The Panthers face another dynamic young quarterback when they take on the Eagles at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is set for 1:00 on WBT. The Panthers are looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season. But they’re still 3-1 on the year and could have star running back Christian McCaffrey back for this one.
Things aren’t looking so rosy for the Eagles, who are just 1-3 on the season coming off three straight losses – but that record isn’t fooling the Panthers. “They’re just one or two plays from putting it all together,” said defensive tackle Daquan Jones. “They might be 1-3 but that doesn’t dictate how they move the ball down the field. They’re playing great football and are one or two plays away from where they want to be.”
The Eagles certainly weren’t where they wanted to be after missing the playoffs last season, so they brought in new head coach Nick Sirianni and traded quarterback Carson Wentz to the Colts. Taking over the offense is second-year player Jalen Hurts, a dual-threat quarterback that can hurt you with his arm and feet. He’s thrown for nearly 1200 yards and also leads the Eagles in rushing, averaging a whopping 6.7 yards per carry. Hurts teams with running backs Miles Sanders and rookie Kenny Gainwell to average nearly 123 rushing yards per game, that’s 9th in the NFL.
They’re also 9th in the league in passing yards, and Hurts has plenty of talented targets, starting with his former Alabama teammate Devontae Smith. The Heisman Trophy winner was Philly’s first-round draft pick and quickly slid into the number one receiver spot. “He’s very explosive,” said Panther cornerback Donte Jackson. “He’s definitely a playmaker.” Jackson and the Panthers rank second in the NFL allowing just 156 passing yards per game.
The Eagles defense isn’t faring so well – they’ve allowed 83 points and 851 yards in their last two games. Stopping the run has been the biggest problem, they rank next to last in the league giving up 150 yards per game on the ground. There’s no lack of talent, though, with perennial Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox anchoring the front line along with Javon Hargrave, who has five sacks in four games. Former Viking Eric Wilson starts at middle linebacker.
The secondary is the strength of the defense, they rank 7th in the league allowing just 204 passing yards per game. A pair of veterans anchor the group in All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay and former Vikings safety Anthony Harris. They’ll face a Panther offense that has plenty of weapons and might get CMC back.
by Sharon Thorsland