Looking at the Panthers from a defensive perspective.
MLB: Luke Kuechly
FS: Haruki Nakamura
SS: Charles Godfrey
Panthers Defensive Rankings:
Overall Defense: 13th
Passing Defense: 12th
Rushing Defense: 20th
Broncos Defensive Rankings:
Overall Defense: 10th
Passing Defense: 10th
Rushing Defense: 12th
The Panthers D-Line has talent on the edges, with a veteran presence in the middle. Charles Johnson leads the team with 7.5 sacks and 26 tackles, and Greg Hardy is behind him with 6.5 sacks and 32 tackles. Looks like Clady and Franklin will have their hands full this week, but they have been solid so far this year. In the middle veteran Dwan Edwards has 5 sacks and 32 tackles, while nose tackle Ron Edward has 10 tackles and 1 sack. Carolina is tied for 7th in the league with 24 sacks, so we'll see if they can get to Manning.
Elvis Dumervil is having a solid year with 34 tackles, 6 sacks and 4 forced fumbles and rookie Derek Wolfe on the year has 25 tackles and 3 sacks. Both of these guys can look to adding this total this week. Cam likes to scramble and move around the pocket, so sack chances are going to be there. In the middle of the line Justin Bannan has 26 tackles and Kevin Vickerson has 24. These guys need to limit the effectiveness of Cam Newtons legs. He's struggling throwing the ball this season, so we have to keep him in the pocket, and when he does get outside of it, sack him and hit him hard.
The Panthers have talent at the LB position. Rookie Luke Kuechly leads the team with 77 tackles, veteran James Anderson has 57 and the often injured Thomas Davis has 39. It doesn't seem like these guys generate much of a pass rush though, none of them are credited with a sack, Kuechly doe have a interception though. This group will make plays, but they are ranked 20th in the league in rushing defense, so something isn't going right. The Panthers are without star linebacker Jon Beason, who's out for the year. If i had to pick a unit to be concerned about with the Panthers defense, this would be it.
Wesley Woodyard is continuing his fast start, and on the year he leads the team with 75 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 Ints and 1 forced fumble on the year, Pro Bowl? Stud Pass rusher Von Miller has 33 tackles and 9 sacks, and looks to add a few more sacks to his total against Cam Newton, and the veteran inside linebacker Keith Brooking has 29 tackles. Rookie Danny Trevathan has been getting alot of playing time lately, on the year Trevathan has 17 tackles and 1 sack. I expect Von to be coming after Cam Newton early and often. We need Von to have a solid outing if we want to contain Newton. Woodyard will continue being everywhere, and lets see if he can add another INT to his stat line. Still impressed with Brooking not hindering this defense. Brookings veteran presence has seemed valuable. I'm loving what i'm seeing from rookie Danny Trevathan. He's playing in the Nickel defense, and has been holding his own.
I'm excited to see what Manning can do against this unit. Captain Munnerlyn and rookie Josh Norman don't strike fear into many QB's. Look for Manning to attack these guys early and often. On the year Munnerlyn has 29tackles and 1 Int, and rookie CB Josh Norman has 52 tackles. Safety Haruki Nakamura has 36 tackles and 1 Int, and Charles Godfrey has 46 tackles and 1 Int. This isn't the best secondary by any means, so if Manning plays like he has been all year, look for another 300, 3TD afternoon for Peyton.
The Broncos must take advantage of Cam Newtons mistakes. In the games i have watched Newton, he has shown he can be rather inaccurate at times. The Broncos secondary must take advantage of this and come away with a few Ints. It looks like Tracy Porter may miss another game this week, so Chris Harris will start in his place again, while Tony Carter plays the slot. Look for Champ Bailey to be on Steve Smith most if not all of the game sunday. Will be a fun matchup to watch. On the year Champ Bailey has 31 tackles and 1 Int, Chris Harris has 31 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2 Ints, and Tony Carter has 10 tackles, 1 Int and a defensive TD. At safety look for Rahim Moore, Mike Adams and Jim Leonhard to all have playing time back there. On the year Moore has 43 tackles, Mike Adams has 49 and Jim Leonhard has 10 tackles and 1 Int. We need this group to frustrate and intercept Cam Newton this Sunday.