Carolina Panthers hungry for road win at Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are just the prey a hungry Carolina Panthers team needs in search of a road win.
In a week where Carolina Panthers players might have hoped that a planned indoor practice facility was already a fact, another day of rain and uncertain footing at the current field may pose a distraction. Whether level-headed tight end Greg Olsen‘s previous comments about “You can’t miss what you’ve never had” hold true for anyone else, it will be a firm and fast carpet for everyone in Detroit, and the Panthers have some proving to do against the Lions after their ‘whooping’ by the Steelers last Thursday night.
Expectations for the 6-3 Panthers to share a large quantity of some residual pain with the 3-6 Lions is legitimate, no matter how true Coach Ron Rivera‘s assessment that, “We’ve all been involved in games like this.” Having given up 52 points and a ‘perfect’ game rating of 158.3 to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger– who shredded Carolina completing 22 of 25 passes for 328 yards and five touchdowns- they now face Matt Stafford, a quarterback who many would deem an under-achiever when held to the light of his five-year, $135M contract and zero playoff wins over nine seasons. Frankly, many would have a similar complaint of Cam Newton, who was a Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn (2010), and has ‘only’ led the team to one Super Bowl, even as he’s completed 68.4-percent of his passes this season- almost ten points higher than his career average.
Down and dirty (vs. wet and nasty), there’s no good reason for the Panthers to produce anything less than their current 26.8 points-per-game with all the offensive weapons they possess, and the defense should be leaving claw marks all over the Lions quarterback, who suffered six sacks against the Chicago Bears last week in a 34-22 loss. The Lions have a middle of the pack rushing attack (101 yds/game) led by Kerryon Johnson’s 554 yards (61.6 per game, 2 TDs) and traded away their best receiver- Golden Tate, with a pair of consecutive 1,000 yard years going- three weeks ago. For a team that usually goes as far as Stafford’s arm can carry them, that’s not an A-1 route to success, and at 22.8 points-per-game, that’s about the unsatisfying level that last year’s Panthers produced.
Between those three factors, reasserting their position as a playoff contender- or even a good team that SHOULD beat a 3-6 team like the Lions- will probably be the driving force for Carolina. Numbers like Stafford’s 25 for 42, 274 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions against Chicago had better be significantly less if the Panthers don’t want to be surprised on the road, where they’ve only won once so far in 2018.