“In my mind, I’m going to Carolina” is how James Taylor starts off one of his most iconic hits, “Carolina in my mind.” Eagles fans probably felt the same way about midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s 40-32 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Carrying a three game losing streak with them, the Philadelphia Eagles will head to Bank of America Stadium to face the 3-1 Carolina Panthers. It will be another tough test for this Eagles team after getting shellacked the past two weeks. 

Kansas City thumped the Eagles. The Eagles played better than they did against Dallas, but Kansas City was simply a more formidable foe.  Tyreek Hill absolutely scorched the Eagles defense, nabbing 11 receptions for 186 yards and 3 touchdowns. Patrick Mahomes was just as dominant completing 24 of 30 passes for 278 yards and 5 touchdown passes.

The game was not as close as the 12-point deficit makes it sound. After the Eagles took a brief 10-7 lead in the first quarter, the Chiefs took over and never looked back. They opened up a 42-23 lead before the Eagles scored a garbage time touchdown at the end of the game. Former Eagles coach Andy Reid’s Chiefs team is an offensive juggernaut; they showed it on Sunday.

Read More–Dallas game recap and Chiefs preview

Jalen Hurts

Hurts actually played well on Sunday and had his best game as a professional so far. He finished 32 of 48 for nearly 400 yards passing (387 yards). He threw two touchdown passes and had zero interceptions. He had some misses on some passes on what could have been big plays, but otherwise did a good job. It was encouraging to see after his struggles the past two weeks. In only his 8th career start, Hurts went up against a Super Bowl-caliber defense and put up nearly 400 yards. Not too bad. Grade: B+

DeVonta Smith Homecoming Party

After struggling the past two weeks, rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith had his best game as a professional,  hauling in 7 receptions for 122 yards. He should have had another reception and a touchdown, but it was called back due to a penalty. 

It was good to see Smith break out of his slump. It was even better that he did it at Lincoln Financial Field. Eagles fans must remember that both Smith and Hurts are still young in their NFL careers. . The Eagles are going to take their lumps this year; it’s part of the process of growing as players and as a team. Grade: B+

Offensive Line

Four games into the season and already the offensive line is completely decimated by injuries. Lane Johnson was a surprise scratch on Sunday and had to miss the game due to “personal reasons.” As of 10/5, no update has been provided as to what those reasons were.

Considering the injuries, the offensive line did not play that poorly. They gave up three sacks, but for the most part, held their own. Other than Jason Kelce, all of the linemen are in their second or first years. Landon Dickerson, Andre Dillard, Jake Driscoll, and Nate Herbig have all had to step in due to injuries this year.  It may hurt the Eagles a bit now, however, this playing time will be crucial to each of their development. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t pretty. But they got the job done. Grade: C+

Defense

I contemplated just renaming this section Javon Hargrave because he is the only Eagles player who consistently shows up. Hargrave had another sack this week and is the only defensive lineman that appears to have a pulse. The Eagles have suffered through back-to-back games in which the opposing team scores over 40 points.

The only positive note is that the Eagles achieved this thing called an interception for the first time this year. Eric Wilson picked off an errant Mahomes pass. It led to an Eagles field goal.

Eagles defensive coordinator John Gannon is already on the hotseat this year as his defensive unit has been mediocre even before the blowouts the past two weeks. The birds seem to be a clone of the defense last year. SSDC – same stuff, different coordinator. 

If the team has any hopes of beating the Carolina Panthers, they must improve. Darius Slay and Steven Nelson have been an underwhelming defensive back duo. The Panthers do not present the same type of challenges in the wide receiver department that Dallas and Kansas City did, but Slay and Nelson must step up their games for the Eagles to have a chance at winning. Grade: F

Nick Sirianni

In week four of the seventeen round fight analogy Sirianni likes to use, this was a TKO. The Eagles put up a fight but were overwhelmed. They could not keep up with the talent of the Chiefs. 

Questionable play calling and a lack of a running game plagued Sirianni again. However, the most important aspect of the game that hurts the Eagles are self-inflicted wounds – penalties! For a second week in a row, penalties  were momentum killers. An oft-penalized team is indicative of a non-disciplined team which typically signifies a badly coached team. This is not a good look for a rookie coach in his fourth game. 

Sirianni must figure out how to create a running game. He did it against the Falcons, and for most of the game against the 49ers, yet it has been nonexistent the past two weeks. Carolina brings one of the tougher defenses the Eagles will face this year and is going to be hungry after giving up 36 points last week to Dallas. Grade: C-

An oft-penalized team is indicative of a non-disciplined team which typically signifies a badly coached team

The 3-1 Carolina Panthers

The Eagles return to Bank of America Stadium for the first time since their Super Bowl season of 2017. Both teams have undergone significant changes since then. The Panthers now have former Temple Owls coach Matt Rhule at the helm, and former top draft pick and NY Jets quarterback Sam Darnold driving the offense..

The Panthers provide a balanced attack on offense. Megastar running back Christian McCaffrey is among the best running backs in the NFL – when he is not injured. Injuries have plagued the starting running back the past couple seasons. After missing the game against the Cowboys, the Panthers hope to have RUN CMC back on the field. If he plays, that should mean trouble for the Eagles who have had quite the problem stopping the run as of late.

A reeling Eagles team going on the road against a good Carolina team does not bode well for the Birds. Hurts and Smith improved last week as the Eagles suffered their third straight defeat. Things will be tougher for the duo this week and the Eagles will head to their fourth straight loss. There’s just not a lot to like about the Eagles in this matchup, especially on defense.

Betting Line: Eagles +4.5

Our Prediction: Panthers 27 Eagles 17

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