Replacement QBs provide lift to Panthers, Titans

This isn’t quite the quarterback matchup anyone envisioned at the beginning of the season.But two teams very much in playoff hunts in their respective conferences have made do with previous backups.The Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers look to take the next step when they meet Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.The burning question regarding the Panthers (4-3) was quickly put to rest at the beginning of the week when coach Ron Rivera announced that Kyle Allen would remain the starting quarterback.So this will be something new for Allen, who has never come off an NFL loss as a starter after winning his first five games in such a role.Tennessee (4-4) has found a bit of magic with a quarterback switch, one that wasn’t connected to an injury. Ryan Tannehill has directed two victories since the benching of Marcus Mariota.”November is really when the NFL season begins, and we’re in a position to do something with that,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “This is a critical time for us as a football team.”The Panthers will try to do more with Allen, who has been filling in while Cam Newton deals with an injury. Newton appears closer to returning, but Rivera said the rehabilitation is ongoing.In last week’s 51-13 loss to the 49ers at San Francisco, Allen seemed more mistake-prone than in previous games.”Probably the biggest thing is he has got to be patient,” Rivera said. “He’s a guy when he stays within his abilities, he can help us a lot.”The blowout loss brought comparisons to Carolina’s 52-21 setback last year to the Pittsburgh Steelers. That marked the beginning of a seven-game losing streak.”I think we have enough experience in that locker room to prevent it,” Rivera said. “How you handle it is what defines you this year.”The Titans, who have won their past two games, come in riding momentum.”We have to do everything we can to take the next step,” Vrabel said.This could be a matchup with significant defense.

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