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NFL Preview - Oakland (4-10) at Carolina (5-9)



By John McMullen, NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - It hasn't been a great year for Carolina or Cam Newton but they are at least finishing strong.

Newton and the Panthers hope to keep moving in the right direction Sunday when they entertain the moribund Oakland Raiders

Carolina's second-year signal-caller has picked it up recently, passing for 10 touchdowns and no interceptions with a 109.8 passer rating in his past five games. Newton also currently has 152 passing attempts without an interception, the longest current streak in NFL.

Last Sunday he threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns as the Panthers crushed the San Diego Chargers, 31-7, at Qualcomm Stadium.

Newton completed 19-of-33 passes on the day to help Carolina to its third win in four games. DeAngelo Williams rushed for 93 yards on 22 carries and also caught two passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Steve Smith led all receivers with six catches for 57 yards and a score.

The Carolina defense also constantly harassed Philip Rivers, who fumbled four times and was sacked on six occasions for San Diego.

"We started fast," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "We gave ourselves opportunities early on in the game and we took advantage of a miscue to put points on the board right away. Once we did that, we really thought that, offensively, we could control the tempo a little bit."

The Raiders are also coming off a rare win when Sebastian Janikowski accounted for all of Oakland's points on five field goals, as the Raiders posted a 15-0 victory over the lowly Kansas City Chiefs.

Carson Palmer finished 18-of-29 for 182 yards for the Raiders, who snapped a six-game skid. Darren McFadden totaled 110 yards on a career-high 30 carries with four grabs for 39 yards, and Rod Streater posted 62 yards on five receptions.

"I think our guys needed something where they get a little bit of confidence," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "I thought they were totally focused in on what we needed to do and how we needed to play to win this football game."

Palmer now needs just 13 passing yards to join Rich Gannon as the only QBs in Raiders history to reach 4,000 in a single-season.

Oakland and Carolina have played just four times previously with each team winning a pair.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

If the NFL is truly about adjustments, it looks as it Newton has finally responded to the tweaks opposing defensive coordinators threw at him after his explosive rookie season.

The former Heisman Trophy winner and Rookie of the Year has rebounded nicely after the Panthers' disastrous 2-8 start in which he piloted a group which averaged 18.4 points per game. Since then Carolina has won three of four and averaged 28 points and a blistering 407.5 yards a game.

"I could not have done it without my offense, and they could not have done it without me," Newton told the Panthers' website. "There are a lot of guys going unnoticed behind the scenes that make this work. It is not a one-man team. I think that's what we have learned more as the season has progressed."

The Raiders, like everyone who plays Newton, must devise a plan to stop the read-option. Oakland had allowed over 35 points per game during a six-game losing streak before whitewashing Kansas City, the team's first shutout since 2002, but Brady Quinn doesn't exactly present the same kind of threat as Newton.

Offensively for the Raiders it's all about getting McFadden involved. Oakland is 4-1 this season when the former Arkansas star carries the ball 18-plus times. That's easier said than done, however, since Carolina has given up just 105 total yards on the ground in its last two contests.

"I think we all saw that when we execute that game plan the way that we feel like we're capable of executing it, we have a chance to win games," Allen said.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

For years Oakland has been an undisciplined bench and nothing has changed in 2012 under Allen.

The Raiders tend to turn the ball over more than most, coming it with minus-7 ratio on the season. A few miscues is all Newton should need and expect the Panthers to pull away late, culminating in a third straight win for the first time since the Panthers closed the 2009 season on a three-game spurt.

"The biggest thing is that the guys continue to come to work every week, practice hard and continue to do the things we ask of them," Rivera said. "I know we don't have a chance to make the playoffs, but with the way our guys are approaching things, we can keep that momentum going."

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Panthers 27, Raiders 14

12/20 12:45:36 ET

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Standings

 2013 American Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-New England 12 4 0 .750 444 338 8-0 4-4 4-2 9-3
NY Jets 8 8 0 .500 290 387 6-2 2-6 3-3 5-7
Miami 8 8 0 .500 317 335 4-4 4-4 2-4 7-5
Buffalo 6 10 0 .375 339 388 4-4 2-6 3-3 5-7
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Cincinnati 11 5 0 .688 430 305 8-0 3-5 3-3 8-4
Pittsburgh 8 8 0 .500 379 370 5-3 3-5 4-2 6-6
Baltimore 8 8 0 .500 320 352 6-2 2-6 3-3 6-6
Cleveland 4 12 0 .250 308 406 3-5 1-7 2-4 3-9
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Indianapolis 11 5 0 .688 391 336 6-2 5-3 6-0 9-3
Tennessee 7 9 0 .438 362 381 3-5 4-4 2-4 6-6
Jacksonville 4 12 0 .250 247 449 1-7 3-5 3-3 4-8
Houston 2 14 0 .125 276 428 1-7 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Denver 13 3 0 .813 606 399 7-1 6-2 5-1 9-3
x-Kansas City 11 5 0 .688 430 305 5-3 6-2 2-4 7-5
x-San Diego 9 7 0 .563 396 348 5-3 4-4 4-2 6-6
Oakland 4 12 0 .250 322 453 3-5 1-7 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
 2013 National Football Conference Standings 
East Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Philadelphia 10 6 0 .625 442 382 4-4 6-2 4-2 9-3
Dallas 8 8 0 .500 439 432 5-3 3-5 5-1 7-5
NY Giants 7 9 0 .438 294 383 4-4 3-5 3-3 6-6
Washington 3 13 0 .188 334 478 2-6 1-7 0-6 1-11
 
North Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Green Bay 8 7 1 .531 417 428 4-3-1 4-4 3-2-1 6-5-1
Chicago 8 8 0 .500 445 478 5-3 3-5 2-4 4-8
Detroit 7 9 0 .438 395 376 4-4 3-5 4-2 6-6
Minnesota 5 10 1 .344 391 480 5-3 0-7-1 2-3-1 4-7-1
 
South Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Carolina 12 4 0 .750 366 241 7-1 5-3 5-1 9-3
x-New Orleans 11 5 0 .688 414 304 8-0 3-5 5-1 9-3
Atlanta 4 12 0 .250 353 443 3-5 1-7 1-5 3-9
Tampa Bay 4 12 0 .250 288 389 3-5 1-7 1-5 2-10
 
West Division W L T Pct. PF PA Home Away Div Conf
y-Seattle 13 3 0 .813 417 231 7-1 6-2 4-2 10-2
x-San Francisco 12 4 0 .750 406 272 6-2 6-2 5-1 9-3
Arizona 10 6 0 .625 379 324 6-2 4-4 2-4 6-6
St. Louis 7 9 0 .438 348 364 5-3 2-6 1-5 4-8
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
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    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MLB: Atlanta Braves at NY Mets

    Tonight at 7:05 on 99.9 The Fan

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    Tomorrow at 7:05 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 0
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
CHC 1
CIN 4
Final
PIT 3
MIL 5
Final
WAS 3
STL 1
Final
CLE 2
TOR 3
Final
DET 6
ANA 11
Final
NYM 0
ATL 6
Final
BOS 4
BAL 8
Final
TAM 11
NYY 5
Final
MIA 8
SEA 4
Final
TEX 12
CWS 0
Final
KAN 5
MIN 0
Final
COL 12
PHI 1
6th
OAK 10
HOU 3
 
7th
LOS 0
ARI 1
 
8th
SDP 1
SFG 0
 
1:05pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:35pm Today
BOS
BAL
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
 
8:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
 
8:10pm Tonight
COL
PHI
 
8:40pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
 
12:30pm Today
TOR
BRK
3:30pm Today
LAC
GSW
7:00pm Tonight
IND
ATL
9:30pm Tonight
OKC
MEM
Final
TAM 1
MON 4
Final
BOS 0
DET 1
3rd
ANA 3
DAL 1
 
3:00pm Today
STL
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
9:30pm Tonight
COL
MIN
Final
NOR 0
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR