Two of the NFL’s most disappointing squads square off Monday night as Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers travel to what promises to be a hostile atmosphere to take on the Eagles of Philadelphia. Most often, the hostility is directed at the opposition, though this week expect head coach Andy Reid to face the music for much of the game. It’s been an awful season for the Eagles and you have to wonder how toxic the environment will be come Monday evening in Philly.
Many experts predicted this was the year the Eagles would realize their talent and finally put it all together. But through eleven weeks thus far, Philadelphia has only disappointed. They’ve been far and away the most surprisingly brutal side in 2012 and after last week’s outing it looks like this team has simply quit. The Eagles have shifted to rookie quarterback Nick Foles under centre and with Mike Vick’s future up in the air, Philly will be anxious to see what they’ve got in him. With Vick out, the Eagles have definitely lost some of their athleticism, and add in the fact that LeSean McCoy and Jason Avant out as well, and Philly could be hard-pressed to move the football Monday night.
On the other side of the football, the feelings are no better in Carolina. Many figured this could be a breakout year for Newton and his young teammates, but it’s been anything but through the first eleven weeks of 2012. They enter this contest with a brutal 2-8 record, and though they’ve been close in a lot of games, Carolina simply isn’t doing enough to get any results. Like Andy Reid, head coach Ron Rivera is also on the hot seat and he’ll need a big result Monday evening if his job is to be retained. On the injury front, defensive end Antwan Applewhite remains out on the D-line, and centre Geoff Hangartner hasn’t practised all week. Carolina hasn’t played well this season, but to be able to play on Monday Night Football is a big deal for this franchise. Expect an inspired outing from this underachieving bunch.
Panthers vs. Eagles Betting Odds:
Carolina Panthers -2.5 (-115)
@ Philadelphia Eagles +2.5 (-105)
Over 40.5 (-110)
Under 40.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Panthers vs. Eagles Pick:
Though at the outset of the 2012 season this would’ve definitely been circled as a marquee match-up featuring two exciting teams, this game likely won’t live up to the billing. Both these teams have been brutal, falling wildly short of lofty expectations. Cam Newton has seemed to regress in his sophomore season, and Mike Vick is hurt yet again. Right now the situation in Philly is toxic, and the atmosphere at home will be anything but friendly on Monday evening. The Eagles have simply quit on each other and their head coach, and won’t show anything the rest of the way.
Carolina is equally as bad record-wise, but look like they still have some fight in them. Add in the fact that playing on Monday Night Football is a big deal for a franchise unaccustomed to it, and look for an inspired outing from Ron Rivera’s men in this clash.
Six of the first ten Carolina contests have been against top-10 offenses, and have lost four straight games by a total of 12 points. Despite their 2-8 record, this team is better than that mark would suggest, and the numbers back that up. They’ve gone toe-to-toe with some of the top teams in the NFL, and if they remain motivated, Cam Newton should be able to steamroll a vulnerable Eagles defense.
The Eagles have recorded the third-fewest sacks in the NFL this season and that should allow Newton enough time in the pocket to wreak havoc on the Philadelphia defense. Giving Newton time and space could be a recipe for disaster, and if he gets room to run outside of the pocket, it could be yet another long evening for Andy Reid and his Eagles. Add in the fact that Philly’s heralded secondary of Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie has been getting torched of late, and Newton could have some fun on Monday night.
On defense for the Panthers, look for their improvements to continue. They’ve been much better since they moved youngster Luke Kuechly into the middle, and their ferocious defensive linemen should put pressure all night on a brutal Philly O-Line. Nick Foles isn’t exactly Mike Vick in terms of athleticism either, so expect a fair amount of pressure and sacks from Carolina’s rushers. Foles is still a young kid, and that kind of pass rush could force him into turnovers as well.
Expect a big outing from Cam Newton and his Panthers group under the Monday night lights. They haven’t had a lot go their way this season, but expect them to shine in this sort of spotlight against an Eagles squad that wants nothing to do with it. Philly players wish this season was over and have been playing like it. Expect that to continue Monday evening with another listless outing, en route to a big victory for Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers.
PICK = Panthers -2.5 (-115)