Week One of the 2019 NFL season has already started. With the low-scoring 10-3 affair between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago on Thursday night, football fans’ hunger for regular season action is over.
Tomorrow, the first full slate of Sunday games in Week One of the 2019 NFL season will take place. New players with new teams, new head coaches, and revived fan bases are three things to keep an eye on. There are even a couple of players who have not been signed to extensions yet (or have recently been released for that matter).
One game that I am particularly excited to watch (I will be there live) is the 1:00 P.M. clash between the Carolina Panthers and the defending NFC Champions, the Los Angeles Rams. This game pits a team with high expectations for the season against a team who is expected to dominate their division again, and one that could potentially win the Super Bowl this time.
Why do the Carolina Panthers have such high expectations in this game? I will tell you why. They have a new-and-improved Cam Newton, who is coming off an offseason in which he got surgery on his throwing shoulder. Newton appeared to injure his throwing shoulder after a big hit from TJ Watt in Week 10 of the 2018 NFL season., which eventually led to Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen starting the final two weeks of the regular season. The other day, Newton said that he has not felt this good since his rookie season. Watch out, league.
The Panthers are also bringing back Christian McCaffrey, one of the best young running backs in the league. Last year, McCaffrey was the Panthers’ every-down back, and he looks to be that again this year. In 2018, McCaffrey set career highs in rushing yards and touchdowns (1,098 yards, seven touchdowns), and in receiving yards and touchdowns (867 yards, six touchdowns). I am especially excited about McCaffrey, not only because of the big year he is poised to have, but also because he was my first fantasy football pick.
The wide receiving corps for the Carolina Panthers is younger and revamped. Gone is Devin Funchess, who will likely be the Indianapolis Colts’ top option opposite T.Y. Hilton. In is Curtis Samuel, the exciting young receiver from Ohio State that the Panthers took in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and D.J. Moore, the exciting young receiver from Maryland that the Panthers took with their first-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. These two will look to make a name for themselves as another great wide reeiver tandem in the league. He is a tight end, but Greg Olsen, one of the league’s most reliable tight ends, is healthy and ready to ball out.
Look at the offensive weapons on the Panthers to create havoc for a top-ranked Rams defense. If the Rams are shutting one guy down, the Panthers can go right to someone else.
It does not stop there. Look at the defense. 2019 first-round pick Brian Burns. Dontari Poe. Kawaan Short. Gerald McCoy. Mario Addison. Shaq Thompson. Luke Kuechly. Bruce Irvin. Donte Jackson. James Bradberry. Eric Reid. Tre Boston. These are just the starters. If the Rams are able to score more than 21 points on Sunday, I would be shocked, even with their offensive weapons like Goff, Gurley, Woods, and Kupp. The Panthers defense will surely cause trouble for an usually-strong Rams offensive line.
If you want to watch the Carolina Panthers take on the Los Angeles Rams, it will be broadcast live on FOX at 1:00 P.M. ET. This will be one of the games to watch this week, as a revamped offense takes on the defending NFC Champions.
I expect the Rams defense to give the Panthers trouble early, but I expect Newton to re-gain his form once he starts to find his receivers. Final score: Panthers 31, Rams 20.
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