NFL Week 2 Preview & Betting Odds: Lions-Panthers

The Carolina Panthers won their Week 1 game against Tampa Bay despite being without star quarterback Cam Newton.  This week, they will have Newton back as they host the 1-0 Detroit Lions (Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on FOX).

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The Carolina Panthers won their Week 1 game against Tampa Bay despite being without star quarterback Cam Newton.  This week, they will have Newton back as they host the 1-0 Detroit Lions (Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on FOX).

Having Newton back will provide a huge boost, although the big quarterback might have his hands full against the Lions’ defensive front.  Moreover, the Panthers could be without starting running back DeAngelo Williams, which puts more pressure on Newton and back-up running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert.

“I’m concerned,” admitted Panthers coach Ron Rivera about Williams’ health. “Again he’s a running back and he’s got to rely on that burst… If he’s just the slightest bit hampered by it… We’ll have to see.  It’s the burst that you’re always worried about.”

Fortunately for the Panthers, Stewart and Tolbert have proven to be capable players in their respective careers.  And they’ll need that reliability going up against a Lions pass rush that includes tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley and end Ezekiel Ansah.

For the Lions, the Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson connection is making all the headlines, as the Lions put in a very impressive performance in their Week 1 rout of the New York Giants.  Stafford had one of the best games in his young career and Johnson was his usual spectacular self.

But Detroit’s offensive supporting cast has also drawn Rivera’s attention.  “You look at what (running back) Reggie Bush brings to the table, you look at that conglomerate of tight ends, they got three good ones that bring something different to the table,” Rivera explained.  “And then Golden Tate coming over from Seattle.  He’s a guy who understands big games, big situations, and he made some plays as well.  This is a solid football team and it starts with the quarterback.”

Carolina is currently a slim 1-point favorite for tomorrow’s game.  The over/under is at 43.