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Previewing The Panthers

Posted Nov 25, 2012

This is not the game the NFL universe expected when the league schedule came out last April. A late November showdown on Monday Night Football between two teams with exciting quarterbacks and big expectations? Sounds great. Unfortunately, that's not how things have played out for the Eagles and Carolina Panthers, who have both fallen victim to a disappointing first 10 games of the 2012 season. The Eagles have lost six straight games and sit 3-7, while the Panthers have fared even worse at 2-8. Still, both teams press on with a chance to help turn around the narrative of their seasons. There are still six games remaining and with much still on the line, both teams will be ready to battle it out in primetime. 

Quarterback Nick Foles will make his second consecutive start as a rookie. Vick is still recovering from a concussion. Also on the mend from a concussion is running back LeSean McCoy, who will be replaced by another rookie, seventh-round pick Bryce Brown. For the Panthers, all the focus tends to start and end with last year's No. 1 overall draft pick, quarterback Cam Newton. After a sterling rookie campaign, Newton has been disappointing in his sophomore season, as his 2012 statistics are down from 2011 pretty much across the board. Perhaps the national stage will light a fire for Newton and help him turn things around. So despite the records boasted by the Eagles and Panthers, there is still plenty of intrigue ahead of the Monday Night showdown. Who will wind up on top?

Last Time They Met:
September 13, 2009 – Eagles 30, Panthers 10

Game Recap: In the 2009 season opener, the Eagles thoroughly stomped the Panthers thanks to an 85-yard DeSean Jackson punt return for a touchdown and a fumble return for a touchdown by Victor Abiamiri . But the day ended on a sour note as the Panthers injured Donovan McNabb on a cheap shot to the ribs after a 3-yard touchdown scramble. That, though, opened the door for Kevin Kolb's emergence as a viable starting quarterback.

Tale Of The Tape (2012 Stats)
Panthers Eagles
Record 2-8 3-7
Points Scored Per Game 18.4 (27th in NFL) 16.2 (31)
Total Yards Per Game 334.0 (22) 361.7 (14)
Rushing Yards Per Game 107.9 (16) 121.6 (11)
Passing Yards Per Game 226.1 (18) 240.1 (15)
Points Allowed Per Game 24.3 (22) 25.2 (24)
Total Yards Allowed Per Game 350.7 (19) 340.3 (12)
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game 118.4 (20) 118.3 (19)
Passing Yards Allowed Per Game 232.3 (17) 222.0 (13)
Turnover Ratio -3 (T-18) -14 (31)

Key Matchups

QB Nick Foles vs. Panthers Secondary

Rookie quarterback Nick Foles started his first NFL game last Sunday, and the results were less than ideal. Foles never had time to get comfortable behind a shaky offensive line, and his numbers tell the rest of the story. In his first start, the rookie went 21-of-46 for 204 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Foles will no doubt be looking to put that game behind him and showcase his skill on a national stage.

Through 10 games, only three teams have thrown for more than 250 yards against the Panthers - Josh Freeman of the Buccaneers did it twice. The Carolina secondary is ranked 17th against the pass, averaging just over 232 yards per game through the air. Foles has shown flashes, however brief, of the talent that earned him the Eagles’ backup job in the preseason. Now that he could start his second game, it’s up to Foles to elevate his game against a susceptible pass defense.

Eagles Front Seven vs. Panthers Running Game

Over the past few seasons, the Panthers have been known for their multi-headed running game. Running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams have each enjoyed 1,000-yard rushing seasons with the Panthers. In fact, they each achieved that feat in 2009. And with the added threat of a mobile quarterback in Cam Newton, it seemed like the Panthers could become the most feared running team in the league.

In Newton’s rookie year, they were certainly close. The Panthers ranked second in rushing offense, thanks in large part to Williams and Stewart’s combined 1,597 yards and 11 touchdowns. But this year, those numbers have fallen off significantly. Newton’s 391 yards on the ground lead the team, as do his four rushing touchdowns.

The Eagles are the only team in the league yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season. That trend could very well continue Monday, but the front seven must contain the elusive trio of runners. The Eagles had difficulty containing Griffin III and Redskins running back Alfred Morris last Sunday, allowing the duo to combine for 160 yards on the ground. It will be up to the Eagles’ front seven to stay disciplined and make plays when they arise.

Leading that charge will be linebacker DeMeco Ryans, whose 101 tackles leads the team. Up front, look for the Eagles to continue leaning on impressive rookie defensive end Fletcher Cox. The Mississippi State product has two sacks in his last two games, and had 10 tackles last week. These two will play a pivotal role in shutting down the Panthers’ vaunted running game.

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