NGSC Sports

Eagles vs Panthers: NFC Championship Preview?

If you listened to the NGSC sports talk podcast with Kyle Nash and myself last week then you know I picked the Eagles to win the NFC East and the Panthers as a wild card team behind the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.  Truth be told, I predicted the Seattle Seahawks would win the NFC Championship over Philadelphia and head to their 3rd Super Bowl in the last five seasons.  Right now Carolina and Philly are both 4 – 1 and are playing the best football in the NFC.  You can certainly argue that the Packers are tops in the conference but I like the totality of the two teams squaring off this Thursday night.

The Eagles fly their high powered offense into Carolina in what could be an NFC Championship preview.  Give credit to head coach Doug Pederson and management for signing big time players this offseason like Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and LeGarrette Blount to name a few.  Philly’s defense is also playing great football under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.  The Eagles dominated Arizona last weekend and have won their four games rather comfortably.  Their only loss was in Kansas City against the undefeated Chiefs in week two.

The Panthers have really started clicking over the past couple of weeks putting up 33 points on the Patriots and 27 against the Lions, both on the road.  Carolina’s only defeat came by division rival New Orleans Saints.  The Panthers and Saints always seem to split their regular season matchups.  Cam Newton and the offense were in big question to start the season after Greg Olsen went down and the team only managed a total of 45 points in their first three games.  The last two contests they tallied 60 points against two playoff caliber teams.  Clearly, adjustments were made and the offense has improved.

Christian McCaffrey finally got into the end zone and back up tight end Ed Dickson had the game of his life hauling in five catches for 175 yards.  So the Panthers are finding ways to beat teams with a variety of weapons including 6’5 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin who doesn’t get the props he deserves.  And of course, the ultimate weapon is Cam Newton.  We haven’t seen him run nearly as much as in years past and that’s a good thing.  It means he can keep his athletic toolbox on the sideline until the team needs him to use his legs to make big plays.  More importantly, it will keep the stud QB on the field and more healthy.

Carolina’s defense is much better than what the numbers suggest.  They had a 27 – 10 lead going into the 4th quarter against Detroit in week five.  The Panthers took their foot off the gas and allowed the Lions to let 4th quarter comeback master Matthew Stafford get his team within a field goal by the 2-minute warning.  Cam needed to make a couple of plays to run out the clock and put the game to bed.  On a crucial 3rd & 8 Newton found his big target Benjamin for the first down which ultimately solidified the victory for Carolina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a side note: I beg every NFL coach to stop playing a prevent defense unless you have a 50 point lead.  The prevent defense just prevents you from stopping the opposing offense.  It doesn’t work and teams lose almost every week trying to protect a lead instead of going for the win.

Back to the game!  The Panthers are a three-point favorite at home which basically means Vegas sees this game as a pick em between two equally powered teams.  I think the Eagles are a bit better on both sides of the ball but not by much.  The Panthers are the home team which usually is a positive variable especially after being on the road the past two weeks.  Both squads are hot right now and this is the perfect time for these teams to square off.

Unless there’s a tie after overtime, one of these teams will get their second loss of the year.  But whoever falls to 4 – 2 is still in great shape but 5 – 1 looks a lot better.  I expect a very close game.  It may take a quarter or so for these teams to feel each other out and imply their game plan.  I think we could see a total of 30 points scored between both teams in the 4th quarter.  Both the Eagles and Panthers defense will be tested this Thursday and whoever can make the big stop in crunch time will come out victorious.  When it’s all over, I believe Carson Wentz will be taking a knee with seconds left on the clock in victory formation.  I just think Philly is one tiny step above the Panthers.  But if Carolina wins I wouldn’t be shocked at all.  Buckle up for a big game boys and girls.

Eagles 33 – Panthers 27

One Comment

  1. Pingback: NFL Week 6. Will Chiefs remain unbeaten? Will any winless teams be victorious?

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