Maybe a little premature, like (insert any innuendo here), but I am pumped for the regular season to begin. And to get the ball rolling I am going to make 5 predictions for our home opener. In typical homer fashion, you will notice a, shall we say, optimistic slant to these predictions. If you are cynical person who claims 'I'm just being a realist", screw off. But if you are pumped for football that matters to begin, by all means, read on.#1. Beanie is going for 125+ yards and at least 1 TD: He is now a legit feature back going into his 3rd season. this is the year when players start to show there stuff. Remember back in the day when rookies had nothing expected of them until there third year? oh well. The panthers D has struggled and they have 2 rookie DT starting...as DD would say "fresh meat". Our O line is strong (physically, not all around) so hopefully we can take advantage of their young players and physically dominate the box. My one concern here is Beason. he is very good and very underrated. hopefully Sherman can step up and get to Beason early and often. also, our improved passing game should open up the field and give us lots of opportunities. (an assumption, but i think a safe one considering how bad our QB's were last year. And do not give me some crap about passer rating and downfield completions and Blah blah blah). And finally I am assuming we will win this game so the 4th quarter will hopefully be spent pounding the ball up the middle for about 5 yards a pop.
#2. if Newton starts, we will force 4 turnovers. Cam newton is not ready to play in the NFL. Remeber what we did to last years 1rst overall selection in his first game. Expect much of the same. Also, the Panthers will have their playbook dialed back for Cam, which will play to our advantage. look for the panthers to be one dimensional and run the ball alot. If Dan Williams is not in shape before the game, he will be by the time it ends. I am going to guarantee that Rhodes will have an interception this game. look for newton to try and look deep and throw one right to Kerry. I am expecting, in no particular order, a strip sack that we will recover (1), fumble recovery by a LB, the KR int, and D wash to get an int on a pass to a TE. Look for our pressure to come more from DD and CC then the OLB's. With those two collapsing the pocket look for newton to be antsy and try to run lots. that is where we will have the pleasure of seeing Washingtons and Bradleys speed on full display as they chase down Newton. The panthers are in a bad place offensively and newton will not know what is coming now that we finally have a D coordinator who knows how to bring some pressure.
#3. Kolb will be solid (19-28, 215 yds, 2 TD, 1 Int) - He is accurate and a gamer and will have a strong first showing. He is going to hit Fitz 9 times for 110 yds and 1 score. His Int is going to come from trying to force it fitz. But all in all I look for the offensive play calling to be pretty vanilla except for a few things we haven't seen much from the Cards. Look for a lot of intermediate throws to TE and receivers (doucet) as that is where Kolb excels. I am also very excited to see what LSH will do when he gets a few screens and draws run for him. Most of the incompletions will be because of timing as the shortened offseason will did not allow for chemistry to be built.
#4. The cardinals will put at least 2 long scoring drive (12+ plays) together. This is something that was sorely missing last year. Our Qb's could not sustain and drive. Expect to see us run lots on first down, but this
year game expect it to work. I expect us to pound it up the middle with beanie. This will help us stay 2 dimensional as we won't find ourselves in third and long situations. This is really the biggest thing that I am hoping Kolb can bring to us. The ability to put long drives together. last year we got killed because our D play 40 min a game. I do not anticipate a lot of risks and deep throws, but more crossing, hook and slant routes that will pick up smaller, but more consistent chunks of yardage. I am also excited to see 2 and 3 TE sets with only Fitz out wide. look for King to pick up a first down on a short catch after he lays a chip block.
#5. LSH is going to score a long TD- Either a kickoff, screen play or outside run. Look for LSH to score a TD of at least 40 Yards.
#bonus- we will win (34- 13) - Most importantly, we will win. I cannot wait for the season to start and I do not know if there is a team out there who I would rather play first then the panthers (maybe the shehawks or bunguls). Go Cards and lets get this year started right. NFC west Champs.