3 critical factors that will decide Carolina Panthers game at Lions in Week 5

After an 0-4 start to the season, this game may dictate how the Panthers operate the rest of the way.

Bryce Young
Bryce Young / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers pass rush

The one area the Carolina Panthers have really shined is with their pass defense, and specifically getting to the quarterback. They are just outside the top ten in the league in sacks, they have given up the sixth least passing yards of any defense, and they rank in the top seven for interceptions.

This is in large part due to the Panthers' front seven, headed by Brian Burns. He leads the team in sacks, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles, while guys like Frankie Luvu and Yetur Gross-Matos have also shone early.

Carolina's ability to get to the passer and force turnovers clashes with the Lions' best strength as well. Detroit, on nearly every metric, has a top-three offensive line in football.

Headed by former top-10 pick Penei Sewell, the Lions straight-up dominate defensive lines off the line of scrimmage. The former Oregon stud has become dominant in pass and run blocking, and the rest of the line carries six Pro Bowl appearances combined.

In no uncertain terms, this is a formidable obstacle to overcome.

We've discussed how both teams may find success in this game. But the true battle comes down to who wins the matchup in the trenches.

If Carolina is able to get to Jared Goff, make plays in the backfield, and force turnovers from there, they have a shot at making something special happen.

If Detroit silences Burns and the rest of the Panthers' front seven, they should have no problem taking care of business. Carolina is walking into Detroit with no momentum; they have to give the Lions a reason to fear them right out of the gate.

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