There are a lot of big games taking place in Week 8 with one of them being the Carolina Panthers and the San Francisco 49ers going head to head. If the season ended today, the 49ers would have the top seed in the playoffs but the Panthers would be left at home.
The NFC is ultra-competitive and getting into the playoffs is going to be tough, which makes every game more important. The Panthers don’t want to fall farther out of the playoffs, so this needs to be treated as a must-win game for them. So why can the Panthers pull the big upset?
Let’s break down four reasons the Panthers will defeat the 49ers.
4. Jimmy G
Jimmy Garoppolo has had a decent start to the season and has led his team to a perfect record, but the quarterback actually hasn’t looked that good. The 49ers are averaging only 214.5 yards per game through the air, which is 25th in football. In his last two games, he has thrown zero touchdowns and two interceptions. The interceptions have been an issue since training camp and at some point, they are going to catch up and hurt the 49ers. Why won’t it be this week?
3. Riverboat Ron
Although Ron Rivera hasn’t lived up to his nickname this season as much, in key games he isn’t afraid to gamble and usually, it works out. The Panthers have talked about how important this game is, and coming off the bye Riverboat Ron has had plenty of time to figure out a winning game plan.
In this game, there should be a couple of trick plays that are up his sleeves that the 49ers won’t be ready for. Those trick plays could be enough to help lead this team to the upset.
2. Kyle Allen
Kyle Allen’s stats don’t make him look like a world-beater, but there is one thing you can’t take away from this guy, he is a winner. After losing the first two games of the season with Cam Newton under center, Allen has taken over and won four straight games. The first two games were on the road and the Panthers were underdogs in both games. All Allen did in both of those games was lead the Panthers to a win, with one of those coming against a really good Houston Texans squad.
Even if the stats don’t pop, when the Panthers need a key play Allen seems to make them.
1. Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffrey is one of the best all-around running backs in the NFL and against a very good defense he is going to be the X-Factor. The Panthers are super creative in getting McCaffrey the ball no matter how many eyes are on him.
All the eyes on him also open up the rest of the passing game, which is where Kyle Allen making the big plays will come in handy.
If the 49ers can slow down McCaffrey, it’s going to be because other guys are getting the ball and either way it’s a big positive for the Panthers.