Much really hasn’t gone well for the Panthers over the past month. The Panthers once again found themselves licking their wounds after a disappointing Prime Time loss to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football. The Panthers face another tough Prime Time challenge on Monday Night Football when they travel to Philadelphia to face the 6-2 Eagles. There hasn’t been much to be excited about for Panthers fans, but here are three things the Panthers do have going for them as they venture to Lincoln Financial Field.
Although Carolina’s defense hasn’t played well this season, they are a defensive team. The team’s identity, from coaching to team talent, is a grind it out, mitigate big plays, win the turnover battle, and keep the score low mentality. Carolina hasn’t put this together yet, but it is what Ron Rivera’s staff wants to do. The defensive formula also travels best in the NFL. Carolina won’t win a shootout, especially one against a Chip Kelly offense motored by premiere running back, LeSean McCoy. For the Panthers to realistically cover, they will need to pack their defense and fluster backup quarterback Mark Sanchez—a guy who is more widely known for butt fumbling than his two AFC Championship appearances.
Rested and Getting Healthier:
Going on the road to Philadelphia concludes what has been a brutal 10 game stretch without a bye-week for the Panthers. Carolina has battled tough opponents, like Detroit, Baltimore, Seattle, Packers, and Saints, on the field, and off the field, the Panthers have battled a host of injuries at key positions. The light at the end of the tunnel may be in sight, however. Carolina has had ten days off since their last game, playing a Thursday night game followed by a Monday night appearance in Philadelphia. The extra rehab time helped players, Amini Silatolu (OG) and Byron Bell (LT), to get back on the field. Sure, alone none of these guys are game changers, but they play positions that are among Carolina’s weakest. Collectively, their return makes Carolina better, and hopefully gives Carolina the push they will need as road dogs.
Stakes are High:
The NFC South has been a mess this season. No team, including the Panthers, seems to have wanted to win the division. It’s really been a story of who loses least, making it clear that no wild card team will emerge from the South. The division champion will be the only team attending the playoff ball. New Orleans’ fumbling loss to the 49ers, however, gives Carolina continued life. Beating the Eagles would return Carolina to divisional leader and go a long way towards getting that dance invite. The stakes are high, and Carolina won’t be looking to keep it close—they will be looking to win.
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