Scott Fowler

Panthers, Eagles and the fight for the NFC: My prediction

Who would have thought when the NFL season began that this Thursday night game would be – at least temporarily – for bragging rights in the NFC?

Carolina and Philadelphia both enter the game with 4-1 records, which means they are tied with Green Bay for the best record in the conference at the moment. Someone will get to five wins Thursday night. This 8:25 p.m. game also could be very important in playoff tiebreaker scenarios.

▪  Even if you will be at the game, I would advise ardent Panthers fans to record it simply to see what Tony Romo will say as the color analyst. Romo has proven to be a quick study and an expert “pre-snap” predictor of plays. It will be interesting to see how he fares trying to diagnose Carolina’s offense as he broadcasts a Panthers game for the first time.

▪  Third down will be essential for Carolina’s defense. The Eagles have converted an NFL-high 53.4 percent of the time on third down.

▪  I asked Carolina cornerback James Bradberry what he thought about Philadelphia receiver Nelson Agholor’s play on Sunday in which Agolor first faked an Arizona defensive back nearly out of his shoes after catching the ball and then fell backward into the end zone for a 72-yard TD.

“Me as a spectator?” Bradberry said. “That was nice. I enjoyed it. If that was me on the field, I would have felt a little disrespected.”

▪ I wrote a full column about the Sam Mills documentary that premieres this week on NFL Network – it is well worth your time. The easiest way to record it for watching later is set your DVR for 9 p.m. Friday on NFL Network.

But Mills isn’t the only former player getting some love from NFL Network this week. At some point during Thursday’s pregame show from 6-7:30 p.m., NFL Network will air a profile of Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme and his current life training and owning thoroughbred horses in Louisiana. 

▪  Prediction time. I correctly pegged Carolina to win in a slight upset over Detroit last week to move my record to a modest 3-2 on the season.

This week I’m picking another upset – but this time the Panthers are the team that is slightly favored at home. I believe the Eagles are pretty darn good and remain unconvinced by the Carolina secondary.

My prediction: Philadelphia 24, Carolina 23.

Fowler: 704-358-5140; Twitter: @scott_fowler

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