Perhaps they made a big mistake not signing corner Josh Norman in the off-season?
Teams with average offences like Denver, the 49ers, and Vikings scored points against this D, which last season was dominant, so something is missing.
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones lit up Carolina’s D like a Christmas tree. Jones caught 12 balls for 300 yards and a touchdown while Ryan threw for over 500 yards.
You would have to think, if Norman was still with the Panthers, he would have covered Jones for most of the game, and kept him in check. Jones is a great receiver and no one can completely shut him down, but 300 yards?
By early indications this season, Norman’s absence will really hurt the Panthers’ chances of returning to the Super Bowl. Yes, Norman ran off his mouth a lot, but it looks like he was a vital part of that defence – more than Panthers’ management really thought.
Stat of the week
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown 131 passes to start his NFL career without throwing an interception. He is 32 passes away from breaking Tom Brady’s record of 162 passes without a pick.
Bonehead play of the week
The Chargers were leading the Saints 34-21 with only 6:51 remaining in the game, and then Melvin Gordon fumbled the ball. That led to a Saints’ touchdown, and New Orleans scored another major on the next possession when Travis Benjamin fumbled.
Tom Brady returns after his four-game suspension for a road match against the Browns. It’s great game for Brady to shake the rust off, after throwing the football to wife Gisele for the last month in the backyard. Brady’s return will get Julian Edelman back in the offence, and the hard-luck Browns face the Pats at the wrong time. Pats win big on the road.
After watching the Vikings play the Giants on Monday night, they remind The Freak a lot of last season’s Broncos. Denver has a great defence that creates turnovers, pressures the quarterback, and lets quarterback Sam Bradford manage the game. The Texans lost to a third-string quarterback the last time they went on the road. It’s tough playing in Minnesota. Take the Vikes.
Pittsburgh looks like a different team offensively with the return of running back Le’veon Bell as defences can’t just key on Antonio Brown. The Jets, with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, are a turnover machine, and going on the road with their injuries at receiver won’t help. Steelers win.
Don’t mortgage the house picks
The Giants continue to turn the ball over, take costly penalties, and Odell Beckham is a distraction to the team with his temper and moods. These are the ingredients to lose in the NFL, and now the Giants have to go to Lambeau against the rested Packers. Don’t like their chances, take the Pack.
Philly is in first place, and travels to Detroit, which just lost to a bad Bears’ team on the road. The Eagles are also rested while the Lions are heading in the wrong direction. The Eagles fly away with a win.
Very quietly the defending champs are having a great season, even with two unproven quarterbacks. The Broncos head home to host the surprising Falcons (3-1). Never like taking Atlanta on the road, especially outdoors on grass. The champs continue to roll with another win.
Sorry Dolphins’ fans, but you have another bad team, and are 3.5-point favourites at home over the Titans.
Tennessee has a great running game with DeMarco Murray, and they like to control the line of scrimmage with their big offensive line.
This season has to be the end of the Ryan Tannehill experiment in Miami. He’s had his chance, and has nothing to show for it. Titans win on road.
Last week: 5-for-7.
John Turner is a Summerside schoolteacher and coaches youth football. His column appears every Saturday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.