Carolina Makes Changes in Hopes of Breaking Losing Streak vs. Colts

The Carolina Panthers will travel to Indianapolis, Ind., on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, to face the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Panthers lead the all-time series, 5-1, and have won the last two in a row, but the Colts are highly favored to win this match up with a 70.2 percent win probability. This isn’t very surprising considering the Panthers have lost six games in a row and as a result, interim head coach Perry Fewell announced Thursday that rookie backup quarterback Will Grier would start against the Colts on Sunday.

Carolina Panthers Notables

Kyle Allen completed 278 of 448 passes for 3,027 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions for an 80.6 rating prior to his benching. Christian McCaffrey, who has virtually carried the offense this season, has recorded 265 carries for 1,307 yards and 14 touchdowns, while D.J. Moore leads the team with 86 receptions for 1,174 yards and four scores. Mario Addison has led the Panthers all year in sacks and has nine-and-a-half posted this season. Rookie kicker Joey Slye has kicked 30 of 34 extra points and 22 of 29 field goals.

Miscellaneous Notes

Grier, the Panthers’ third-round draft from West Virginia University, will play in his first regular-season game after competing with Allen for the backup spot over the summer. After Cam Newton was injured, Allen moved into the starting position and Grier into the backup spot. In his first press conference Thursday, he expressed his eagerness and gratitude for the opportunity.

McCaffrey has recorded six career games with 75 or more rushing and 75 or more receiving yards, which ties him for the third-most in league history. He is the second running back in NFL history with 90 or more receptions in consecutive seasons. McCaffrey also holds the franchise record 2,121 scrimmage yards and will be going for his seventh game on the road with a rushing touchdown.

Moore recorded his fourth 100-yard game of 2019 last week and is the first Carolina wide receiver since Steve Smith, Sr. in 2005 to record more than 85 receptions and 1,100 or more yards in a single season. Curtis Samuel posted his sixth receiving touchdown of the season last week and has had a touchdown catch in the last two of three games.

Luke Kuechly is in his fifth consecutive season in which he posted at least 130 tackles and is tied for third in the league with 131 tackles so far this season. In other defensive notes, Bruce Irvin has recorded a sack in the last three of four games and Donte Jackson has six pass deflections and two interceptions in five road games this season.

Indianapolis Colts Notables

The Colts also enter Week 16 after a loss in Week 15 to the New Orleans Saints, 34-7, with a 6-8 losing season. Jacoby Brissett has completed 246 of 395 passes for 2,661 yards, 18 touchdowns, and six interceptions for a 90.9 rating. Marion Mack leads the Colts with 216 carries for 919 yards and five touchdowns while Zach Pascal has 39 receptions for 591 yards and five touchdowns, as well. Justin Houston leads the team with nine sacks and Darius Leonard has four interceptions for the team lead. Rookie Chase McLaughlin has connected on all four of his extra point attempts and two of three field goals since he took over for Adam Vinatieri.

Miscellaneous Notes 

Mack needs 81 rushing yards to achieve his first career 1,000-plus-yard season.

T.Y. Hilton has recorded five or more receiving touchdowns in each of the seven seasons since he joined the league in 2012 and is tied for the most along with Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas.

Darius Leonard is tied for the lead in the league among linebackers with four interceptions this season and had a team-high 12 tackles last week.

Rock Ya-Sin posted a career-high ten tackles and a tackle for loss last week against the Saints.

The Colts’ hopes for any playoff contention were squashed after their loss to the Saints, so now the team will play to try and recover the season and end it at an even 8-8.

Both teams have numerous players on their injury report as most of the Panthers’ players have an illness that has hit the locker room and are questionable as of Thursday evening. Shaq Thompson was later ruled out Friday (ankle).

Indianapolis also has many players listed as questionable, and it is unlikely Denico Autrey will play as he was put in the concussion protocol during Monday night’s game.

Game Information:

Date: Sunday, Dec. 22   

Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.




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