| The Detroit News
Justin Rogers, Rod Beard, John Niyo and Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News predict the outcome of Sunday’s Lions road game against the Panthers (Fox/760).
►Justin Rogers: This main narrative surrounding this game has become who isn’t playing. The Panthers are expected to be without star running back Christian McCaffrey and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, while the Lions might be down their top two offensive weapons in Kenny Golladay and D’Andre Swift. Oh, yeah, and Matthew Stafford’s thumb on his throwing hand is jacked up. Despite all that, the Lions should still have enough to pull this one out, get back to .500, and, gulp, within one game of the final playoff spot in the NFC. Lions 25, Panthers 19
►Rod Beard: The Lions face a beat-up Panthers squad that will be without Christian McCaffrey, so the offense should be easier to stop. More often than not, the problems start with the Lions and not their opponents, so if they can avoid turnovers and play solid in all three phases, they should get a needed win to stay in the playoff race. Lions 27, Panthers 21
►John Niyo: Both quarterbacks were limited by injuries this week, but the Lions could get Kenny Golladay back to add another downfield threat. Meanwhile, the Panthers’ offense won’t have Christian McCaffrey to torture Detroit’s defense. That should be enough to win another road game against a bad team. Lions 27, Panthers 20
►Bob Wojnowski: If Matthew Stafford is good to go with his damaged thumb, it comes down to Carolina’s Teddy Bridgewater and his injured knee. The Lions have gotten some breaks to get to 4-5, and the absence of Carolina star Christian McCaffrey is another big one. To take advantage, they must exploit the Panthers’ suspect run defense, whether with D’Andre Swift, Adrian Peterson or Kerryon Johnson. This is the game that determines whether the Lions have a shot at anything or are just pretending. With Stafford gutting it out, and the possible return of Kenny Golladay, they keep longshot possibilities alive. Lions 23, Panthers 20