coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
On 09/09/2013 01:52 PM in NFL

Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills: Preview and Pick

Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills: Preview and Pick

The Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills both head into week two searching for their first win of the season. Although both teams lost it may be the Bills who are more excited about the future after almost upsetting Tom Brady and the New England Patriots as double digit underdogs. A good showing at home against the Panthers could go a long way for the future of this proud franchise.

Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Panthers listed as (-2.5) point favorites. This line has started to move in favor of the Panthers and can now be found at (-3) at several of the top rated online sportsbooks. This comes as no surprise as there is not many believers in the new look Bills as 69 percent of the betting public is on the road team.

The Bills started rookie EJ Manuel under center and he looked like a savvy veteran as he carved up the Patriots defense on several occasions. With weapons all over the field to include Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller and Stevie Johnson, the future is bright with the Bills. However this week they will get a step up in talent on the defensive side of the ball as the Panthers are shaping up to have one of the better defenses in the league.

This defense stuffed the Seahawks and shut down one of the best players in the league. The Seahawks couldn't get much going on the ground with Carolina smothering Marshawn Lynch, holding the All-Pro running back to 43 yards on 17 carries. Seahawks' rushers combined for 26 yards after contact on 26 total rushes Sunday. Both the total rush yards after contact and 1.0 yards after contact per rush average are the second-lowest in a game since the start of 2011 for the Seahawks. The Panthers could have won this game if not for a last minute turnover by running back DeAngelo Williams and several dropped passes by tight end Greg Olsen.

The NFL betting trends show that this could be a close game. Carolina is 1-4 straight up in its last 5 games when playing Buffalo and the total has gone OVER in 5 of Carolina's last 7 games on the road. Buffalo is 1-4 straight up in its last five games and the Panthers are just 7-17 straight up in the last 24 games on the road.

This game will be one of the more entertaining games to watch this weekend.

Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
09/10/2013 04:59 PM

The Carolina Panthers have placed starting right guard Garry Williams on season-ending injured reserve with a left knee injury suffered in Sunday's 12-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said no decision has been made on who will replace the fifth-year player on the roster.

Williams suffered the injury in the first quarter and did not return. An MRI taken Monday revealed torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. The good news for Carolina is that starting left guard Amini Silatolu (hamstring) has been cleared to return to practice Wednesday without restrictions.

Chris Scott, who started at left guard against Seattle, will return to right guard, where he had a perfect grade on pass protection after Williams went down. Silatolu and Travelle Wharton will work on the left side.


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The Buffalo Bills promoted cornerback Johnny Adams from the practice squad and waived defensive lineman Jay Ross. Adams adds depth at cornerback, where the Bills have been thinned by injuries in recent weeks. Stephon Gilmore is out for several more weeks with a fractured wrist, while Ron Brooks is out indefinitely with a foot fracture. An undrafted rookie, Adams played at Michigan State and was in training camp with the Indianapolis Colts.

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The Buffalo Bills have been unable to dodge significant injuries in recent weeks.

With cornerback Stephon Gilmore (fractured wrist) and offensive lineman Doug Legursky (knee) already out for several weeks, the Bills' depth was thinned further on Sunday, when wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (fractured hand) and cornerback Ron Brooks (fractured foot) were hurt in a loss to the New England Patriots.

Head coach Doug Marrone said he doesn't think the injuries to Goodwin or Brooks are season-ending, but for Buffalo, a numbers game starts to come into play.

With kicker Dustin Hopkins (right groin strain) and safety Jairus Byrd (foot) dealing with less serious ailments, the Bills are approaching the point where they might need to make tough calls in order to field a healthy 46-man roster on game day.

Six injured players would leave the Bills with just one inactive to declare, leaving little margin for further injuries. If Byrd or Hopkins can't return in the next week or so, Buffalo might need to look at "short-term" injured reserve for either Brooks or Goodwin.

The Bills used the injured reserve with a designation to return on Brooks when he suffered a fractured foot last season. The rule allows one player per season to return within that season, after sitting out at least eight weeks. The designation would also clear a roster spot.

Teams must gamble when deciding whether to use the designation on an injured player. If the Bills, for instance, use it on Goodwin or Brooks, they would be unable to use it if another, more important player suffers a serious, but not season-ending, injury in their next game.

Marrone said Monday that he doesn't think the Bills will use it on Goodwin or Brooks. "I don’t foresee that," Marrone said. "Going into this thing I don’t see it as long-term IR, I see them being out for a while and then coming back."

The task for Bills general manager Doug Whaley, though, is maintaining roster flexibility and depth across positions as insurance for future injuries. His hands are tied if Gilmore, Legursky, Goodwin, and Brooks are all on the active roster but not playing for a month or longer.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
09/11/2013 04:22 PM

As well as the Carolina Panthers played defensively in Sunday's 12-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, there were areas they must improve. The most glaring? What defensive coordinator Sean McDermott calls the four-minute defense.

Carolina had Seattle pinned at the 3-yard line with 4:42 remaining. But on second-and-15 quarterback Russell Wilson was able to connect with running back Derrick Coleman on a short pass that turned into a 12-yard gain because linebacker Jon Beason missed a tackle.

On the next play, Seattle converted for a first down and the Seahawks were able to run out the clock.

The easy explanation for what happened is the Panthers were gassed, but that's just an excuse. Was Beason tired? Well, yes. It was his first full game after missing a year recovering from a knee injury. But again, he'll tell you tired is no excuse.

Were others tired? Yes. The four-man rotation at defensive end was reduced to three when Frank Alexander was ejected for taking a swing at a Seattle lineman after a big sack by safety Charles Godfrey. He'll be fined later in the week, and coach Ron Rivera already has given him an earful for hurting the team.

But again, those are excuses. It's unfortunate we played such a good game but we couldn't finish at the end,'' Beason said. "It's a tough pill to swallow.''

Carolina's secondary also gave up too many plays as quarterback Wilson passed for 320 yards, his first 300-yard game, including a game-winning 43-yard touchdown pass over cornerback Josh Thomas.

As well as Thomas played against the run, look for Carolina to use Josh Norman more this week against Buffalo.

But there were far more positives than negatives. The Panthers held running back Marshawn Lynch to 43 yards on 17 carries and the Seahawks had only 70 total rushing yards. They sacked the elusive Wilson two times and pressured him countless others without using a lot of exotic blitzes.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
09/12/2013 02:45 PM

Here are some of the questions and subsequent answers from Bills coach Marrone on Wednesday.

Q: How do you feel about your cornerback situation now?

A: When you look at last week and the throws that were contested, I think sometimes they get overlooked. I thought Justin Rogers really did a nice job in there and Nickell Robey. I mean they really played well. Leodis (McKelvin), for a guy that’s missed some time and went in there. Jimmy Leonhard came in with a short period of time and played for us. That goes on and those situations arise sometimes due to injury and you just have to overcome that type of adversity. I thought that those players have done a good job. When you bring in the newer players or players that haven’t been with you before it’s usually like double duty. You have to get them ready as far as knowing the system because depending on how you’re playing and who you’re playing you have to make sure you can’t limit things. You have to keep things open and then from a talent standpoint, do they have the talent to do what we’re asking them to do? So we just want to make sure we’ve covered ourselves, that we have enough people back there that we don’t fall in to situation where we’re short.

Q: How much does this offense need C.J. Spiller to provide a dynamic presence?

A: Obviously that’s a part of it and again it’s a big part for what we want to accomplish out of that situation. I think it’s the same thing. You need production out of all the positions, whether its wide receiver, tight end, offensive line and quarterback to handle all the situations you’re going to be in. When we’re looking at that type of production and you’re talking about an individual player, we’re really putting the accountability and our expectations on everyone. Obviously in this game, the way we play or at least the way I feel offensively with my background, is really a team can come in and take a player out of the game, so you better make sure that the players around him are also making plays when those situations arise.

Q: C.J. (Spiller) was disappointed with his performance. Do you have confidence in him to bounce back this week?

A: We do. I think there are a lot of players, including myself, that were disappointed in some things. Obviously that occurs. There were things we’re encouraged by, that we need to keep working on and we have all the confidence in the world obviously in C.J. (Spiller) to bounce back from that. He’s someone that’s worked extremely hard.

Q: When you talk about taking a guy out of the game, how much would the passing game help open that up?

A: It’s week-to-week on who you’re playing and what their philosophy would be. Obviously if you have a strong passing game and you can see it in the league with some of the elite quarterbacks, you get more open field coverage where you have two safeties deep defending the pass. It gives you the ability to run maybe more runs or more capable runs. I think in this league to be able to run the football you’re going to need to be able do it against single safety teams and double safety teams, where they do put that extra guy in. I think a lot of that comes with a lot of work, meaning that you have to have a balance to be able to attack both because I think later on in the year when you look at teams in this northeast region, there’s going to be a time where weather is going to affect something. Whether its wind or the conditions of rain or snow, where you’re going to go in that game and you’re going to have to have the ability to run that ball. I think when you look at teams when you play those playoff games and things like that late in the season, that’s what you have to be able to do. You run the football.

Q: Where you expecting to get more production out of T. J. Graham?

A: The way we look at it is, I don’t really look at it individually with that group. Meaning that this player would need more production, this team would need more production because we’re going to play a lot of those kids. They’re going to play a lot coming out with the way we tempo it and the way we run. Just from the overall standpoint of the group, we’re looking for that type of production and I think we have to do a good job of making sure that what those players do well, we’re using them in that. That’s a little bit of a challenge with the system we run.

Q: If you don’t get more production out of him will you look more at the guys behind him?

A: We went in to the game thinking that we were going to get a lot of work with obviously Stevie (Johnson), obviously T.J. (Graham), Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and having (Marcus) Easley and (Chris) Hogan up to play and give a blow. That’s exactly how we were thinking going in to the game. I think that’s how we’ll keep going with that group. I think to say he’s our one, he’s our two and things like that, we don’t really, that’s not our philosophy. We put them in there and roll them in there. We try to make sure they’re fresh.

Q: There’s a tendency in this town with all the losing that people brace for the worst. Do you worry about that creeping in to your team or what do you do to change that?

A: I think we were changing that mentality the first day we walked through the door. You’ve got to try to change that mentality. You don’t know if it’s there or not. I don’t think it’s just with the team; it’s with everyone in the organization. I know that Russ Brandon has worked hard on that, we all have. It’s kind of like the ‘Woe is me, here we go again’ situation and that’s not what we want. A lot of that is positive thinking, adversity and things like that. Like I said before in the game, early on in that game we overcame a lot more adversity than probably what people think with the early turnover and getting behind 10-0 and being able to make a play and get back in the game. Obviously you sit here as a coach and that’s one thing you’re proud of. You’re not proud that you put yourself in that situation, but that happened. I don’t think from the standpoint of the players, there was a resiliency about them; I did not see that creep in.

Q: Do you believe there’s a process in learning how to win?

A: I think there’s some truth to that, I’d be lying if I said I didn't agree with that. I think there’s some truth to that. I don’t know the extent to that. For us, we go in to a game having a plan on how to win, percentage-wise and points-wise. I think we were looking at the game, going in to New England we had talked about two specific things. When those two specific things were in our favor we were winning the game and when it switched, obviously we fell short. I think each game, as long as you can keep the players concentrating on that, you have a chance to win it. I think that’s what you’re working on during the week. You’re working on, ‘Hey, for us to win this is what we have to do to be successful’ and then you have to go out there and execute it. It’s not like we just tell the team, ‘Hey let’s just go out there, make some plays, hold the ball, score more.’ So you’re constantly trying to create that mindset during the week of what’s going to happen and expecting that they’ll be an ebb and flow and adversity and that’s what you have to overcome.

Q: What’s your responsibility in that?

A: I think what people might lose track of is the players in this profession are here for a reason. In other words they’ve been very competitive in their lives to get to this position. When they get on the field, there’s a high level of competitiveness and winning. I think sometimes we forget that, I really do, I truly do. When I say we I mean everyone in general who’s not with them every day and sees them working. I don’t know of any team that’s ever gone out there and said that. Part of what you said before is my responsibility, to make sure that they don’t ever get to an ‘Oh, here we go again.’

Q: When you look at Carolina’s defense, what stands out to you?

A: I think they’re outstanding. Obviously the three linebackers are.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
09/13/2013 05:42 PM

It’s almost as if Domenik Hixon is mythical. Sightings are infrequent. There he is on the sideline, on the bench, on the inactive list, his hamstring injury rendering him part-time.

If you follow football, you’re aware of Hixon’s work with the New York Giants. Last season he caught 39 passes for 567 yards and two touchdowns. Hixon was the number three receiver behind Victor Cruz and, out of Independence High and North Carolina, Hakeem Nicks.

For perspective, Louis Murphy, Carolina’s No. 3 receiver last season, caught 25 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown. Hixon, who turns 29 next month, signed with Carolina as a free agent in April. Because of the hamstring he missed most of training camp and all but one preseason game. He was not active last week when the Panthers lost their opener to Seattle. Hixon, however, appears real. Lean, fast and 6-2, he stands in front of his locker this week after practice, much of it with the scout team.

Panther coach Ron Rivera says he would like to give Hixon -- and receivers Armanti Edwards and Ted Ginn. Jr. -- 15 to 20 "good snaps. We’d like to get everybody on the field if they’re ready to go," Rivera says.

It might not be possible to offer the three potential No. 3 receivers as many snaps as Rivera would like, especially if one them gets hot. But I like Rivera’s theory because it implies that quarterback Cam Newton will throw forward passes.

In their loss to Seattle last week the Panthers ran 26 times and passed 25. Most of the passes were short and safe. Ginn caught one pass for 10 yards. Other than Smith and Ginn, no wide receiver caught a pass.

Edwards, also coming off a hamstring injury, was in for one play, a Newton run. To Edwards’ credit, Newton ran to Edwards’ side of the field.

Against Carolina, Seattle’s Russell Wilson completed 25 passes to eight receivers, four of them wide receivers. To be honest, Seattle had to pass; it couldn’t run. To be yet even more honest, the Panthers are neither designed nor equipped to be a grind-it-out offense.

Edwards and Ginn consistently made plays in camp, Ginn in preseason games, and Hixon has been solid when healthy. Ginn, says Rivera, extends a defense with his speed. Edwards, says Rivera, is adept at catching the ball beneath the zone with defenders around him.

Hixon, says Rivera, offers a big target. Hixon earned credibility with Eli Manning in New York. How does he earn it with his coaches and quarterback in Carolina? "I just prove throughout practice I’m ready to play," Hixon says.

What do you offer? "Being the third wide receiver is probably one of the tougher positions because you may not get as many balls thrown your way," says Hixon. "So when you do you have to make it count. That’s something I’m still working on, being consistent and being counted on."

Something else the Panthers should count on: Proving they are a big-play offense. Last week, it was a myth.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0
coleryan Posts:14511 Followers:21
09/15/2013 08:56 AM

PICKS

This will be interesting to see how the Bills do against Carolina after playing well against the Patriots. The Panthers have a strong front on defense but this secondary is beatable. The Bills have a good home system in this spot and will be the play.

Bills +3

  • Last 7 Days Record: 6-4-0