Colts at Panthers: Behind Enemy Lines
The Indianapolis Colts (3-4) hit the road to face the Carolina Panthers (6-0) on Monday Night Football. The Colts are hoping to avoid their first three game losing streak in Andrew Luck’s career while the scrappy Panthers are hoping to stay undefeated.
We spoke with the editor of Cat Crave, Chris Schafer, to get some intel on this week’s opponent. Make sure to check out my answers to their questions here.
1. What has been the key to the Panthers success this season? They seem to find a way to win every week in close games, is it sustainable?
It has been the team coming together and playing as a team.
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They have followed the “#KeepPounding” motto and are living by it. When Kelvin Benjamin went down, there was speculation on who was going to become the go to wide receiver – was it someone on the roster, or was someone going to come in and be that person. We knew Greg Olsen would have another good season, but he needed that compliment. That said, there hasn’t been the ‘one man’, it has been a collaborative team effort to take the place of Benjamin.
Sustainable, yes. A lot of people feel as if Cam might not be the true MVP of this team, but if he is not, you haven’t been watching the Panthers, or paying attention to what they have done. The defense has played like the normal Panthers defense, but Cam has made plays on offense he has not made in the past to come through in the clutch. He has matured. The reason it is sustainable is because the entire team has seen Cam rise to the challenge and they rise as well. Playing as a team allows anybody to maintain success.
2. How has Cam Newton adjusted his game this season? There seems to be a distinct lack of playmakers on offense, yet they find some way to put up points.
I wouldn’t necessarily say Cam has adjusted, he has just become more mature and he entered this season healthy. Looking at last season, he had the ankle surgery in the offseason, then was hurt in a preseason game versus the Patriots, then came out almost unscathed from a horrific accident that could have been a lot worse (seeing the accident in person, I was amazed, yet thankful he was fine).
By being more mature and healthy, Cam has adjusted to what he has around him. He has made those around him better. All you have to do is look at Ted Ginn. He was never a starter at wide receiver and at most was the third option before this season.
3. Who is someone on the offensive side of the ball that has surprised the Panthers this season? Who should the Colts be on the lookout for?
The Colts should worry about Jonathan Stewart. Although he started the season slow, he has stepped it up in the last two weeks and looks like the same Stewart from the end of last season – he gets hit and his legs keep churning for another few yards. I wouldn’t call it a surprise because there was the sense the offensive line would be fine bringing in Michael Oher, but they have come together quicker than anyone could have hoped for. Now all the critics can begin writing how Oher has not lost a step and has proven he can still play.
4. Who needs to step up on both sides of the ball for the Panthers to come away with a win? Is there an X-factor who could put them over the top?
Offensively, it is the receivers who just need to continue to play well – it is a collaborative effort. Defensively, the entire squad comes to play each week. As long as play remains consistent as it has all year, they will continue to play well. The X-factor could easily be Kawann Short. He has hit his stride and has made most of us forget about how Star Lotulelei was supposed to be the next great defensive lineman for the Panthers.
5. What is your prediction for Monday night? Who wins and why?
Carolina keeps rolling. Unless Andrew Luck has a divine intervention and finds the Andrew Luck of last season, the Panthers defense is too good. Panthers 27 Colts 17.