NFL Week 6: TNF Eagles at Panthers Preview

carson cam
Here are my game notes for Thursday Night Football’s game featuring the Philadelphia Eagles at the Carolina Panthers. Just a heads up, this compares both teams, but this is more so about why Philly should win this game. As for Panthers fans, read on or move on, it is what it is. #sorrynotsorry
  • Eagles at Panthers, a pair of 4-1 teams feeling good right now
  • They’re getting ready to play on Thursday Night, not an easy task
  • We’ve seen an unexpected high scoring game from the Rams and Niners
  • Last week we saw a defensive struggle between the Pats and Bucs
  • Both outcomes were flip-flopped when you think about it
  • This game features 2 of the tougher defenses, upper echelon here
  • Fletcher Cox is getting plugged back into the middle of Philly’s defense for this one
  • His presence is always felt inside, he gives teammates 1 on 1 opportunities
  • It’s been impressive how the Eagles have been stopping opponents
  • All while their secondary has been missing key players
  • The front-7 plays angry, even when they don’t get to the quarterback
  • They swarm the run and simply dare you to pass the ball
  • The cornerbacks play off coverage
  • What they’ve done well is tackle when a catch is made
  • I think Jordan Hicks is an elite middle linebacker
  • Of course, his counter part this week, Luke Kuechly, is as good as they come
  • Hicks and Cox got hurt against the Giants
  • It’s no wonder Big Blue made strides on offense to come back
  • Malcolm Jenkins is like the queen chess piece or a Swiss army knife
  • You can put him in the box, on a tight end or slot receiver
  • He’s an elite defensive player in the league, the special teams is elite in all phases
  • Their 4-1 start isn’t remotely close to their 3-1 start last season
  • The so-called experts out there are giving you lazy reporting
  • It’s not hard to see how the Eagles were built
  • They were up there in time of possession last year with a rookie head coach and QB
  • They’ve clearly improved on 3rd downs, both offensively and defensively really
  • There hasn’t been a better quarterback than Carson Wentz on 3rd downs
  • The guy just has the “it” factor and his detractors aren’t really watching the games
  • Doug Pederson took ownership of the play calling
  • That was the biggest thing I thought, that would hold this team back
  • Coach P bounced back, called more running plays and has been sticking to it
  • All this talk about Alshon Jeffery not earning the big bucks, just look at the offense
  • Jeffery is taking #1 cornerbacks away from the rest of the offense, doing his job
  • Look at the production from Zach Ertz, one of the leading receiving in all of football
  • Nelson Agholor emerging like they thought he would, Torrey Smith getting 1 on 1s
  • The O-line was given a chance to take ownership of the offense and they’re doing it
  • LeGarrette Blount coincides nicely with the line’s physicality
  • They attack defenses and they don’t wait for you to attack them
  • The committee backfield is similar to how they use their D-line
  • They keep the legs fresh to play downhill football
  • Wentz isn’t dropping back 45x to get hit 20x or so, not anymore
  • Elite instincts and willpower, easily top-10 in my book
  • What hurts them on a short week is the concussion to Lane Johnson
eagles defense
Who have they played?
  • A lot of people respect the Redskins and Jay Gruden’s offense with Kirk Cousins
  • A lot of people had the Giants as a playoff team in their predictions
  • Some people thought the Chargers were playoff-bound, at least in the hunt
  • That’s a team that’s been in every single one of their games
  • Arizona has some key names, although aging
  • Probably the weakest opponent but one that many thought would cool of the Eagles
  • The Cardinals are a talented team that obviously struggles without David Johnson
  • The loss in Kansas City was a tough one, no team has beat them yet as we all know

 

  • I think Philadelphia’s rotation up front: Brandon Graham put his name on the map
  • Chris Long got a sack/fumble the other week, Vinny Curry is starting to make plays
  • Beau Allen is a guy I felt comfortable starting after Bennie Logan moved on
  • Insert Timmy Jernigan next to Cox with Allen rotating in
  • That’s a group that moves the pocket, forcing offenses to game plan for 3 step drops
  • They make you get rid of the ball quick, the linebackers swarm the run
  • And like I said, the secondary hangs their hat on giving you space and solid tackling
  • They have come to expect quicker passes and shorter routes
  • Thus creating an identity for them as a secondary
  • One that will be getting Ronald Darby back in a couple of weeks
  • One that could perhaps get 2nd round pick Sidney Jones around week 9 or 10
  • That’s not a definite situation but his participation hasn’t been ruled out

 

  • When I think of the Panthers, I think of their defense
  • So far the Panthers have held the Niners and Bills to a field goal each
  • None are considered prolific in moving the chains, nor scoring points
  • The Saints embarrassed them 34-13
  • To be honest, the defense was put in bad spots as Cam Newton tossed 3 picks
  • They allowed 30 points to the Patriots, no shame in that
  • And 24 to the Lions, which did surprise me a little bit
  • Carolina’s toughest game was a win at New England, Philly’s was a loss at KC
  • 2nd toughest game, Carolina winning at Detroit last week
  • Probably more impressive than any team the Eagles have beaten so far

 

  • Looking at some matchups, Christian McCaffery, a guy I love just like everyone else
  • He picked up 85 total yards against San Fran, 117 against the Saints
  • Not much production in the other 3 games but he did score a touchdown in Detroit
  • I don’t think there’s an advantage for the Panthers’ receivers against Philly’s corners
  • They’re bigger guys that have to break some tackles in this game
  • I just don’t see them as reliable, nor as playmakers, they won’t burn anyone
  • Jonathan Stewart’s best game of the season, 68 yards against the Patriots, no TDs yet
  • Carolina will raise their chances of winning if they get Stewart in the endzone
  • They gotta stay true to who they once were, a ground and pound team
  • Try to wear on the Eagles with Stewart, change the pace with McCaffery
  • Newton only found success scrambling against the Patriots this season
  • They don’t have any pass rushers though

 

  • The Eagles are 3rd in offensive yards and tied for 6th with Green Bay in scoring
  • Only New England and Kansas City rack up more yards than them
  • Which puts the first in the NFC, even above Atlanta
  • They’re plus 2 in turnover differential, where Carolina is -4
  • The Panthers are 18th in yards and 18th in scoring, that’s a huge discrepancy
  • The Lane Johnson subtraction is definitely a factor
  • The game is in the south so the Panthers are favored by a field goal
panthers d
  • The feeling I have, it’s a short week for one
  • But a short week coming off a meaningful game for the Panthers
  • It usually takes everything you have mentally and physically to beat the Patriots
  • The Eagles kind of went into cruise control in a 34-7 home win
  • I’ve never bought into Cam
  • Not even during his memorable season that I applaud him for
  • Other than that, I don’t see the best leader, and I don’t see the best passer
  • I don’t see the best decision maker, but more of a hero ball player
  • He wants to be the guy to make the play and that haunts him
  • When it comes to defensive statistics
  • The Eagles have allowed the 11th fewest yards while Carolina is ranked 30th
  • As far as points allowed goes, Carolina holds opponents to 18.8 on average
  • Philadelphia holds opponents to 19.8 per game
  • To take it a step further
  • The Eagles defense is better at getting off the field on 3rd downs as well
  • They’ve forced 1 more fumble and grabbed 2 more interceptions
  • Carolina has only forced 1 interception in 5 games
  • Where has Carolina earned the benefit of the doubt besides playing at home?

 

  • The one thing I can point to, Carolina’s 17 sacks to Philly’s 12
  • Yet, we all see teams frantically getting rid of the ball against the Eagles
  • Aside from Greg Olsen being out another 6 weeks or so
  • Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil will miss another game with a neck injury
  • Why should that be overlooked?
  • When people are talking about Lane Johnson’s absence?

 

  • The front-7 continues to be Carolina’s strength, which is also a Philly strength
  • The Eagles have the best safety tandem in the league
  • The Panthers don’t have a legitimate secondary, that’s their weakest link
  • If the Eagles protect Wentz long enough
  • Agholor and Smith are going to get behind the secondary
  • Big receivers like Alshon Jeffery and Kelvin Benjamin have a chance to make plays
  • I think Jeffery has more of an advantage
  • I don’t like Devin Funchess to do much, who’s battling knee soreness
  • Both teams better rely on the ground game to aid their quarterbacks against the D

 

  • As you can see, I think the Eagles will be the 4-1 team to prevail in prime time
  • I see a physical game, I just think Wentz has a more mental toughness
  • I think the Eagles are all around better
  • They have strengths where the Panthers have strengths
  • Think we’ll be entertained, I do expect some roughing the passer penalties
  • It’s got future implications on the NFC playoff picture
  • Whether for seeding if they both keep balling out
  • Even for a wildcard birth down the road, whatever it may be, this game matters
  • It’s big time, I got the Eagles on the road
  • They’ve been controlling the clock against everyone
  • No one of these teams is built to win in style, they’re going to grind it out
  • I’m not a fan of shouting out a score, just look at the last 2 Thursday games
If I had to pinpoint this game flow, I’ll go with quite a few field goals, 23-19 Eagles