Redskins vs. Panthers – Griffin and Newton Finally Meet
- Updated: November 4, 2012
Still licking their wounds after a painful loss to Pittsburgh, the 3-5 Redskins are desperate for a win against the 1-6 Carolina Panthers. Mike Shanahan, London Fletcher, Santana Moss and others have called Sunday’s game a must-win. While the Redskins are probably a long shot for a playoff spot either way, their odds certainly decrease if they head into the bye 3-6.
While the Redskins cannot claim much of a home field advantage, if any, and are 1-2 at home this season, the series numbers provide a little hope. This is the 11th meeting of the teams, with the Redskins leading the series 7-3 over the Panthers. More importantly, the Redskins are 5-0 against the Panthers at home. Washington versus Carolina is no great rivalry and, if it weren’t for the excitement surrounding their QBs, no one outside their fan bases would care much about this game. It is, however, a game the Redskins are well positioned to win.
There are some distinct similarities between the Redskins and Panthers offenses. Both have young, dynamic quarterbacks who can make plays in the air and on the ground. The Redskins average 221 passing and 387 total yards per game to the Panthers 233 and 347 yards, respectively. QBs Cam Newton and Robert Griffin, III have both been sacked 17 times this season.
The Redskins, however, have two big advantages over the Panthers. First, the Redskins faced second year QB Newton last season and have a season and a half of game tape to review in preparation for Newton’s arrival at FedEx. The Panthers, meanwhile, have never played Griffin and only have eight weeks worth of film to use to game plan against the QB who gets better each week. The comparisons between the QBs are endless but, while their total passing yards are similar, it is worth noting that Griffin has a 97.3 passer rating with eight TDs and 3 INTs to Newton’s 75.2 passer rating, five TDs and whopping eight INTs.
Second, Washington has the far more threatening run game and should be able to produce on the ground against a Carolina defense ranked 20th in rushing yards allowed. Carolina’s opponents have rushed for an average of 114 yards per game, while Washington has gained an average of 166 rushing yards per game and have the second best rushing offense in the NFL right now. The Redskins two leading rushers, Griffin and Alfred Morris, have more than twice the total rushing yards of the Panthers two leading rushers, Newton and DeAngelo Williams.
The biggest outlier of the day is the Washington defense. Even after a poor showing last week in Pittsburgh, the Washington rushing defense is still ranked 10th in the league, allowing fewer than 100 yards per game. The pass defense, however, is ranked 32nd in the league and is on pace to have one of the worst seasons in NFL history. Let’s hope the defense has left the Steelers game and the DeAngelo Hall Refgate incident behind them. The team needs them to show up with their B+ game Sunday (let’s face it – they don’t have any A game) and contain Carolina’s Newton-led offense.
Beyond slowing down Cam Newton and limiting the yards of a TD-less Steve Smith, the defense also needs to focus on forcing the turnovers Carolina seems content giving up. Carolina has a -5 turnover ratio to the Redskins +7. Even when the Redskins defense looks like they can’t stop a phone from ringing, they still manage to get their hands on the ball. Let’s hope this week they come away with it more times than not.
We all know that the Redskins have a tendency to lose the games they shouldn’t, but I don’t see this game against Carolina as one of those games. The 1-6 Panthers are not going to roll over and meow from the start – it should be an entertaining, high scoring battle between two multifaceted QBs – but I expect Griffin to ultimately win the match up and lead the Redskins into the bye 4-5.