5 Keys to the Panthers Beating the Eagles on Thursday Night Football

The 4-1 Panthers host the 4-1 Eagles on Thursday night football. It’s a big game on a big stage that really could set the tone for the victor. For the Panthers it would turn a nice 2 game win streak into a statement about their ability to win against good football teams and overcome the adversity of injury. Here are 5 keys to the Panthers beating the Eagles. 

Establish the Run

The Panthers are ranked 18th in rushing yards per game, averaging 98.6 yds and 3.4 yds a carry. Last week the Panthers rushed for only 28 yards. It was their worst rushing performance since 2012. The offensive line has to open up some holes for Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey needs to get in on the action. McCaffrey is only averaging 2.8 yards per carry and hasn’t gained more than 16 yds in a game since Week 1. Carolina has to find a way to get this ground game going. It won’t be easy since the Eagles are the #2 ranked rushing defense, allowing only 63 yards per game. In the Eagles only loss, the Chiefs gained 112 yards on the ground and averaged 5.9 yards per attempt.

Keep Cam Clean

When the offensive line has kept Cam clean, he’s been surgical.  In their one loss against the Saints, Cam was sacked 4 times and Carolina has only won seven games throughout Cam’s career when allowing four or more sacks. One of those was this season against Buffalo, but the defense held the opposition just three points. The Eagles are averaging 27 points per game. It’s
 going to be tough to keep them out of the endzone like the Panthers did against the Bills. Carolina is going to need to score, and that happens most when Cam is kept clean.

Win 3rd Down: The Eagles are the best in the league on third down, converting 53% of the time. Although Carolina’s defense hasn’t forced many turnovers this season, they are good at getting off the field. Teams are converting on 38% of third downs against the Panthers, which is 9th best in the league. Carolina’s offense is also ranked second in the league on third down, converting 50% of the time on third down. The winner will likely be the winner of the game. 

Get to Wentz

The Chiefs sacked Weitz 6 times in their only loss. While Weitz threw for 333 yards on the day, he was flustered causing him to connected on 54% of his passes. He’s averaging a 65% completion rate throughout the four games they have one. Carolina’s 17 sacks is third best in the league and the Eagles starting right tackle is out with a concussion. Carolina’s defensive line will need to get to Wentz to guard the Panthers secondary from the Eagles passing attack, which has a talented receiver group in  Alshon Jefferies, Torrey Smith, and Nelson Agholor and is ranked 8th overall in the league in yards/game.  

Make the Big Play, Don’t Give It Up

Carolina has had 18 plays for 20+ yards this season, only one of those has been a rushing play. Philadelphia has had 19 plays for 20+ yards. 5 of these have been running plays. Carolina’s offense works best when they push the ball downfield. The Eagles showed their ability to push downfield against the Cardinals as well. The team which makes the big play, rather than giving it up, usually comes out ahead. 

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