Week eight of the NFL is approaching, and there is a defensive game that is waiting on the wings. The undefeated San Francisco 49ers will host the Carolina Panthers in California. There is a lot to get into previewing this game, so without any more hesitation, let’s get started.
San Francisco has been off to a surprising start this year. Going into week eight, they are undefeated and have been playing some impressive football. Starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo has been credited with a lot of the team’s success, considering he has a record of 14-2 as the starter of the team. However, the true credit should go to their defense. Last week was likely their best showing as a defense as they held the Redskins to only ten first downs and 50 passing yards as they handed the Redskins a goose egg, but it was one of their worst showing as an offense.
Meanwhile, Carolina is coming off of a bit of a winning streak themselves. The Panthers started off losing the first two games with a hurt Cam Newton. Then once he was injured and was designated to recover from his injury, they won the next four games. Backup Kyle Allen has been at the helm for the last four weeks, and for the previous four weeks, the Panthers have not lost a game since he has been the starter. That being said, Allen can’t take all the credit for their success. Allen has been good, but he hasn’t been great. The success can really be attributed to the Carolina defense and the magic of Christian McCaffrey.
Now, let’s look at the keys to the game:
The 49ers defense has to help their offense out
The defense saved the offense last week, considering that San Francisco only scored nine points through the entire game. In order for the 49ers to do well and to succeed, they have to keep playing as they have been. It’s clear that an excellent offensive game is not a guarantee from this team, as they struggled against a Redskins team that just so happens not to be a good team this year. San Francisco has to slow down Christian McCaffrey and the incredible athlete that he is. What makes this so tough is that they have to watch out for him in every aspect. Whether it be on the ground or through the air, McCaffrey is super hard to lockdown. Containing him will be key for them to win.
The Panthers have to block for Kyle Allen
The Panthers have to stop the pass rush of the 49ers who have a total of 20 sacks so far this season. Pass rusher Nick Bosa has been leading the charge for the team with four sacks on the season, so now; second behind him is DeForest Buckner, who has three sacks on the year so far. Kyle Allen makes good throws when he has the time to stand in the pocket. This young offensive line of Carolina’s will have their hands full all game long with this pass rush. The key for the Panthers to hold them accountable is to give Allen pass plays that will not keep him in the pocket for long. Screen plays are an excellent counter to pass rushes. Plus, it will get the quick players like McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel involved in the offense. In order to limit mistakes, this will likely be the course of action the Panthers will take against their defense.
Which defense will be better? Panthers or 49ers?
The Panthers Defense has to take advantage of an offense that isn’t doing too well. The 49ers offense ranks 25th in the NFL in passing yards per game, but they rank second in rushing yards per game. The Panthers have had one of the best defenses in the league so far this season. While the 49ers may rank higher on the defensive rankings at stopping overall yardage on both passing and rushing yards, the Panthers have the advantage in the pass rush and interceptions.
Carolina’s secondary doesn’t have the nickname “Thieves Ave.” for no reason. The Panthers have had nine interceptions so far this season, and they have had 44 pass breakups so far on the year. Their pass rush has also been super impressive as they have tallied 27 sacks so far on the season, and they rank first in sacks. The worry should not be about the pass defense of the Panthers because they have done their job, but the concern should be about whether or not the Panthers can stop the strong run game of the 49ers. For the Panthers to succeed and do well in this game, they must limit the rush.
I hope you like punting if you are going to watch this game because if so, then this game will likely be right up your alley. This will be a low scoring game, and it will be a defensive battle. Man, this will be a fun game to watch. Both of these teams are hot, one is on a six-game win streak, and the other is coming off a rest filled bye week. I am going to have to take the underdog in this game and go with Carolina to win. The 49ers have had some injury woes, especially on the offensive line. The Panthers also have not lost by more than six points the whole season. They keep games close, and they make games interesting. I’m calling that the Panthers win by no more than three to seven points. Field position and turnovers could make the difference in this game, and the Panthers are some of the best in the league when it comes to those things. Get your popcorn ready and enjoy it.
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