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Week 10 Preview: Battle Of Pro Bowl QBs

Posted Jul 8, 2014

The Panthers and Eagles last played in Week 12 of 2012, when Carolina mounted a fourth-quarter comeback to win 30-22 on Monday Night Football at Lincoln Financial Field. This year, the two will once again square off in Philadelphia on Monday Night Football.

Cam Newton and Nick Foles squared off then, but both teams were in the midst of tremendously disappointing seasons. Each experienced a rebirth in 2013, winning their respective divisions and making the playoffs. The Eagles finished 10-6 to capture the NFC East, while the Panthers finished 12-4 to capture the NFC South and the second seed in the NFC Playoffs. The Eagles and Panthers shared a similar fate in the playoffs, however, as each neophyte team lost home games to veteran, battle-tested squads in the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers, respectively. They are both viewed as up-and-coming contenders who should be in the thick of the playoff picture in the NFC for years to come.

Cam Newton continued his ascent in 2013, completing 61.7 percent of his passes for 3,379 yards, 24 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and an 88.8 quarterback rating, while adding 585 yards and six touchdowns rushing. Whereas the Eagles' offense thrived on quick strikes and plays that ripped off 20-plus yards at a time, the Panthers' offense relied on a methodical approach to matriculating the ball down the field, churning out yards, chewing up the clock and averaging 31:54 of possession time per game (fifth highest in the NFL). Each team relied on running the football but were complete opposites stylistically from an offensive standpoint. The Panthers might have to rely on running the ball even more in 2014 after losing wide receivers Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, though the offense will attempt to replace them with first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood and former Eagle Jason Avant.

Really, however, the Panthers' defense was the story of their 2013 season. The unit, led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly, was as physical and intimidating as any in the NFL and quickly rose to an elite level. It ranked second against the run (86.9 yards per game), sixth against the pass (214.3 yards per game), second in total yards (301.3 yards per game), second in points allowed (15.1 per game), tied for fifth in takeaways (29) and led the league in sacks (60). The Panthers added more ammo to their pass rush with second-round pick defensive end Kony Ealy to complement Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy.

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