Rams vs. Carolina Panthers matchups, start time, how to watch and prediction

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey carries the ball Oct. 9, 2022, against the San Francisco 49ers.
Running back Christian McCaffrey, a former Stanford standout, is the main option on offense for the Carolina Panthers, who visit the Rams on Sunday.
(Rusty Jones / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Rams (2-3) and the Carolina Panthers (1-4) match up heading into their game at 1:05 p.m. PDT on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game will be shown on Fox (Ch. 11) and streamed on NFL+.

When Rams have the ball: After scoring only one touchdown in the last nine quarters, the Rams are searching for a breakthrough performance. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked 12 times in the last two games, including five in Sunday’s 22-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Stafford had a pass intercepted and also lost two fumbles, one that was returned for a touchdown. Stafford has passed for five touchdowns and is tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions. Cooper Kupp leads the NFL with 49 catches, but he is nursing a foot injury. Tight end Tyler Higbee (ankle) also was listed as questionable. Second-year wide receiver Tutu Atwell looks to build on his 54-yard reception against the Cowboys, his first NFL catch. With running back Cam Akers out because of what coach Sean McVay described as an internal situation with the team, Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown will get more opportunity. Bobby Evans is expected to start again at left guard in place of David Edwards, who was put on injured reserve because of a concussion. Carolina end Brian Burns has a team-best four sacks for a defense that also features linebacker Shaq Thompson. Cornerbacks Frankie Luvu and Jaycee Horn, both of whom have interceptions, are questionable.

Cam Akers did not practice Thursday for what was described as personal reasons, and Rams coach Sean McVay on Friday said the back won’t practice or play Sunday.

Oct. 14, 2022


When Panthers have the ball: P.J. Walker will start at quarterback in place of injured Baker Mayfield, who was hurt during the Panthers’ 37-15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Walker completed five of six passes for 60 yards against the 49ers. Despite the firing of coach Matt Rhule, the offense remains under the direction of coordinator Ben McAdoo. The offense relies heavily on running back Christian McCaffrey. The former Stanford star has rushed 72 times for 324 yards and a touchdown, and has 26 catches, one for a touchdown. Wide receiver DJ Moore has a team-best 17 catches, one for a touchdown, and Robbie Anderson and Laviska Shenault also have touchdown catches. The Rams’ defense is hungry for a turnover after failing to force one in the last three games. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald has four sacks, and cornerback Jalen Ramsey recorded his first career sack against the Cowboys. But the Rams have not received typical production from edge rusher Leonard Floyd, who does not have a sack. Cornerback David Long and safety Taylor Rapp are expected to play after sitting out against the Cowboys because of injuries. Cornerback Cobie Durant is questionable because of a hamstring injury.

When they kick: After making his first eight field-goal attempts this season, Rams kicker Matt Gay missed from 51 yards against the Cowboys. Punter Riley Dixon rebounded from a blocked kick and completed a pass in the loss. Panthers punter Johnny Hekker, a noted passer, returns to face the team for which he played for 10 seasons. Eddie Pineiro has made 11 of 12 field-goal attempts.

Gary Klein’s prediction: The Rams are struggling and the Akers situation is a distraction. But the Panthers just fired their coach and have a third-string quarterback. The Rams will win and take a 3-3 record into their open date.