Tom Sorensen

Eagles’ Carson Wentz is immensely popular in Fargo, but can he win in BofA? Well ...

Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly's impressions of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz

Following practice on Wednesday, Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was asked for his thoughts on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
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Following practice on Wednesday, Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was asked for his thoughts on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

I was in Fargo, N.D., for a wedding last year and Carson Wentz is still more popular there than he is in Philadelphia. But Philadelphia is catching up.

Wentz was born in Raleigh. What if he had struck around? Perhaps he would have gone to N.C. State instead of N.D. State and the Wolfpack wouldn’t have had to wait until this season to become so good.

Wentz and his family left Raleigh when he was 3-years-old – the city isn’t for everybody, Amazon – and he became a star at Century High in Bismarck, N.D. He stayed home and went to Fargo and North Dakota State.

If you’re in neighborhood, incidentally, I recommend Fargo. Good-looking town, on the Red River, lots of good restaurants and bars and, OK, the climate can be a tad brisk.

At N.D. State, Wentz was just better than the competition. That’s one reason fans liked him. Another is that they knew him. He was on the field, on campus, in class.

Did they know how good Wentz would be in only his second NFL season? Nah. They figured he’d be better.

On Thursday at Bank of America Stadium he is going to have to be very good for the Eagles to win. You’ve seen him. He makes the occasional unfathomable mistake on one play and a brilliant throw on the next. He’s fearless, and he’s clutch. Watch his third and 19 throw last week to Nelson Agholor, probably the most entertaining play of the season.

Wentz steps up in the pocket, throws high to Agholor down the left side. Agholor, who has a step on Budda Baker, reaches for the ball and moves as if he’s going to spin right. But it’s a half spin, a fake spin. He moves left and he’s free, dramatically falling to the end zone.

So if Wentz is the exciting and occasionally erratic second-year quarterback, what’s Newton? He’s the exciting veteran quarterback who in road victories against the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions the past two weeks has strung together two of the best games of his career.

Newton is moving and throwing and running and leading, smiling and laughing. He’s having fun and so are Carolina fans.

On Thursday we get, in downtown Charlotte, a nationally televised game between two 4-1 teams with compelling quarterbacks.

Predictable prediction: The team with the better quarterback wins.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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