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NFL Week 3 preview: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Carolina Panthers

The Bengals face a tough challenge in Week 3 as they head south to face the Panthers. Which Carolina team will be on display in 2018, though?

Carolina Panthers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Because of certain circumstances, some teams just don’t have a storied history in a particular rivalry. Whether it’s due to their respective and relative short histories in the NFL, or other factors, the Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers are lacking in a bit in this area, in terms of major history.

Also throwing a wrench in the annals is the fact that the teams’ respective divisions couldn’t be further apart. Still, given the fact that both have entrenched coaches with spotty track records and that each squad’s starting quarterback were two of the best in the 2011 draft class, there are parallels.

Those parallels will come to a head in Week 3 of 2018 when the Panthers host the Bengals. Both teams exemplify a Jekyll-and-Hyde nature, so it will be interesting to see which aberration shows up in late September this year.

Team: Carolina Panthers



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Ron Rivera remains the head man in Carolina, despite some roller coaster seasons. His arrival coincided with that of Cam Newton back in 2011, and his tenure hit its highest note in 2015 when they lost Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos.

While Rivera has had four playoff berths in the seven seasons under his Panthers belt, he also has three other losing seasons, which were massive disappointments to the fan base. However, just when folks think Rivera is on the hot seat, he has led the team to a playoff berth, despite so many ups and downs in previous seasons.

2017 Record:

11-5 (NFC Wild Card berth)

Recapping last season:

Following the 15-1 campaign of 2015, the Panthers felt the “Super Bowl hangover” and went just 6-10 the following year. However, Carolina rebounded nicely in 2017, finishing 11-5, just behind the division rival New Orleans Saints.

Sean Payton’s crew defeated the Panthers in the Wild Card round, sending more questions than answers in Charlotte. After an absolutely amazing statistical year from Newton in 2015, turnovers have since plagued the former No. 1 overall pick.

Newton played pretty well in the Wild Card round, but the lack of surrounding talent became apparent. It’s yet to be seen if Newton will trust his fellow mates more in 2018 and if a mini-dynasty is in the works.

History with Cincinnati:

As mentioned earlier, the fact that the Bengals were conceived in 1968 and the Panthers in 1995, coupled with their difference in both conference and division, gives this rivalry very few examples to go off of in 2018.

Much like what is the overall head coaching history of Marvin Lewis, the head-to-head matchups between the Panthers and Bengals is about as even as you can get. In just five contests, they’ve gone 2-2-1 against each other. That tie came in their last clash back in 2014.

2018 season outlook:

Though the Panthers have made the postseason four times in the past five years, they still have had two losing seasons in that span. There are times that Newton and his team look truly dominant, while other times the Panthers look totally undisciplined.

Between Newton and their defense, there are a number of big plays that have been in Carolina’s archives since 2011. Carolina had limited picks in the first few rounds in the draft, but really attempted to bolster skill positions that had been decimated of late.

Maryland receiver D.J. Moore was the pick at No. 24, while enigmatic tight end Ian Thomas was taken in round 4. And, after losing Josh Norman a couple of offseasons ago, the Panthers grabbed two cornerbacks in the third round with two SEC defensive backs in Donte Jackson and Rashaan Gaulden.

2018 Game/Time:

Week 3, Sunday, September 23rd, 1:00 p.m. ET


Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

Odds of a Bengals victory:

25 percent

The very early outlook:

The Panthers’ swarming defense will be something to contend with in 2018. Bengals quarterback has a lot to prove in 2018, but the offense’s success will largely hinge on a revamped offensive line, as well as the running back duo of Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard.

Another interesting storyline in this contest is Teryl Austin’s defensive scheme with the Bengals. Under Mike Zimmer and Paul Guenther, the Bengals’ defense was stout in most areas, but had massive troubles containing multi-dimensional quarterbacks like Newton.

Austin has been emphasizing big plays to go along with solidifying the basics, which have been a staple in recent Bengals defenses. However, there does seem to be a bit more of a gambling nature to Austin’s defenses, so it could be a feast-or-famine scenario for the Bengals in Charlotte this year.

In their last matchup—the ridiculous 37-37 tie in Week 6 of 2014—Newton had 391 combined yards (284 passing, 107 rushing), to go with three total touchdowns. If the Bengals want any hope of escaping North Carolina with a win, they’ll need to contain Newton’s running ability and force turnovers that he has been prone to at times.