When the Philadelphia Eagles host the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the 2013 preseason, the focus will be on which of these underachieving teams will have the biggest bounce-back year.
The Eagles are dealing with a quarterback battle between Michael Vick and Nick Foles on one side of the field, and the Panthers are trying to help Cam Newton further develop into the star he showed he could be in his rookie season on the other sideline.
Add in the slow development of both defensive units over the course of training camp and the preseason, and this game will be a gauge of how cohesive these teams will be in 2013.
There is little doubt that this matchup will be an intense battle.
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
When: Thursday, August 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Watch: Not nationally televised
Live Stream: Preseason Live
Listen: Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line (via Covers)
Over/Under: 42; Spread: Philadelphia (-3)
Both the Eagles and the Panthers are trying to implement new game plans on offense and defense, and that will likely result in a high-scoring game. While betting on preseason games is always a risk, expect the teams to go over 42 points and Philadelphia to win by more than three.
Injury Report (via ESPN)
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Out (ankle)
Domenik Hixon, WR, Probable (hamstring)
Armanti Edwards, WR, Probable (hamstring)
No injuries to report.
Panthers Player to Watch: Cam Newton, QB
The biggest X-factor for Carolina in 2013 is third-year quarterback Cam Newton and how he rebounds from a lackluster sophomore season. As well as he played in the second half of last season, the Panthers need more consistency.
Newton didn’t take a huge step back in his second season like many QBs have, but the inconsistency in his passing attack (every major statistic went down) and his drop in rushing numbers (six less touchdowns) slowed down the team’s progression.
With an offensive unit healthy for the most part—running back Jonathan Stewart is still missing time but the team is optimistic he’ll be back by Week 1, per Panthers.com—Newton will have all the weapons needed to take a big step forward and lead his team to a postseason berth.
Thursday’s game will be a good test of where Newton is physically and mentally.
Eagles Player to Watch: Nick Foles, QB
After new head coach Chip Kelly gave the Week 1 start to veteran Michael Vick, he made it clear that second-year quarterback Nick Foles would take the bulk of the snaps in Week 2, per PhiladelphiaEagles.com.
Vick shined in his start against New England, amassing 94 yards and a touchdown, but Foles' solid play once he took over in that game (5-of-6 completions for 43 yards) and the ability to take snaps as the top guy in practice has proven he is ready for his opportunity.
The Panthers were average at best last season on defense (13th against the pass and 14th against the rush), but major improvements along that side of the ball should be a great test of how much of Kelly’s game plan Foles has learned and can implement.
If Foles doesn’t shine, this will be the end of the QB controversy in Philadelphia. If he plays well, Week 3 will be very interesting for the Eagles.
Prediction: Philadelphia 27, Carolina 21