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What: Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers
When: Sunday, October 27 at 4:05 pm ET
Where: Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California
How (TV): FOX
Be sure to also check out our NFL Week 8 Picks & Best Bets, presented by Adam Forsyth & Ryan Sullivan
Panthers +5, 49ers -5
The Panthers are coming off a bye week and a win while the 49ers have already had their rest and have been busy doing nothing but win, and their hometown crowd is excited to see them play a team for once that might actually beat them.
Both of these teams need a win here, but San Francisco is favored while Carolina is hot, so we take a quick look at how these two teams measure up for their Week 8 encounter.
Cam Newton is still out with a foot injury and his fill-in Kyle Allen, like a lot of NFL backup quarterbacks this season, has more than done the job filling, so far going 4-0 under center and completing over 65 percent of his passes for 7 touchdowns and no interceptions.
As the Panthers come into Week 8 well-rested off their bye after a big 37-26 Week 6 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, running back Christian McCaffrey is making a solid case for league MVP with his production this season, carrying the ball 127 times for 618 yards and 7 touchdowns while also snagging 35 catches for 305 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Right now, the defense is struggling a bit against the pass but is excellent at stopping the run, so they should be a perfect match for this run-heavy 49ers team on Sunday with their tough to stop dual-threat that has given other teams fits.
Yes, the San Francisco 49ers are undefeated at this point in the 2019 season, but they haven’t exactly had the most difficult schedule up to this point, so it will be good to seem them face a solid team like the Panthers on Sunday.
Of course, there’s a reason they’re favored by five points in this one, and that’s their stifling defense, right now second only to the other undefeated team in the league, the New England Patriots (who’ve also been accused of having an easy schedule thus far), and that’s in part thanks to rookie defensive end Nick Bosa and his partners in sacking crime Dee Ford and Arik Armstead.
San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garopolo isn’t exactly blowing away the football world from under center these days (he’s got 6 interceptions to his 7 touchdown passes) but at this point it hasn’t mattered because the 49ers rushing attack is also second-best in the NFL and will most likely have some fun on Sunday against the Panthers’ 23rd ranked run defense.
These two divisional rivals have met 21 total times (including 1 postseason game), with San Francisco winning 8 of those times and Carolina winning the other 13 games.
This will be the first time these two teams have played since 2017, when in September the Panthers took care of the 49ers in Santa Clara by a score of 23-3.
But if the 49ers come out winners in this one, they’ll be 7-0-0 and it will be tough to call them a fluke anymore as they begin to run away with the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks the only other team in the division within a win of them.
Who’s favored to win this Week 8 Panthers-49ers matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Panthers and the 49ers next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Passing attack: The Carolina Panthers have the 22nd ranked passing offense in the league right now, averaging 223.5 yards per game through the air after seven weeks.
With Cam Newton still out (see below), quarterback Kyle Allen is currently ranked the 28th most productive passer in the league having completed 80-of-122 passes for 901 yards and 7 touchdowns with 0 interceptions and a completion percentage of 65.6.
The Panthers’ leading receiver after seven weeks is D.J. Moore, who is currently 27th in the league with 33 catches for 425 yards and 1 touchdown.
Rushing attack: The Panthers’ rushing attack is ranked 9th in the NFL after averaging 129.5 yards on the ground per game.
Christian McCaffrey is the Panthers’ best runner and he is currently the 3rd best in the NFL with 103 carries for 618 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
Carolina has scored 166 total points this season, or 27.7 per game, which is the 12th best total in the NFL.
Listed as questionable for Week 8: offensive tackle Greg Little (concussion) and offensive guard Trai Turner (ankle).
Injury notes: quarterback Cam Newton (foot) is listed as OUT, while wide receiver Chris Hogan (knee), tight end Marcus Baugh (undisclosed), place kicker Graham Gano (knee), offensive tackle Dillon Gordon (shoulder), and offensive guards Brandon Greene (neck) and Kitt O’Brien (undisclosed) have been placed on injured reserve.
Passing attack: San Francisco has the 25th best passing attack in the league right now after averaging 214.5 yards through the air each game.
Quarterback Jimmy Garopolo is the 24th most productive NFL passer after completing 114-of-167 passes for 1,314 yards and 7 touchdowns with 6 interceptions and a completion percentage of 68.3.
The 49ers’ best receiver is currently tight end George Kittle, who has caught 34 passes for 376 yards with 1 touchdown in seven weeks, ranked 40th among NFL receivers right now.
Rushing attack: San Francisco has the 2nd ranked rushing attack, so far averaging 172.7 yards on the ground per game.
Matt Breida is the 49ers’ best runner and now he is the 14th most productive in the NFL with 73 carries for 411 yards and 1 touchdown, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
San Francisco has scored 156 points in 2019, averaging 26 per game, which is the 15th highest scoring average in the NFL right now.
Listed as questionable for Week 8: wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin), offensive tackle Joe Staley (lower leg).
INJURY NOTES: offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (knee) is listed as OUT, tight end Garrett Celek (back) is listed as PUP-R, while running back Jerick McKinnon (knee – ACL), wide receivers Jalen Hurd (back), Shawn Poindexter (knee) and Trent Taylor (foot) and offensive tackles Shon Coleman (ankle) and Andrew Lauderdale (undisclosed) have been placed on the injured reserve list.
The San Francisco 49ers and the Carolina Panthers are fairly even when it comes to offenses, but because Carolina has double-threat Christian McCaffrey, they have the slight offensive advantage on Sunday.
Pass coverage: The Panthers have the 7th best pass defense in 2019 so far, allowing opponents to throw for 225.0 yards through the air per game.
Carolina’s defense has 9 team picks and they have 27 sacks total.
Run coverage: The Panthers are the 23rd best NFL team against the run right now after allowing opponents to run for 119.0 yards per game.
Carolina has allowed their opponents to score 133 total points, or 22.2 per game, which is the 9th lowest in the NFL.
One of the best middle linebackers in the league is Carolina’s Luke Kuechly, definitely watch for him – he’s T-5th most tackles in the league right now (62) and has an interception, 6 passes defended and a safety.
Jimmy Garopolo had better keep an eye out for Panthers linebacker Mario Addison because he can get after some quarterbacks, so far with 6.5 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and 12 total tackles (5 for a loss).
Watch for cornerback James Bradberry in Carolina’s secondary – he has 3 interceptions already with 12 passes defended, a sack and 30 total tackles.
Listed as questionable for Week 8: linebackers Brian Burns (wrist) and Christian Miller (ankle), cornerback Donte Jackson (groin).
Injury notes: safety Damian Parms (undisclosed), defensive end Kawann Short (shoulder) and cornerback Natrell Jamerson have been placed on injured reserve
Pass coverage: The 49ers’ defense is best against the pass, allowing their opponents to throw for an average of 133.5 yards per matchup.
San Francisco’s defense has 7 interceptions on opposing quarterbacks and they have 20 total sacks after seven weeks.
Run coverage: The 49ers are T-7th best against a rushing attack, allowing opponents to run for an average of 90.0 yards per game.
San Francisco has allowed their opponents to score 64 total points this season, or 10.7 per matchup, which is 2nd fewest in the NFL.
The best tackler on the 49ers right now is middle linebacker Fred Warner, with 33 of them (3 for a loss), 2 passes defended and a forced fumble.
49ers’ defensive ends Dee Ford and Nick Bosa are a sacking nightmare, right now with 8.5 between the two of them.
In San Francisco’s secondary lives shutdown cornerback Richard Sherman, who has 2 interceptions (one of those was a 31-yard pick-six), 8 passes defended and 19 total tackles.
Listed as questionable for Week 8: defensive tackle D.J. Jones (hamstring).
INJURY NOTE: cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (foot) is listed as doubtful, while defensive end Kentavius Street (knee) and cornerbacks Tim Harris (groin) and Jason Verrett (knee) have been placed on injured reserve.
The San Francisco 49ers have one of the best defenses in the league right now and have the defensive advantage across the board over the 49ers on Sunday.
Carolina’ punter, Michael Palardy, is in his sixth NFL season, fifth with the Panthers, and last week he punted 28 times for a net average of 43.2 yards per punt, which was the T-8th best in the league.
San Francisco’s punter, Mitch Wishnowsky, is in his first NFL season and so far, he has punted 17 times this season for a net average of 42.5 yards per punt, which is 14th best in the league.
Carolina’ placekicker, Joey Slye, signed and released by the New York Giants twice last offseason and then signed by the Panthers in August.
Slye is 13-of-18 last week, his longest a 55-yarder, and he missed one extra point attempt (17/18).
San Francisco’s placekicker, Robbie Gould, is in his fifteenth NFL season, his third with the 49ers.
Gould has made 12-of-19 field goals so far this season, his longest a 47 yarder, and so far, he has missed zero extra point attempts (16/16).
Carolina’ punt returner, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, is ranked 21st in average punt return yardage.
McCloud has returned 10 punts for 82 yards, averaging 8.2 yards per return, his longest for 39 yards.
San Francisco’s punt returner, wide receiver Richie James, is ranked 7th in average punt return yardage this season.
James has returned 13 punts for 157 yards, averaging 12.1 yards per return, his longest for 32 yards.
Both placekickers are struggling this season, but Carolina seems to have the better punter, so give them a slight special teams edge in this one.
If offensive coordinator Norv Turner can game plan Christian McCaffrey around this 49ers defense, not only will it prove that he’s the genius he’s been accused of being, but it would also help the Panthers win this game, and that’s exactly how it’s going to go down on Sunday.
Carolina will win this game because they are the first decent team on both sides of the ball that the 49ers have faced all season and they will shock and awe them into giving up a win in front of their hometown crowd.
Kyle Allen is the real deal and he has proven that he can get the ball to McCaffrey (and D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel) so if he can stay clear of Bosa and Ford in the backfield he has a chance on Sunday to prove he can win even the big games by taking down these Niners by surprise for the win.
If you have watched the San Francisco 49ers play at all this season then you know how dominating they have been on all sides of the ball, regardless of who their opponent (their wins have all come against actual NFL teams, by the way) happens to be.
Sure, Garopolo hasn’t been all that impressive (yet), but to his credit he’s run the offense well and his two-head rushing attack (Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman) has been powerful enough to make up for his lesser success through the air.
The 49ers will win this one because defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will focus his squad on putting pressure on Allen and shutting down McCaffery the way Tampa Bay did and force Garopolo into making some costly mistakes through the air.
San Francisco 49ers by a field goal, because their defense will be solid enough to keep McCaffrey out of the picture and their offense will be productive enough to put plenty of points on the board.
John Breech of CBS Sports predicts the score as Panthers 20, 49ers 17.
My prediction for the final score is 49ers 23, Panthers 20.
|Sportsbook||CAR Panthers||SF 49ers|
|Sportsbook||CAR Panthers +6||SF 49ers -6|
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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