A matchup that is sure to be deemed the Disappointment Bowl; the Panthers and Eagles come into week 12 possessing the two worst records in the NFC.
A far cry from what ESPN probably thought this matchup would be about back when the schedule makers marked this one down for prime-time.
Then again, both teams’ fan bases thought the same coming into 2012. High hopes for playoff glory was firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of both Panthers fans and Eagles fans when the weather was still hot back in July and August.
Of course many will say that this Monday night game is a complete wash when in fact a lot is on the line.
For the Eagles it starts with their head coach Andy Reid in regards to his job security and the quarterback problem he has on his hands. Two ugly situations, given that neither Michael Vick nor Nick Foles look like a player that can guide their team to victory at this point. A loss on Monday night would almost certainly be the final straw for Reid in Philadelphia no matter which guy takes the field as the starting quarterback.
On the other side of the field the Panthers and their head coach Ron Rivera find themselves in a very similar situation. Rivera doesn’t have to worry about whom to start at quarterback, but he too will surely have his job securities’ future in the back of his mind.
Regardless, his final straw might have been drawn following last Sunday’s melt-down loss at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
However, if Carolina wants to win on the road in prime-time on Monday night, then their defense must force turnovers. The turnover battle will be critical as always, but more so in this contest between two struggling teams.
Simply put, the Eagles are turnover machines. Vick has tossed nine interceptions to his eleven touchdowns, while Foles hasn’t done much better in his short amount of time on the field, tossing three picks to his one touchdown. Also, both Vick and Foles have combined for 14 fumbles so far this year: Staggering turnover numbers the Panthers must get their part of.
Carolina’s defense has had its moments this year, some good and some not so good. Look for the Panthers to play big defensively on Monday night.
Subsequent to yet another late collapse in week 11, Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson called his teammates out via Twitter to work harder and be better prepared.
The defense has an opportunity to make a lot of noise on Monday night. For whatever reason this game should be a defensive battle with the Panthers shutting the door on the Eagles when it’s all said and done.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1