The reeling Philadelphia Eagles (3-7) will host the snake-bitten Carolina Panthers (2-8) on Monday Night Football in Week 12 in an NFC matchup that was expected to have more riding on it when the season began.
Philadelphia has lost six games in a row since the start of October, and needs to win out in order to have any shot at a playoff berth. Meanwhile, Carolina has dropped seven of its last eight games. Only two of the Panthers' eight losses this season have come by more than six points.
Here we get you set with everything you need to know for Monday's primetime showdown in Philly.
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
When: Monday, November 26 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Listen: 99.3 FM (Charlotte), 94 WIP (Philadelphia)
Live Streaming: ESPN3.com
Betting Line: Philadelphia (-2.5) according to Bovada
What's At Stake?
Both teams are all but out of the playoff hunt this November. With eight losses the Carolina Panthers would have to win out just to finish .500. As for the Eagles, the NFC East is still wide open with the New York Giants struggling, but a loss at home to Carolina on Monday night would crush any hopes Philly has of coming back to win the division.
Panthers Injury Report (according to USA Today)
T Lee Ziemba (Suspension), eligible to return Monday
DE Antwan Applewhite (Thigh), questionable for Monday
WR Kealoha Pilares (Shoulder), placed on IR
DE Thomas Keiser (Elbow), placed on IR
LB Kenny Onatolu (Tricep), placed on IR
C Ryan Kalil (Foot), placed on IR
LB Jon Beason (Knee), placed on IR
CB Chris Gamble (Shoulder), placed on IR
G Mike Pollak (Shoulder), placed on IR
Eagles Injury Report (according to USA Today)
RB LeSean McCoy (Concussion), questionable for Monday
WR Jason Avant (Back), questionable for Monday
RB Chris Polk (Toe), questionable for Monday
WR Mardy Gilyard (Hamstring), questionable for Monday
QB Michael Vick (Concussion), doubtful for Monday
T Todd Herremans (Ankle), placed on IR
C Jason Kelce (Knee), placed on IR
Fantasy Start 'Em, Sit 'Em and Sleeper
Start 'Em: Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles, RB
With LeSean McCoy coming off a concussion, backup Bryce Brown will likely see a majority of the workload on Monday night. Therefore fantasy owners should look to start Brown, especially considering he's set to go up against the league's 20th-ranked rushing defense in Carolina.
Brown rushed for 35 yards on five carries last week against the Washington Redskins, and is available in more than 98 percent of all ESPN fantasy leagues.
Sit 'Em: Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, RB
The Philadelphia Eagles' defense hasn't been lighting it up this season as many expected, but it has been stellar when it comes to keeping opposing running backs out of the end zone. Philly has allowed just three rushing scores all year long, and only two by running backs.
Fantasy owners would be wise to sit Jonathan Stewart, who just scored his first rushing touchdown of the season last week against Tampa, in Week 12 at Philadelphia.
Sleeper: Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles, TE
Regardless of who is suiting up for the Eagles at quarterback on Monday night, tight end Brent Celek is poised to come away with a handful of receptions and chunks of yardage. Plus, the 27-year-old is due for a touchdown; he has just one all year.
With Celek guaranteed to get targets on Monday night, and Carolina boasting the NFL's 17th-ranked pass defense, fantasy owners should consider inserting Celek into their lineups in Week 12.
What They're Saying
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is confident he has until the end of the season to make an impression on the franchise's ownership (via The News & Observer's Joseph Person):
I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I won’t know until after the season. I know that much. And I know that nothing’s going to happen until after the season. So what our guys have to understand is that they’re playing for now. They’re playing for each other.
Rivera is just 8-18 as head coach of the Panthers and is on pace to finish with a worse record in 2012 than he did in his first season with a rookie quarterback.
On the other side, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans says he and his teammates aren't "going to lay down" (via Philly.com's Marcus Hayes):
I think the effort and focus is there. You play for pride. Nobody's going to lay down, saying it's over. That's why we work hard: to get wins.
Ryans is the team's leading tackler this season and one of the Philly's defensive leaders, so his word has value in this case.
Panthers Player to Watch
Without question the player to watch for the road team on Monday night will be quarterback Cam Newton. Sure, Newton's sophomore season hasn't even come close to his phenomenal rookie year, but he still leads Carolina in passing and rushing in 2012.
The 6'5" signal-caller is certainly entertaining if nothing else, and fans should make the most of what is a rare primetime appearance by the NFL's reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Eagles Player to Watch
Considering that both Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy could miss Monday night's game, there's no obvious star to watch for the Eagles this week. But given his resume, wide receiver DeSean Jackson makes a quality player-to-watch candidate.
Although his numbers haven't been great this season, Jackson is still the team's leading receiver, and only Brent Celek has as many plays of 20 or more yards as Jackson through 10 games this year. Therefore NFL fans can expect to see a big play from the former Cal Golden Bear at some point this week.
The key matchup on Monday night will be Cam Newton vs. the Eagles' defense. Newton is by far the Panthers' best offensive weapon and it seems they are a team that will live and die by his individual success.
So far, they've died.
Philly's defense is no doubt talented, but after losing their sixth straight game last weekend it's safe to say its focus and energy isn't the same as it was in September. Still, given Newton's immense struggles and the fact that the Eagles will be at home, I have to give the edge in this matchup to Philly's defense.
On the Hot Seat
Both Ron Rivera and Andy Reid might as well be roasting on an open fire this November when it comes to the pressure they're facing to win games, but Reid has more talent to work with and is in real danger of being shown the door at season's end.
Reid is just 11-15 at the helm since the start of 2011 and is on the verge of missing the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, which has never happened since he took over in 1999.
The Philadelphia Eagles may be the worst team in football right now. They haven't won in nearly two months and their stars are dropping like flies. But even with things crumbling in Philly, the Eagles are one win better than the lowly Carolina Panthers this season, and I like them to be two wins better after four quarters on Monday night.
Eagles 24, Panthers 17
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