Philadelphia Eagles News

Season Preview: Going To Carolina

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The 2015 schedule for the Philadelphia Eagles has been announced. The schedule features six nationally televised games and a second consecutive Thanksgiving Day game ...

The Eagles will head into their Week 8 bye with a second-straight primetime game, this one a Sunday night trip to Carolina to play Cam Newton and the Panthers. The Panthers and Eagles should be used to seeing each under the lights by now – this will be the third meeting between the two teams over the last four seasons, with each of the last two coming on Monday Night Football.

The Panthers are coming off an NFC South division championship and a playoff win. But, said another way, they're also coming off a losing season in which they were pasted by the Eagles 45-21 in Week 10. That game featured a standout performance by quarterback Mark Sanchez, who threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns, while Jordan Matthews and Brent Celek both topped 100 yards receiving. Whether Sanchez will face the Panthers again this time around is impossible to say.

The loss to the Eagles dropped the Panthers to 3-6-1 last year and they would lose two more games to fall to 3-8-1. But then all of a sudden things turned around for Newton and Carolina, as they won their way into the playoffs by closing the season on a four-game winning streak before dispatching Ryan Lindley and the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs.

What changed most for Carolina in that last quarter of the season was a defense that had failed to click on all cylinders prior. Though Newton is the face of the franchise, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is the team's best player. Having backed up his AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award with back-to-back first-team All-Pro seasons, Kuechly joined an incredibly exclusive club of five, along with Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Thomas, Brian Urlacher and Lem Barney.

There are few changes to the Panthers roster from the team that faced the Eagles in 2014. Perhaps the most noteworthy are the departure of Greg Hardy, who only played one game for the team in 2014, and the franchise's all-time leading rusher, DeAngelo Williams. Williams, though, will be replaced by his long-time running mate, and the second-leading rusher in franchise history, Jonathan Stewart. The NFL Draft yielded Newton another tall and talented, though not particularly fast, receiver in Devin Funchess, who joins Kelvin Benjamin as a sort of Twin Towers on the outside. Versatile linebacker Shaq Thompson, a potential Thomas Davis clone, was added in round one.

For his part, Newton cannot be excited about once again facing a defense that intercepted him three times and sacked him nine times in 2014. Connor Barwin, in particular, will be a scary sight for Newton after Barwin brought the quarterback down 3.5 times last year.

Chip Kelly, meanwhile, will hope to continue a short-lived streak in his NFL coaching career. He is undefeated in the game before the bye.

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