Predator vs. Prey is a weekly column that will feature a preview of the Panthers’ opponent for that given week. We will breakdown the X’s and O’s, match-ups on both sides of the ball, and predict the outcome for the game. Whether it’s Sunday, Monday or Thursday night, CatCrave.com has you covered for everything you need to know leading up to the big game.
Predator: Carolina Panthers
Prey: Green Bay Packers
Environment: Lambeau Field - Green Bay, WI
Time of Kill: 1PM
The Carolina Panthers look to rebound from a deflating tie last weekend, and take on the hot Green Bay Packers in week seven.
I can’t believe we are already entering the seventh game of the season, and we still don’t have a firm grasp on the identity of this team. Are the Panthers a playoff contender? Is the Carolina defense this horrible? What happened to the Panthers’ running game?
Too much to answer, but hopefully all of these areas of concern go away in Green Bay today.
The Packers are coming off a come-from-behind win in Miami last weekend. Aaron Rodgers still looks unbeatable and the Packers’ offense is still a tough nut to crack.
Eddie Lacy is struggling in 2014, but the Panthers’ run defense has barely been able to stop a Pop Warner running back this year. Lacy is a deadly, bruising back that is capable of changing a game by wearing down a defense. He will need to be contained.
Rodgers receiving unit resembles the New Orleans Saints approach to attacking. Lots of players that can beat you in a variety of ways, though they lack a true stud-receiver. Jordy Nelson is the closest they have to a sensational WR1, so look for Antoine Cason to draw him in coverage.
The Packers’ defense has a familiar face standing up at linebacker. Ex-Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers will face his former team, and has put together a solid first season in Green Bay.
Sam Shields is out at cornerback, and that depletes an already suspect Packers secondary. The Panthers will need to exploit this area in order to succeed.
Predator on Offense:
Cam Newton looked like a new man last week in Cincinnati.
Moving the ball with his legs, as well as through the air, Newton propelled the Panthers offense to their most explosive output of the year. He will need to bring that same intensity today if the Panthers want to win this game.
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin Benjamin has been cleared to play, so look for him to shake off the rust and get involved. The Packers cornerbacks feature only one player that is 6’0″. Cam will look for his young target often today and I foresee Benjamin roping in a deep bomb at some point as well.
I’ve said it every week, but I will say it again today. The. Panthers. Must. Run. The. Ball.
Jonathan Stewart will play today, which should help the ground attack. Stewart knows this offense better than any active running back and is great at pass protection. I liked what I saw from Fozzy Whitaker last week, but oh that’s right, he’s injured… again. Darrin Reaves and Chris Ogbonnaya will share carries with Stewart, and help get this rushing attack off the ground.
I’m not sure how healthy Greg Olsen is, so I hope Cam limits the dangerous throws down the seam and in double-coverage. Olsen is a warrior and will demand the rock, but my hope is that Olsen can do his damage minus the pounding that he has taken all season. Hey, at least Vontaze Bufict isn’t playing against Carolina today!
In the end, Newton will be the catalyst and the one that does it for the Panthers offense. He is a Predator in every sense of the word. He will feast on the Packers’ defense and wreak havoc for DC Dom Capers.
Enjoy Cat Crave Nation, Cam is poised for a big day!
Predator on Defense:
Pressure is the name of the game for the Predator’s defense. Getting after Aaron Rodgers is crucial in throwing off his timing, and limiting his deep throws.
Charles Johnson has stepped up over the past two weeks and is looking like a hungry predator of late. He needs help on the opposite end, and isn’t quite getting it. Mario Addison, Wes Horton or Kony Ealy needs to bring the heat and assist CJ in the trenches.
Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
A player that is surging right now, is Kawann Short. He has been a menace on the interior and is honing his game at getting after the quarterback. He is a disruptive force that is starting to get noticed more by opposing offensive coordinators.
The Panthers’ secondary is still beaten up and cornerback Bene Benwikere is still sidelined with an injury. God help us with Charles Godfrey in the slot, but there is hope. Josh Norman is listed as probable so let’s hope he has recovered from the concussion and ready to play. He took quite the hit in that game against the Bears.
Honestly, the Carolina defense will have its’ hands full today and will need to stay focused in a tough environment. Limiting Aaron Rodgers in the pocket and getting pressure is crucial. Eddie Lacy is probably viewing this defense as a great game to rediscover his skills. Carolina needs to contain him and not let him break off huge carries.
Regardless of the outcome, this should be an entertaining game in Green Bay. If you like offense and two stellar quarterbacks, you will enjoy this matchup.
FINAL VERDICT: GREEN BAY - 34 CAROLINA - 31