Panthers vs. Packers: Preview, predictions and how to watch
The Carolina Panthers host Green Bay for the second of three straight December home games…
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton lit up the scoreboard last time Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers visited. It was Newton’s first win over the seemingly perennial playoff bound Packers, having played past the regular season in eight straight seasons.
That streak is in serious jeopardy following a broken collar bone suffered by Rodgers nine weeks ago. Brett Hundley filled in, winning three of the seven games he started while keeping Green Bay’s playoff hopes afloat.
A Panthers win essentially ends any chance of the Packers continuing their streak but Carolina also needs to keep piling up wins. Despite having the same record as division leading New Orleans, the Panthers lost twice to the Saints and need to stay in front of a large group vying for two NFC wild-card berths.
2017 SEASON: CAROLINA PANTHERS (9-4) vs. GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-6)
KICKOFF: 1:00pm ET
TV: FOX Broadcast Coverage Map
ONLINE: FuboTV 67+ live sports and entertainment channels with 7-day FREE trial!
ODDS: Carolina (-3.0), Over/Under (47) at Sports Book Review
LOCATION: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)
WEATHER: 53 degrees, 49% humidity, 5-10mph S wind, 10% precipitation
LAST MEETING: 37-29, PANTHERS – November 8, 2015 (WEEK 9)
KEY MATCH-UP: CAR Christian McCaffrey, RB vs. GB Defense
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Everyone is focusing on Rodgers return and his ability to change the outcome of football games, giving the Packers hope for the playoffs if they win three in a row. While it makes for a good story and would be interesting three weeks from now, the current focus should be on the other 43-plus players taking the field on Sunday.
In particular, the Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey. Relatively quiet last week with only 53 total yards on eight runs and three passes, the rookie remains a force on offense. Influencing defensive play calls and routinely forcing opposing teams out of alignment on play action and pre-snap shifts, McCaffrey impacts the game with or without the ball in his hand.
The Packers have struggled mightily against opposing running backs who can catch out of the backfield. In just their last four games, Green Bay has allowed 35 catches for 267 yard and one touchdown to opposing running backs.
Next: Week 15 - The Packers Perspective
McCaffrey averages almost five catches and forty yards per game. He should be a focal point of the Carolina offense this week in addition to the run threats of fellow back Jonathan Stewart and Newton.
PREDICTION: CAROLINA PANTHERS- 31, GREEN BAY PACKERS- 27