This season T Git will be providing a preview before each Panthers game to provide you insight into the game. Follow him on twitter @TGIT_Lin .
Despite a week of controversy for Cam Newton/Carolina Panthers they pulled out a 27-24 win in Detroit, and now sit atop the NFC South division. Newton passed for 355 yards and 3 TDs on 78.8% completion and Ed Dickson had a career day by catching 5 passes for 175 yards. Dickson had two amazing catch and runs for 64 and 57 yards that set up a 21 yard field goal by Graham Gano and Christian McCaffrey’s first NFL touchdown. Also, Devin Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin both reached the endzone on beautiful throws from Newton. Funchess made an acrobatic catch in traffic and Benjamin was hit perfectly over double coverage. The offensive line had another solid game by protecting Newton when they needed it most.
The defense came out firing like they have in four out of the five games this season. They sacked Matthew Stafford five times and held Detroit to 10 points until 5:48 left in the game. Detroit made a strong comeback scoring two touchdowns in four minutes, but Kelvin Benjamin reeled in a clutch 17 yard catch to ice the game. Julius Peppers got his 5th and a half sack on the season, and the Panthers finished the game with 6 total sacks. The Cats had a very solid first 55 minutes of football, but for the third week in a row showed cracks in their armor. The defense ranks third in yards allowed and ninth in points. The main issue with this group is turnovers aren’t happening for a team that once was at top of the league in forcing them. If they can manage to create turnovers these close games might start turning into wider margins.
Philadelphia Eagles 4-1, 1st NFC East vs Carolina Panthers 4-1, 1st NFC South
When: October 12th 8:25 PM ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
In fly the Eagles, a high motor offense that is riding a 3-game winning streak. Carson Wentz is coming off a career-best 4 touchdown performance against the Cardinals where he threw three touchdowns on three consecutive throws in the first quarter against a tough secondary.
Keys For The Eagles:
The Eagles must let their receivers fly. Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz lead a group that ranks third in passing yards per game. Carson Wentz needs to capitalize on a banged up Carolina secondary that is missing Safety Kurt Coleman for a second straight week. Cornerback James Bradberry has been holding his own the past couple games, but the rest of the pass coverage has been struggling. The Panthers have been covering opposing slot receivers with linebacker Shaq Thompson, although very able, it’s still a hard ask for him to cover quick, speedy receivers. This will give slot receiver Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffrey, when on the left side of the field, plenty of opportunities. The Panthers defense has done well against the run but has had some trouble against smaller, quicker backs catching passes out of the backfield. So look for Wendell Smallwood to have an impact.
The Eagles defense will need to rattle Cam Newton who is coming off his best two games of the season. The Panthers should expect the pressure to come from Vinny Curry, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. Keeping Cam contained in the pocket and bringing the pressure from up the middle has seemed to really rattle Newton. Getting to him and stopping the running game early is crucial to stopping this high powered Panthers offense.
Keys For The Panthers:
Protect Newton! Keeping Cam Newton upright in the pocket is the number one priority. Against the Lions this gave Cam an opportunity to look down the field for throws. Newton finally looks to have gotten his 2015 CAMVP groove back. Look for Newton to stay hot now that he has gotten a few weeks of practice and games under his belt. Eagles’ cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas are very young and quite similar to the Panthers pair of corner backs. Both Eagles’ corner backs are long and at least 6’0”, but both could struggle against the emerging 6’4” Devin Funchess and the reliable 6’5” Kelvin Benjamin. Both Funchess and Benjamin are hot right now, look for them to continue to have a huge impact Thursday. Johnathon Stewart and Christian McCaffrey must establish their run early in the game. Both have had flashes of worthy moments, but a combined game could be the difference between a close game and a complete blowout.
The defense will have its fair share of opportunity as well. They are third in the league with 17 sacks on the season and will face one of the top quarterbacks in the league with Wentz. Expect big games from Kawann Short and the ageless wonder Julius Peppers by keeping pressure up the middle and keeping Wentz inside the pocket. If the front seven can contain the intermediate passing and running game then look for the Panthers to get enough pressure on Wentz to finally force turnovers,
I predict the Panthers defense will be too much for the Wentz and the high flying Eagles. I expect the Panthers to neutralize running back LeGarrette Blount and Wentz will be seeing continuous pressure all night. The Panthers offense will continue to stay hot and have a third straight game of scoring at least three touchdowns. Luke Kuechly will have a big game and I’m predicting a week 6 win for the Panthers. For the gambling crowd, the Panthers will cover the -3.5 spread and winning.
Cover Photo: Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez