Panthers at Dolphins: Four Keys To Watch

Last week, the Dolphins narrowly escaped with a victory against a very mediocre San Diego Chargers team at a time when our boys needed to catch a break. Unfortunately, this weekend's matchup isn't so beneficial. Cam Newton and the red-hot Panthers ain't no wilting bolts.

Oh, the Dolphins will likely keep it close, but it may be only a matter of time before Newton, the Panthers' very nasty defense and strong running game push it into the Dolphins' collective anus. It may even be very painful to watch.

Here are some keys to the game:

1. Do Whatever You Have To Do Short of Murder To Contain Cam Newton

The Panthers have won 6 in a row and Cam Newton is getting some MVP whispers so the Dolphins couldn't be playing this very good team at a worse time. If they can find a way to contain him using their super fast linebackers and HAHAHAHA...that's not gonna happen. They can't do that. The best the Dolphins can hope for is to have Reshad Jones 'spy' on him all game because the linebackers are too slow, not talented enough and Cam is too strong anyway. If we can force him to throw more and eliminate the read-option, then there's a sliver of a chance. Even then, he's got a tight end that's pretty awesome as well as receivers that actually want to catch the ball. Also, beware of the TED GINN FUCK YOU game. If you thought the DAUNTE CULPEPPER FUCK YOU game was bad, the Ted Ginn version will feel much much worse.

"We drafted the Ginn family" never feels not suicidal.

2. The Carolina Defense is Nasty Which Sucks Because...

The Carolina defense is very, very good. They're the #3 ranked overall defense, they're in the top 5 against rushing and passing and they let the other team score 13 points on average. The Dolphins haven't exactly been setting the world on fire offensively so this will be as good a test as the Dolphins have faced all year, defensively. Also, their defensive line is scary good and extremely deep even with the loss of Charles Johnson for at least this week. Scary good in the 'our-defensive-lineman-don't-do-Pee-Wee-Herman-dances-after-every-good-play-we-make' connotation of scary good.

3. ...Our Offensive Line is Shitty and Not Getting Better Anytime Soon

Sam Brenner did an admirable job last Sunday with his last minute start at Guard against the Chargers but that will not be enough this week. With Incognito-Martin acting like Paul-John post-Beatles breakup (except way suckier), Mike Pouncey likely out again this weekend as he recovers from a gall bladder infection and a patchwork offensive line that will somehow try to pull a magical rabbit out of their ass again this week, I'd put my money down for this to be the game where your early morning Sunday prayers for Ryan Tannehill's attached head would be most needed. Amen.

4. But There's Still a Chance?

Oh yes! In fact, the Dolphins are kind of in the driver's seat for a chance at a Wild Card spot. Last week's win not only shifted focus off Incognito, Martin, the ineptitude of the coaching staff and front office, but also actually helped propel the Dolphins into an opportunity to save the season. However, it's a slippery slope. A big win here and the Dolphins gain just a little more legitimacy and survive for another week; a loss and the bells begin to toll again for the souls of Ireland, Philbin and everyone else in charge of this mess.

The Dolphins host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

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Roger Paul