Since entering the league, the No. 1 overall draft pick has been an explosive offensive player. Newton ranks seventh in the NFL in passing yards, has thrown for 11 touchdowns and has rushed for seven.
Despite his success on the field, the Panthers have won just two games this season. However, the Lions cannot afford to overlook Cam Newton and the Carolina offense in a week where a win is needed to stay on top of the playoff race and put some pressure on undefeated Green Bay.
One key to stopping Newton will be to contain him in the pocket and prevent the quarterback from making big plays with his feet. This season, Newton has ran for 374 yards and has three runs of 20 yards or more.
The Lions have been very successful containing mobile quarterbacks this season, holding Josh Freeman to just 26 yards rushing in Week 1 and Tim Tebow to 63 yards.
The success Detroit has had slowing down scrambling quarterbacks comes from the defensive line's ability to collapse the pocket quickly as well as Stephen Tulloch doing an excellent job in the QB spy role. Tulloch will most likely return to this role on Sunday, following Newton’s every move.
When defenses have been able to put pressure on Newton, he has struggled greatly. The Carolina quarterback has thrown 10 interceptions and been sacked 22 times this season.
Detroit has great playmakers on defense who can make interceptions and put solid pressure on quarterbacks. These players will be needed to rattle an inexperienced quarterback.
The biggest receiving target for the Panthers has been Steve Smith. Smith is second in the NFL in receiving yards with 951 and has four touchdowns. He is also a dangerous deep threat, with 19 receptions over 20 yards and four over 40 yards.
Detroit will need a strong performance from cornerback Eric Wright, as well as their safeties, to keep Smith from beating the defense on deep passes.
Cam Newton and the Carolina offense have explosive ability, but there is a reason they are 2-7 this season. Defenses have exploited their weaknesses all season long and have come away with victories.
The Detroit Lions defense will need to do the same to recover from the embarrassing loss last week and continue their run at the playoffs.