3 major storylines following the Carolina Panthers into Week 5 at Lions

These are the major storylines following the team into the difficult road test.
Terrace Marshall Jr.
Terrace Marshall Jr. / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers battle in the trenches

The Detroit Lions boast one of the top offensive lines and, at least through the first four weeks, a top defensive front. That presents significant potential problems for the Carolina Panthers.

The Lions come into the contest as the 11th-ranked rushing offense and have allowed the third-fewest sacks. On the other side, they’re the top-ranked rush defense and have accumulated the eighth most sacks. Detroit clearly understands the importance of trench play.

Carolina stumbles into Week 5 with the 26th-ranked, 25th in sacks allowed, 26th ranked rush defense, and has accumulated the 11th most sacks. The offensive line is without both starting guards again this for one, although Austin Corbett has been designated to return from injured/reserve and hopes to return out of the phone booth like Superman after the bye week.

The Detroit offense is fresh off a 211-yard rushing performance against the Green Bay Packers. They have exceeded the 100-yard rushing mark in every game this season. The rushing offense isn’t necessarily explosive - they have a middle-of-the-pack 4.0 yards-per-carry average.

However, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson understands the importance of the commitment to the run game and executes his strategy accordingly.

The Panthers are going to struggle to get anything going against the defensive front, most likely. Carolina also boasts a 4.0 team YPC average, but they don’t seem to share the same commitment to the ground game. That also makes life more difficult for Bryce Young and the air attack.

That’s another can of worms - the pass protection on both sides.

The Lions are enjoying great protection by third-year tackle Penei Sewell, who has lined up on the left and right side of the line this season while starting left tackle, Taylor Decker, was out for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the pair have now reunited and assimilated seamlessly with, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow, and the rest of the protection to form one of the league’s best overall units. A daunting opposition for Brian Burns and company.

We’re familiar with the struggles for Carolina. The interior offensive line play has been stomach-turning. Rookie Chandler Zavala would love to forget about the last three games and start fresh - so would the fans. Life doesn’t get any rosier against this upcoming defense.

Aidan Hutchinson is enjoying a stellar start to his sophomore season, already having accrued 3.5 sacks and a fumble forced. In Week 1, the Lions kicked him inside and exploited the mismatch of speed and power against the Kansas City Chiefs interior offensive line - specifically Trey Smith - and that’s pure nightmare fuel for Panthers fans to consider.

Buckle up, it could get bumpy.