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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 06: Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers runs around Najee Goode #52 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

We all know hindsight is 20/20 and looking back at the running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft I realized this may be the best we have ever seen. The first two running backs picked that year just faced off last Sunday in Bank of America Stadium. Leonard Fournette was the fourth overall pick and went to Jacksonville. Shortly after, the Carolina Panthers drafted Christian McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick. Dalvin Cook was drafted at 41, Joe Mixon at 48, Alvin Kamara at 67, Marlon Mack at 143 and Matt Breida even went undrafted and he just had a career game against the Browns on Monday night. This draft was loaded with running backs ready to help turn a franchise around and I believe the Panthers made the greatest decision they have ever made as a franchise by drafting the “undersized” running back from Stanford University.

Christian McCaffrey is in his third NFL season with the Carolina Panthers and he has shown nothing but progress. His football IQ along with his extraordinary talent makes him one of the most dangerous backs in the league for opposing defenses. Through the first five weeks McCaffrey has 866 yards from scrimmage which is more than Ezekiel Elliot and Tod Gurley combined. Todd Gurley made sure to set the record straight about how good CMC is.

Christian McCaffrey has landed himself in the MVP conversation through the first quarter of the 2019 NFL season. Last week against Jacksonville McCaffrey rushed for 176 yards on 19 carries and 2 touchdowns. He also had (to no surprise) a receiving touchdown and a total of 61 receiving yards giving him 237 total yards from scrimmage. CMC tied his own franchise record with his three touchdowns and 237 yards from scrimmage. One of those touchdowns was an 84-yard run which set a new franchise record for longest rush in franchise history surpassing DeAngelo Williams’ previous long of 77 yards. The play call that led to McCaffrey’s 84-yard touchdown run was described by Greg Van Roten as a “mid zone run.” Norv Turner called that play all day against Jacksonville because they couldn’t stop it. Reggie Bonnafon’s first career touchdown was the same play but on the opposite side. That play gave the Panthers an 84 and 59 yard touchdown run. Greg Olsen commented after the game saying “I don’t know if I’ve ever in my career heard the same play call so many times.” With his career rushing day, McCaffrey finally topped 2,000 career rushing yards and is only the eighth Panthers rusher to achieve this and the youngest to do so. After last week’s 34-27 victory over the Jaguars McCaffrey joined Thurman Thomas as the only players in NFL history with over 500 rushing yards and 250 receiving yards in the first five games of the season. Christian McCaffrey has proven to be a workhorse for this Carolina Offense. He started to cramp up in the fourth quarter last week and missed a few snaps. McCaffrey wasn’t on the field for nine snaps last week which was the most he’s missed this season.

Christian McCaffrey can do it all. In my opinion, he is the new face of the Carolina Panthers offense. With Cam Newton battling injury and missing consecutive weeks, it has been Kyle Allen’s and CMC’s show, mainly the latter. If Christian McCaffrey keeps producing like this throughout the rest of the season he could be crowned this year’s MVP.

The Panthers head to London for the first time to take on their divisional foe, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have won the last two meetings including their Week 2 matchup on Thursday night earlier this season. The Panthers rushing attack is one of the best in the league through five weeks. They’re averaging 143.6 yards per game on the ground (4th) and 5.61 yards per carry (1st). The Panthers offense ended last season averaging more yards per carry than any other NFL team. On the other side of the trenches Tampa Bay has the league’s best run defense allowing just 3.12 yards per carry. The Bucs are also the only team to shut down Christian McCaffrey this season. The Thursday night game is the only game this season McCaffrey didn’t reach 100 yards from scrimmage.

This game is going to be a huge test for Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers need this division win or else it can come back to haunt them come playoff time. As long as Christian McCaffrey is healthy and in the game, I think the Panthers Offense can give any NFL defense some trouble. Call the Cryin’ Line, (704) 227-8668, and tell us your thoughts on Christian McCaffrey and his odds to win MVP this season.


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