EAGLES (4-1) VS. PANTHERS (4-1)
THURSDAY, 8:25 P.M. E.T., BANK OF AMERICA STADIUM, CHARLOTTE uTV: CBS/NFLN/AMAZON
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely
About the Eagles: The Eagles’ success largely depends on second-year QB
who found his groove with four touchdown passes and 304 yards in a Week 5 wireto-wire 34-7 victory against the Arizona Cardinals. He’s working hard to become a better downfield passer and is making strides in mastering the nuances of situational football — red zone, third down, two-minute and fourminute offense, etc. If the Eagles continue to get good offensive line play and production from their running back-by-committee approach with
(when healthy) and and their defensive front makes up for some deficiencies on the back end, the Eagles will be hard pressed to relinquish first place in the NFC East.
About the Panthers: All eyes are on Carolina but for vastly different reasons than when QB made a sexist response to a female reporter’s question. It is the latest bump in the road for Newton, who continues to work through offseason shoulder surgery while wrestling with the wishes of coach
and offensive coordinator to scramble less. The integration of versatile RB (he scored his first NFL touchdown in a 27-24 win at the Detroit Lions) with veteran RB is beginning to take bloom while WRs
and and TE are picking up the slack in the absence of injured TE (broken foot). The front-seven (six sacks against Detroit) continues to be a force.
Matchup to watch: Blount vs. Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly. Brute strength vs. brute strength, the Eagles’ leading rusher against the Panthers’ undisputed defensive leader. Blount (6-0, 250) excels in short-yardage and goalline situations, as does Kuechly.
Olsen’s replacement is getting involved in the passing game and building trust with Newton. Dickson caught five passes for a career-high
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
175 yards against Detroit, including catch-andrun plays of 64 and 57 yards.
Touchdowns scored by Carolina in two home games this season. The Panthers’ lone TD came on a 3-yard keeper by Newton in a Week 3 loss.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Battle stations: If the Panthers’ front seven can contain the Eagles’ running game and make it one-dimensional, as it did against Detroit, the pressure falls squarely on Wentz.
2. Go deep: Look for Newton to take his shots downfield with Benjamin, Funchess,
and Dickson. Without injured CB (ankle), the Eagles’ defense has struggled against the deep pass and ranks among the NFL’s bottom tier in passing yards per game (283.2).
3. Game of feet: Each team has reliable, strong-legged kickers. Philadelphia’s
nailed a franchise-record 61-yard field goal to beat the New York Giants in Week 3. Carolina’s booted a 48-yard field goal to beat the New England Patriots in Week 4 and provided all nine points in a Week 2 win against the Buffalo Bills.
4. Bam Cam: Opponents who have hit Newton early and often have had more success against Carolina. The Eagles are among the bottom tier in terms of sacks per attempt, but the key is to rattle Newton’s cage with DE
(team-best 31⁄ sacks) leading the charge. A healthy C (neck, missed last four games) would help stabilize the Panthers’ front wall.