will have to find a way to keep the scary bookends of the Panthers’ defensive line away from Kaepernick.

2. Luke Kuechly vs. Vernon Davis

If you throw away the touchdown, Kuechly played Tony Gonzalez rather well last Sunday. He’ll have to be even better against the more athletic and agile Davis.

3. Captain Munnerlyn vs. Anquan Boldin

The 49ers have very little depth at wide receiver. If Munnerlyn is able to limit Boldin, it’ll force a lot of attention in making sure Davis is covered up.


- The Panthers are 10-7 all time vs. the 49ers (5-3 in SF).

- The Panthers defeated the 49ers in their last matchup (2010), 23-20.

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This could be such a great game for Carolina. If they win it will magnify the upcoming Monday night game against New England. Most prognosticators are expecting the Niners to win. Their opinions be damned. This will make or break the rest of the Panthers season. #KeepPounding

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