NFC North-leading Lions alone in 1st place for first time since 2017, hosting winless Panthers

Thu, Oct 5, 2023
NFL News (AP)

NFC North-leading Lions alone in 1st place for first time since 2017, hosting winless Panthers

CAROLINA (0-4) at DETROIT (3-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, FOX

OPENING LINE: Lions by 9 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Panthers 0-3-1, Lions 3-1

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SERIES RECORD: Panthers lead 8-3.

LAST MEETING: Panthers beat Lions 37-23 on Dec. 24, 2022, in Carolina.

LAST WEEK: Panthers lost to Vikings 21-13 at home; Lions beat Packers 34-20 on road.

PANTHERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (25), RUSH (22), PASS (23), SCORING (24)

PANTHERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (14, RUSH (27), PASS (6), SCORING (T-25)

LIONS OFFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (10), PASS (8), SCORING (8)

LIONS DEFENSE: OVERALL (4), RUSH (1), PASS (18), SCORING (13)

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Panthers minus-1; Lions minus-2.

PANTHERS PLAYER TO WATCH: Rookie QB Bryce Young. The No. 1 pick in the draft has two TD passes, two INTs and two lost fumbles. He's averaging fewer than 168 yards passing and has just two completions of 20-plus yards.

LIONS PLAYER TO WATCH: DE Aidan Hutchinson. He is tied for the league lead with 27 pressures, tied for second in the NFL with 19 hurries and has 3 1/2 sacks over the past two games after no sacks in the first two games.

KEY MATCHUP: Young vs. Detroit's defense. The Panthers have scored just two TDs in 12 quarters with Young, who has started three games. They've allowed Young to be sacked 11 times, including five in the second half against Minnesota. The Lions, who are leading the league in run defense, have eight players with at least one sack and a total of 13 sacks.

KEY INJURIES: The Panthers might miss defensive starters CB Donte Jackson (shoulder) and S Xavier Woods (hamstring) in addition to having LB Shaq Thompson and CB Jaycee Horn on injured reserve. ... G Austin Corbett, who tore a knee ligament in the last game of 2022, was cleared to practice this week. ... Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (abdomen) did not practice Wednesday. ... Veteran DB Emmanuel Moseley (knee/hamstring) may make his season debut Sunday, possibly playing in place of rookie Brian Branch (ankle). ... G Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) and S Kerby Joseph (hip) returned to practice after being inactive the previous two games.

SERIES NOTES: With a chance to move into playoff position last season, the Lions lost by two TDs and allowed Carolina to have a franchise-record 570 yards - including 320 rushing - in one of two losses over the final 10 games. ... The Panthers have won two straight, four of five and eight of the past 10 in the series.

STATS AND STUFF: The Panthers are 29-55 under team owner David Tepper, who purchased the team in 2018. ... The 1992 Chargers are the only team - out of 164 in the Super Bowl era - to start 0-4 and make the playoffs. ... RB Miles Sanders has been held to 158 yards rushing in four starts and is averaging 2.9 yards per carry. ... WR Terrace Marshall is coming off a career-high nine catches for 56 yards last week. ... WR DJ Chark, who played in Detroit last season, has seven catches for 129 yards and a TD. ... S Sam Franklin had a 99-yard interception return for a TD last week. ... K Eddy Pineiro has made 27 of his past 28 field-goal attempts going back to last season. ... The NFC North-leading Lions are in first place for the first time since Week 2 in 2017. ... WR Jameson Williams is eligible to return two weeks sooner than expected after serving four games of what was originally a six-game NFL suspension. ... He played in one preseason game in August, catching two passes for 36 yards, before he had a hamstring injury that ended his training camp on Aug. 17. ... WR Josh Reynolds has 12 catches, all for first downs. ... Detroit has given up a league-low 243 yards rushing, its lowest total through four games since at least 1945. ... LB Alex Anzalone is the first player to have five-plus tackles in 21 straight games since at least 2000.

FANTASY TIP: Lions RB David Montgomery has run for five TDs, tied with Billy Sims (1980) for the most in a player's first three games with the franchise. After missing one game with a thigh bruise, the former Bears standout returned and had 141 yards of offense and three TDs against the Packers.

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