The Carolina Panthers are looking to stay in playoff contention despite a season that has seen them change coaches and bounce between quarterbacks. Carolina is 3-7, but a win over Atlanta last Thursday and an NFC that is woefully short on good teams mean that the Panthers are hanging in the playoff race.
The Baltimore Ravens are firmly in the AFC playoff mix. Winners of 3 straight, the Ravens are in first place in the AFC North and looking to establish themselves as one of the teams to beat in the conference.
With Buffalo and the Chiefs both looking vulnerable in recent weeks, the Ravens could emerge as the class of the AFC.
Carolina Panthers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, November 20, 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium
Injury and poor play have caused the Panthers to cycle through quarterbacks this season, with Baker Mayfield, P.J. Walker, and Jacob Eason all seeing time at the position, and Sam Darnold working to get healthy enough to join the crowded scene.
The Panthers will be making another change this week as longtime backup Walker, who has been solid as a starter after Mayfield went down against the Falcons.
Interim coach Steve Wilks said Walker suffered a high ankle sprain in the Atlanta game, but played through it. He won’t be available in the short term, and Mayfield will return to the starting job he won in training camp after being acquired in the offseason.
His backup will be Darnold, who hasn’t played yet this season after starting the year on injured reserve with his own high ankle sprain.
Mayfield struggled in his time as a starter and was on the verge of losing his job due to performance when he suffered a high ankle sprain as well. Prior to the injury, he was the NFL’s lowest-rated passer and had the league’s worst completion percentage.
Blossomed Offensive After McCaffrey's Trade
The offense he takes over now is very different from the one he led to start the year. Gone is All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey, traded in what appeared to be an early attempt to the tank.
Since McCaffrey’s departure, however, the Panthers’ running game has blossomed, with longtime backup D’Onta Foreman shining in his first extended run as the top option.
The Panthers were averaging 90.3 rushing yards a game with McCaffrey on the roster, 26th best in the league. Since the trade, they’ve jumped to 159.5 yards, which ranks No. 6.
After getting just 12 carries for 35 yards in the first 6 games, Foreman has rushed for 118 or more in 3 of the last 4 games and has 389 yards and 4 scores in the last month.
On defense, the Panthers will need to replace cornerback Donte Jackson, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the last game.
Rested and Ready
The Ravens have won 3 straight, including 2 on the road, and had a bye last week to rest and recover for the last month and a half of the season. The rest certainly did the team well, as coach John Harbaugh said he expects several injured Ravens to return for the Panthers game.
Tight end Mark Andrews missed the last game with knee and shoulder problems and running back Gus Edwards was out with a bad hamstring. Both have returned to practice.
“You talk to Mark, he sounds very positive – obviously – about it, and the trainers, as well," Harbaugh said. "We'll see how it progresses throughout the rest of the week. It'll be the same answer for Gus.”
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson suffered an injury in that game against the Saints and missed the second half, and edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul has been slowed by an ankle injury, but they both returned to practice already and were given day-to-day status by Harbaugh.
The team got back linebacker Tyus Bowser, who played his first game of the year against New Orleans after missing the start of the season with an Achilles injury. He showed no signs of rust and should be back to 100 percent for a Ravens defense that had one of its best outings of the year.
The Panthers have been wildly inconsistent all year, and a strong outing against the Falcons last time out could mean that the team is due to lay another egg.
Regardless of how Mayfield and the Panthers perform, they look on paper like they’ll be outclassed against Lamar Jackson, and the Ravens' offense, as well as a Baltimore defense that seems to be peaking.
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