A week after upsetting the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler hopes to build on that momentum by knocking off the 6-3 Carolina Panthers. It’ll be lights, camera, action when Cutler meets “Superman” Cam Newton on the prime-time Monday night stage.
Speaking of Superman, the Panthers could certainly use some of the red cape heroics that earned Newton the NFL MVP award in 2015. Newton isn’t playing his best football right now, even though the Panthers are sitting right behind the New Orleans Saints in second place in the NFC South. He has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, and his touchdown percentage is the lowest it has ever been in his NFL career.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins are forced to deal with the many faces of Cutler. There are times when he looks decent and other times when he looks downright atrocious. Then there are games like the one he had against the Raiders, where he threw for 311 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. We’ll see which version shows up on Monday night.
With the Buffalo Bills losing on Sunday, the Dolphins could move into a tie for second place behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East with a win over the Panthers.
Here are three bold predictions for Monday night’s game:
Captain Munnerlyn will lock up Jarvis Landry
The Panthers defense has been downright nasty this season.
A big part of their No. 4-ranked passing defense has been veteran slot cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. He’ll draw Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry. However, it won’t look like much of a matchup after Munnerlyn holds him to three catches for 30 yards and no touchdowns.
Munnerlyn is one of those strong defensive players who rarely gets the respect he deserves. That all could change after he locks up Landry.
Jonathan Stewart will have less than 10 carries
This will be the game when Jonathan Stewart takes a giant step into the background, when the team hands the running back reins to rookie Christian McCaffrey. The end of the Stewart era in Carolina is upon us.
At 30 years old, his level of production has slipped rapidly. There was obviously going to be some decline with McCaffrey eating into his snaps, but there are bigger problems at play than sharing the load with another back. His yards per game average have dropped off significantly (38.9), and he only has one touchdown on the season after scoring nine last year. This is the first week that the Panthers go all-in with McCaffrey.
Two turnovers from Jay Cutler
Cutler has a tendency to wow fans with a sensational performance before going off a cliff in his next outing. Don’t be fooled by last week’s game against the Raiders.
Cutler will be back to his turnover-prone ways on Monday night against one of the league’s best defenses. Be on the lookout for at least one interception plus a fumble. This one could get ugly real fast.