The penultimate game of the season pits the Panthers against the Colts, with Will Grier making his first start of the season.
For the first time this season, the biggest ramifications of a Panthers’ game on Sunday will be who wins the game. The 5-9 and eliminated Panthers will turn to rookie Will Grier to start against the 6-8 Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. This game will be about evaluating Grier to see if he can be a viable option moving forward as the Panthers’ starting quarterback. So even though the game result isn’t the most important thing on Sunday, here are our staff’s predictions.
Ty Smith (@TySmithNC): Colts 27, Panthers 24
The decision to bench Kyle Allen in favor of rookie quarterback Will Grier was probably the right decision for interim head coach Perry Fewell. The Panthers are in desperate need of some positive breaks after a disastrous second half of their 2019 season, and Grier’s first start comes with the team eliminated from playoff contention and virtually no expectations for a turnaround. The Colts present a beleaguered Panthers squad a formidable challenge in Week 16, and with a rookie signal-caller getting his first professional start on the road, look for Scott Turner to try and simplify the playbook. Expect a heavy dose of Christian McCaffrey early and often in a game that won’t be decided until late.
Luke Tucker (@luketucker19_): Colts 27, Panthers 17
For me, I care much more about how Will Grier plays than how the Panthers play. Personally, I would’ve liked to have seen Grier take over a couple of weeks ago. Now that he’s starting, Carolina’s focus should shift solely to the rookie third-round pick. He was one of the best passers during his time in college, but like any rookie quarterback, he was hit with a brutal learning curve in the preseason. As the preseason wore on, though, Grier began to play better. If all he does over these next two games is getting better, then I’ll count it as a win. Also, look for CMC to get a boatload of touches as he gets closer and closer to the single-season yards from scrimmage record.
Christian Candeloro (@christiancande3): Panthers 24 Colts 13
I can’t believe it, but I’m picking the Panthers to win this game. The Colts’ offense has struggled mightily under Jacoby Brissett and it’s sunk the season. The one concern for the Panthers is that the Colts have a Top 10 rushing defense, which could potentially trip up McCaffrey and co. With Grier making his first start of the season, I think Carolina gets a boost and it carries them throughout this ugly game.
By the way, kudos to you if you are A) still reading these columns and B) still watching Panthers games every Sunday. You are a true fan and I commend you. Better times are ahead, I promise.