- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly analysis of the Carolina Panthers' quarterback play.
Rewind: The deep pass is one of Cam Newton's strengths. He threw only three passes more than 10 yards in the 12-7 loss to Seattle. Even coach Ron Rivera admits that's too conservative. Newton finished an efficient 16-for-23, a 69.6 percent completion rate that's well above his 58.8 percent the past two seasons. But he had a career-low 125 yards and didn't take advantage of his running ability. As I predicted, it would be a low-scoring game with two strong defenses, so maybe we should give Newton another week before being too critical.
Fast-forward: The pass-happy Patriots averaged 6.4 yards per rush against Buffalo. That Carolina averaged 5.1 yards against a strong Seattle defense makes this a more favorable matchup. Buffalo will have to emphasize stopping tailback DeAngelo Williams, which should open up more passing lanes with less deep zone coverage. You won't see Newton throw it 52 times like Tom Brady did, but I suspect you'll see him go deep more than three times.
Bull by the horn? Still trying to figure out why Newton said the offense needed to grab the bull by the "horn" instead of "horns" on Sunday. I'm pretty sure he meant be more aggressive, and that starts with him running and challenging deep.
Prediction: The Bills gave up a lot of short stuff to Brady. Newton and offensive coordinator Mike Shula showed the patience to take that against Seattle. But this will come down to Newton breaking a few long runs against a gambling Buffalo blitz.