Next Thursday, we can officially say the 2019 NFL regular season is underway. The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will kick off the season in a divisional matchup. Another prominent matchup in Week 1 comes between the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams.
Last season, Ron Rivera and the Panthers were in a phenomenal position to make the playoffs after getting off to a 6-2 start through their first eight games. Unfortunately, Cam Newton suffered a shoulder injury and the team’s season was derailed.
Carolina won just one of their final eight games and Newton ended the season on injured reserve. This offseason, the Panther’s franchise quarterback underwent shoulder surgery and has returned to the field.
As for the Rams, Sean McVay’s squad are coming off a successful season despite suffering a heartbreaking loss in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. After averaging 32.9 points per game in the regular season, Los Angeles could only manage to score three points against the Patriots.
Nonetheless, Los Angeles has reloaded and are inspired to make it to the Super Bowl again in 2019—but with a different result. The Panthers and Rams could both be teams competing for a chance to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl when it’s all said and done.
Without further ado, here are four bold predictions for the Rams and Panthers Week 1 matchup.
4. Dante Fowler Will Get Two Sacks
Prior to last year’s trade deadline, the Rams chose to make a move to acquire Dante Fowler from the Jacksonville Jaguars. During the regular season, Fowler played in eight games for Los Angeles but only managed to bring down the quarterback twice.
The 25-year old edge-rusher did make his presence known against the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints in the playoffs. The former Jaguars defensive end made a clutch play in the NFC Championship game to defeat the Saints; by delivering a hit on Drew Brees that forced an interception in overtime.
Again, during the regular season, Fowler struggled to adjust to Wade Phillips’ defense with just two sacks. This offseason, it seems as if Fowler has made strides in his game and the young pass-rusher will manage to tie his total in sacks from 2018 in Week 1 against the Panthers.
3. Christian McCaffrey Will Catch 15 Passes
As Newton continues to make his way back on the field for Carolina, he knows he can trust Christian McCaffrey to make plays for him in the passing game. Over the past two seasons, McCaffrey has become one of the NFL’s best dual-threat running backs.
Last year, the Panthers running back managed to accumulate 1,965 yards from scrimmage on 326 total touches. Most impressively, the Stanford product hauled in 107 receptions (which was eighth-most in the NFL) in 2018.
Additionally, McCaffrey had three games where he was unstoppable out of the backfield with 10 or more receptions. McCaffrey’s personal single-game record is 14 receptions against the Atlanta Falcons in 2018. The third-year running back will create a new career-high versus Los Angeles with 15 receptions in Week 1.
2. The Rams Will Have Three Receivers With 100 Yards
Before Cooper Kupp tore his ACL last season, the Rams were on pace to have their top three wideouts surpass 1,000 yards receiving on the season. If they had achieved that feat, they would’ve became just the sixth receiving trio in NFL history to do so.
Entering 2019, Kupp is fully recovered from his injury and joins Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods once again. Undoubtedly, Los Angeles arguably has the most talented receiving trio in the NFL.
Despite the lethargic performance in last year’s Super Bowl, the Rams offense should be even better than last year in 2019. To begin the season, Jared Goff will connect for 100 yards with his top three receiving options versus the Panthers.
1. The Rams Will Win, 38-17
Since McVay became the head coach of Los Angeles in 2017, the Rams have thrived in their regular-season openers. In 2017, Los Angeles took down the Indianapolis Colts sans Andrew Luck by the score of 46-9.
Then, last year, the Rams were able to secure a 33-13 victory in Week 1 over the Oakland Raiders. Now, this season, Los Angeles will begin their season against a Panthers team who is getting Newton back under center.
However, following their embarrassing Super Bowl loss in 2018, Los Angeles has been itching to get back on the field to impose their dominance. Similar to the past two seasons, Los Angeles will make a statement in Week 1.