Eagles vs. Panthers: NFL experts make Week 5 picks
Nick Sirianni, obviously, needs several factors to go his way if he’s to escape Charlotte with his second victory. For one, he needs Christian McCaffrey to not play. The Panthers running back returned to practice this week after missing two games with a hamstring strain, but he’s questionable for Sunday. Sirianni needs his O-line to hold up against a better defensive line, and if tackles Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson are out another week, that may be easier said than done.
And, thirdly, the Eagles coach needs Jonathan Gannon’s defense to play more like it did in the first two games rather than the latter two. There should be natural improvement going up against quarterback Sam Darnold as opposed to Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott. But Darnold has looked better in Joe Brady’s offense than he did with the Jets, and has more weapons (see: receiver D.J. Moore), even if McCaffrey is out.
All told, it’s a lot to ask of the Eagles, but last week’s offensive game plan, and the effort of Jalen Hurts, was encouraging. Sirianni can scheme a competent offense, although his game management and his team have been sloppy. And I’m not selling stock on Gannon yet. He needs to be more creative, but some of his schematic choices are partly forced by Howie Roseman’s multiple personnel errors. I don’t know how much I believe in this pick, but if the Eagles lose, all bets are off.