The Carolina Panthers look to rebound from a game where they played about as inconsistent as possible, but only lost by three to the defending NFC Champs. Now, they face one of six important divisional games, and a win here could reroute a bad start to the season. Let’s break down the players that matter the most.
James Bradberry vs. Mike Evans
James Bradberry has faced Mike Evans several times in his young career, and for the most part he’s maintained the edge as of late against the physical presence Evans brings. Bradberry is a blue print of the kind of corner who can match up with and shut down Mike Evans, as evidenced by his one reception allowed in their first tilt last season. Evans is coming off a bad week one where he battled illness and failed to make an impact. He’s had four days to recover and should look to bounce back. After his best game as a Panther, I expect Bradberry to shadow Evans all game long.
Brian Burns vs. Donovan Smith
Bruce Irvin is once again out this week, and against the Los Angeles Rams Burns played a significant number of snaps, made an impact, and looked close to getting a few strip sacks against Jared Goff. Jameis Winston and this offense are nowhere near as polished and talented as the Rams were, and he should be hanging onto the ball a bit longer. Donovan Smith will need to prove his worth and justification for the shiny new extension he signed in the offseason, and will face his first action against the Panthers 2019 first round pick.
Matt Paradis vs. Vita Vea
Against the Rams, the Panthers offensive line had some miscues as they need to create some rapport and experience as a unit. That starts with Paradis in the middle, in situations such as snapping the ball too fast or calling out protections. Paradis will face Vea most of the game in the middle, and this is the match up that will dictate just how successful running the ball the Panthers can be. The passing offense is still shaking off the rust, so controlling the trenches both in the rushing and short yardage passing games will be massive for establishing a rhythm for Cam Newton.
D.J. Moore vs. Vernon Hargreaves
The Panthers made a concerted effort to get Moore going against the Rams, and unfortunately a great forced fumble by the Rams defense and a poor call by the officials caused two turnovers on plays where Moore was involved. With Greg Olsen either hampered or not playing at all, Cam is going to need somebody he can rely on this week. And seeing as Moore led all Panthers wide receivers in targets and yards, this is a game where Moore could really blow up and showcase his skills. Hargreaves will likely see a lot of Moore on Sunday, as the Panthers manufacture touches for the dynamic player. Seeing how Moore bounces back could be the biggest thing to watch this week.
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