Panthers Face Hot Eagles Team

Sharon Thorsland
October 12, 2017 - 6:51 am

USA Today Images


It's a prime time showdown at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday night when the Panthers face off against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kick-off is set for 8:25 on WBT.  

The Panthers are coming off perhaps their best offensive showing of the season, with Cam Newton throwing for over 350 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-24 win over the Lions. They're sitting at 4-1 on the season. So are the Eagles, who boast one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. They average nearly 27 points and 400 yards per game, that's third in the league. 

Second year quarterback Carson Wentz directs Philly's high powered offense. He's thrown for nearly 1400 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. “He definitely isn't playing like a second year guy, he's playing like a veteran,” says Panther cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. “He's one of the quarterbacks that can run, he's very athletic, and can make every throw on the field.”

Wentz has a trio of outstanding receivers in Pro Bowler Alshon Jeffery, former 49er Torrey Smith, and 3rd year player Nelson Agholor in the slot. Jeffrey is a big target with 20 catches and two scores, while the speedy Agholor is averaging over 16 yards a grab and has three touchdowns. Wentz's favorite is his tight end, though – 6-5 Zach Ertz has 32 catches and two scores, and his 387 yards rank 6th in the NFL. 

The Eagles lost 3-time Pro Bowl running back Darren Sproles in week three when he tore his ACL and broke his arm on the same play. But the larder is far from bare – former Patriot LaGarette Blount leads an attack that is averaging nearly 139 yards per game, that's 5th in the NFL. Blount is a big, bruising back that is averaging a whopping 5.8 yards per carry and is tough to take down. “It's been a huge challenge for a bunch of other teams tackling Blount,” says Panther linebacker Thomas Davis. “He's running the ball extremely hard, he's not going down on the first contact.”

As good as the Eagles are at running the ball, they're even better at stopping it, allowing just 63 rush yards per game, that's 2nd in the NFL. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox anchors a deep defensive line, he teams with All-Pro defensive end Brandon Graham, who leads the team with 3.5 sacks. Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks had 5 interceptions last season. The Eagles secondary is young, but talented. Second year cornerback Jalen Mills leads the team in tackles, he starts with rookie Rasul Douglas. Veteran Patrick Robinson's in the slot, he had a blocked field goal against the Cardinals. Nine-year veteran Malcolm Jenkins starts at safety with hard-hitting Rodney McLeod, he has a forced fumble.

The Panthers know this is a big game. It's a prime time match-up against a very good Eagles team. Plus it's a conference game, and the outcome could come into play later in the season. “This is a fight for essentially the number one seed right now in the NFC,” says Davis. “Philly is playing some really good football, so we have to make sure that we go out and protect our home.”


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