This Sunday night matchup features two teams that are historically known for their defense, however are currently both known for their quarterbacks. Both Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton are built much more like a defensive end or a tight end than a quarterback. Roethlisberger is clearly the much more established player as a two-time Superbowl winner, he paved the way for bigger and mobile quarterbacks like Newton. He has been consistent throughout his career and is coming off a disappointing loss to the Ravens in week 2. Newton has faced unfair criticism for most of his young career and proved the doubters wrong last season when he led his team to a 13-3 record and continued to improve in all aspects of the game. He missed the first game of this season with cracked ribs and had ankle surgery in the off-season but appears to have recovered fully. He has learned how to be a complete NFL quarterback and not just a running threat. He has his team at 2-0 and both quarterbacks seem ready for a big Sunday night performance.
The Panthers are coming off a convincing win over the Lions in which Newton was strong in the pocket despite being sacked 5 times. However the Panthers biggest strength remains their defense who sacked Matthew Stafford 4 times, forced 3 turnovers throughout the game and held Detroit scoreless for the entire first half. The team played without star defensive end Greg Hardy who was deactivated due to a domestic violence case he is currently involved in. Mario Addison helped fill Hardy’s shoes with 2.5 sacks. The most dominant performer of the game was cornerback Antoine Cason who had 10 tackles, two forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. The team let the greatest receiver in franchise history in Steve Smith go in free agency as well as a few other wideouts to give Newton a new group of receivers. While he works out his chemistry with the new group he will continue to rely on veteran tight end Greg Olsen who had 6 catches for 72 yards.
The Steelers never looked in sync during their week 2 loss to the Ravens. By kickoff they will have had a week and a half to prepare for the Panthers. Carolina does not have either starter DeAngelo Williams or backup Jonathan Stewart at full health, which should bode well for the Steelers who so far this season have given up over 170 rushing yards per game. Roethisberger is completing a much higher percentage of his passes, however man of these passes are for short gains, they will need to find a way to move the ball down the field more. Running back Le’Veon Bell is a traditional power type running back that the Steelers love to have and he has been produced by averaging just short of 5 yards per carry for his 32 carries. The key to the game will be The Steelers defense and whether or not they will have a better showing than they had in the first 2 weeks of the season
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