Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Key to Victory: Keeping Cam Newton clean
The last time the Carolina Panthers lost a football game was the first week of October.
Ron Rivera’s team had just returned from an off week, and the team was off its game in a 22-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
It looked like it was going to be another rough start for the Panthers, who had opened both 2011 and 2012 with a 2-8 record.
But everything is working these days. Carolina has won six straight games and opened some eyes the last two weeks with conquests of the 49ers in San Francisco as well as a Monday night win over the New England Patriots.
But quarterback Cam Newton will certainly be paying attention to the Miami Dolphins and those 30 sacks amassed by defensive end Cameron Wake and friends. Newton has been sacked 28 times in 10 games in 2013—14 times in the team’s seven wins and 14 times in three losses.
Key to Victory: Going deep
The state of Florida is known for its great beaches and sunny weather, not for its roller coasters.
But welcome to the ride known as the 2013 Miami Dolphins.
Head coach Joe Philbin got the team off to the first 3-0 start by the franchise since 2002, and then it promptly lost four games in a row. But the Dolphins have rebounded with two wins in their last three games.
This week, they face the Carolina Panthers, a team the Dolphins have never lost to during the regular season (0-4). Of course, that doesn’t really mean a lot these days.
But what it does mean is that Miami could give one of the hottest teams in the league some trouble, as Carolina is coming off a short week.
It also means that it is time for wide receiver Mike Wallace to earn his keep. The former Pittsburgh Steelers standout has totaled 44 catches for 534 yards. But he has scored just one touchdown in 10 games, and that was back in Week 2 versus the Indianapolis Colts.
While Carolina’s talented front seven is as good as it gets, the secondary can be had if the team’s pass rush isn’t up to snuff. And that may be the case if defensive end Charles Johnson can’t give it a go, which he may not be able to do, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.
It has not been a banner year for the inconsistent Wallace, but he could change some things if he can come up big here and his team can end the Panthers’ six-game winning streak.
After all, we do know that a Mike Wallace—including the late, great journalist—is capable of a good 60 Minutes.