Eagles face Panthers in first place showdown
October 12, 2017 8:01 AM
by Bob Christ
A showdown featuring a pair of first-place teams gets Week 6 of the NFL schedule started when the Philadelphia Eagles hit the road to face the Carolina Panthers.
For Carolina, a stern test will be to get its ground game going against an Eagles defense that's tightened the running alleys on foes the past two weeks.
For Philadelphia the question is can QB Carson Wentz continue to find time to locate his capable corps of receivers and avoid pressure, especially with a key injury on the line.
Now for a closer look at the game. The odds are provided by Westgate Las Vegas.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) at Carolina Panthers (4-1)
Time: 5:25 p.m. PDT
Line: Panthers by 3.5 (45.5)
Facts: These teams last met in a 2015 prime-time Sunday game with Carolina winning 27-16 en route to its 15-1 season. It's the only game in his seven-year career QB Cam Newton pitched three INTs in a winning effort. He threw three INTs vs. Philly in 2014, too, a 45-21 Eagles rout... Philly foes the past two weeks have totaled 89 rush yards on 27 carries... Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart, had his second best rushing day in the past three years in that 2015 meeting with 125 yards. He's topped out at 68 this season... In the Panthers' 27-24 win at Detroit last week, they had 28 ground yards on 28 carries, only the second time the past four years a winning team didn't average better than 1.0 a carry... These teams have had the best results offensively on third down, with Philly converting 53.4 percent of the time, Carolina 50.
Analysis: Both teams have QBs capable of carrying their team to victory -- and both have had issues with ball security. Philly's Wentz and Carolina's Newton have four fumbles apiece, with Newton adding five interceptions and Wentz three. Call their battle a toss-up. What helps tip the field in Carolina's favor, besides playing at home, is the surprising performance of eight-year veteran TE Ed Dickson, who had a career-best 175 yards receiving last week including two catches of 50-plus yards. The man he replaced, Greg Olsen (IR), had two 50-plus-yard receptions the past three seasons. Plus, Philly will be without ORT Lane Johnson. The Eagles are 9-2 the past two years when he plays, 2-8 when he doesn't. Also likely out again will be fleet RB Wendell Smallwood, who essentially has filled for Darren Sproles (IR).
Forecast: Panthers 31, Eagles 20