Carolina's win streak has been powered by quarterback Cam Newton and his improved play over the past month. Over the past four games, Newton has completed a solid 72.3 percent of his passes and thrown seven touchdown passes versus only two interceptions. He has also scored three times on the ground and compiled a 109.8 passer rating.
Before the win streak, Newton was anything but playing up to his potential. He had six touchdowns and five interceptions to go along with a 78.4 passer rating. The Panthers only won one of those games, but thanks to Newton's turnaround, they are now only one game behind the Saints in the NFC South with more than a legitimate shot to make the playoffs, especially if they can defeat the 49ers today.
The only downside to the Panthers win streak is it has come against below average opponents. In fact, the combined record of the four teams the Panthers have beaten during their streak is only 8-33. Today's game against the 49ers is their first real test, and how they respond will speak volumes about whether the Panthers are for real or a mediocre team capable of pounding the bottom feeders in the NFL only.
After getting beaten handily by the Colts and Seahawks, the 49ers flipped a switch and began a five-game win streak in which they have outscored their opponents by a margin of close to 3-1. Like the Panthers, those 49ers wins have come primarily against opponents with a losing record, so today's game is as much a test for the legitimacy of the 49ers streak as it is for the Panthers.
San Francisco running back Frank Gore, and scrambling quarterback Colin Kaepernick, are facing a defense ranked second in the NFL in giving up only 79.1 yards per game. Gore's 558 yards may not climb by many if that defense is on their game today, a defense that has yielded only 43 yards total through the first half of the season to opposing quarterbacks that tried to gain yards on the ground.
History favors the Panthers whom have won seven of the last nine games against the 49ers. However the last time these two teams met was in 2010, and the 49ers especially are a much improved team now versus the pre-Kaepernick era.
The Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers NFL week 10 Sunday Football game has a start time of 4:05pm EST / 1:05pm PST and be televised on Fox in high definition (HD). What Fox channel to watch the game on where you live can be found by perusing your specific local listings.
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This game has upset special written all over it so I'm going to predict a tight Panthers win. Carolina's defense is playing football a hair better than San Francisco's right now and that I suspect will be the difference.