Panthers Looking to Bounce Back

November 16, 2018 - 4:32 pm

It feels like it's been a looong time since the Panthers were fed a dose of “humble pie” by the Steelers.  But it's only been a little over a week since that beat down in Pittsburgh.  Even so, the Panthers are more than ready to get that bad taste out of their mouths as they take on the Lions in Detroit. The Lions are having their own issues – after starting the season with Super Bowl hopes, they're now one of the worst teams in the league. They're 3-6 on the season and have lost three straight games by double digits, most recently to the Bears 34-22.

This isn't the same Lions team the Panthers faced last season – they've got a new head coach in former Patriots offensive coordinator Matt Patricia, new schemes, and new players. And things are off to a rocky start. The Lions offense is having trouble scoring, quarterback Matt Stafford has thrown eight interceptions and been sacked 29 times, and they've traded away star receiver Golden Tate. Now second-year player Kenny Golladay is the go-to guy, he's got four touchdowns. Veteran Marvin Jones, Jr. has five scores but is nursing a knee injury and might not play. Without a lot of depth at receiver, the Lions have gotten creative, moving running back Theo Riddick into the slot role, where he's the team's second leading receiver with 36 catches.

The Lions most dangerous weapon right now is rookie running back Kerryon Johnson, who took over the starting role in week four and has racked up 554 yards and two touchdowns. Former Patriot and Eagle Lagarette Blount has four scores. “They definitely have a dynamic group,” said Panther linebacker Thomas Davis. “Blount is their power back, Kerryon is a guy who can do a little bit of both. He gets out on the edge and can create matchup problems for other guys. And Riddick is a matchup nightmare in the slot.”

The Lions defense is no doubt looking at Christian McCaffrey the same way. He leads the Panthers running attack that ranks third in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Lions give up 132 rushing yards per game, that's 29th in the league. Acquiring former Giants defensive tackle Damon Harrison has helped – the Lions held the Bears to just 41 rushing yards last week. The pass rush has also gotten a boost with the return of All-Pro defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who missed six games with a shoulder injury. And keep an eye out for Ardrey Kell grad Romeo Okwara, who's tied for the team lead with five sacks.

The Lions secondary is no joke – they're allowing just 229 passing yards per game, that's 8th in the NFL. All-Pro Darius Slay is an elite cornerback and anchors the group with hard-hitting safety Glover Quin. They'll have their work cut out for them trying to slow down Cam Newton, who Quin called a dangerous guy. “He's a dual threat, he can run it, he can throw it,” said Quin. “He's a tough guy to defend.”

These teams don't play each other very often, this is just the 9th meeting between them. The Panthers won here last season and lead the all-time series 6-2.  They're looking to add to that total and rebound from the Steelers loss at the same time.  "Definitely, we've got to get some momentum to finish off the season," said cornerback James Bradberry.  "Going up to Detroit and getting a big win would be huge for us."

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