There’s no doubt that the Carolina Panthers‘ defensive line has played well this season, a positive change from years past. The stars of old like Kris Jenkins and Julius Peppers have been replaced by studs like Star Lutulelei and Charles Johnson, and they even have backup in fellow beast Greg Hardy and up-and-comer Kawann Short.
The front seven as a whole may be the best the Panthers have had since Kevin Greene, Lamar Lathon and Sam Mills wore the black and blue, if not better. They’ve already made a name for themselves after three games, and now they’re looking for more in Week 5.
The Panthers’ front seven, especially the defensive line, have brought the defense to a new level and for the most part has been successful in masking the deficiencies in the secondary. The Panthers are currently seventh in the NFL in rush defense and third in scoring defense due in most part to the consistent penetration of the defensive front.
This vastly improved unit should create a severe mismatch against the Panthers’ Week 5 opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, whose offensive line is weak and thin from trades and injuries.
The Panthers need to generate pressure with only four rushers on Sunday in Phoenix to stop one of the NFL’s best deep ball throwers in the NFL in Carson Palmer from getting the ball to Larry Fitzgerald, and they should certainly be able to do that.
The Cardinals lost no. 8 overall pick Jonathan Cooper for the season to a broken leg and they recently traded starting left tackle Levi Brown to the Steelers. The Panthers may have only generated 10 sacks, good for 18th in the league, so they can certainly get pressure — just ask Russell Wilson or Eli Manning.
The Panthers should have a field day against a Cardinals team that lacks a viable running game or a strong offensive line, and that mismatch should decide the game.