Panther Nation is on high alert as they seek to stop one of the league’s most dangerous threats on the ground, a North Carolina native, Todd Gurley. The Panthers 3rd ranked rushing defense will have their hands full on Sunday as they try to stifle the Rams most valuable weapon. Gurley, who is from Tarboro, NC, hasn’t had an all that productive season, well it hasn’t been the dominant season fantasy football fans had hoped for. He has yet to eclipse 100 yards in a game and only has three touchdowns on the year. Hardly the stats that should make him the #1 ranked threat to the Panthers this Sunday as they travel to Los Angeles.
Those of us from Eastern North Carolina, however, know that it’s only a matter of time before Gurley reminds you how special of a player he is. This guy at any moment can take it to the house, but also can bludgeon opposing defenses, grinding them down, only to set them up for the home run play.
The good news is that, although Gurley and make a bunch of Gurley men out of a defense at any given moment, the Panthers run defense has been stout and the Rams offense has been among the league’s worst, ranked 30th in yards per game and last in points per game.
The Panthers defense, however, has stopped the run this season, it’s just that passing thing they can’t figure out. Carolina is tied for 1st in yards per carry allowed (3.3) and 3rd in average yards per game (80.1). Carolina hasn’t let opposing running backs get the big play either. The longest run against the Panthers this season has been 28 yards, which is tied for the league’s best. Interestingly, Gurley hasn’t broke
Gurley’s ineffectiveness this season, however, isn’t because he has lost a step or is struggling to find his block and hit the hole fast. It’s because the Rams offense stinks and teams can zero in on the NC native. Expect to see Carolina to do the same, making the 25th ranked Rams passing offense try and beat Carolina’s league-worst passing defense. If Carolina can limit Gurley and generate the type of pressure they did in Arizona, their pass defense may not look like the worst.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow him on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles