This week the Carolina Panthers (4-2) look to extend their four-game winning streak in their upcoming matchup vs. the undefeated San Francisco 49ers (6-0).
After a bye week that followed a taxing trip to London, the Panthers began the week trying to re-establish a normal routine. According to Panthers' running back Christian McCaffrey it was the team's attitude that made it easy to get back to that. "I don't think there's anything difficult ...because I think the guys are really excited to be here ...I think we're refreshed and ready to go," McCaffrey said.
The Panthers biggest challenge today will be protecting Kyle Allen. The 49ers have garnered 3 or more sacks in the last 5 games - an NFL best. And the other question is if Allen has mastered the art of holding on to the football.
The greatest upside for the Panthers will be Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey will be more than a handful for the 49ers linebackers due to his broad usage in Norv Turner's offense. Panthers drives, however, must result in trips into the end-zone and not left to the kickers.
The Panthers defense will be tested but should hold up well. The team's pass rush is second only to the 49ers this season and due to their recent bye week, are still riding the wave of momentum from their performance in London.
The 49ers are coming off a 9-0 victory over the Washington Redskins, and at 6-0, are the favorite to continue their winning streak. A win today will make them 7-0 for the first time since the 1990 season.
As a team that uses a lot of pre-snap movement to confuse the defense they will make it a long day for Luke Kuechly. In addition to the movement they use, the 49ers are averaging a league high 39.0 rushing attempts per game. Look for extended play for both Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida and. Additionally, the Panthers has been an open door with regard to protecting the middle of the field intheir last few games. They'll have to slam that shut today if they hope to slow the 49ers efforts in the part of the field - an area where they have excelled this season. But they'll have to get an above average performance out of Jimmy Garappolo to inch out a win.
On the other side of the ball, the 49ers are just as stoudt. The defense has only allowed 10 points in the last three games which included the LA Rams.
This game should shape up to be one of the best matchups in week 8. Earlier this week head coach Ron Rivera made it clear why that will be the case. “Everything’s going to start up front, and that’s just the way it is. This is going to be a physical, point of attack game.”
Carolina has won both of the games they've played against the 49ers in the last five years. The Panthers will sneak away with this one 24-23 in an extremely physical game with the biggest credit going to the Panthers defense.
Panthers at 49ers
When: Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET
Where: Levi's Stadium -- Santa Clara, California