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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
UNC 82
OSU 74
Final
MVSU 60
NCCU 94
 
2nd
UNCW 35
ECU 25
 
2nd
CAR 1
NYR 0
 
Half
CHA 52
UTA 39
 
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
Final
NYK 90
PHO 99
Half
NOP 44
POR 62
 
Half
CHA 52
UTA 39
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
ATL
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
SAN
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
IND
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
MIL
Final
LALAF 16
NEV 3
Final
UTEP 6
UTST 21
Final
COLST 10
UTAH 45
3rd
AFA 23
WMICH 10
 
9:15pm Tonight
BGU
SALABAMA
Final
GEOR 81
CHAR 78
Final
WKENT 67
LOU 76
Final
MICH 51
SMU 62
Final
CIN 47
VCU 68
Final
BSU 77
ABCHRIST 33
 
Final
PROV 85
UMASS 65
Final
AMER 46
MNTER 45
 
Final
UNC 82
OSU 74
Final
IUPUI 71
SALA 65
 
Final
VILL 82
SYR 77
Final
VT 64
CITA 61
Final
DUQ 79
MLOWELL 63
 
Final
FAIR 61
BEL 73
 
Final
YALE 60
GTDNS 64
 
Final
FD 76
DEL 74
 
Final
PSU 73
DREX 68
Final
UNCG 64
ELON 71
 
Final
ILL 62
MIZZ 59
Final
CAMP 90
MONT 64
 
Final
LONG 106
PSUBEAVER 74
 
Final
HOU 63
SCST 71
 
Final
FSU 75
SFLA 62
Final
BING 51
BONA 69
 
Final
RUTG 68
RFLSH 73
 
Final
MCNST 69
TOL 83
 
Final
JVU 84
TRUETT 55
 
Final
GT 65
VANDY 60
Final
INDST 56
EILL 60
 
Final
BUT 73
IND 82
Final
STEPH 94
ARTCH 57
 
Final
OREG 83
DELST 70
 
Final
Terriers 61
FATL 56
 
Final
TXARL 89
HPYN 50
 
Final
KU 96
LAF 69
Final
ARKST 67
MARS 58
Final
MEM 78
ORU 63
Final
KNST 53
UMBC 66
 
Final
NW 67
WMICH 61
Final
MIZST 65
EMICH 77
 
Final
CHIST 77
STJOE 54
 
Final
KENT 83
UCLA 44
Final
COC 68
DAVID 80
Final
RIU 69
DET 55
Final
UCR 78
HOUB 67
 
Final
MURST 89
ILLST 77
 
Final
NWST 89
LALAF 85
 
Final
WAGN 66
MON 74
 
Final
MVSU 60
NCCU 94
 
Final
PITT 81
OU 77
Final
TENNM 77
PBY 60
 
Final
WYO 57
SOUTH 39
 
Final
AFA 75
UCD 81
Final
MSST 51
USCU 53
 
Final
JMU 71
HIGH 80
 
Final
TXST 90
HTILL 56
 
Final
DRAK 54
ISU 83
Final
SHU 73
UNH 60
 
Final
SCU 72
NE 78
 
Final
MSU 64
TXSOU 71
Final
UF 63
WAKE 50
Final
ND 94
PURD 63
Final
SHSU 61
PVU 44
 
2nd
AUB 73
XAV 71
 
Half
AKR 48
BLUFFTON 27
 
Half
DAY 39
BU 32
 
2nd
UNCW 35
ECU 25
 
Half
CLMB 34
HOF 38
 
Half
GMAS 45
IONA 38
 
2nd
TOWS 15
LAS 32
 
2nd
MAN 45
MRGST 42
 
2nd
CCST 45
YALE 56
 
2nd
PEPP 32
RICH 33
 
2nd
MAR 34
STJOE 45
 
Half
KYST 39
TEXAM 32
 
2nd
MAST 45
VALPO 44
 
Half
UMKC 44
INCWORD 31
 
1st
IDST 29
CALST 29
 
1st
NIOWA 20
IOWA 24
 
1st
SIUE 14
UWMIL 16
 
1st
TEX 5
LBSU 5
 
1st
TCU 0
TXSA 0
 
8:30pm Tonight
ARK
SEMIZ
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
JVST
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARST
LEH
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
NMU
 
9:00pm Tonight
WASH
OKLA
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
STED
 
9:00pm Tonight
WEBER
WLVRN
 
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
10:00pm Tonight
SDST
BST
10:00pm Tonight
GONZ
CPSL
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
FRES
10:00pm Tonight
PORT
MNTST
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSNO
TAMCC
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
SDKST
 
11:00pm Tonight
BYU
STAN
11:30pm Tonight
UNLV
UTAH
Final
LOS 4
ARI 2
2nd
CLB 1
CHI 0
 
2nd
BUF 0
COL 2
 
1st Intermission
PIT 2
FLA 1
 
2nd
CAR 1
NYR 0
 
1st Intermission
MON 1
OTT 1
 
1st Intermission
TOR 3
PHI 3
 
2nd
NYI 0
TAM 0
 
2nd
NJD 0
WAS 1
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
NAS
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
STL
Final
WAS 27
PHI 24
 
8:25pm Tonight
SFX
SDC