Thanks to Jaxon over at SB Nation’s Panthers blog, Cat Scratch Reader, for answering our Chiefs-Panthers questions.
The Chiefs will want to run the ball. Can they do this on the Panthers defense?
CSR: The Chiefs will have a hard time running on the Panthers with any consistency. They are first in the NFL allowing only 3.3 yards per rush and third in yards per game (77.5). Focus on inside traps and runs against the edges as the Panthers are very fast to the edge. Short passes and screens to the RB will also work from time to time but they have to be well executed.
Will the Chiefs be able to get pressure on Cam Newton?
CSR: I would be surprised if they didn’t as most teams have been able to. They are especially weak on the edges, especially since Michael Oher has been out. Whoever lines up on LT Mike Remmers should have a big game. Second year RT Darryl Williams has been improving but is also a liability against the speed rush. Outside of Aaron Donald last week, the Panthers have been pretty solid up the middle provided Ryan Kalil returns. If he misses another game that also favors the Chiefs.
Who do the Chiefs have to stop in the Panthers passing game?
CSR: While that answer always includes TE Greg Olsen we’ve seen WR Kelvin Benjamin take a step forward the past couple of games. He is really playing hard, fighting for the ball and getting extra yards. With his size he is a tough match-up for any CB. Benjamin versus Marcus Peters should be a key match-up this Sunday.
The Chiefs win with turnovers. Are the Panthers prone to turnovers?
CSR: The Panthers led the league in 2015 with a +20 turnover margin on the season but have been dreadful in 2016 (-6). I wish I had an answer for that but I would guess it starts with getting pressure on the QB. The Panthers got very little pressure on the QB in their 1-5 start (12 sacks) but have really turned it up the past two games (12 sacks). So I see this as a key to the Panthers defense keeping the Chiefs offense in check. Being at home helps a lot too as this defense really responds to the home crowd.
What's your score prediction?
CSR: I’m feeling another defensive game and given Vegas favors the Panthers by 3 I’m going to say Panthers 20 Chiefs 17