The Panthers and the Bengals have never faced each other before in the preseason, but are set to do so Thursday night in Cincinnati. The teams currently split regular season play with a 2-2 record, after the Bengals beat the Panthers last year 20-7.
Both teams are rebuilding this year with young quarterbacks. The Panthers have Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton, while the Bengals have their second-round draft pick Andy Dalton picking up where Carson Palmer left off.
The rookie who most Panthers fans entrusted their team with is proving to be just that—a rookie. Newton has shown some promise and has great potential, but it is still obvious that he has to learn the difference between the college and professional settings.
So far this preseason, Newton has completed 45.5 percent of his passes. The good news is that he looks good whether he's playing with first stringers or second stringers. When Newton gets on the field he commands the attention and knows how to work the pocket. It's only a matter of time before he gets into the professional groove.
While Andy Dalton may have taken TCU to the Rose Bowl, I wouldn't hold your breath on him taking the Bengals to the Super Bowl. Carson Palmer's replacement has thrown for one touchdown so far in the loss to the New York Jets.
The four time Pro Bowler is ready to get back in the action. Smith battled injuries among other frustrations last year and a finger injury kept him out the first two preseason games this year.
Smith's absence has been part of the Panthers problem. There has been such competition on deciding who gets the No. 1 and 2 spots at wide receiver for the team. With Smith back, things should fall into place a little more smoothly.
The Bengals spent their fourth overall draft pick this April on UGA's wide receiver. Similar to the Panther's Cam Newton situation, fans expected more right off the bat.
Green will learn his way around the field with Dalton, but he has to get past the other team first. In the Bengals loss against the Jets, Green only made one catch for a total of eight yards.
Cincinnati has a less than stellar defense, which should enable Cam to move the ball around a little easier. In their first two preseason games they have given up a total of 61 points.
Carolina's defense is looking better. There was some struggle last week at Miami with the loss of Jon Beason and Greg Hardy, but it looks like Terrell McClain may be able to help out on the back end.
While I'm not predicting a blowout, it looks like this matchup should be one of the easier ones for Carolina. It will be good practice for Newton to get out on the field with the guys and continue to work on the offense.
Dalton and the Bengals are going to have to put in a little more effort if they want to win this preseason matchup.