Each week as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for their matchup we will go behind enemy lines to get the scoop on the team they’re facing with a member of the FanSided Network. Today we have Bryan Palmese, editor of Cat Crave, giving us the info on the Baltimore Ravens. He discussed the perspective and opinions of the Panther’s organization from a fan’s perspective on the team ultimately placing Greg Hardy on the exemption list this week, the health of Cam Newton, the job security of head coach Ron Rivera, and even a prediction for Sunday night.
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What is the fan’s perspective on the deactivation of Greg Hardy? Do you agree with it or think the team just buckled under the pressure and scrutiny to do something?
I think the fans are torn 50-50, but honestly just want the distraction to go away. The fans just want whats best for the team and winning, regardless of which 53-players are on the field. The media is definitely more concerned about Greg Hardy than the fact that we are 2-0 and one of the powerhouses in the NFC. I personally disagree with him being deactivated, because I think it was due to the media and public relations nightmare. The outcome hasn’t changed since his guilty verdict this summer and he is still awaiting retrial in November, so I don’t know why the deactivation didn’t come earlier. At this point, with his salary and off-the-field issues, I honestly am ready to move on. He’s a talented player in his prime, but sometimes the negative out ways the positive.
Is Cam Newton 100% after missing the first game with the rib injury?
Cam is not 100%, but he is a lot healthier than the last time these two teams met. I think the injury has allowed Cam to elevate his game since his mobility was limited. He looked like a different player last week than he has the previous three seasons. Much more alert, checking down properly and staying in the pocket more. Newton is not running with the same agility and speed thus far, so he will need to trust his offensive line and continue relying on his football IQ to win games, rather than just taking off when a play breaks down. If Newton can add an accurate passing game to his resume, he will be one of the deadliest quarterbacks in the league.
Is head coach Ron Rivera on the hot seat if the team doesn’t match/surpass last season’s success?
I don’t think Rivera would be on the hot seat if we don’t live up to the 2013 season. He is the reigning Coach of the Year and this team overachieved in ’13, so I think he is safe. It helped winning his first ever season opener in four seasons two weeks ago, and if he can take care of business this week, the Panthers will be in good position as they head into the rough part of their schedule over the next five weeks. Barring an absolute collapse where we go 3-13 and Rivera loses the locker room, he will be back in 2015.
What is your prediction with score for the game on Sunday night?
I think Carolina takes the first quarter to feel out their opponent, but the defense will wear down the Steelers. The strength of Pittsburgh will be neutralized and we will force Big Ben to beat us through the air. I think Carolina has to find a way to establish the running game. Our running backs and receivers are banged up, so the offense will rely on Cam Newton stepping up. I think the home primetime crowd will be amped up and confident as our 2-0 team takes the field. Final Score: Panthers – 24 Steelers – 10
What is the outlook for the 2014 Carolina Panthers?
I believe the Panthers are a 10-6 team this season. There is a horrendous stretch of five games coming up that will test our mettle. Overall, Carolina’s defense will always keep the Panthers in games so that alone will help in close games. As Cam Newton goes, so does the Panthers. Newton and rookie Kelvin Benjamin are on the brink of establishing a new “deadly duo” in the NFL. Carolina is an unpredictable division (New Orleans is 0-2) and an evolving NFC chocked full of teams that are trending up. I see the Panthers in the playoffs and at least making it out of the first round.
There you have it, Steeler Nation. What to look for in Sunday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers. What other questions would you have asked?
Here we go Steelers! Here we go!