Andrew Aziz of Everything Colts is back with his preview
What the Colts Need To Do To Win
On offense, they need to put up points. That's been the biggest struggle in the last month, as they have not put up more than 10 points since Week 6. They need to start clicking, and although Curtis Painter shouldn't get much better, the running game has a great opportunity this week. The Panthers have a terrible rush defense, so Donald Brown/Delone Carter need to have big games to even have a chance. The Colts should go out there and run the ball 65-70% of the time. It means that they don't rely on Painter too much, and they could probably get some nice runs off, because, like I said, their run defense is bad. Another important thing is to not have any turnovers. It's been a big killer for them recently, and games could have been much closer if they didn't have any turnovers. Play smart and run the ball a lot.
On defense, they have to shut down Cam Newton. They're a pass heavy team, which means constant pressure is important. Cam Newton loves to scramble so having a spy on him wouldn't be bad. If he wants to scramble in the pocket, Freeney and Mathis need to sack him. They have been very quiet lately, and this game could be their wake up call; however, they have tough matchups, especially Freeney who's against Pro Bowler Jordan Gross. Another very important factor that must be stopped is Steve Smith. Steve Smith's career has been rejuvenated due to Cam Newton, and he has been great, especially on long passes. Jerraud Powers must shut him down, and thankfully our Tampa 2 defense is pretty good against the long ball. Greg Olsen should also be watched, as he's Mr. Reliable for Cam. The Panthers put up around 27 points each game, so the defense needs to be huge.
What The Panthers Need to Do To Win
On offense, they need to effectively mix up the pass and the run. The Colts have had trouble against balanced teams, and if they go pass heavy, that's where their defense is most effective. It's good against the pass, not the run, so if you keep them guessing, that's good. They have a ton of weapons on that offense, and with the Colts offense playing horribly, putting up 17 points could easily win this game.
The defense must stop the run, so that Curtis Painter gets 40+ throws. He's not very good, so pressure him with Charles Johnson, and call some outside blitzes. Just stop the run and pressure Painter, but they shouldn't be too worried about the Colts offense, as they only put up 27 points in the last 4 games. Reduce the big plays, and shutdown Pierre Garcon, so they should put Chris Gamble on Garcon.
Breakout Performers/ Key Matchup
For the Colts, it has the be the running backs. A good game from them, and the Colts could win, but if they have a bad game, it's pretty much a guarranteed loss.
For the Panthers, it's Cam Newton. He has to be mistake free and be patient. If he screws up a lot, it could make this game very interesting.
The key matchup is Jerraud Powers vs Steve Smith. If Jerraud shuts down Steve, then their passing game will be significantly reduced. If Steve Smith constantly beats Powers, then it's going to be an easy game for Cam Newton.
What I Think Will Happen
I think that the Panthers will get the ball first, and score right off the bat. They're going to have 2 big plays on the first drive, one to Smith and one to Olsen, each amassing to about 25 yards. They're then going to pound the ball and Cam Newton will rush the ball in the endzone. The Colts will not be able to fight back. The score at the end of the 1st quarter will be 7-3 for the Panthers. In the 2nd quarter, the Colts will get the ball and they will score, and during that drive Donald Brown will have a 32 yard rush. Curtis Painter will throw a 3 yard touchdown to Jacob Tamme. The first offensive touchdown for the Colts since Week 8. The Panthers will come out and they will be stopped, and the same with the Colts. The Panthers will have one more drive before the end of the half, and they will score off a 12 yard rush by Deangelo Williams. The halftime score will be 14-10 Panthers. In the 3rd quarter, the Colts will play terribly, and not get anything going. The Panthers on the otherhand, will score at the end of the 3rd quarter, but it will only be a field goal. The score will be 17-10 at the end of the 3rd quarter. At the beginning of the 4th, the Colts will have a couple of big plays, and they'll eventually score 3 points off a 43 yard field goal. The Panthers will come out on the very next drive and score off a 25 yard touchdown from Cam Newton to Greg Olsen. They'll have a 24-13 lead with 3 minutes left in the game. Curtis Painter will come out and throw a pick to Charles Godfrey. Curtis Painter will finish the game going 11-31 for 132 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Donald Brown will have 25 rushes for 103 yards, and Delone Carter will have 11 rushes for 48 yards. Cam Newton will finish the day going 25 for 38 with 288 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception (1 rush TD). Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will combine for 19 rushes for 78 yards and 1 touchdown. The Colts best receiver will Jacob Tamme who will have 5 catches for 47 yards. Reggie Wayne will have 3 catches for 35 yards, and Pierre Garcon will have 2 catches for 27 yards. Austin Collie will have the final catch. Greg Olsen will be the Panthers best receiver as he will have 9 catches for 88 yards and 1 touchdown. Brandon Lafell will have 4 catches for 76 yards and Steve Smith will have 3 catches for 61 yards. The Colts will go 0-11.
Panthers 24 vs Colts 13
Last Time They Played
2007 NFL Season -- Week 8
Colts 31 vs Panthers 7