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NFL: OCT 01 Vikings at Panthers

by Sharon Thorsland

The Panthers haven’t had a lot of luck getting their run game going this season, averaging 95 yards per game so far. Now they face the NFL’s number one rushing defense this Sunday when they take on the Lions in Detroit. No team has managed more than 90 yards on the ground this season against the Lions, and they’re allowing an average of just 60.8 yards per game. They’re coming off a Thursday night win over the Packers that improved them to 3-1 on the season, while the Panthers are still looking for their first win after falling to the Vikings last week.

The Lions’ defense is led by star defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who leads the team with 3.5 sacks. Former Wolfpack standout Alim McNeil holds down the inside of the line, and rookie linebacker Jack Campbell has been excellent against the run. You might recall that last season the Panthers had a field day with that defense, racking up a team record 320 rushing yards. It certainly won’t be so easy this time around. “It’s a really, really good unit,” said quarterback Bryce Young. “Very physical, they’re very sound in what they do. It’s going to be a good challenge for us, they’re an elite defense.”

Young and the Panthers should have more opportunity against the Lions’ secondary, which is allowing 220 passing yards per game. Cornerback Jerry Jacobs has two interceptions and leads the team in tackles. The Lions also get veteran Emmanuel Moseley back this week from a torn ACL.

The Panther defense will have its hands full with Jared Goff and the Lions’ balanced offense, which features a physical ground game and a potent passing attack. Speedy receiver Jameson Williams is back from a suspension this week, giving Goff another option down field. Amon-ra St. Brown is his top target with 26 catches, two of them touchdowns. Rookie tight end Sam La Porta has been outstanding he’s second on the team with 22 catches and a score. The ground game features the 1-2 punch of veteran David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs. “They’re like thunder and lightning,” said Panther safety Jeremy Chinn. “Montgomery is really good downhill, he gets in the end zone. And Jahmyr Gibbs is also a really good back, you’ve got to have a good tackling plan against him.”

The Panthers will need a good plan against all of the Lions if they want to get a win. Ford Field might not be Seattle, but it’s still pretty darn loud. Add in the Lion’s run defense and potent offense, and it all adds up to a big challenge. Are the Panthers up for it? Safety Sam Franklin says yes. “It’s going to be physical just like last year, it’s going to be a dogfight. You gotta bring your big boy pads this week.”