The Lions managed to start the season with a 3-3 record, however, after back-to-back victories, the team have found themselves in a bit of a slump since the late stages of October.
The Lions lost their previous three games against Seattle, Minnesota, and Chicago and face a short week with the Panthers this weekend and then hosting Chicago on Thanksgiving.
Carolina, meanwhile, is looking to move past a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night.
Offensively, wide receiver Kenny Golladay is going to need to record a big game against Carolina. With Marvin Jones out due to a bone bruise in his knee, the Lions’ receivers are going to need to step up and Golladay has a huge target on his back. Golladay has proven himself this season to be an up and coming star in this league but has not been fully consistent this season. His ability to move past defenders and gain cushion is impressive when Stafford looks to throw deep. His big body causes problems for defenders which allows Golladay to make short plays turn into big gains.
Defensively, Darius Slay coming back off of an injury will be good to go for the secondary. Detroit got beat on a lot of plays last week, in part due to Slay’s absence. His ability to recognize the play prior to the snap is important. With Slay back in the lineup, the Panthers offense should be worried. Slay has excellent recognition and knows how to create contact with his body to disrupt the ball.
The Lions darkhorse should be none other than Matthew Stafford. Stafford has been reliable all season and can make something out of nothing in any situation. Without Golden Tate on the roster, Stafford is adjusting on his new go-to target this season. However, with so much talent in Golladay and Jones, Stafford will not have to worry about connecting with a receiver in late game situations. With a newly-found run game in Detroit, the entire offense will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Soon the motors will start churning and the Motor City will benefit from this offense with Matthew Stafford at the helm.
Offensively, running back Christian McCaffrey should be able to continue his dominance against Detroit. The Lions have a lot of key injuries along the defensive line and McCaffrey will take full advantage. Not only is McCaffrey a threat in the run game but his skill set also makes him a lethal target in the receiving game. Carolina should expect a strong game from McCaffrey against a weak Lions run defense.
Defensively, Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson is someone to watch out for. Jackson has proven to be a versatile player in the secondary and recently caught a lot of attention after recording 41 tackles and four interceptions through nine games. Jackson is an excellent defender who understands the game and will quickly grow into a very talented player. Jackson can make tackles anywhere on the field and gives 100% effort during each and every play.
The darkhorse will be veteran quarterback Cam Newton. Newton is an excellent dual-threat quarterback and his ability to create plays has not gone unnoticed. Newton has an excellent nack for reading the defense and scrambling out of the pocket to create his own yardage. A dangerous player with strong legs and impressive arm strength makes it hard for defenses to make stops.