The Detroit Lions (3-1) are coming off a huge divisional win against the Minnesota Vikings (2-2) where the defense shone. Now, they must prepare for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers (3-1) of the NFC South. Stopping Newton, Jonathon Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, and Kelvin Benjamin won’t be an easy task for the Lions defense, but it is possible.
Here are three things the Lions MUST do if they want to earn a victory over the Panthers on Sunday.
1Keep Cam Newton’s rushes to a minimal
Anyone who watches football should know that when Cam Newton takes off running, he isn’t easy to bring down. If the Lions pass rush can keep him from scrambling too much and force him to make throws, then they should have no trouble stopping the offense. The more Cam scrambles, the better chance he has to make a big play for the Panthers, so if the Lions defense can prevent him from doing that, they will be in good shape.
2Stop the Panthers on third down
The Carolina Panthers convert on third down 51.9% of the time, the best in the entire league. If the Detroit defense can find a way to stop them on third down and force Carolina to punt, the better chance the Lions will have to win this game. While stopping Cam Newton and his offense is no easy task, especially on third down, the Lions defense is good enough to where they can find a way to make Michael Palardy come onto the field and punt the ball back to Detroit, which in result gives Matthew Stafford and his offense another opportunity to put points up on the board.
3Shut down Devin Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin
Devin Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin, the team’s leaders in receiving yards, have been solid this year for Carolina. Benjamin has 13 receptions for 214 yards, while Funchess has 17 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers may not be great compared to other players around the league, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a threat. If corners Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson can shut those two receivers down, then the Lions take away two huge targets for Newton and can focus more on guys like Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, and of course, Cam Newton himself.