Cam Newton made headlines for the wrong reasons this week, but the Carolina Panthers’ star quarterback hopes to turn the narrative back to his play on Sunday. Newton and the Panthers look to keep pace in the NFC South when they visit the Detroit Lions, who are off to a strong start of their own.
Newton apologized Thursday, a day after his comment toward a female beat writer drew ire. “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like ... it’s funny,” Newton said in response to a question from Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue - a comment that Newton called “extremely degrading and disrespectful” in his apology. Now Newton hopes to turn the spotlight back on his play after shaking off an early slump to pass for 316 yards and three touchdowns and rush for 44 yards and a score in a 33-30 win at New England last week. He will have to do it against a Lions defense that is thriving on creating turnovers, as it has forced an NFL-best 11 thus far.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Lions -2.5. O/U: 42.5
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (3-1): Carolina ranks fourth in total defense and scoring defense despite having played two potent offenses the past two weeks in New Orleans and New England. After throwing three interceptions in a 34-13 loss to the Saints in Week 3, Newton snapped out of his funk last week to post a 130.8 rating, his best since the 2015 season finale. If he can stay sharp, the Panthers’ offense could be dangerous as he has a number of weapons at his disposal - including rookie all-purpose back Christian McCaffrey, who has caught 22 passes for 206 yards.
ABOUT THE LIONS (3-1): Detroit has been opportunistic on both sides of the ball, as it ranks 10th in scoring offense and fourth in scoring defense despite being 24th in total offense and 15th in total defense. Their plus-9 turnover margin has played a huge role in that, as veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford has shown a newfound maturity, throwing seven touchdown passes with only one interception. Running back Ameer Abdullah appears headed for a breakout campaign after rushing for a career-high 94 yards and a score in last week’s 14-7 triumph at Minnesota.
1. Lions K Matt Prater has made an NFL-record four field goals of 55 yards or longer this season.
2. Carolina RB Jonathan Stewart (6,868 yards) became the franchise’s all-time leading rusher last week, surpassing DeAngelo Williams.
3. The Panthers have won five of the last six meetings, including a 24-7 home victory in the most recent clash in 2014.
PREDICTION: Lions 23, Panthers 20