Updated: Nov 10, 2019
After Carolina Panthers' (5-3) head coach Ron Rivera officially addressed the media about Cam Newton being placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, he immediately turned his focus to this week's matchup against the NFC North leading Green Bay Packers (7-3) with all efforts being piloted by permanent starting quarterback Kyle Allen. On Thursday, that focus continued. This week's game will be the fourth meeting between the two teams in the last six years.
Despite having, perhaps, less of a headache game-planning for a quarterback that is far less illusive than a healthy Cam Newton, the Packers will have their hands full this week with Carolina's most dangerous weapon. In week 9, Panthers' RB Christian McCaffrey had 166 scrimmage yards (146 rush, 20 rec.) & 3 TDs (2 rush, 1 rec.). McCaffrey became the 6th player in NFL history with 1,200-plus scrimmage yards (1,244) and 13-plus TDs (13) in a team’s 1st 8 games of season - a record that tied Hall of Famer Jim Brown (1963) as only players to amass 150+ scrimmage yards and a touchdown in 6 of their team’s 1st 8 games of season.
Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur commented on McCaffrey and the challenges of containing him. "I just think he's a complete back ...he can do it all," LaFleur said of McCaffrey's broad skill-set.
The Panthers defense will look to continue their performance level from week nine. With Mario Addison back in the mix, the Panthers should have the extra fire-power needed to to contain the league's top passer Aaron Rodgers who has started five games against the Panthers in his career and has averaged 304.0 passing yards per game with 15 passing touchdowns, five interceptions and a passer rating of 102.5.
They'll need every bit of it as the Packers' have also changed direction like many teams in the NFL and are looking to inject youth and innovation into their future. That extends to the playbook as well as the players. While simple, LaFleur's system gives the illusion of being very comlicated but is actually simplistic. But that is what will make the Panthers' job tougher on Sunday. Additionally, Rodgers creates a situation where defenders will have to cover for extended periods. In some cases that could be 5 to 6 seconds.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera made it clear that containing the league's best quarterback will be the biggest focal point of the game. Achieving gap-soundness and maintaining strict discipline is key. "Our rush lanes have to be clear and they've gotta be very clean," Rivera said.
"Not only do we have to be good in our gaps ...we've gotta be disciplined and anticipate somebody turning a scramble into a 50 to 60 yard throw."
The weather conditions at Lambeau Field are another thing that visiting teams must deal with. The forecast for Sunday is expected to be temperatures around 32 degrees with 10 mph winds. "Weather is just another "it" ...and you can't let it get in the way," Trey Boston said.
If history matters, this should be a close contest as four of the last five games between these two teams have been decided by eight points or less.
ON THE MONEY
+5 SPREAD -5
+190 MONEY LINE -230
Date: Sunday Nov. 10
Time: 4:25 PM ET