Game Predictions & Player Projections - PHI vs. CAR

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: PHI 24, CAR 27

(Line: CAR by 3.5, O/U = 46)

This is the Thursday game and should be a good one as long as both offenses don't come in cold from a lack of preparation as we saw last week when the Patriots and Buccaneers only scored 33 points despite a lack of defense from either team.

But I digress.

The 4-1 Eagles are on a three game winning streak having lost only to the Chiefs in Kansas City. The 4-1 Panthers are at home where they last, remarkably, lost to the visiting Saints by only scoring 13 points. This should be a very interesting and entertaining game that could end up in many different places all depending on how well both teams show up in a Thursday night game.

Philadelphia Eagles

1 @WAS 30-17 10 BYE xxx
2 @KC 20-27 11 @DAL ---
3 NYG 27-24 12 CHI ---
4 @LAC 26-24 13 @SEA ---
5 ARI 34-7 14 @LAR ---
6 @CAR --- 15 @NYG ---
7 WAS --- 16 OAK ---
8 SF --- 17 DAL ---
9 DEN ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
PHI @ CAR Rush Catch Pass
QB Carson Wentz 270,2
RB LeGarrette Blount 60,1
WR Nelson Agholor 3-50,1
WR Alshon Jeffery 5-60
WR Torrey Smith 4-60
TE Zach Ertz 5-70,1
PK Jake Elliott 1 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Eagles have already exceeded expectations by taking down the Skins and Giants and winning in Los Angeles versus the Chargers. Central to that hot start was Carson Wentz who has taken the next step in his development and breathes life into the passing game that did not look this good back last summer. The rushing effort hasn't met expectations, but it already had very humble beginnings from last year. Overall, the schedule is tougher than most but the Eagles have risen to the task.

QUARTERBACK: Carson Wentz passed for 300 yards in four games as a rookie and already totals three of them on this season. But his four touchdown passes against the Cardinals was the first occasion when he had more than two scores. Wentz can stumble against top secondaries as most any quarterback will, but he's developing into top-level passer in his second season.

RUNNING BACK: Wendell Smallwood was held out last week because of his knee and started the week not practicing. I will assume he is out again and add him in if warranted. LeGarrette Blount stays around 14 carries per game with no role as a receiver and just one rushing touchdown. Corey Clement gets up to ten carries but doesn't do much with them. Blount has the most fantasy value and it is only moderate yardage in most weeks. Wendell Smallwood will figure in once he returns as well.

WIDE RECEIVER: This unit still has not produced a 100-yard receiver but accounts for six touchdowns already this year. Nelson Agholor comes off a season-best 93 yards and one score in the home win over the Cardinals. Torrey Smith also had his best game with three receptions for 70 yards and a score. Alshon Jeffery caught two scores and both were in road venues. Wentz mixes the three wideouts in different patterns each week but all have scored and had at least a couple games with higher yardage

TIGHT END: Zach Ertz is currently the leading fantasy tight end with 32 catches for 387 yards and two scores. Ertz has never caught fewer than five passes in any game or gained less than 55 yards. His two scores - and yet lowest yardages - both came in home games.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Panthers at home dominated the Bills and held them to only three points. This is only their second home game considering the London trip in Week 3. The last three opponents all threw for at least two touchdowns along with moderate to good yardage. Wentz is on a roll with good yardage efforts but two scores should be his limit here.

The Panthers allowed a rushing score in each of the last three games as well which would favor Blount though they have not allowed more than 56 rushing yards to any running back. Blount would need the score to produce even moderate fantasy points.

Ertz is a must-start regardless and the Panthers haven't faced many good tight ends Rob Gronkowski gained 80 yards on four catches versus the Panthers.

The problem here is that this is a Thursday game so how well will the offenses perform? The Panthers have a good secondary that has not allowed a 100-yard receiver yet but they can be beaten by wide receivers. Agholor has the best shot at a receiving touchdown but it could go anywhere. Ertz and Wentz are the strongest starts. Blount, Agholor and Jeffery all have upside but could disappoint just as easily.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points PHI 6 14 18 1 2 11
Preventing Fantasy Points CAR 7 14 16 6 11 13

Carolina Panthers

1 @SF 23-3 10 MIA ---
2 BUF 9-3 11 BYE xxx
3 NO 13-34 12 @NYJ ---
4 @NE 33-30 13 @NO ---
5 @DET 27-24 14 MIN ---
6 PHI --- 15 GB ---
7 @CHI --- 16 TB ---
8 @TB --- 17 @ATL ---
9 ATL ---      
News | Statistics | Roster
CAR vs PHI Rush Catch Pass
QB Cam Newton 20,1 300,2
RB Christian McCaffrey 20 7-60
RB Jonathan Stewart 50
WR Kelvin Benjamin 6-100,1
WR Devin Funchess 5-70,1
TE Ed Dickson 3-30
PK Graham Gano 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Panthers bumbled through their loss to the Saints but then beat the Patriots and the Lions in their stadiums. Cam Newton has been night and day difference depending on what the venue is and the rushing offense that held promise after spending a 1.08 pick on Christian McCaffrey doesn't look that much difference other than a few more receptions. This week will be interesting. Two home games had Newton looking like he shouldn't be playing. And two road games made him and the rest of the offense appear in championship form.

QUARTERBACK: Cam Newton is on a two-game streak of 300-yard, three touchdown games. He's rushed for two touchdowns along the way while the running backs have none. Newton is passing well and there's no more talk about his shoulder.

RUNNING BACK: Jonathan Stewart runs for around 50 yards in most games but almost never catches a pass. He's a marginal fantasy option but one with some consistency. Christian McCaffrey scored his first NFL touchdown last week against the Lion but it was on a pass. He's been consistent with around 30 receiving yards per game though he had the one freakish nine-catch, 101-yard effort in the loss to the Saints.

WIDE RECEIVER: Devin Funchess missed early week practice because of a sore knee but it wasn't enough to make him miss the game last Sunday. Funchess caught his third touchdown on the year though he remains stuck around 60 yards per week. Kelvin Benjamin finally caught a score when he snared four passes for 58 yards in Detroit and that followed up his 104 yards versus the Patriots. No other wideouts have any role. Since Greg Olsen was lost, the scoring has mostly ended up with Funchess.

TIGHT END: Ed Dickson hasn't scored but he caught three passes for 62 yards in Week 4 and then shocked everyone with 175 yards on five catches in Detroit. That was more yardage than he gained in any of his last three years.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Eagles have not allowed any runner to gain over 81 yards and that was Kareem Hunt. Melvin Gordon was held to only 22 yards. The Redskins in total only had 34 rushing yards. Don't expect much from the rushing effort though McCaffrey should have enough receptions to merit flex play in a reception points league.

The Panthers success will come through the air where the last three opponents totaled at least 290 yards. The Panthers have already allowed three receivers to top 100 yards against them. Both Funchess and Benjamin offer the upside of a score and good yardage here. Dickson faces a secondary that has been able to handle all but Travis Kelce so he's better left on the bench.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points CAR 7 13 22 29 8 25
Preventing Fantasy Points PHI 23 6 31 18 3 17

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