So it was an exciting first week in the NFL regualr season. Cam newton has given Panther fans a glimmer of hope with an amazing 400 yard passing game. However, even with Newton’s heroics, the Panthers failed to pull out a victory and this week it doesn’t get any easier, it actually gets worse as the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers come to town for the Panthers home opener in Charlotte.
And here to tell us about the Packers is Ray Rivard, editor of Lombardi Ave.
1. The Packers looked as good as advertised on Thursday night against the Saints. Do you think this team can repeat as Super Bowl Champs?
A. I don’t think there’s a team that is better prepared to repeat as champions than this Packers team. With another great draft by GM Ted Thompson, the Packers have added impact players that will make significant contributions to the team. In addition, getting Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley back from injury add offensive firepower that will make this team very difficult to defend.
So, does this team have a good chance to win another championship? In a word, yes!
2. So far it looks like the running back situation is split 50/50 between Ryan Grant and James Starks. Do you think that will remain the case for the rest of the year and which running back do you like better?
A. I feel that the plan is to split their time on the field equally, but Mike McCarthy has been known to go with the hot hand, so game situations will determine who gets the most playing time. Grant is the pounder, but Starks is better catching balls out of the backfield and exploiting a defense’s edges.
However, I have the feeling that Starks may work his way onto the field more and more as the season wears on. He tends to gain more yards after contact and has more moves than Grant. To me, he’s the better runner, but together they give the Packers a great one-two punch.
3. The defense gave up 34 points against the Saints. I know they aren’t some pushover offense talent, but is that a worry early on?
A. Giving up 34 points is a concern for any defense, but it was against Drew Brees … And I feel the Packers were pretty vanilla in that first game. I feel the defense will get better with each passing week.
4. Speaking of the defense, Clay Matthews is a game changer. He is one of the league’s top pass rushers. What can the Panthers do to attempt to slow him down?
A. Stopping Clay Matthews isn’t possible, but slowing him down is possible. However to do that, it requires devoting two blockers to him, which tends to weaken blocking schemes elsewhere. I think that trying to contain Matthews is the only way to approach him.
5. Finally what is your prediction for the game?
A. I feel the Panthers will give the Packers a run for a quarter or maybe even the first half, but I feel the Packers will have too much offense and will win going away.