Panthers' Pass Rush Will Dominate
One of the few bright spots of the Panthers' season has been the defensive line play. With a combined 15.5 sacks, defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are emerging as one of the premier pass-rushing duos in the NFL
Meanwhile, the Eagles' offensive line is in shambles after losing three starters – left tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce and right tackle Todd Herremans – for the season. The patchwork group has surrendered 22 sacks over the team's six-game losing streak, including seven against the Saints.
A rookie quarterback behind a porous offensive line typically doesn't yield good results. Johnson and Hardy should be able to exploit the Eagles' weakness around the edges, eliminate the vertical passing game and force Nick Foles into a few bad decisions.
McCoy's absence will be felt
A strong ground game is a rookie quarterback's best friend. Normally, LeSean McCoy would be a more-than-adequate crutch for Nick Foles to lean on, but the fourth-year running back will be in street clothes on Monday night as he deals with a concussion. Rookie Bryce Brown will make his first NFL start in his place. McCoy is the most explosive weapon in the Eagles' arsenal, and his absence will be a huge blow to an already anemic offense.
Turnover Battle Favors Panthers
The Eagles have been plagued by turnovers all season. Only Kansas City has a worse turnover margin than the Birds, who have more than twice as many giveaways (24) as takeaways (10) this season. Meanwhile, the Panthers are 7-2 in the Cam Newton/Ron Rivera era when they win the turnover battle. I expect Nick Foles to make more mistakes than Cam Newton, which will ultimately be the difference for the Panthers.
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