3 pivotal matchups that will decide Carolina Panthers at Lions in Week 5

Derrick Brown
Derrick Brown / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers OT Ikem Ekwonu vs. Aidan Hutchinson

It is beginning to look like Ikem Ekwonu is not the heir that the Carolina Panthers hoped for when selecting the big-bodied left tackle so highly in the 2022 NFL Draft.

While there has been a fair amount of inconsistency around the embattled figure, there is little evidence to give hope that things would be different otherwise.

Sure, there have been some good performances, glimpses of what made the Panthers take Ekwonu in the first round. However, those have been few and even farther in between this season. A weakness that is beginning to be exploited by every NFL defense.

One of the brightest young pass-rushers awaits Ekwonuthis weekend. Aidan Hutchinson is a player who already has 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hits on the season. Stats that on the surface seem rather pedestrian, but when you watch the film the impact is evident.

Teams constantly shift protection toward the budding superstar and Hutchinson still manages to affect each and every game in which he plays. This does not bode well for a team that gave up three sacks to safety Harrison Smith in Week 4 and five in total.

Ekwonu is going to have a big test on Sunday and it doesnt look likely to be passed at this point. But this is a must-perform game for the former North Carolina State stud and that may make all the difference.