Miami at Carolina 11-19-09

November 19, 2009


Carolina and Miami both began 0-3 after winning their respective division titles in 2008, seemingly putting themselves in major peril considering no team has made the playoffs after such a poor start since the 1998 Detroit Lions. Instead, they’ve each won four of six to improve to 4-5. The Panthers’ 28-19 win over Atlanta on Sunday put them one game behind the Falcons, Packers, Eagles and Giants in the wild-card picture, with a game at New York still remaining on their schedule.

The Panthers have survived on their running game, which is third in the league (156.6 yards per game) behind DeAngelo Williams(5.1 yards per carry, seven touchdowns) and Jonathan Stewarts(4.8, six). Williams had 92 yards Sunday and Stewart finished with 82 and two scores. That rushing attack – and Delhomme’s blind-side pass protection – might be in trouble with the loss of Gross, the All-Pro left tackle who broke his ankle against Atlanta. Gross had only missed one game in his seven-year career, but he’s out for the season after undergoing surgery Sunday night.

Not only do the 4-5 Dolphins trail New England by two games for the AFC East lead, they are a full two games out of a Wild Card spot. A loss this evening could pretty much end their postseason hopes. The Panthers, also at 4-5, are in a much better position since the four teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race are all just 5-4. After a miserable 0-3 start, Carolina is 4-2 in its last six games with one of the losses coming by only 10 points in New Orleans. The big story in this game is the absence of Miami running back Ronnie Brown, who suffered season ending foot injury in last week’s two-point win over Tampa Bay. With Brown not playing, it could be a long evening for the offense. Look for Carolina to exploit his loss and walk off with a double-digit victory.

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