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Bengals vs. Panthers Predictions: Defense with five sacks and three picks

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HOMER ALERT: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been dealing with rib and ankle injuries. The defense will attack and sack Carolina's quarterback, at least, five times and generate three interceptions.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton is a passer now.

If he stays at his current pace, he'll attempt as many throws as he did during his rookie season. He'll edge dangerously close to 4,000 yards, 20 touchdowns and a career-high passer rating 94.6. Everything is pointing towards the type of slow-evolution that is transforming Newton from a lethal two-type quarterback (legs and arm) into a pocket passer that can rely on his legs to escape dangerous situations.

OK, much of that transformation isn't so much philosophy or maturation, as it is ankle and rib injuries that has robbed his more prolific attributes. He's only averaging three yards rushing, and at his current pace, won't reach 200 yards rushing on the season (he's hit 700 yards twice and 585 last year). Additionally, Newton has 28 rushing touchdowns... but none this year.

While being shredded during Sunday Night Football against the New England Patriots, it was Cincinnati's defense that took most of the beating. Their pride damaged and reputation disturbed, the defense wants retribution.

Our prediction... and this one is a little bold.

Cincinnati's secondary, far more aggressive disrupting the timing in Carolina's routes, will force Newton to hold onto the football and withstand, at least, five quarterback sacks. He'll also throw three interceptions... mostly as a result of the rush and disrupted timing on his receivers' routes.

This isn't an indictment on Newton... rather the result of a very pissed off defense that's searching to reclaim their reputation.