During Week 14 the Green Bay Packers went into Detroit and came out with a win 31-24. The victory got Green Bay the NFC North crown and a playoff berth. This Matt LaFleur team and the motto “won not done” means they aren’t satisfied and more work needs to be done to achieve the ultimate goal. The next task is the Carolina Panthers Saturday night at Lambeau Field. The Panthers are coming off a home loss 32-27 to the Denver Broncos. At 4-9, the season hasn’t gone the way first-year head coach Matt Rhule has planned. Still, this opponent can’t be taken lightly and has the talent to win any week. Find out all about the Panthers Week 15 roster here in Know the Foe.
Talent at the skill positions
The Panthers’ offense centers around do-it-all running back Christian McCaffrey. However, injuries have limited McCaffrey to only three games this season. If available, that dynamic back is a threat to score with every touch. Mike Davis has been his replacement and is averaging 4.1 a carry with five touchdowns. Davis also has added 371 yards and two scores in the passing game.
The Panthers will bring a nice wide receiver group to the party. Spark plug D.J. Moore should be back from the covid-19 and an ankle injury. The third-year pro is electric with only 50 receptions he is over nine hundred yards (18.5). While he only has four touchdowns, Morr gets chunk plays with each grab. On the other side is free-agent addition, Robby Anderson. A deep threat target with the Jets, Anderson should go over 1,000 yards this year in Carolina. Curtis Samuel is the next man up and another with playmaking ability. Samuel can move all around the offense and he is a mismatch. He has 61 grabs for 585 yards and three scores on the season.
QB to Bridge the Gap
Getting the ball to these guys is 28-year-old Teddy Bridgewater. After coming back from an awful injury and being a highly valued backup for a while, the Panthers made him their guy for 2020. Bridgewater has been solid while not lighting it up. Number five has thrown for 3,100 yards, 14 scores, and 8 interceptions. He also has four rushing touchdowns.
Pressure is the way to get to Bridgewater and the Packers can find success against this offensive line. Russell Okung anchors the blindside and has been good. Taylor Morton is at right tackle and has played even better. Morton has only allowed two sacks this season and has an impressive PFF grade of 82.9. Inside will have their hands full with a surging Kenny Clark. Guards Chris Reed and John Miller have been okay and center Matt Paradis is a little undersized but a savvy vet. Expect Clark to control the trenches.
Young Talented Defense
The Panthers’ defense isn’t the dominant group it was a few seasons ago. Gone are key pieces, most of all future Hall-of-Famer Luke Kuechly. That is not to say this group is helpless, however. Over the last few drafts, Carolina has hit on young budding playmakers. Second-year defensive end Brian Burns will be a handful. After a 7 sack rookie season, he’s already at 6 this year with three forced fumbles. Burns is a long, explosive player with fluid hips. He fires off the ball and can sometimes be over-aggressive. Rookie Yetur Gross-Matus and Marquis Haynes both work from the other side but aren’t the threats Burns is.
This 4-3 front also features two rookies in the middle. 7th overall pick Derrick Brown and 330 lb. Bravvion Roy have had their ups and downs. It’s a lot to ask of rookies to have impacts on the defensive line but this young group will only improve. The Packers need to try and bully these young guys early.
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Another exciting rookie is hybrid LB/DB, Jeremy Chinn. The small school (Southern Illinois) prospect flies around this defense. He has made mistakes but this guy is going to be a stud. Chinn can cover and also has no problem getting his hat on ball carriers. The results are impact plays with 1 sack, 1 INT and 3 forced fumbles. He also has back-to-back defensive scores against the Vikings this season. 6-year vet Shaq Thompson and 30-year-old Tahir Whitehead are the rest of the linebacker corps. Thompson is another smaller but athletically gifted backer. He and Chinn will be flying around Saturday night.
Another week and another favorable secondary matchup for Aaron Rodgers & company. Third-year cornerback Donte Jackson is their top guy. He had a marvelous rookie campaign but hasn’t quite followed that up. Still, he is pretty sticky in coverage. Rasul Douglas is on the other side and he’s a bigger corner at 6’2″ 210 lb. rookie fourth-rounder Troy Pride jr. Has the athletic ability but has been picked on this season. On the backside are trusted vets Tre Boston and Juston Burris. Boston isn’t flashy but gets the job done. Burris on the other hand struggles in coverage and would be a guy Robert Tonyan can exploit.
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