Do not be fooled y’all, the Panthers’ 2-5 record is misleading. This will be a tough match up for the offensively challenged 3-4 Rams.
And there is the biggest issue: offense. The Panthers rank second against the run, so this game will not bode well for the struggling and frustrated Todd Gurley. Carolina ranks 22nd against the pass, though. Too bad Case Keenum has the arm strength of a twelve-year old prepubescent boy. The Rams will not be able to take advantage of Carolina’s weak pass defense. No hate, no negativity. We just know what Case Keenum is, and he is not much.
The Panthers are 2-5 for a reason, however. It is a team that has its flaws.
So without further ado, your five Panthers players to watch:
Panthers to Watch
WR Kelvin Benjamin
Los Angeles sure is lucky to be getting top corner Trumaine Johnson, or else it have a hard time covering the 6-foot-five 245 pound Kelvin Benjamin.
Johnson is the Rams’ best bet to nullify the match up nightmare that Kelvin is. Tru’s 6-2, 208-pound frame is the closest L.A. has to offer against Benjamin in coverage. Tru has done well against other big body receivers, however none of those receivers have had such a weight advantage. Kelvin’s size is a true difference maker on the outside.
Benjamin leads the Panthers in touchdowns (four) and is second in catches (31) and yards (467) behind tight end Greg Olsen.
LB Luke Kuechly
Luke Kuechly is the epitome of middle linebackers. He is the quarterback of the defense, is able to shed away blocks and attack the ball, and he is a valuable asset in pass coverage. He is what folks wanted the former Rams Mike ‘backer and current Saints linebacker James Laurinaitis to be, but he wasn’t. Luke is what the Rams ideally envision current middle ‘backer Alec Ogletree to be, but he isn’t (albeit, Alec is faster, more explosive).
Kuechly is second in the league with 74 tackles. Luke also has two sacks and an interception to his name. He is an absolute playmaker on defense.
Given the way the Rams offensive line has performed, there is no way the unit can keep Kuechly away from the ball.
This front seven is legit.
DT Star Lotulelei
Speaking of legit front sevens, Star Lotulelei is a big reason (and I do mean BIG... dude is 315-pounds of pure Polynesian mass).
Star is a stout run defender, having 14 stuffs (ESPN’s version of tackles for a loss) on record. Lotulelei has really come on as a great interior pass rush option this year. The fourth-year man out of Utah already has a new season record with four sacks through seven games.
The Rams have faced multiple duo-threat quarterbacks, but none are as physically gifted as Cameron Newton.
Cam Newton blends in his 6-5, 245-pound frame along with his mobility and cannon arm to become one of the most well rounded signal callers in the league.
Newton has been a bit careless with the football, however. The former Auburn Tiger has thrown six interceptions. The Rams might be able to force some throws that could result in turnovers.
Now, Newton did make a bit noise calling out the refs concerning rough play against him. It can have a real consequence against L.A., who is one of the more aggressive (and penalized) teams. His comments can affect the referee staff to call hits on the QB a bit more closely.
RB Jonathon Stewart
Veteran running back Jonathon Stewart is the leading rusher (253 yards, 4.0 ypc, four TDs) in Carolina’s strong running game.
The 5-10, 240-pound back is a thunderous runner that does not go down easy. He is the type of back — i.e. bigger power backs — the Rams have a hard time keeping under control.
Then you have to account for fourth-year running back Fozzy Whittaker. The former Texas Longhorn is averaging 5.3 yards on 35 carries for 186 yards.
And ya can’t forget Cam’s running ability either. The QB is second on the team with 191 yards and three rushing TDs.