Carolina has a minimal run game, and a below average defense. Newton is the engine that drives the team. Detroit’s defensive line is the engine that drives the Lions. The two will clash, and the winner will ultimately win this game. Detroit will employ a strategy similar to that of the Denver game, where the key will be pressure on the quarterback, with a strong contain responsibility. Gunther Cunningham will likely have a linebacker spy Newton for much of the game. Similar to Tebow, if the pass rush is not disciplined, running lanes will develop for the athletic quarterback. One factor that will differ in this matchup, however, is that a failure to pressure Newton will likely result in success for the Panther air attack. Newton has shown the ability to extend plays with his legs, find open receivers downfield even after a play has broken down, and make the necessary throws while on the run. The Lion secondary has been solid in coverage for the most part this season, but Newton will be looking to extend the play, and allow his receivers more time to get open.
Maurice Morris vs. Panther run defense
Matthew Stafford threw 62 passes on Sunday. Based on this statistic alone, most football fans would be able to correctly predict that the Lions lost in Chicago. Turnovers, horrid coaching decisions, and an inexperienced punter led to the imbalance in play-calling, but while Sunday may have been the culmination of the Lions’ offensive woes, many saw the root of this problem developing from the first game of the season. The Detroit Lions cannot run the football. The good news is that the Carolina Panthers cannot stop anyone from running the football.
The game plan this week for Detroit will be to grind it out, and kick start this running attack. There will be no better opportunity this season, and there will be no situation where it is more necessary. Not only does Carolina boast one of the NFL’s most porous defenses, but the Lions are taking the field with an injured quarterback. Although Jim Schwartz believes that the public is gullible enough to swallow his “it was the wind” excuse, everybody knows that Stafford was affected by the fractured finger, and the ridiculous decision to wear the glove on his throwing hand. The Lions must run the football this week if they hope to have success through the second half of the season. They must also run the football so that they don’t have to rely on an injured Stafford to throw 62 passes with a broken finger.