Welcome to the playoffs. What more could you have asked for than for Rodgers to come back with playoff hopes still very much alive? Win three and everything should work out. It starts in Carolina.
The right side of the line could be problematic. Jason Spriggs looked decent last week, but that was on three step drops and a quick pass game plan. No matter what the call is, Rodgers will dance around and try to extend plays. Spriggs will need to have his best game as a pro to keep everyone’s surgically repaired collarbones intact. His platoon partner in the trenches, Jahri Evans, has looked like he’s been slipping the last few weeks. Carolina’s front 7 is no joke and they will be coming hard at bullseye 12. The left side has been pretty tight. Rodger will be able to see the pressure from the right, which is good because one missed block could end all this excitement in a hurry.
The Panthers Offense Is Unique
Cam Newton is a more effective runner than passer (more than 183 yards passing only once in the last six weeks, with a couple of 137 yard performances in there – but he has 495 yards rushing the last 8 weeks, which is almost a 1,000 yard pace). The passing deficiency is good news for the defense, which will have a depleted secondary with Davon House ruled out, as is Newton’s minor shoulder injury. Don’t get too excited, though, the Packers have a way of making QBs look good regardless of the circumstances. The Panthers are a run-first team even though Johnathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey (the only backs on the team with more than 13 carries) both average a mediocre 3.5 yards per carry (McCaffrey also leads the team with 67 receptions). Pro Bowl RG Trai Turner has been ruled out for Carolina, which should make it a little easier for the Packers D-line to get in the backfield. They’ll need it to disrupt run lanes and get pressure on Newton, who is prone to making bad decisions under pressure, to win this one.
- Kenny Clark gets 3 TFLs
- Jamaal Williams gets contained by a tough Carolina linebacking crew
- Julius Peppers will get a sack and handle it like a respectable man (as opposed to not getting a sack and then still running a few steps and getting in a cheap hit when he knows the ball is already gone)
- CM3 will miss a sack or two because Cam is big and shrugs them off
- Rodgers will have average stats (for him) 250-2-1
- Christian McCaffrey will lead everyone in the game in receptions
- Jordy Nelson gets a score
- David Bakhtiari will smother whoever lines up across from him all day because that dude ain’t letting anyone near his quarterback this game
- Cam Newton will throw two interceptions, but we’ll drop one of them
- Trevor Davis, emboldened by his big play at the end of last week, will juke more than ever… and go nowhere
- There are so many tough matchups in this one and most of the logic tells me that the Packers will lose, but Aaron Rodgers defies logic and he knows he’s getting old; he’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever seen and I can’t bet against him in a situation like this
Packers 34, Panthers 31