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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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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 1
MIN 3
Final
CHA 103
TOR 94
Final
STL 5
HOU 2
 
Final
BOS 3
MIA 5
 
Final
TAM 2
MIN 1
 
Final
PHI 1
NYY 4
 
Final
ATL 8
WAS 9
 
Final
TOR 5
BAL 4
 
Final
NYM 5
DET 4
Final
SDP 5
CWS 0
 
Final
CHC 2
CIN 5
 
Final
CLE 9
KAN 11
 
Final
MIL 1
LOS 10
 
Final
TEX 3
SFG 12
 
Final
LOS 7
SEA 4
 
Final
ANA 3
COL 0
 
Final
ARI 2
OAK 7
 
Final
NYY 1
PIT 3
 
Final
IND 98
CHI 84
Final
WAS 99
MIA 97
Final
ORL 119
SAC 114
Final
CHA 103
TOR 94
Final
PHI 83
UTA 89
Final
ATL 106
CLE 97
Final
NOP 98
BOS 104
Final
HOU 103
DET 93
Final
MEM 97
LAL 90
Final
BRK 100
PHO 108
 
Final
SAN 120
DEN 111
 
2nd
GSW 34
DAL 29
 
Final
MVSU 75
ARKPB 94
 
Final
CSOU 60
LONG 68
 
Final
WICHS 56
SILL 45
Final
RAD 66
WINT 67
 
Final
ILLST 71
EVAN 67
Final
HIGH 71
GWEBB 72
 
Final
UNCG 81
SAMF 76
Final
ELON 74
TOWS 69
Final
KSU 79
AKR 77
 
Final
BUF 77
BGU 75
 
Final
DART 75
BRO 69
 
Final
WMICH 74
CMICH 62
 
Final
PENN 54
CLMB 46
 
Final
PRIN 66
CORN 53
 
Final
OU 69
ILLCH 72
Final
OHIO 95
UMO 65
 
Final
BST 67
NILL 71
 
Final
EMICH 85
TOL 59
 
Final
NIOWA 71
BRAD 46
Final
MURST 80
MORE 77
Final
HARV 52
YALE 62
 
Final
DREX 48
COC 56
Final
CITA 56
FUR 73
 
Final
CCAR 74
UNCA 57
 
Final
USF 62
PAC 58
Final
BAY 77
TTU 74
2nd
INDST 35
LOYC 66
 
2nd
CLST 61
DET 42
 
2nd
EKENT 35
BEL 31
 
11:30pm Tonight
SCU
LMU
Final
NJD 2
CLB 3
Final
CAR 1
MIN 3
Final
OTT 3
BUF 2
Final
DET 2
CAL 5
Final
CHI 2
EDM 1
 
2nd
ANA 0
PIT 1