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Eagles beat writers make their predictions for the Panthers game in Week 5: Will the losing streak end?

The Eagles have lost three straight games and now head on the road to face the Carolina Panthers.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts runs with the football against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, October 3, 2021 in Philadelphia.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts runs with the football against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, October 3, 2021 in Philadelphia.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The Eagles will play Sunday in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers.

Here are the game predictions from the Eagles beat writers for Week 5.

Jeff McLane

This is a game the Eagles can win. I thought that before the season when I made my predictions, and my opinion hasn’t changed, although I do believe the 3-1 Panthers to be the better team. But I’ve stuck with my preseason picks so far and have yet to be proven wrong, so why not try it a fifth time?

Nick Sirianni, obviously, needs several factors to go his way if he’s to escape Charlotte with his second victory. For one, he needs Christian McCaffrey to not play. The Panthers running back returned to practice this week after missing two games with a hamstring strain, but he’s questionable for Sunday. Sirianni needs his O-line to hold up against a better defensive line, and with Lane Johnson out another week, that may be easier said than done.

And, thirdly, the Eagles coach needs Jonathan Gannon’s defense to play more like it did in the first two games rather than the latter two. There should be natural improvement going up against quarterback Sam Darnold as opposed to Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott. But Darnold has looked better in Joe Brady’s offense than he did with the Jets, and has more weapons (see: receiver D.J. Moore), even if McCaffrey is out.

All told, it’s a lot to ask of the Eagles, but last week’s offensive game plan, and the effort of Jalen Hurts, was encouraging. Sirianni can scheme a competent offense, although his game management and his team have been sloppy. And I’m not selling stock on Gannon yet. He needs to be more creative, but some of his schematic choices are partly forced by Howie Roseman’s multiple personnel errors. I don’t know how much I believe in this pick, but if the Eagles lose, all bets are off.

Prediction: Eagles 23, Panthers 20

EJ Smith

The Panthers are probably a little worse than their 3-1 record might suggest, but can the Eagles actually beat them?

I think so, but I wouldn’t count on it. Carolina’s got a young, athletic defense orchestrated by Matt Rhule and former Temple defensive coordinator Phil Snow. The Panthers have the second-best pass rush, according to ESPN’s pass-rush win rate, and they’re fourth in defensive efficiency, according to Football Outsider’s defense-adjusted value over average.

The Eagles’ offensive performance last week, a few red-zone penalties aside, was promising, but this Carolina defense is probably the best the Eagles have seen this season. Even with rookie cornerback Jaycee Horn out for the foreseeable future and recently acquired corner Stephon Gilmore not available until Week 7, there’s no guarantee the offense can repeat its performance from last weekend against a much better defense.

It’s hard to tell if Jonathan Gannon and his defense are going through a rough patch, or if the last two weeks are a sign of things to come. The Eagles’ zone-heavy scheme seems exploitable and vanilla at times. The receiving combo of D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson will test the secondary. If Christian McCaffrey is healthy enough to play, the Eagles could be in trouble. If not, they’ll still have to prove they can contain a running game focused on Chuba Hubbard.

That said, I don’t expect this game to be a blowout. The Eagles will have the sense of urgency of a team trying to snap a three-game losing streak, especially with a short week looming before facing the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers.

The Eagles defense struggled against two of the league’s best offenses; it’s easy to see how it could rebound against a lesser Carolina group. I just don’t know if the offense can succeed against such a solid defense.

Prediction: Panthers 27, Eagles 21

» READ MORE: Jonathan Gannon’s defense is reeling, but his frustration lies with himself, not his Eagles players

Josh Tolentino

We’re one month into the regular season, and there’s no hiding that the Eagles are one of the most undisciplined teams in the NFL. They’ve committed the most penalties, 44, including a league-worst 15 pre-snap penalties. The problems don’t end there, either. After stonewalling the Falcons and 49ers in Weeks 1 and 2, the defense gave up a combined 83 points over the last two games.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts looked better in his last start, against a sloppy Chiefs defense, but the opposition gets tougher this weekend. The Panthers rank third in the league in total defense with just 251.5 yards allowed per game. Carolina is even better at defending the passing game; the Panthers rank second with 156.5 passing yards allowed per game. The Panthers are dealing with injuries to impact players on both sides, including running back Christian McCaffrey, linebacker Shaq Thompson, and cornerback Jaycee Horn, but they’ve proven to be a sound bunch even with key absences.

The Eagles kept things interesting against the Chiefs until late in the second half, which leads to the belief they’re capable of upsetting the Panthers on the road. But that confidence is struck in the gut when you look back at the team’s woes in the red zone. Until first-year coach Nick Sirianni can effectively incorporate running back Miles Sanders into his game plan and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon can show adjustments in the heat of battle, the safe pick will continue to be the opposition.

Prediction: Panthers 27, Eagles 24