It has been a crazy ride for Panthers fans this season. From starting 2-0 with a repeat of playoff dreams in sight, to a tie against the Bengals, and now we sit 3-5-1 heading to Philadelphia to face the 6-2 Eagles.
The Eagles are predicted to be the favorite on Monday night, even with back-up quarterback Mark Sanchez getting the start. The way the season has gone for the Panthers, I can see why the Eagles are such heavy favorites. The Eagles run one of the fastest offenses in the NFL; last year this offense would not have been a problem, but this year the Panthers' defense is not near what it was last year.
However, the Eagles' passing games has been inconsistent all year. This will more than likely remain the same with Mark Sanchez. Since naming Josh Norman as a starter, the Panthers pass defense, like their running defense, has improved. The Eagles have a fast paced offense, something that the Panthers defense has struggled to contain.
While the Panthers defense has improved over the last two games, they still sit 26th in rushing defense with LeSean McCoy starting to ramp up his carries. The injury to Foles has led to Chip Kelly calling a lot more running plays. McCoy will prove to be one of the Panthers fiercest challenges this year, but let’s hope Luke Kuechly, Star Lotulelei, and company can keep the momentum they have gained the past two games going.
The good news is the Panthers are expected to get both Byron Bell and Amini Silotolu back for this game. Do not expect the Panthers line to be good considering it has not all year. It is better than starting three undrafted free agents though.
The Eagles defense is much like the Panthers--near the bottom of the league. Cam Newton has the opportunity to bounce back to his pro-bowl caliber play he had the first half of the season.
I expect for both teams to score over 20 points and the Panthers to play their best nationally televised game of the season. Unfortunately I think that the Eagles fast paced offence will be too much for the Panthers to contain and the losing woes to continue. I of course hope more than anything that I am wrong, but no matter what we must keep our heads up and hope for the best. Teams have made bigger turn-around’s to end up in the playoffs. The dream of playing in the post season is far from dead, especially with New Orleans continuing to struggle.
Prediction: Eagles 28 Panthers 24