Key Match-ups for Panthers against the Eagles

The Carolina Panthers are preparing for their second primetime games in as many weeks. This time they are facing the Philadelphia Eagles and if they hope to have a better result than they did against New Orleans, they will have to win these three key match-ups.

LeSean McCoy vs. Luke Kuechly

Now that Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles is out, there are questions about how Mark Sanchez will play. It would make sense for Chip Kelly to lean heavily on running back LeSean McCoy on Monday night. If the Eagles star running back is able to carry this offense, Sanchez has a much better chance of being successful.

After a slow start to the season, McCoy has found his groove and is playing at a very high level. Over the first four games, McCoy was averaging 48 rushing yards per game. Since that stretch, he has averaged 107.5 rushing yards per game. He has seen his average per carry also go up, from 2.6 yards to 4.8 yards.

On Monday night it is going to be middle linebacker Luke Luechly’s job to keep McCoy in check and especially not allow him to break any big runs. In each of the last four games, the Eagles running back has had a run of 13 yards or more. The team did a good job limiting Saints running back Mark Ingram from picking up huge plays on the ground; however McCoy is a much different running back than Ingram.

 If the Panthers can contain McCoy, particularly on first and second down, this is going to put pressure on Sanchez to throw the ball and be in tough third down situations.

 

Josh Norman vs. Jeremy Maclin

Jeremy Maclin is one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the NFL right now. He currently sits in the Top 5 in receiving yards (790), average yards per catch (17.8) and touchdowns (8). He already has four receptions of 50 yards or more and has caught four touchdowns in just the last two games.

The Panthers have struggled stopping the opponent’s big plays and speedy wide receivers like Maclin. The game against Green Bay is the first example that comes to mind as Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb beat this defense for long receptions and was one of the reasons for the blowout.

The big difference between that game and this one is the Panthers’ have Josh Norman, who has been far and away the best cornerback on this team since his return. The second-year player has a tall task ahead of him trying to slow down Maclin but if he wins this battle, it would be a huge boost to Carolina’s chances of winning.

 

Eagles Outside Linebackers vs. Panthers Offensive Tackles

This is one match-up that could spell trouble for Carolina and Cam Newton. The Eagles have two excellent pass rushing outside linebackers in Trent Cole and Connor Barwin. These two players have accounted for 10 of the team’s 23 sacks this year.

Meanwhile, Byron Bell and Nate Chandler have struggled trying to protect Cam Newton this year. According to Pro Football Focus, the two tackles for the Panthers have given up nine sacks and 40 QB hurries to this point in the season.

If the Panthers want to have a chance to win, they are going to have to put up a high point total as they are going up against a high-powered offense in Philadelphia. Carolina is going to need a big game from Cam Newton if they hope to keep it close. This means he will need time in the pocket and the responsibility for that falls on the offensive line. The Panthers are going to need big games from Bell and Chandler.


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