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Sports

Thursday Night Football Preview: Carolina Panthers @ Pittsburgh Steelers

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Thursday Night Football Preview: Carolina Panthers @ Pittsburgh Steelers

2018-11-07 19:57:571 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. (Image Source: Will Newton/Getty Images)

Here’s a look at the matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Carolina Panthers:

Series: Steelers lead 5-1; Streak: Steelers have won the past five; Last Meeting: Steelers 37, Titans 19 (09.21.14)

Time: 8:20 PM ET; TV: FOX/NFLN/Amazon (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews)

Where They Stand:

With four-straight wins, the Pittsburgh Steelers are on top of the AFC North with a half-game lead. Their +39 point-differential is ninth in the NFL, just behind the Carolina Panthers who are +40. At 6-2, the Panthers have the third-best record in the NFC, one game behind the New Orleans Saints in the South. Carolina has won three-straight coming into Thursday night, so someone’s streak is coming to an end.

When the Panthers Have the Ball:

In his past three games, quarterback Cam Newton has thrown multiple touchdowns with a passer rating of 100 or better. In two interconference games this season, Newton has thrown at least two TD passes with a rushing score and a 100-plus rating in each game. The Heisman Trophy winner has also flourished on the road with 879 yards, seven TDs (2 INTs), and a 100.2 rating in his past three away from home. There’s no shortage of versatile pieces around Newton. Greg Olsen is one of three tight ends in the NFL with at least 450 receptions and 5,500 receiving yards since 2011, while Christian McCaffrey is second among running backs with 129 catches since 2017. McCaffrey posted 157 scrimmage yards last week and Curtis Samuel is coming off his first multi-TD game.

Coming on for Pittsburgh’s pass rush is second-year edge rusher T.J. Watt who has five tackles for loss and four sacks in his past four games. Fellow outside linebacker Bud Dupree has recorded a TFL in both of his games against the NFC this season. His 3.5 sacks on the season are second to Watt’s seven. Their leading tacklers are inside linebackers Jon Bostic (46) and Vince Williams (45). An all-round defender, Bostic has 2.5 sacks, four tackles for loss, and three passes defensed. The team leader in PDs is cornerback Joe Haden with nine.

When the Steelers Have the Ball:

While Le’Veon Bell remains on the outside looking in, the Steelers continue to have one of the NFL’s most productive set of triplets thanks to the emergence of James Conner. His four games with 100-plus rushing yards and at least 50 receiving yards are a new NFL single-season record. He’s also become the first player in franchise history with 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns through eight games. He’s been a monster at home with 397 scrimmage yards in his past two games at Heinz Field. The mainstay in the Steel City is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another last week. He’s posted a rating of 99 or better in seven of his past nine home games. Wide out Antonio Brown has eight touchdown grabs in his past six games, while JuJu Smith-Schuster is averaging 114.3 yards in his past three against the NFC.

The quarterback of Carolina’s defense is linebacker Luke Kuechly, who has two interceptions and a fumble recovery in his past four interconference games. His 64 tackles and eight tackles for loss leads the Panthers. Tackle Kawann Short also has eight tackles for loss while defensive end Mario Addison (questionable) has burst through for 7.5 sacks this season, including a career-high three sacks with a forced fumble last week. Cornerback Donte Jackson had a pick last week to give him four on the season, which is tied for the league lead and tops all rookies. Safety Mike Adams has three INTs, while corner James Bradberry has a team-high nine passes defensed.

Score: Steelers 27, Panthers 24

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.

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