NFC South Preview: Carolina Panthers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The NFC South kicked off Week 13 with the Thursday night game between the New Orleans Saints (5-7) and the Atlanta Falcons (11-1). With their 23-13 win, the Falcons moved closer to clinching the division. They will be cheering for a Denver (8-3) win against Tampa Bay (6-5) on Sunday to see this happen.
For talented Drew Brees, the Falcons defense harassed him and he threw a career-high five interceptions. He also saw his touchdown pass streak come to an end.
The Saints will need to figure out how to salvage the rest of the season as their playoff chances are fading.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s games, the Carolina Panthers (3-8) will play the Kansas City Chiefs (1-10) who will be on the field with heavy hearts. On Saturday morning, the team’s linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then himself in front of the Chiefs’ GM Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel.
A motive hasn’t been determined and those who knew Belcher well were shocked by his actions.
Over in Denver, the Broncos will look to take the AFC West title with a win.
Carolina vs. Kansas City
For the Chiefs, they haven’t won a game since Sept. 23 against the Saints in OT and will enter Sunday’s game on an eight-game losing streak. With another loss, it will match the franchise’s longest one of nine games last seen in 2007.
After seeing Saturday’s tragedy firsthand, Crennel is expected to coach on Sunday.
The Chiefs are performing poorly both offensive and defensively. In their last seven games, they have only averaged 10.4 points while allowing a minimum of 26 points in five of its last eight games.
The team is a league-worst with its 32 giveaways and 94 points in the red zone. It’s good to be a running back against the Chiefs as they allow 126.1 rushing yards per game. This week they may get lucky with the absence of Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart thanks to his ankle injury.
DeAngelo Williams will pinch hit for him.
The Chiefs other problems include a quarterback dilemma. They started with Matt Cassel, who played poorly and then got injured. Enter Brady Quinn who grabbed the starting role from him in his absence.
He’s really the lesser of two evils and last week against Denver, the Chiefs only had 264 yards with Quinn going 13 for 25, 126 yards and one pick.
The Panthers have also struggled under their quarterback Cam Newton. After a phenomenal rookie season, Newton has endured quite a sophomore slump.
Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, Newton did pass for 306 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 52 yards and two additional scores.
The Panthers haven’t done a lot of scoring this season and rank No. 25 with its 19.5 points per game. But this could change this week as the Chiefs defense has given up 22 passing touchdowns.
It would be nice to see the Chiefs get a win in light of Saturday’s tragedy but the bettors are giving the winning nod to Carolina at -5 with a 39 over/under.
Denver vs. Tampa Bay
With win No. 7 on Sunday, the Broncos can clinch the AFC West division. As for Tampa, a victory will get them closer to a spot in the NFC wild card.
But for a Bucs win, they’ll need to bring their A-game against this talented Peyton Manning-led team.
Coach Greg Schiano said earlier this week via ESPN, “We’re going to practice, meet, and prepare and then we’re going to go out to Denver and the play the best game we’ve played all year. Where that stacks up against Denver and Peyton Manning, I only control half of that. We’re going to do our best to make sure we do our best.”
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As for a Sunday, it looks like a Denver win at -8 with a 51 over/under.