Statistically, the Panthers have the NFL's 24th-ranked rushing offense, and are averaging just 93.8 yards on the ground per game.
But when Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was asked what aspect of Carolina's team concerns him the most, he pointed to the Panthers' running game.
"They run the ball as well as anybody in the league," Harbaugh said. "Offensive line, combination blocks, gap-scheme combination blocks where the linemen are working together to knock the defensive linemen off the ball into the backers, and the zone schemes where they're stepping outside to knock the defensive linemen off the ball into the backers.
"They probably do that better than anybody in the league right now. So, the run game is going to be the bottom line."
Did Harbaugh just pull a Ray Lewis and drop a "bottom line"?
I think he did.
Up front, the Panthers run behind a strong left side of the line, keyed by Pro Bowl left tackle Jordan Gross, a big 6-4, 305 pound lineman who sets the tone in the trenches. Travelle Wharton is back at the left guard spot after getting some time at left tackle last year with Gross injured, and he's solid inside, and Pro Bowl center Ryan Kaul anchors things in the middle.
Carolina's running game took a hit today, however, when they placed starting back DeAngelo Williams on Injured Reserve with a mid-foot sprain. Williams had missed the last three games with the injury.
Second-string running back Jonathan Stewart has also missed time with a concussion, and he didn't practice again today, which indicates that Mike Goodson could be in line for his second straight start this Sunday.
The second-year back broke out last week against the Buccaneers, and he will likely be the guy the Ravens will need to key on this weekend.
"Last week, we had our first 100-yard rusher, and DeAngelo didn't play last week," Panthers coach John Fox said during a conference call with Baltimore reporters. "Anytime you lose a Pro Bowl-caliber back, it's definitely going to hurt, but the next guy steps in, and Mike Goodson did that a week ago."