The Eagles (3-3) are hosting the Panthers (3-2) at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon.
This is a big test for both teams.
To the predictions:
Reuben Frank (4-2)
It’s hard to get too excited about a win over the Giants team that barely put up a fight. It was good to see the Eagles score early and finish a team off, but the Eagles still don’t have that signature win that tells you they’re a serious contender. They have wins over the 1-5 Giants, 1-5 Colts and 2-4 Falcons. Combined record 4-14. A win over a decent Panthers team Sunday would be the first indication this year that this Eagles team is capable of beating a winning team. It would give the Eagles back-to-back wins for the first time and get them back over .500.
Cam Newton is always tough to defend, but I like the matchup. The Eagles generally play well against Newton and I like their chances at home. If they can get past the Panthers and then get out of London with a win over the Jaguars and find their way to 5-3 at the midway point and the bye week then we can start thinking that maybe the Eagles have something going on. I think this will be another one of those ugly difficult games, but when all is said and done …
Eagles 20, Panthers 16
Dave Zangaro (1-5)
I have somehow become the Giants of our predictions and my season is spiraling out of control. I got too cute last week and tried to pick the Giants because I’m an idiot.
I look at this game against Carolina as a pretty good test for the Eagles. If they slow down Newton and Christian McCaffrey, they win this game. Newton hasn’t played well against the Eagles in his career and I expect that to continue Sunday afternoon. I’m expecting a big-time performance from this defense, even with their issues in the secondary.
And offensively, Carson Wentz has gotten better in every game he’s played this season. He’s pretty much back to MVP-level Carson Wentz. I’ll take that guy to get a win.
Eagles 27, Panthers 19
Derrick Gunn (2-4)
When I look at the Panthers, I see a competitive team but not an upper-echelon squad. They needed a prayer of a 63-yard field goal to beat a Giants team the Eagles thoroughly dismantled, and they lost a game this past Sunday to the Redskins they should have won. You’re not going to stop McCaffrey from getting his touches, but the Eagles have to make sure they keep him in front of them. Devin Funchess is their headliner pass catcher, but TE Greg Olsen is back from a foot injury and is a handful. The Panthers also have a pair of young speedsters at WR in Curtis Samuel and first-round pick DJ Moore. Carolina’s defensive front is huge, but their defense overall is average. The Eagles can run on them and have success through the air.
The Eagles have concerns about their bookend Pro Bowl tackles Jason Peters (biceps tear) and Lane Johnson (high ankle sprain), but both will give it a go. The Eagles’ passing game should be able to find success in the middle of the field, and hopefully, Doug Pederson will stay committed to the run game to help keep pressure off Wentz. This is a game where the winner can send a message to the rest of the NFC about where they are at a squad.
Eagles 28, Panthers 20
Ray Didinger (3-3)
Any scouting report on Carolina begins with Newton. He is the key to that team. If you catch him on one of his good days, look out because he can take over a game with his legs as well as his arm. If you're lucky, you'll get the bad Newton where he is spraying the ball all over the field and running in circles.
The Panthers fired offensive coordinator Mike Shula after last season because they felt Newton was trending in the wrong direction. They replaced him with Norv Turner, who had success calling plays for quarterbacks like Troy Aikman and Phillip Rivers. While Turner has improved Newton's completion percentage (65.9 percent), it is with a lot of short underneath throws (6.8 yards per attempt) so Newton isn't hitting as many big plays as he once did.
When Jim Schwartz's defense has struggled this season, it has been in giving up big plays, but since Newton isn't airing it out these days, all the Eagles have to do is clamp down on the dink and dunk stuff -- McCaffrey mostly -- for a big home win.
Eagles 27, Panthers 20
Andrew Kulp (3-3)
For the second week in a row, I'm going with my gut, which is telling me the Eagles are still a superior team. They also took two of three from the Panthers over the previous four seasons, suggesting they match up well.
The defense is perfectly capable of containing Newton. It's just a question of which offense shows up for the Eagles. Injuries to Jason Peters and Lane Johnson along the offensive line are certainly concerning, especially against a quality Panthers front, but I believe those guys will find a way.
Eagles 27, Panthers 17
Corey Seidman (2-4)
It feels like the Eagles have faced the Panthers every year of Newton's career.
This is not the same Carolina defense we became accustomed to the last several years. The Panthers' D has been bad on the road and has struggled to cover tight ends in any location. Tight ends have scored against the Panthers in three of their last four games, with Austin Hooper, Tyler Eifert, C.J. Uzomah, Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed all having good games.
If the Panthers overcorrect to try to stop Zach Ertz, it will mean a big day for one of the Eagles' receivers, perhaps Nelson Agholor in the slot.
Defensively, I trust the Eagles at home more than I trust Cam Newton and all the throws he sails.
Eagles 27, Panthers 17
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