There probably weren’t too many people who would have predicted that five games into the NFL season, both the Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles would have just one loss each. Cam Newton was coming off of shoulder surgery and a slow start was expected. For the Eagles, their early schedule looked challenging with three of their first four games on the road.
But here we are, and come Thursday night in Charlotte, these two 4-1 teams will meet in an early season NFC matchup. Both teams are coming off of impressive wins. Carolina headed to Detroit where the surprising Lions always play well. Detroit had a 3-1 record going in with their only defeat being the controversial last second touchdown reversal against the Falcons. The game wasn’t as close as the final score (27-24) indicated as Newton threw for three touchdowns and the defense sacked Matthew Stafford six times.
And Philadelphia took on a Cardinals team at home and came away with an easy 34-7 win. Quarterback Carson Wentz passed for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns and the Cardinals never could recover after Philly jumped out to a quick 21-0 first quarter lead.
The only loss on the Eagles season so far was a close 27-20 road loss to the NFL’s only undefeated team, the Kansas City Chiefs. They already have two road victories to their credit (Washington and the LA Chargers) and will be looking for their third on Thursday night.
Carolina, after a somewhat sluggish start with wins over San Francisco (23-3) and Buffalo (9-3), seem to have found their offense having averaged 30 points in their last two games. Both of those games were road contests against good teams (New England and Detroit), and Newton has looked very sharp.
The Eagles will need continued strong performances from Wentz as well as tight end Zach Ertz and their defense if they expect to go to 5-1 on the season. This will be the team’s 4th road game in the first six but they’ll be looking at three straight home games after this one.
The Panthers will be riding a high after their two big road wins and getting to come home to play in a nationally televised contest. Newton connected often with his two big targets (Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess) against the Lions and we will probably see more of the same on Thursday night.
The early line has Carolina as a 3-point favorite with the totals set at 46. The spread could be a little tough to pick but I like the over totals with these two quarterbacks.
Prediction: Carolina to win their 5th of the year.