Cam Newton might be saving his best for last this season, and he and the Panthers play host to the Raiders on Sunday afternoon.
Overall, it has been a disappointing season for both the Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers. But each team is coming off of victories last week -- Carolina has won two straight contests -- and will try to keep the momentum building when they square off in Week 16 on Sunday afternoon.
The Raiders, at 4-10 overall, completed the season sweep of their division rival Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday, assuring themselves of at least a step above the worst spot in the AFC West. As for the Panthers, they are 5-9 overall and looking to keep their winning streak going. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sitting at 6-8 right now, getting out of the NFC South division cellar isn't out of the question for Carolina, either.
Meet the Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have won three of their last four games, and second-year quarterback Cam Newton is arguably playing his best football of the season during that stretch. In those four contests, Newton has thrown nine touchdowns and zero interceptions, also rushing for three touchdowns to boot.
Statistically-speaking, Oakland has a top-ten passing offense, which figures to test Carolina's pass defense, which ranks tenth in the league, allowing 217.7 yards through the air per contest.
Meet the Oakland Raiders
Oakland snapped a six-game losing slide with a 15-0 win at home over the Chiefs in a game that featured five field goals off the foot of placekicker Sebastian Janikowski. Quarterback Carson Palmer leads the Raiders' seventh-ranked passing offense (averaging 270.9 yards per game), as his 22 touchdown passes ranks eighth in the league.
Defensively, the Raiders are tied with the Buffalo Bills for the NFL's last-ranked defense in terms of points allowed, as they have given up an average of 28.7 points per game during the 2012 season. Additionally, their minus-7 turnover difference ranks tenth in the AFC.
Local Takes: Panthers
Crawford Rundlett from Cat Scratch Reader says the Raiders have some skilled and speedy offensive options:
"Oakland will bring a different challenge to the Panthers. The Raiders WR's aren't amazing, however, they do possess great straight line speed, something that our secondary lacks. Additionally, Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson present a potent rushing attack. If the Raiders get in a groove running the ball, it could definitely present problems for the Panthers' defense."
Local Takes: Raiders
Marcus Allen Krause from Silver and Black Pride is just hoping for moderate improvement in the Raiders' over their last two regular season games:
"All in all this win was big for the Raiders. It has come too late to make any difference this year but they are now playing for next year anyway. Hopefully they can build off this win and finish the season strong. This season has been a terrible one but they will not be finishing last in the division and they will not be drafting number 1 overall."
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
@josephperson - Joe Person, Panthers beat writer for The Charlotte Observer.
First time in Walmart since the Thanksgiving night fun. I miss the buzz.— Joe Person (@josephperson) December 18, 2012
@CorkOnTheNFL - Steve Corkran, Raiders blogger for the Contra Costa Times.
Rolando McClain inactive for today's Raiders-Chiefs game. Wouldn't be surprised if he never plays in a game for Raiders again.— Steve Corkran (@CorkOnTheNFL) December 16, 2012
From the Week 16 picks NEEDS TO BE DONE:
NEEDS TO BE DONE.
The Panthers began the week as 9½-point favorites at home, according to OddsShark, and the line currently remains in that same position. The over/under point total for the contest started at 45½ earlier this week, and sits at 46 right now.
Carolina wraps up their 2012 regular season slate on the road against the New Orleans Saints in Week 17. The Raiders, on the other hand, remain on the road next Sunday when they face the Chargers in San Diego in a late afternoon contest.