4 Signs the Carolina Panthers have the formula stop the Arizona Cardinals
The Carolina Panthers are fresh off their first win of the season after casting a 22-14 spell on the Saints. It was the first win in front of a home crowd, ironically, since they hosted the Saints back in September of 2021. So the voodoo appears to be gaining power at home.
But despite the energy shift in the locker room, head coach Matt Rhule was adamant about one thing. The win has an expiration date with regard to how much attention they'll give it after the weekend. He declared once again that he is not a momentum guy and that each week features its own demons.
So after finally getting things to work in sync enough to close out a game, the team is now poised for their matchup with the Arizona Cardinals (1-2) - a team that has also struggled to put up wins this season. But there are four things that stand in the way of the team that handed the Cardinals a 34-10 loss at home during what many Carolina fans remember as the Cam Newton experiment.
The Carolina Panthers defense has made steady improvements in stopping the run and has now entered into the realm of creating turnovers. The defense held the last two opponents to 187 yards rushing compared to the first game where they allowed the rushing duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt eat up 187 yards of the teams total 201 yards on the ground.
With regard to takeaways, the defensive score by Marquis Haynes against the Saints that was created by linebacker Frankie Luvu's strip gave the defense a mental blueprint which they continued to use throughout the game. "I feel like it's everyday we gotta do it like that," Luvu said in a postgame locker room interview.
"We took pride to go in and get the ball out."
Phil Snow used myriad blitz packages throughout the game against the Saints - a feature that will likely continue as it produced six quarterback hits on Jameis Winston.
JEREMY CHINN & JAYCEE HORN
With the ability to move Jeremy Chinn around effectively, the defense can create the types of looks that contributed to Chinn's 8 tackles and a sack. And let's not forget Jaycee Horn's interception and 3 passes defended. Horn always seems to know where the ball is and continues to show why he was worth the first round pick.
Despite losing the total yardage battle with the Saints (CAR 293 YDS / NOS 426 YDS) the defensive performance in crucial situations was the biggest factor in the recent win.
Christian McCaffrey is back to his dominant form posting his second 100+ yard game this season after a slow start in week one. McCaffrey was starved for such performances in the past two seasons due to injuries but appears to regained his place atop the Panthers rushing attack as a part of Ben McAdoo's offense.
Although the Panthers have slumped in the passing game because quarterback Baker Mayfield has not had a completion rate above sixty percent this season, fumbled snaps and been the catalyst in the team's slow starts, the future looks bright if Laviska Shenault can continue to shine. During the team's win over New Orleans one of Shenault's receptions turned into a 67-yard scamper to the endzone. The score ignited the crowd with an energy not seen in quite some time. Shenault showed speed and illusiveness to compliment his size and ability to garner yards after the catch. "It felt good to find the end zone," Shenault said.
This also comes at a good time to take some of the pressure off starting receivers DJ Moore and Robby Anderson who combined for just 16 yards receiving against the Saints and just 75 yards against the Giants.
The one are of concern, however, is the team's third down conversion rate. The Cats are just 10-of-37 in that category this year - a far cry from Buffalo's league leading 60.98%. The good news going into week 4 is that the Cardinals have just a 27.91% third down conversion rate.
The Panthers host the Cardinals on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET at Bank of America Stadium. It is the second of three home games before Carolina hits the road road to the west coast.