Because the NFL tries to schedule every team, if possible, to play a Thursday night game in order to ensure national exposure for each franchise, that means the TNF matchups sometimes can be rather, well, lame.
That’s not the case in Week 6 as Philadelphia visits Carolina in a matchup of 4-1 division leaders. It’s also the only game of the week featuring teams with just one loss. Carolina is favored by a field goal on the NFL betting lines.
We have a past NFL MVP in Panthers quarterback Cam Newton against a potential future MVP in Eagles second-year QB Carson Wentz. Newton had offseason shoulder surgery and barely played in the preseason. He didn’t look great the first three weeks of the season but terrific the past two weeks in upset wins at Detroit and New England.
Newton threw for a combined 671 yards and six touchdowns to just one interception in those games, completing better than 75 percent of his throws. It’s also the first time in his career he has passed for at least 300 yards and three TDs in consecutive games.
Carolina beat Detroit despite rushing for 28 yards on 28 carries. The Panthers had an unlikely hero in tight end Ed Dickson, who caught five passes for a career-high 175 yards. He’s only playing substantial minutes because of an injury to Pro Bowler Greg Olsen (who remains out). The only tight end with more yards receiving in a game since the start of 2014 is Olsen, who had 181 last year in a Week 5 game against the Buccaneers.
Wentz has a rating of 97.7 that’s Top 10 in the NFL, as are his 1,362 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. In Sunday’s 34-7 blowout of the visiting Arizona Cardinals, he finished with 304 yards passing and a career-high four TDs. Three of those came in the first quarter when he had a perfect 158.3 rating. Wentz became the only quarterback in franchise history to throw three TD passes in the first quarter of a game.
The Eagles played without star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and running back Wendell Smallwood (knee). Their status for this week is still unclear. Right tackle Lane Johnson left at halftime with a head injury, is in the concussion protocol and is unlikely for Thursday. Second-year player Halapoulivaati Vaitai would start in his spot.
Entering the Cardinals game, the Eagles were 8-2 with Johnson in the lineup and 2-8 without him (served 10-game suspension) since the beginning of last season.
This is the first meeting between these teams since October 2015, in Charlotte, back when Wentz was still at North Dakota State. The Panthers won 27-16 but still trail the all-time series 6-4 (including one playoff matchup). Newton was picked off three times that day but threw for a score and ran for another. Sam Bradford was Philly’s quarterback.
The favorite has covered the past four in the series, and the Eagles are just 3-7 ATS in their past 10 road games. Take Carolina.
October 10, 2017