Yesterday I looked at how the Panthers' offense would operate against a stout Packers' defense. Today I'm turning the tables and examining how Carolina will hope to stop a potent Green Bay offense that put up close to 500 yards on opening night against New Orleans.
X-Factor: Chris Gamble
In back-to-back weeks Chris Gamble will be tested by one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. In Arizona he did an amazing job keeping Larry Fitzgerald in check and helping to close off one side of the field for Kevin Kolb. What Gamble did was prevent the big play, and any time you can hold Fitz to 62 yards receiving you have effectively done your job.
Greg Jennings represents a different challenge for Gamble. Most would probably agree that Fitzgerald is a higher caliber receiver than Jennings, but not by much. This is compounded by the QB position, where Aaron Rodgers can squeeze the ball into unbelievably tight windows, much tighter than Kevin Kolb could.
I'm not ready to rule out Gamble from having a shot against Jennings, but I think he's less likely he'll be able to shut down the Rodgers/Jennings duo than he was with Kolb/Fitzgerald.
More after the jumpGreen Bay run offense vs. Carolina run defense
It appears the Packers are moving closer to committing to bruiser James Starks as their feature back. While he'll likely get the start against Carolina we will still see Ryan Grant often. Ostensibly we're seeing a similar back to Beanie Wells in Starks, and then adding Ryan Grant to the equation.
Against New Orleans the Packers' run game totaled 97 yards and a TD on 21 carries. Based on how we saw Wells carve up the middle of the Panthers' defense, and couple that with the absence of Jon Beason from a leadership perspective, and you have a scenario where the Packers will get their yards on the ground.
Green Bay pass offense vs. Carolina pass defense
What this match-up comes down to is that the Packers simply have more receivers than the Panthers have DBs. We already have Jennings/Gamble as a push, and I think Captain Munnerlyn should perform okay against Donald Driver. From here though it gets nasty; the Panthers have no good answer for Jordy Nelson, and no answer for Randall Cobb if the Packers like up 4-wide. Then we need to add TE Jermichael Finley to the equation and it doesn't bode well for the Panthers.
Sean McDermott should be able to come up with some creative defensive schemes to help his personnel, but from a talent perspective they're severely outmatched in this area. Rodgers should have no problem spreading the ball around and finding his receivers.
This will be a very, very tough game for the Panthers. They're outmatched in several areas, as they should be following a 2-14 season and facing the Superbowl champions. Carolina will need to rely heavily on the coaches coming up with some creative schemes, coupled with some lucky bounces to come away with a W this week.
Out of the six areas we looked at here is how the teams stack up.