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Christian McCaffrey makes Panthers history vs. Saints

Every narrative that was used to dismiss Christian McCaffrey in his rookie season – That he couldn’t run between the tackles, that he wasn’t physical enough to carry an offense, that he wasn’t worth the No. 8-overall pick – he has now dispelled by virtue of his 2018 season. With three weeks left, McCaffrey is beginning to bend the record books of the Carolina Panthers to his will. And on Monday Night, he has just written one page all for himself.

On the opening drive of Monday Night’s game, McCaffrey broke DeAngelo Williams‘ franchise record for most yards from scrimmage in a single season, which he set in 2008 with 1,636. In addition to that, McCaffrey also stands to become the first Panthers running back to have 1,000+ rushing yards in a season since Williams had 1,117 rushing yards in 2009. In order to do that, he will need to rush for 74 yards in tonight’s game.

Should McCaffrey reach the 1,000 mark, he will become only the sixth Panther in franchise history to have over 1,000 rushing yards. McCaffrey would join Williams (1,515 in 2008 and 1,117 in 2009), Stephen Davis (1,444 in 2003), Jonathan Stewart (1,133 in 2009), and Anthony Johnson (1,120 in 1996). Interestingly, despite the Panthers basing their offensive identity on running the football in the Cam NewtonRon Rivera era, the Panthers have not had a single 1,000+ yard rusher in Rivera’s tenure. The closest any running back came to that mark was Stewart in 2015, who had 989 rushing yards in 13 games before being shelved for the final three in order to recover from a foot injury in time for the playoffs.

Beyond simply Panthers history, McCaffrey also has the opportunity to join only two other players in NFL history: With 74 rushing yards and 299 receiving yards, McCaffrey will become only the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk and San Francisco 49ers great Roger Craig.

With McCaffrey on the verge of establishing himself as the very best dual-threat running back in the league, it is perhaps only fitting that McCaffrey stands to accomplish these feats against the New Orleans Saints. Much of the narrative surrounding the Panthers’ Week 15 match with the Saints (As well as their rematch in Week 17) revolves around a head-to-head matchup between McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara – A third-round pick by the Saints last season that won Offensive Rookie of the Year and arguably stole McCaffrey’s thunder.

Entering Monday night’s game, McCaffrey had a total of 926 rushing yards on 179 carries and 86 catches for 791 yards, giving him a total of 1,627 yards from scrimmage on the season. McCaffrey has seven rushing touchdowns and six receiving touchdowns, giving him a total of 13 total touchdowns on the year: tied for fourth in the National Football League.

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