Week 12: Panthers Defense vs Packers Offense

Let's get the basics out of the way, the Panthers are now 10th in overall yards allowed per game, 8th in passing yards, 17th in rushing yards, and 7th in points allowed per game. The Packers are 15th in total offensive yards, 12th in pasing yards, 20th in rushing yards, and 5th in points scored per game. After last week the Panthers have given up 10 rushing touchdowns (tied at 15th) and 8 passing touchdowns, ranked 2nd only behind the Colts. Overall have given up 22 TD, tied for 5th overall with the NY Giants and Redskins. The Packers have scored 35 offensive TD, ranked 6th, 9 rushing ranked 19th, and 17 receiving TD ranked 10th. So there are a few stats to ponder.

Diving a little deeper, RB Ryan Grant doesn't have the most rushing TD for the Packers, actually none of their running backs do. QB Aaron Rodgers leads the team with 4, while Grant has 3. On the receivers side, WR Greg Jennings has 6, WR Donald Driver has 3, as does TE Donald Lee. Expect for last week against the Saints, Grant has been playing much better than the start of the season, but last week's performance was hindered as the Packers had abandoned the running game as they were playing from behind.

As we all know both the Panthers and Packers defensive efforts last week were horrible. Together both teams allowed 96 points, the Panthers 45 and the Packers 51. We both wish we could have those games back. However, the Panthers still stand at 8-3 while the Packers are 5-6. The Panthers are currently in the playoffs (if the season ended today) but the Packers would be left out. However, they are only a game behind the NFC North leaders (Chicago & Minnesota) so with 5 weeks of football left are not out of the picture.

I expect both teams will want their defenses to shine this week and whoever shines brighter will probably win this game. If this is the game, however, I give the edge to the Panthers. If the Panthers defense can get back to their early successes then they are a force on the field. With that said, while both teams are playing to regain control of their divisions, if the Packers lose they are most likely out of the playoffs, where as the Panthers wouldn't necessarily be out, but would most likely be playing for a wildcard instead of division champs.

What will it take for the Panthers defense to shutdown the Packers, here are my key match-ups for the game. The Panthers stressed basics this week and so will I.

1. Panthers MLB Jon Beason vs Packers RB Ryan Grant

Jon Beason is the leader on the Panthers defense. He was not pleased with last weeks performance and he has a good chance to lead the team in tackles. He should be all over the field and this could cause troubles for Ryan Grant. Beason should also be able to lead the front seven in keeping Grant in check without the aid of a safety dropping down.

2. Panthers CB Chris Gamble vs Packers WR Greg Jennings/Donald Driver

Chris Gamble received a six year $53 million contract this week. From here on out he better perform. He will be thrown under the bus quickly from fans if he doesn't live up to that contract. Yes, he's been playing well this year but to some, before this year he wouldn't have received such a deal. I expect him to play well, but he better live up to the contract. 

Along those same lines, I don't care who lines up against him this week, Jennings or Driver, Gamble better shutdown his receiver this week. This is not his week to take a game off, both for the new contract and last weeks showing. Since the basics where stressed this week in practice he may not get an inception but he should at least limit what his opponent touches.

3. Panthers DE Julius Peppers vs Packers LT Chad Clifton

I might expect the Panthers to keep Peppers at his assigned position this game, again because of basics. However, I not totally committed to that line of thought. Peppers has had success in moving around the defensive line, but the coaches may find that it's been more of a disruptions to the LB than a help. For the LB to know which gap they should cover, they also have to know what the DL is going to do in front of them. Per speculation, but some of the issues with run defense may stem from this. If the coaching staff doesn't believe this, then sure, he will probably move around. Another aspect that could play a factor is if the Packers RT Mark Tauscher plays; he is currently listed as questionable. 

4. Panther DE Charles Johnson vs Packers RT Mark Tauscher

Charles Johnson has been fairly quite the last few weeks. With an emphasis on the defense this week, Johnson has the potential to be in for a big game of at least one sack if not two. The Packers are in the middle of the field on sacks allowed at 15th. If the defense plays the way many are expecting I think there's enough room for both Peppers and Johnson to make a difference.


The Panthers secondary is a concern, but after last weeks performance their tackling should improve and thus overall be more affective. Are we playing to much into a big bounce back game? I'm not sure, however, I do expect a better game than last. On the other hand so is the Packers defense. It's to bad both defenses can't play each other, but that is why they should be able to bounce back. This week it's going to be which offense can move the ball and get those few precious scores needed to win. With a bit of bias, I give that edge to the Panthers.

Prediction: Panthers 20, Packers 17

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