Our Eagles vs. Panthers predictions for Week 5 of the NFL season

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Our Eagles vs. Panthers predictions for Week 5 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles (1-3) are traveling to North Carolina to face the Panthers (3-1) on Sunday afternoon.

To the predictions:

Reuben Frank (3-1)

I’m using deductive reasoning on this one. I don’t think the Eagles are going to beat the Buccaneers on Thursday night or the Raiders in Vegas, but I also don’t think they’re going to lose six straight. That leaves Sunday at Carolina. The Panthers are decent, but this is a winnable game for the Eagles. Their defense can’t be as bad as it’s looked the last two weeks against two elite QBs, so against Sam Darnold I expect them to keep the points within reason and Jalen Hurts and the offense to continue the growth we saw Sunday against the Chiefs.

Eagles 26, Panthers 23

Dave Zangaro (3-1)

Yes, the Panthers are 3-1 and the Eagles are 1-3 but if you look a little deeper, these teams are closer than that. The Panthers started off their season with three straight wins but they didn’t take down quality opponents and they were handled pretty easily by the Cowboys last week.

If Christian McCaffrey was completely healthy, he would be an incredibly tough test for Jonathan Gannon’s defense. But he’s coming off a hamstring injury and I question how much he’ll be able to do. I’m not saying this is a slam dunk, but I have a feeling the Eagles get a much-needed win here before Tom Brady comes to town on Thursday.

Eagles 27, Panthers 23

Ray Didinger (3-1)

I'm not a bettor but the line on this game doesn't make much sense. You have a 3-1 team playing at home against a 1-3 team, but the 3-1 team is only a three to three and one half point favorite?

What does that tell you? It tells me the oddsmakers still aren't sold on the Carolina Panthers. Neither am I.

Their three wins were against the pitiful New York Jets and Houston Texans and the up-and-down New Orleans Saints. Last Sunday, they played Dallas and lost 36-28. Really, it wasn't that close. The Cowboys rushed for 245 yards and Dak Prescott threw four touchdown passes.

Christian McCaffrey returned to practice this week but I don't expect him to play Sunday. It would be pretty foolish of the Panthers to rush him back and risk him reinjuring his hamstring. I'm still not buying into the Sam Darnold comeback player of the year narrative.

Eagles 28, Panthers 24

Barrett Brooks (3-1)

I won't say the Eagles are in must-win mode, but they do need to stop the bleeding. The biggest concern to be addressed is the lack of discipline. Too many penalties are a sign of a bad team. Bad teams shoot themselves in the foot and can not finish the deal. Penalties stop drives for the offense and keep drives going for the opposing offense. This is keeping the Birds from taking another step in the maturation to be a good team.

I thought the offense got a little better last week. Jalen Hurts looked good in executing the game plan. The offense needs to incorporate more running the ball to increase time of possession. Time of possession is the best defense and can help the defensive side of the ball. The defense is really struggling right now. The defense is too vanilla and lacks the aggressive nature needed in utilizing the talent in the secondary. The secondary is playing passive back in zone coverage. Jonathan Gannon needs to call more man-to-man and matchup zone to allow the corners to play tighter on receivers. I also think there will be a definite change in the defensive philosophy upfront to slant the d-line, which will force the linebackers to play more downhill to fill their gaps. This movement will help take away a lot of the double teams on the d-line and make the linebackers fill their gaps faster.

Panthers 24, Eagles 18

Mike Mulhern (3-1)

Now that the entire city has come into lockstep against Ben Simmons over the past few months, the collective desire to fill the polarizing player void has centered on Jalen Hurts. There is evidence to support whichever side you choose. If you believe in Hurts, cite that his passer rating of 101.1 ranks 11th in the NFL, ahead of the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Don’t buy the hype? Well, his QBR (which includes rushing stats but also incorporates strength of opponent and game situation) is 27th out of 32 quarterbacks. He’s ahead of only four rookie QBs and a rapidly declining Ben Roethlisberger. But why stop there?

Believer? Hurts had three touchdowns taken off the board by penalty! Hater? He missed two easy touchdown throws! Believer? He had to play behind four backup offensive lineman! Hater? But it was the Chiefs defense!

Sunday feels like a solid litmus test for the second-year signal caller. The Panthers’ defense has shown some chops through four weeks, albeit against some less than elite competition. Carolina feasted on Zach Wilson, Davis Mills and Jameis Winston before coming back to earth against the Cowboys in week 4. I expect Hurts to move the ball once again and this time I anticipate those drives end in touchdowns.

It will also help that the opposing QB isn’t Patrick Mahomes or Dak Prescott and won’t be putting up a 40-spot. Eagles defense has offered little resistance over the last two games but suffice it to say Sam Darnold isn’t striking that same level of fear in the Birds. Hopefully, Jonathan Gannon takes a few more chances against a far less dangerous QB. While it’s no sure thing, I expect an Eagles win. Yet I’m certain no one’s opinion on Jalen Hurts will be changing any time soon.

Eagles 34, Panthers 24

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