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Chargers vs. Panthers: Week 14 Staff Predictions

The BFTB Staff gives its predictions for Sunday's game.

Carolina Panthers v San Diego Chargers Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Cody Young (5-5): The 2016 San Diego Chargers and Carolina Panthers are quite similar in a few ways. Most notably both have been hit hard by injuries, and both are in last place in their division. It's possible the Panthers could be without All-pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, which would be a huge blow to their defense. Philip Rivers should find some success against a suspect Carolina secondary, but I really want to see Melvin Gordon as the offense's focal point.

Kelvin Benjamin is a good receiver for the Panthers. But he is banged up and I trust Casey Hayward to lock him down. I don't trust anyone else in that secondary, and I could see a big play or two coming from Ted Ginn Jr. When it comes down to it, I don't think the Chargers do enough to win this game. But hey, that's okay because it's time to #getdownwiththetank2

Chargers lose a close one 34-31

Jamie Hoyle (4-5): The Chargers travel across the country to face a wounded animal in the Panthers and I can see why people might pick the bolts considering the way Carolina has been playing. That said, I have concerns about the Chargers ability to defend Greg Olsen after the way Adrian Phillips repeatedly hung his linebackers out to dry last week and, as you might expect, I'm not convinced Craig Mager can cover Ted Ginn Jr. I expect close and surprisingly low scoring game but I think the travel and the inability to defend Ginn and Olsen hurts the Chargers in critical situations. Panthers 24, Chargers 20.

Louis Gorini (10-2): A Mike McCoy team traveling to the east coast to play an unfamiliar foe at 1pm EST. On defense, the Panthers are a big physical team. Their defensive line will overpower the Chargers offensive line and provide pressure up the middle all day on Rivers. And if Kuechly returns, it will be hard for the Chargers to exploit the seams with their tight ends. On the other side of the ball, San Diego will have trouble stopping Cam, mainly because he is bigger than most of their front 7 and faster, too. This is a game Cam will tee off on the Chargers undersized defense. This is easy to pick. Carolina 30 San Diego 17

Derrick Browne (1-1): The Chargers usually always have trouble with mobile quarterbacks, and I'm having a hard time believing that Sunday will be any different. I see Newton having a big day on the ground but that's about it. Bosa and the pass rush should be able to beat this banged up Carolina offensive line and force Newton into committing a few turnovers. Offensively, I'm not expecting too much from Melvin Gordon this week. Carolina's front seven is still very good and I think they'll contain be able to contain Gordon for the most part. The guy that will win this game is the same guy who lost last week's game, which is Philip Rivers. I see him bouncing back this week against a terrible Panthers secondary. Give me the Chargers 34-27.

Garrett Sisti (3-2): I'm undefeated on these record predictions but Richard doesn't post mine, so there's no way of knowing that, also don't check past staff predictions, just trust me ok? The "x factor" last week was TE Cameron Brate, this week its Greg Olsen who looks to get back on track after struggling for 4 straight games and that's bad news especially if Jatavis Brown doesn't return this week. The Chargers lose this one on the road, the fans of the tank rejoice and we all get to see what Panthers DC Sean McDermott (Chargers future HC) has up his sleeve with a short-handed defense: CAR 27 - SD 20.

Daniel Stebbins (0-3): The Panthers haven't been great this year. Let's not act like the Chargers have been either, but now that playoff aspirations are a thing of the past I know better than to think this is beyond their reach. The Panthers seem to be in turmoil, while Chargers don't have that look to them in spite of losing to teams they probably shouldn't. I see the Chargers pulling this one out in fairly convincing fashion, 38-24.

Jeff Siniard (5-7): This is another game where the outcome will be decided by how much success the Chargers defense has in keeping the QB contained. Cam Newton is better and more athletic than Jameis Winston, and Greg Olson is much better than Cameron Brate, especially once plays break down. I think the Chargers' offense will score enough points to hang around, as Carolina's secondary is terrible, but Sean McDermott and Ron Rivera will keep attacking the Chargers OL until they force mistakes from Philip Rivers. CAR 27, SD 23.

Matthew Stanley (3-6): The Chargers always have a hard time traveling to the East Coast. Couple that with the fact that they always seem to have trouble with mobile quarterbacks and I think you have a recipe for another loss. If the Chargers as a team, not just Joey Bosa, can get some better pass rush than we have seen, and if Philip Rivers starts playing smarter SD has a chance, but I see this as an L, 28 - 24 Panthers win

Daniel Farias (4-8): The Panthers are a distracted team right now. Too many off the field things going on especially after last week's tie-gate with their reigning MVP quarterback Cam Newton. The Chargers also have their fair share of distractions highlighted by an apparent inevitable move to LA. The bottom line is these teams are just not very good and this should be a shootout. I like the home team, it just seems hard to see cam not having success against the Chargers' suspect secondary. This game will be decided by the Bolts pass rush; Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram need to be dominant if the Chargers are going to win. 35-28 Panthers

Aaron Woolley (6-4): I don't really care that the Panthers have only won 4 games. They're a dangerous team and can put up 40 points any week. Cam Newton was the MVP last season, and he's always a threat to run. The Chargers have never been good against running QBs and it could bite them this week. Either way, Rivers will get a lot of work, Melvin Gordon will be used to grind down the Panthers late, and the Chargers will find a way to lose again in the 4th. Panthers win 34-30 on a last second TD.

Ruben J. Gonzalez (6-5): At this point, in this roller coaster of a year, I'm not sure if this ride is on its way up or still going down. But, do want it to end. I guess I'm just dizzy at this point. Which means I can't tell you if the Chargers offense will be efficient enough to hold its own against a mean front 7. And I'm not sure the defense realizes that Cam Newton is bigger than all of them. Good luck trying to tackle him. All things considered, cross-country 10am battles are never a thing that instills confidence in me. I don't see sweatpants on the way back this time. Panthers 24 Chargers 20.

Ryan Doyle (5-6): This is a tough one for me. I think that the Chargers are going to be able to throw the ball with how bad the Panthers secondary has been this year. Even with the shoulder bothering him, Tyrell Williams should have a big day. I'm also hoping to see the Chargers run the ball if they get the lead. Defensively, I'm hoping for a big game from the Chargers front seven. I think that Cam and the Panthers running backs could be very dangerous Bosa and Liuget can't slow them down. I'm going with the Panthers in a close one 24-20

Roger Hinojosa (7-3): While I'm a believer of teams bouncing back because of red-ass (when they get spanked the week before), I just don't see the Panthers coming back and winning this matchup. The Panthers have deeper problems on both sides of the ball such as injuries, underperformance, and turnover issues. While the Chargers have similar issues, they are not in the same funk or having personnel issues on the level that the Panthers are. I see the Chargers defense capitalizing against the Panthers offense by creating pressure and turnovers. Casey Hayward continues his streak after Cam Newton forces a bad ball (Maybe that'll finally get Hayward some recognition). Chargers win 31-17

Nathan Graber-Lipperman (3-7): Chargers will win this one because, for the first time in my life, I'll be at not only my first NFL game but my first Chargers game at tat! Nah, just kidding, my optimism probably doesn't match up with their success. But I'll be there, and I will be watching Rivers lighting up a terrible secondary. Gordon will get his but if this is the Philip Rivers I know and love, then he'll respond to a bad game in a big way. Cam is scary, and Ted Ginn will most likely burn Craig Mager if Hayward is stuck on Benjamin (26 can't guard everyone), but I'm feeling a Chargers win here, 33-27.

Richard Wade (7-5): This has not been a great year for the Panthers, but they are still a far more complete team than the 2016 Chargers. Philip Rivers and co. will put up some points, but they will also turn the ball over, and the Chargers defense will not be able to contain Cam Newton. Panthers 28 - 20 Chargers