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NFL Preview - Carolina (1-6) at Washington (3-5)



By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - When it rains, it pours. And when the Carolina Panthers lose, it's usually by less than a touchdown.

The frustrating season will continue for the lowly Panthers, as they play their second straight road game Sunday against rookie sensation Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.

Griffin will face last year's Rookie of the Year in Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Both Griffin and Newton have similar skill sets in that they both have strong arms and can improvise when trouble arises, but one has been more frustrated lately than the other.

Newton was reamed by the media for his postgame comments and mannerisms following a tough loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but altered course after this past Sunday's 23-22 setback at Chicago. Even though he had no touchdown passes and was intercepted twice, Newton completed 20-of-39 attempts to give Carolina a chance to end their skid. He also ran for 37 yards.

However, the subpar effort wasn't enough and the Panthers suffered their fifth straight loss to fall to 1-6 on the season. Save a 36-7 thrashing by the New York Giants in Week 3, Carolina has lost by no more than six points.

"I am running out of ways to describe this (season). It was disappointing, obviously. Our guys played well enough to give themselves a chance to win," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "The guys played well, and the guys played hard. I feel bad for those guys in that (locker room)."

The Panthers are winless in their last four road games dating back to last season.

Washington maintained its grasp of last place in the NFC East with Sunday's 27-12 loss at Pittsburgh. Griffin wasn't much of a factor in this one and passed for just 177 yards with a touchdown.

Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris, who was coming off a 120-yard performance in a tough loss at New York and was averaging 98.8 rushing yards per game in his previous four, was held to 59 yards on 13 carries in the loss, Washington's second straight and fifth in seven tries.

"To come into this environment and win you have to play one of your better games both offensively, defensively and special teams and we did not do that," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan admitted. "I'm disappointed in the number of opportunities that we had and plays we didn't make on both sides of the football."

The Steelers amassed 355 yards of offense, including 140 on the ground, against a porous Washington defense. Ben Roethlisberger picked apart the Redskins' secondary to the tune of 222 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan had the only sack in defeat.

Washington looks to right the ship with a home bout and was able to squeeze past Minnesota the last time it played at FedEx Field on Oct. 14.

The Panthers handed the Redskins a 33-20 loss last Oct. 23, when Newton passed for 256 yards and a touchdown and racked up 59 yards and a score on 10 scrambles. In fact, Carolina ran for 175 yards and finished with 407 on the day. The Redskins have won seven of 10 all-time meetings with Carolina.

Carolina has won three of the last four meetings.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Washington is still having trouble against the pass and will face another challenging against Panthers wideout Steve Smith. Smith had 118 yards on seven receptions and is starting to rekindle that bond he had with Newton a year ago. Four Steelers receivers have at least 38 yards last week.

DeAngelo Hall is Washington's most experienced defensive back and has two interceptions on the season. The Redskins could use one this week, for it should be a close matchup with Carolina. They have posted just one sack in each of the last two games, and the key to beating Newton is throwing off his timing and disrupting the pocket.

Perhaps the biggest key to Sunday's game is how both Newton and Griffin perform. They are two of the most exciting players in the league and both happen to play quarterback. Newton has the edge over the rookie Griffin since he is in his second year, and has more pressure on his shoulders for a Panthers team whose hopes are circling the drain.

RG3 has already evolved into a dynamic offensive threat with his ability to keep plays alive and create opportunities. Newton helped Carolina gain 416 total yards against the Bears, but it wasn't enough to stop the bleeding. He'll be looking to upstage Griffin on enemy ground.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Both teams enter this matchup desperate for a win, so it boils down to the one who makes the most mistakes. Lately, it's been Newton, who hasn't had the luxury of a defense making stops at critical moments of the game. Why else would the Panthers be 1-6 on the season? The Redskins are still a tough squad to slow down, including at home, but they won't have what it takes to contain Newton and a determined Panthers team trying to save Rivera's job as coach.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Panthers 21, Redskins 17

11/01 15:58:13 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
4th
PHI 82
CHA 102
 
4th
PHI 82
CHA 102
 
4th
ORL 92
UTA 100
 
3rd
CLE 70
BRK 69
 
4th
BOS 88
MIN 81
 
3rd
DET 66
TOR 80
 
3rd
MIA 77
WAS 72
 
Half
MEM 43
CHI 51
 
Half
SAN 46
POR 44
 
1st
DEN 4
LAC 4
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
OKC
Final
YOUNG 92
WILB 71
 
Final
TULA 56
JST 49
 
Final
RAD 76
SIENA 66
 
Final
BUCK 88
CASEWEST 65
 
Final
LIB 94
CPNC 65
 
Final
SCAR 68
CLEM 45
 
Final
CMICH 97
CONC 60
 
Final
MIAMI 44
EKENT 72
 
Final
GWEBB 91
HIWASSEE 71
 
Final
ODU 60
MDES 43
 
Final
BUF 88
NIAG 62
 
Final
KSU 71
NCAT 57
 
Final
FAM 65
UNF 83
 
Final
NORST 81
NARZ 62
 
Final
DART 58
NILL 55
 
Final
MORE 60
NKENTUCKY 83
 
Final
UCSB 69
SDCHR 46
 
Final
STJ 53
GAELS 47
 
Final
ALA 69
STILL 49
 
Final
HAMP 66
TENST 54
 
Final
TENN 61
TENT 58
 
Final
WMARY 86
WSHMD 46
 
2nd
MERC 62
COOK 42
 
2nd
FLGC 67
FUR 54
 
Final
CALST 49
SDKST 53
 
2nd
MTST 34
CHAT 28
 
2nd
NDAK 42
DICKINSON 22
 
2nd
LAMON 43
LSUALEX 42
 
2nd
PRIN 55
LIP 42
 
2nd
LAM 55
MLGN 31
 
Half
MINN 43
SEAT 21
 
2nd
LOYC 50
SUTAH 34
 
2nd
SELA 56
WINT 41
 
2nd
SILL 36
NO 27
 
1st
MARQ 14
ALAAM 5
 
1st
TTU 6
ARKPB 6
 
1st
DEN 13
COLST 10
 
1st
CREI 12
TXPA 5
 
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
EWASH
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
IDST
 
11:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ARZ
11:59pm Tonight
CHAM
HAW
 
3rd
NJD 2
TAM 1
 
2nd Intermission
OTT 4
ANA 1
 
2nd Intermission
DET 1
NYI 2
 
2nd
WIN 1
BOS 1
 
1st
CAL 0
DAL 0