The Michigan Panthers will travel to take on the DC Defenders this Sunday. The Defenders are wrapping up a 3 game homestead and are coming off of a win themselves. DC has had a lot of success at Audi Field having won 11 of their 12 games there. The only time DC has lost at home occurred to the St. Louis Battlehawks in week 5 when they lost 45-12.

The Panthers have won both of their last 2 games winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Game Details:

Date/Location: Sunday, May 12 /Washington, DC, Audi Field
Kickoff Time: 12 PM ET, 9 AM PT
Channel: ESPN

If you do place bets please do so responsibly and seek help if you have a gambling problem.

Spread: Michigan -1 (-110), DC +1 (-110)

Moneyline: Michigan -115, DC -105

Over/Under: 43 (Over -110, Under -110)

Michigan Panthers (4-2): 

The Michigan Panthers have won back-to-back games for the first time this season. It was also their 2nd time winning at home due to a game-winning field goal from Jake Bates as his kick secured their victory over Arlington last week by a score of 28-27.

Last week’s victory for the Panthers saw strong play from the defense, particularly in the pass rush. According to Pro Football Focus, Arlington’s quarterback Luis Perez was pressured on 44.7% of his dropbacks. The pass coverage did a good job not allowing receivers to get open downfield as there were only 3 completions made by Arlington thrown 10 yards or more.

Michigan’s quarterback Danny Etling was efficient completing 16 of his 28 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown last week. He demonstrated his rushing ability on a 40-yard rush in the 4th quarter.

DC Defenders (3-3): 

The DC Defenders are coming off a 39-21 win over the Memphis Showboats. All of DC’s 3 victories have come against teams that currently have losing records. Their losses have all been against teams that currently have winning records.

At times this season pass protection has been an issue for the Defenders. Last week was one of the most successful weeks of pass protection for DC as Jordan Ta’amu was only pressured 3 times out of his 24 dropbacks per PFF. Ta’amu completed 14 of his 22 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. It was a strong day on the ground as Darius Hagans rushed 13 times for 63 yards and Cam’Ron Harris added 39 yards on 9 rushes and a touchdown.

Defensively it was a major success for DC as they limited San Antonio to just 12 points which was their lowest scoring game this season.

Panthers Keys to the Game

Neutralize the Run Game, Pour on the Pass Rush

DC had a pretty decent game last week on the ground. Throughout the season DC has had a very high rate of passing plays compared to run plays. Michigan needs to stop the run and then put the pressure on the quarterback.

DC’s week 1 loss saw Jordan Ta’amu be pressured very frequently as they ran the ball very rarely. Michigan’s defense can give their team a very strong chance to win if they can create a similar situation this weekend.

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Michigan’s run game has been inconsistent this season. Runningback Wes Hills is 4th in the league in rushing yards with 241 over 62 carries (3.9 average) and 4 touchdowns. His numbers have been good overall boosted by a lot of explosive runs, but at times the rate at which he is stopped has been high. Last week he rushed 9 times for 15 yards being held to just 1.7 yards per carry although he did have a touchdown run.

DC has the lowest grade in run defense per PFF. This is a good opportunity for Michigan to get the ground game going strong.

Defenders Keys to the Game

Lockdown Coverage Against Short Passes

Michigan has at times struggled in pass blocking allowing a fairly high rate of pressure on their quarterback’s dropbacks. This has been minimized by Michigan’s play design to create opportunities for the ball to be thrown quickly. If it can prevent receivers from getting open quickly it could create some difficult situations for the Panthers’ offense.

Strong Play From the Offensive Line

Michigan has been a very strong team in run defense as well as bringing a formidable pass rush. DC is going to need a strong performance from their offensive line to match what Michigan will be bringing on Sunday. The Defenders will need some intelligent pre-snap recognition as Michigan often brings disguised linebacker blitz.

Panthers to Watch

#14 WR Siaosi Mariner

Mariner has 11 receptions for 136 yards over the last 4 games since joining the Panthers. He scored his first touchdown last week.

#26 RB Matt Colburn II

Colburn has demonstrated great vision often maximizing plays this year when defenders 

#99 Walter Palmore

Palmore has been a great run-stopper for the Panthers.

#48 DE Kenny Willekes

Willekes has 10 total pressures and a sack over the last 2 games. He has 2 sacks on the season.

#57 DE Breeland Speaks

Speaks had 2 sacks and 9 total pressures over his first 4 games. In the last 2 games, he has 3 sacks and 17 total pressures.

Defenders to Watch

#13 WR Kelvin Harmon

Harmon had 8 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown last week. He is 4th in the league in receiving yards with 338 over 25 receptions and has 3 touchdowns.

#19 WR Ty Scott

Scott is 2nd on the team in receiving with 175 yards over 9 receptions and has a touchdown.

#28 RB Darius Hagans

Hagans is coming off a strong game with 63 rushing yards over 13 rushes (4.8 average) last week.

#15 CB Michael Joseph

Joseph led the team in tackles last week with 13. He also had a pass breakup and a forced fumble.

#50 Derick Roberson

Roberson is the team leader in sacks with 4.5. He also has 20 tackles. Per PFF he also has 17 total pressures.

Depth Charts, Injuries, Inactives

Depth charts have not yet been released. Will post them here when they come out later tonight.

Score Prediction:

Predicting a Michigan victory 25-18.

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink
Jonathan Clink will work as UFL News Hub's primary correspondent covering the Michigan Panthers for the 2024. He has written over 250 articles covering the Canadian Football League prior to joining UFL News Hub. Clink is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba and currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has a background in several other sports as well having played soccer, basketball, and hockey competitively.

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