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Players to Watch: Panthers vs Eagles

A few names to keep your eyes on.

The 3-1 Panthers take on the 1-3 Eagles in a matchup that is one of the easier ones on the schedule of the home team. Although the Eagles have had a disappointing start to the season, they still have some serious talent on both sides of the ball. Here are some players to watch on Sunday afternoon.

Offense: Matt Paradis, Dennis Daley, John Miller

The interior of the Panthers' offensive line has their work cut out for them with the Eagles' defensive tackles. According to ESPN's pass rush win rate statistic, the Eagles' Javon Hargrave is the best interior pass rusher in football. Led by Hargrave, the Eagles are fourth as a team in pass rush win rate at 51%.

Why does that matter? Lining up across from the Eagles' fearsome front four is a Panthers' offensive line that is ranked 30th in the league according to ESPN. If the Panthers are unable to contain the Eagles' pass rush, it may be a long day at the office for Sam Darnold and company. The Panthers have proven that they are able to win games in spite of their lackluster offensive line, and that will have to be the case again on Sunday. The Eagles are going to bring pressure, and if the proverbial pipes burst along the offensive line, watch out. 

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Defense: Jermaine Carter, Frankie Luvu, Julian Stanford

Eagles' quarterback Jalen Hurts is a talented (but still developing) passer, but he's at his most dangerous when he's making plays with his legs. Hurts leads the Eagles with 226 rushing yards on the season, ranking him second to only Lamar Jackson among quarterbacks. 

Hurts is dangerous when he gets on the move, and the Panthers' linebackers better hope their cardiovascular health is in good shape because they're going to be chasing Hurts all over Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. The leader of the defense, Shaq Thompson, will not be in uniform this weekend, and the rest of the linebacking core will need to step up to limit Hurts' production on the ground.

The pass rush will continue to be effective, but Hurts is the most athletic quarterback the Panthers have played thus far, and he's the kind of quarterback that can punish a defense even if the pass rush collapses the pocket. Carter, Luvu, Stanford, and any other Panther that plays linebacker on Sunday (Jeremy Chinn, maybe?) will be tasked with keeping their discipline when Hurts escapes the pocket, and that will be a major key to a Panther victory.