Panthers at Lions
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit
Records: Lions 3-6, Panthers 6-3
Line: Panthers by 31/2
View from the other side
Jourdan Rodrigue covers the Panthers for the Charlotte Observer. She breaks down the Lions’ upcoming opponent for The Detroit News, answering five questions heading into Sunday’s game. You can follow her on Twitter @JourdanRodrigue.
►Question: Ron Rivera is in his eighth season with Carolina, but he’s got two new coordinators this season. What have been the most notable changes on offense and defense under the units’ new leadership.
►Rodrigue: Not to “well actually” you, but there are three — Chase Blackburn is the new special teams coordinator for Carolina. I think people came into the year not knowing what to expect on offense, and assuming that defense would be as consistent as it’s ever been. But that’s actually flipped — with 30-year coach/coordinator Norv Turner this offense can really click, while a normally stout Panthers defense is having some growing pains under first-year defensive coordinator Eric Washington.
►Question: Seriously, what can’t Christian McCaffrey do?
►Rodrigue: As far as I know, he is unable to create his own HBO account to watch “Game of Thrones.” He had a $10 million signing bonus in 2017, and he’s still sharing that account with his parents. What a “team” guy.
►Question: How do you anticipate this squad will respond to its worse loss in three years (52-21 to the Pittsburgh Steelers)?
►Rodrigue:Weirdly, Carolina performs better and brings more energy and attitude when it’s an underdog or its back is against the wall (see a 21-point fourth-quarter comeback win in Philly, for example). I think they’re going to come out of the gate ticked off.
►Question: Carolina is near the bottom of the league in sacks, while the Lions have surrendered 16 the past two weeks. Is this the week the Panthers’ pass rush breaks, out or is it a realistic opportunity for Detroit’s offensive line to get back on track.
►Rodrigue: I think that if Carolina can get an early lead, they’ll be able to open up a few more things in the pass-rush and play a little more aggressively. Pittsburgh gouged them on two early explosive plays which limited their early blitz options. But you can bet veterans Mario Addison and Julius Peppers are licking their chops a little thinking about the performance of Detroit’s offensive line over the past couple of weeks.
►Question: The Panthers win this game if?
►Rodrigue: They take care of the football! Carolina is 5-0 this year when winning the takeaway battle, 1-1 when even and 0-2 when losing it.