Monday Night Football! The Mecca of matchups! Eh, not anymore . . . Marquis matchups have been completely and thoroughly watered down by TNF, SNF, and sometimes even Saturday Night Football. Can’t say it enough, but it’s time the NFL drops Thursday Night Football. Maybe if they had 2 a year, that would be special, and only for teams coming off a BYE week. Also, no need for Sunday Night Football either, leave Monday Night Football as the marquis matchup, and dump SNF. I don’t even want to talk about Saturday Night Football. Do they realize that some of us fans are married, or in a relationship? “OK honey, you remember I’m watching football tonight, and all day tomorrow, and then Monday Night too, right?” Yeah, good luck with that!
So the Ajayi-less Dolphins travel to Carolina to play the Panthers. The Dolphins are not the only team who’s accomplished their record with smoke and mirrors. If the Dolphins have no business being 4-4, then the Carolina Panthers certainly have no business being 6-3. Carolina’s defense has been their savior, but their offense isn’t all that much better than ours. Cam Newton is what I’ve always thought he was, a super athletically talented QB who in reality, just isn’t that good a QB. Cam has a QBR of 78.4, with 1978 yards passing, 10 TD’s/11 INT’s. To his credit, he’s completing passes at a much higher percentage than his entire career, 62.4%, but take away his rushing threat as a QB, and this guy just doesn’t cut it.
The Panthers defense has been inconsistent, pitching great games against the Niners, Bills and Bucs allowing only 3 runs (points). On the the bad side, they gave up 34 to the Saints (L 34-13), 30 to the Patriots (W 33-30), and 28 to the Eagles (L 28-23). The defense of course features the league’s best MLB, Luke Keuchly, along with other standouts, LB Thomas Davis, LB Shaq Thompson, DT Kawann Short, DE’s Mario Addison and Julius Peppers, 6.5 sacks and 7.5 sacks respectively, and DT Star Lotuleilei
On offense, the Kelvin Benjamin-less Panthers bring a 2 headed backfield attack with a power attack from Jonathan Stewart, and a RB/WR hybrid Christain McCaffery (Former Bronco’s WR Ed McCaffrey’s son). Stewart barely leads the team in rushing with 350 yards, just 9 yards ahead of one Cam Newton. McCaffrey easily leads the team in receptions with 54, and has 406 yards receiving along with 2 TD’s. He also has 183 yards rushing, to give him nearly 600 all purpose yards.
The Dolphins will once again bring their own 2 headed rushing attack of Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake. So far, it looks like Williams is more McCaffrey while Drake is more Stewart, but don’t be surprised to see Drake catch more passes, and Williams get some more carries too. It’s a work in process, and I don’t believe anyone’s role has been defined. Devante Parker is back, and WOW what a catch he made last Sunday night! Ted Larsen should be starting at LG, which will probably mean Jesse Davis, who played LG this past Sunday will now move out to RT to replace hamstring injured Ja’Wuan James. Davis will mostly be going up against Charles Johnson on rushing downs, and Julius Peppers on passing downs, both good, veteran DE’s. Keep an eye on that, as the Dolphins will be sending some help over to his side.
On defense, we get recently activated off suspension S T.J. McDonald back! TE Ed Dickson is quietly having a nice season for the Panthers, and w/o Benjamin, he may be targeted even more, so look to see if T.J. McDonald is a factor there, or do we let Kiko Alonso chase him around all night. We’ll see Sunday night. The defense looks so good at times, and so bad at times, you just don’t know what to expect. I hope T.J. brings some much needed energy, and maybe a guy who can cover a TE effectively.
Now, for the moment everyone has been waiting for! Fest photos!
Ok, one more . . .
GO DOLPHINS! Zero in!