What is making these two seasons feel so different through five games?

The Panthers linebacker is appropriately amped for his team’s Thursday game against the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles, who are soaring after dismantling the Arizona Cardinals last week and own a 4-1 record that matches Carolina’s mark after five contests.

The Thursday Night Football game for Week 6 in the National Football League features two teams that have a combined 8 wins in 10 games this season. “It don’t matter”, Newton said. Against the Cardinals Sunday, he threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Smith on a third-and-five, and a 72-yard scoring pass to Nelson Agholor on a third-and-19. He had a 100-plus passer rating for the first time since Week 4 of his rookie season. An immature young player might just start doing it at will. Carson has demonstrated control and restraint in not getting insane with it and knowing when to pick his spots. Bethea: “I felt pretty confident”. We weren’t a very good third down team past year and the guys are making plays. Also, will any of these running backs even have an opportunity to get hot and play his way into a featured role?

McCaffrey scored on a 6-yard shovel pass from Newton, scampering past Lions defenders on the way to the end zone. So we have to make sure that we’re focusing that week that we’re playing and focusing on winning that game and that’s the mindset that we take as a football team. “When he scrambles, he’s looking for guys to throw the ball to”.

But Newton wasn’t dinking-and-dunking his way down the field against the Patriots and Lions. “But he’s definitely throwing the ball a lot more”.

-Panthers WRs Devin Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin vs. Eagles CBs Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas and Patrick Robinson. I think he understands what teams are trying to do in those areas.

“This is one of those things we talked all spring and summer about with him”.

On preparing for Julius Peppers when he was with Green Bay: “I remember we had to account for him wherever he lined up”.

Newton brushed off a question about 2015 on Tuesday, saying his sole focus was beating the Eagles. Again, this is not something we saw two weeks ago. “He’s found his groove and he’s been balling out”, Kalil said. “It’s one of those injuries where I’ve got to be smart”.

The officials huddled for a long time and reviewed the play, but it stood.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera told reporters that three players will likely be out due to injury – safeties Kurt Coleman (knee) and Demetrious Cox (ankle), and center Ryan Kalil (neck).

Yahoo Sports: Lions – No. 9 (Down from No. 7): The Lions defense had been quite good, but how do you let Ed Dickson torch you for 175 yards? “But that’s neither here nor there”. Wednesdays, we’re studying third down to get ready for Thursdays.

The laughs and smiles are back for Newton.