Detroit Lions predictions vs. Carolina Panthers: Who wins and why

Detroit Free Press

Shawn Windsor

Carlos Monarrez

Dave Birkett

Marlowe Alter
| Detroit Free Press

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Free Press sports writers make their predictions for the Detroit Lions game at the Carolina Panthers on Sunday (1 p.m., Fox).

The Lions (4-5) still hold a small chance at a playoff berth, though their December schedule is daunting. They are missing key weapons at running back and receiver, and Matthew Stafford has an injured thumb.

The Panthers (3-7) are similarly beat-up with Teddy Bridgewater (knee) unlikely to start. Carolina’s backups P.J. Walker and Will Grier split reps this week in practice. The Panthers have been competitive under first-year coach Matt Rhule, but the defense doesn’t pressure the quarterback and they’ll be without their top cornerback, Donte Jackson. — Marlowe Alter

Let’s get to the picks:

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Carlos Monarrez

With all the uncertainty over Matthew Stafford,  and Teddy Bridgewater, this game resembles more of a M*A*S*H unit than a football game. That means it just may come down to who’s left standing and we all get to see the Chase Daniel vs. P.J. Walker showdown we’ve been waiting for. My money’s on the better offense, but not by much. Pick: Lions 28, Panthers 20 

Dave Birkett

The Panthers remind me a lot of the Dolphins last year. They are a well-coached team that, even with a 3-7 record, has outperformed their talent level. If Teddy Bridgewater ends up playing, I could see him willing Carolina to victory. But with P.J. Walker or Will Grier at quarterback, no Christian McCaffrey and few playmakers a on defense, I don’t know how the Panthers win. Like Washington last week and Jacksonville last month, the Lions have a superior roster. D’Andre Swift’s absence is a blow, and there’s always the chance Matthew Stafford’s thumb is worse than he’s has let on. But as long as he is playing and the Lions don’t implode with turnovers, they should enter Thanksgiving on a two-game winning streak. Pick: Lions 27, Panthers 21

Shawn Windsor

Both teams’ quarterbacks are questionable, though likely to play. Both are missing starting running backs. The Lions, however, are also missing Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola. That’s too much against a Carolina team that has been competitive. Pick: Panthers 23, Lions 19

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