The Jags are on the road again to face a dynamic NFC opponent. The Carolina Panthers have found a spark on offense to support their steady defense. Both opponents are 2-2 and coming off Week 4 wins.
Minshew Magic IS HERE TO STAY and I'm all for it. The rookie QB has been electric so far this season to compliment Sacksonville. On the flip side, newcomer QB Kyle Allen has taken over for an injured Cam Newton and has been successful in previous weeks, but he hasn't had to face DUUUVAL yet. The two teams go head-to-head this Sunday at 1:00pm ET in Bank of America Stadium.
This is a match-up you'll want to pay close attention to - Myles Jack against Christian McCaffrey. There's no doubt about it, two of the best at their position in the game. In fact, Christian McCaffrey is in the early MVP conversation. However, stop McCaffrey - stop the Panthers. And who's the second level of defense against the Panthers' 22? You got it, Myles Jack.
Jack is the middle linebacker for this Jags defense. He had an outstanding 2018 and is picking up right where he left off so far this season. However, he's facing his biggest challenge of the season in McCaffrey. In fact, defensive coordinator Todd Wash said, "It is a very unique challenge. We were talking earlier in the week and if he's not the best, he's one of the best players we have played against all year." The explosive back has 629 yards from scrimmage this season which is 100 yards greater than the next closest player.
One of the biggest assets that Jack posses to give him an edge - his speed. This is a strength of not only Jack, but the whole Jags defense. If Myles Jack can - and should - take away the threat of McCaffrey, Jacksonville would force the Panthers to switch up their offense.
Andrew Norwell, an offensive guard out of Ohio, who's in his sixth NFL season, is this week's player to know! Norwell was one of the biggest keys to success for Leonard Fornette in last week's win. Not to mention he's also done a great job protecting Gardner Minshew up front.
Aside from his Week 4 performance, Norwell is the player to know because he is returning to a familiar place. The guard was signed by the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He was a starter by Week 7 of his rookie season and went the remainder of that season without giving up a sack. Following his undrafted year, the Panthers signed Norwell to a 3-year deal which led to Norwell playing in Super Bowl 50. He remained with the team on a tender in 2017 and received his first Pro Bowl honor.
In 2018, the Jags swooped in during the offseason to bring the impressive guard to Jacksonville. He is currently on year two of his five-year contract. Therefore, the guard who has already proven he has the potential to be one of the best guards in the league plans to get back to fundamentals to help this offense succeed. So, if you're with fellow Jags fans this weekend and Leonard Fournette is looking especially good, impress your friends by dropping some knowledge about the guard leading the way.
Cues, On the Road Again by Willie Nelson because if you're a Jags fan headed to North Carolina, you might as well be playing this song as you travel. So, in honor of Week 5 I'm bringing you the top 5 traveling tips you'll need to know for this weekend!
- The weather! Always check the weather. Be prepared for HOT. 80 degrees is the high with only 10% chance of rain, so no doubt it should be a beauty! Make sure to pack your DUUUVAL jersey with a pair of shorts and a hat. Plus sunscreen! Sunscreen is always a good idea, especially because this stadium is completely outdoors.
- Speaking of the heat, don't forget your clear stadium bags. Also remember that each fan is allowed in two factory sealed bottles of water.
- Bank of America Stadium is in the heart of Charlotte, which makes driving in very easy! Parking around the stadium is designated for season ticket holders, but there are a ton of parking spaces within a 10-15 min walk of the stadium. Pro Tip: Use Parking Panda to reserve a paid spot if you don't want to worry about it on gameday.
- Need a spot to hang out pre or post game? The Dog Haus offers the best pregame experience and is as close as you can get to the stadium. All American Pub, Slate Billiards, and Oak Room offer a great experience because they are connected with a shared wall but each unique in their own way.
- Stadium food alert! The Hog Molly is at three portable vendor stands on the 500 Level and has won over fans. Think about how delicious a beef brisket sandwich with four slices of bacon, coleslaw, pickled jalapeno peppers, fried onions and barbecue sauce on a Kaiser roll sounds. Besides, when in Carolina, might as well eat some BBQ.
Written by: Haley Graves