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Panthers Take the Prime Time Stage

Sharon Thorsland
November 13, 2017 - 8:05 am

It's a prime time match-up at Bank of America Stadium on Monday, as the Panthers and their top-ranked defense take on the Miami Dolphins.  

Kick-off is set for 8:25 on WBT. 

After two straight weeks of facing some of the NFL's most potent offenses, the Panthers will face a Dolphins team that ranks last in the league in scoring and next to last in total offense.  And they're on a prime time losing streak - the Dolphins lost to the Ravens on Thursday night football and to the Raiders last week on Sunday night. 

That dropped them to 4-4 on the season, while the Panthers are sitting at 6-3 after a pair of impressive division wins.

The Dolphins lost starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a season ending injury, so they brought in former Bears QB Jay Cutler to run the offense, which has been inconsistent to say the least.  Cutler is playing with cracked ribs, but has racked up over 1300 passing yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions.  He'll have his hands full with the Panthers defense, which has been dominant recently, and ranks 2nd in the NFL with 29 sacks.  But no one is overlooking Cutler or his talented receivers. 

He's got three that are outstanding in Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry, Devante Parker and former Saint Kenny Stills.  They've combined for nearly 1100 yards and nine touchdowns and have impressed Panther linebacker Luke Kuechly.  "I think Jarvis Landry's really good," said Kuechly.  "He's explosive, he's quick, he's physical.  Kenny Stills has good vertical speed and Devante Parker keeps getting better."

Unfortunately for the Dolphins, the running attack hasn't been near as impressive as the receivers.  They're managing just over 77 rush yards a game, that's 30th in the league. 

So the Dolphins traded away their best running back, sending Jay Ajayi to the Eagles.  That leaves the 1-2 punch of Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake, who actually did a pretty good job last week against the Raiders, racking up 165 combined yards and a touchdown.  Of course, the Panthers present a whole new set of problems for them, allowing just 78 rushing yards a game, that's 2nd in the NFL. 

The Dolphins defense might not be quite as impressive as the Panthers, but they're pretty darn good, boasting the NFL's 10th ranked unit.  They're 7th against the run, allowing just 94 yards a contest.  The front seven is outstanding, starting with All-Pro defensive end Cameron Wake.  He teams with defensive tackle and five-time Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh,who has 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on the season.  The Dolphins added longtime Steeler and Pro Bowl linebacker Lawrence Timmons, and anchoring the secondary is Pro Bowl safety Reshard Jones, who leads the team in tackles and has two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a touchdown!  "Very talented, probably one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL," said Panther receiver Russell Shepard.  "Active linebackers, talented secondary in Jones and some young corners that can do a lot of different things.  So offensively we've got our hands full."

But Shepard and the Panthers will be ready - in spite of Miami's recent struggles, they know how dangerous this Dolphins team can be.  "They're hungry, they're 4-4, they still have the opportunity to make it into the playoffs," said Panther defensive end Wes Horton.  "They're going to come in and give us their best shot.  Because every team from here on out is going to be gunning for us."

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