Breakdown: Week 9 – Packers @ Panthers

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Last week was bad; really bad. But the good news is, it’s over and the Packers are 6-1. No matter how you dissect it, a 6-1 record is really good. A win on Sunday would put us right back on top of the race for home field advantage. So, while there’s no way to sugar coat what happened on Sunday night in Denver, all is not lost.

This Sunday, the Packers travel to North Carolina to take on the undefeated Panthers. Cam Newton and company held off the Colts in overtime on a rainy Monday night. So while the Packers are travelling, the Panthers are coming off of a short week and a long, difficult game.

Green Bay Offense vs Carolina Defense

This offense was shut down like never before in Denver. I don’t expect a repeat performance. Sunday night was a wake-up call, and adjustments will be made.

Despite a poor performance Monday night, Aaron Rodgers is still the best quarterback in the NFL right now. The same goes for our offensive line. There have been some struggles this year, but it’s still one of the best in the NFL. And as receivers Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery get healthier, the group will get stronger and Rodgers will have more legitimate options to throw to.

Unfortunately, the Packers play against another strong defense this week, not Broncos-level strong, but strong none-the-less. Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson make up an elite linebacker position, and Josh Norman is leading a fantastic secondary that slows down receivers and forces turnovers.

There is a reason for hope though. This defense likes to utilize a four-man pass rush instead of blitzing with extra guys. This is usually a strategy for success against Aaron Rodgers. But, the Panthers are dealing with injuries up and down their defensive line, including Charles Johnson, their best pass rusher. Rodgers should have more time in the pocket this week, and the Panthers defensive backs don’t have the same cover skills that the Broncos do. So there’s every possibility the Packers have a big bounce back this week.

Green Bay Defense vs Carolina Offense

After a great start to the season, this defense has limped through the past few games. Heading into Sunday night’s game, the Packers defense led the league in points allowed, so the concern wasn’t there. The Panthers will provide a good test and an opportunity to show that Sunday was a mirage and this defense really has improved.

The Panthers really only have one dangerous receiving threat, tight end Greg Olson. Yet somehow Cam Newton has managed to have a big season, leading his team to a 7-0 start. But their biggest strength is their running game.

Not only can Newton tuck the ball and run well, but Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert are hard runners who are extremely difficult to tackle. The Packers were decimated last week by a rushing attack that ranked near the bottom of the league, so following that up with a matchup against one of the best in the league is a concern.

BJ Raji came back from injury last week, but didn’t have the impact that was expected of him. In order to slow down this potent rushing attack, Raji needs to anchor the defensive line and force the runners to bounce outside.

Prediction

When the schedule was released, I figured the Packers would lose one of these two games, in Denver or Carolina. That loss came last week. Sunday night was a wake-up call and the Packers will respond.  There’s not Demaryius Thomas to deal with this week. And yes, this Panther defense is very good, but not on Denver’s level.

The Packers are going to rebound this week thanks to a few favorable matchups on both sides of the ball. Green Bay will win 27-17, improve to 7-1 on the season and sit atop the NFC standings at the midway point in the season.

Thank you for reading. Brian Fonfara is a featured writer for Titletown Sound Off. You can follow him on Twitter @TTSO_Brian. For even more Packers content, follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

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By Brian Fonfara

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