3 key matchups to watch as Panthers face Steelers
James Conner against the run defense
This is without a doubt the top match up to watch on Thursday night. How will the Carolina Panthers run defense defend Steelers star running back James Conner? Not many teams have been able to do it successfully, and there is no doubt that the Carolina Panthers will have a challenge ahead of them.
With Le’veon Bell out for the start of the season, the Steelers needed a running back to take over the reins. Conner has done that and more. So far this season, he has rushed the ball 151 times for 706 yards and nine touchdowns. His best game of the season came October 28 against the Cleveland Browns. In that contest, he carried the rock 24 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns. On an offense known for its passing game, he has provided a nice complement for Ben Rothlisberger.
The Panthers did a nice job containing the Tampa Bay rushing attack. They held them to only 82 yards on 21 carries. That averages out to almost four yards a carry. That may seem like a lot, but the Tampa Bay running backs did not reach the end zone. With the way Conner is difficult to bring down, I would expect the linebackers to be in for a big game on Thursday. Overall, the defense needs to have all hands on deck as Conner is like a moving train. Once he gets rolling, he is difficult to stop.