We had a chance to ask some questions of Christian Candeloro, site expert for Old North Banter, FanSided’s site for Carolina sports, ahead of the game against the Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals host the Carolina Panthers for the first time in Glendale since the 2013 season on Sunday. It will be the first meeting of the two teams since 2016.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, we had a chance to ask some questions of Christian Candeloro, site expert for Old North Banter. The site covers all things Carolina sports.
There are some story lines already taking shape ahead of Sunday’s game at State Farm Stadium. One of them being about the status of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
We also got some insight into a couple of other things. A loss on Sunday for either team likely ends hopes of any playoffs.
Raising Zona: It looks like there is a possibility quarterback Cam Newton misses this Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. What do you think of backup Kyle Allen?
The back-up quarterback battle was one of the most hotly contested position battles in the preseason, with Kyle Allen and Will Grier vying for that second spot behind an oft-injured Cam Newton. Allen was very shaky in the preseason, but it was clear that Grier wasn’t quite ready, so Allen almost won the job by default. The most encouraging thing about Allen is actually how he played in Week 17 of last season. In a 33-14 win over the Saints, Allen was 16-27 for 228 yards and three total touchdowns. He’s more than capable of keeping the Panthers offense running
RZ: The Cardinals have once again this season shown they can’t cover tight ends to save their lives. What kind of day do you expect Greg Olsen to have against the Cardinals?
Had this been the Greg Olsen of the 2015 season, I would’ve said he is going to run rampant through that secondary, But Olsen has been wildly inconsistent these last two seasons due to injury and is 34 years old now, I find it hard to see him having a monster game with Allen as the starter and trying to get the young wideouts more involved in the offense.
RZ: If you could single out one reason why the Panthers will win on Sunday, what is it and why? On the flip side, if you think the Panthers will struggle, why?
Christian McCaffrey, Christian McCaffrey, and some more Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers will need to feed him early and often. Against the Rams he had 209 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Even with uncertainty at the quarterback position, he is good enough to keep the Panthers in the game. The Cardinals have been good against the run, so if they are able to neutralize him like the Buccaneers did, this offense will struggle all day. Another key thing to watch: the Cardinals offense has struggled inside the red zone, with Kyler Murray just 2-9 passing inside the 10-yard line. Well the Panthers may be exactly what the doctor ordered, as the Panthers are tied for 24th in red zone touchdowns allowed per game.
RZ: Who is the one Panthers player Cardinals fans should pay attention to they may not know much about?
One Panther you probably don’t know about that has been lights out has been kicker Joey Slye. A rookie out of Virginia Tech, Slye is the starting kicker since Graham Gano is out for the season. A kicker probably isn’t the most exciting choice, but he has an amazing backstory. So far this season he’s 6-7 on field goals and has booted three kicks over 50 yards.
RZ: Prediction for the game?
If Newton is out, then, unfortunately, the Panthers probably don’t win this game. Even if Newton plays, he’s going to have to seriously improve his play to win on the road. I have the Panthers going 0-3, although I think Allen will keep them in the game and make it close. I’ll go Cardinals 20-17
So there you have it, even Christian believes the Cardinals may pull this one out. Even if Newton does end up playing, it could still be a winnable game for the Cardinals.
However, the Cardinals need to learn not to shoot themselves in the foot and avoid slow starts, something that has dogged them for the first two weeks. This could be the start of a mini win-streak though. We’ll see.