NFL Predictions Week 2: Will Cam Newton Follow Up Record-Setting Performance?

Cian FaheyFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11:  Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers throws a pass under pressure from Darnell Dockett #90 of the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL season opening game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Carindals defeated the Panthers 28-21.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Cam Newton's record-breaking performance in his debut for the Carolina Panthers against the Arizona Cardinals will be followed up by his home debut against the Green Bay Packers.

On paper, Newton's chances at repeating that performance are astronomical, but his chances at having another strong performance shouldn't be bet against.

He may not be Drew Brees just yet, but Brees did highlight last Thursday night that the Packers defense isn't without its flaws. Brees finished the season opener with 419 yards and three touchdowns to zero interceptions.

Brees did throw the ball 49 times and dropped back 53 times, but Newton showed last night that he can already carry the Panthers offense with 37 attempts on 49 drop-backs.

Newton didn't get the production from his running game that he would have hoped for, as the Cardinals stacked the box. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams accounted for 56 yards on 19 carries.

This should change next week.

Despite standing up at crucial times against the Saints, the Packers showed—without Mike Neal, who is not a major run-stuffer, anyway—that they could give up big plays on the ground. The Panthers' running game has more explosion in the backfield compared to the Saints', but Pierre Thomas managed to strip off some big plays, so Williams and Stewart should give Newton better support at home next week.

While the Packers' secondary is much better than the Cardinals' was last night, Newton will once again benefit from an injury to a key player as he did with Adrian Wilson's—who still played—last night.

Sam Shields and Charles Woodson are very good corners and Jarrett Bush is one of the best fourth choices in the league, but the injury to Tramon Williams will be felt. Williams is the team's best corner and could possibly play next week, but the signs after Thursday's game make me skeptical.

If the Panthers continue to employ the same rookie-friendly offense and get better results out of their running game, there is no reason for Newton not to repeat with another impressive display.

The Packers pass rush wasn't very good last week and Jeff Otah showed last night that his health is no longer a question, which gives them a chance to give Newton time to find Steve Smith deep against Clay Matthews and company.

The fact is, some rookies will have big moments and then seriously struggle with their consistency—Newton will too, but the design of the offense with two tight ends and a lot of play action should reduce his errors. His reads are simplified in this system and he showed last night that he has no problem finding open receivers.

The fact is that he didn't just make big plays last night, he also made smart plays.

He may have been sacked four times and scrambled eight, but that shows intelligence, as he is not forcing the ball into tight windows or heaving it in a panic. His lone interception last night came on a play on which the throw was there. It was a difficult pass to complete, and had he been 100 percent accurate, his receiver still would have only had a small chance, but it wasn't a pass many veterans wouldn't have made.

Cam Newton won't pass for 422 yards again next week—in fact, he may never repeated that feat in his career—but he can definitely have a big day against the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Also if Jon Beason's injury is as severe as it seems, Newton could see some time at MLB. He's a beast!