Shawn (7-0, 6-1 ATS) — A small part of the reason I picked the Denver Broncos last week was because I knew I’d take the Green Bay Packers this week and I had a hard time seeing the Packers winning both games. That is pretty illogical, but I’m not above doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
The Packers and Aaron Rodgers have been pretty fricking good after a loss lately. Yeah, I know a lot of those wins have come at home or against mediocre teams, but I do think this Carolina Panthers team is similar to the undefeated Houston Texans team that the Packers beat up on in 2012. Both teams are good, but not as good as their records suggest.
The Carolina defense is good, but it lacks the secondary and the pass rush of the Broncos. With Charles Johnson on IR, the Panthers’ best pass rusher is the geriatric Jared Allen. Maybe the Panthers will follow the example of the last three defenses the Packers have faced and blitz a lot, but that would be out of character for this defense.
I don’t expect the Packers offense to do what it did to the Texans. The Packers aren’t that team anymore. But I do expect Aaron Rodgers to face less pressure and have a better game than he’s had in about a month. It may also help if Ty Montgomery can get back on the field. He might provide more of an immediate spark than having Davante Adams back did. Built like Randall Cobb with a little more muscle, Montgomery has the quickness and physicality that makes him a more difficult cover for the bump-and-run. Having Montgomery on the field is like giving the defense two Cobbs to worry about instead of one.
Cam Newton is a talented and dangerous quarterback with a stronger arm than Philip Rivers or Peyton Manning. However, he isn’t Rivers or Manning. The strengths that those guys brought to the table that helped them pulverize the Packers’ pass defense are not possessed in near equal measure by Newton. On top of that, Newton doesn’t have the receivers that those guys have.
Defensively, the Packers are built to stop Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, and thus, they are also built to stop Cam Newton. Newton and Jonathan Stewart will get some yards on the ground against a rush defense that has been Jekyll and Hyde for the Packers lately, but I don’t think they can dominate the game on the ground.
In short, I think the Packers match up well against the Panthers. The fact that they demolished them at Lambeau last year was no fluke. This Panthers team is better and this Packers team is likely worse, but I just think that makes the game closer. Plus, playing in Carolina is no big burden. The weather should be nice, and there will be some Packers fans in the stands.
It will be no miraculous turnaround for the Packers, but they’ll play incrementally better on both sides of the ball and escape with a one-score win.
Packers 20, Panthers 14
Monty (6-1, 5-2 ATS) — For the second week in a row, the Green Bay Packers go on the road to face an undefeated team and for the second week in a row, they’re favored. This time, just like last time, the Packers are getting 2.5-3 points.
And you know how that worked out last week.
It’s a new week, though. That Denver Broncos team is more talented than I think anybody thought. This Carolina Panthers team is probably about as talented as everyone thinks, which is about three points less talented than the Green Bay Packers.
Yes, the Panthers are undefeated. Yes, they have a solid defense (10th in total defense and scoring defense). Yes, they have a very good quarterback who is winning with virtually no offensive supporting cast.
This team just doesn’t pass the eye test, though.
Their most impressive win was at Seattle (27-23) and we know the Seahawks aren’t what they were as recently as last season. Their most dominant win was a 37-23 victory at Tampa Bay, a young team that isn’t very good yet.
It took some major bumbling around by Andy Luck for the Panthers to escape Indianapolis with a three-point win over a bad Colts team last week.
In short, there’s nothing really impressive about this Panthers team, other than their record.
Shawn mentioned it earlier and I’ve been thinking about it all week — this game reminds me of the Houston game in 2012.
The Packers had their backs against the wall, were being roundly criticized after coming off a terrible performance and went and throttled the undefeated Texans. In hindsight, we found that that Texans team was pretty good, but not great.
It certainly feels like that’s what this Carolina team is.
It also feels like a bounce-back game for Aaron Rodgers, providing he, you know, will actually throw the ball to someone. Rodgers has taken a beating in the court of public opinion this week and deservedly so. To think that he isn’t aware of that would be naive.
He’s probably made a list of everyone who’s said something negative about him and will one day go burn that person’s house down.
In the meantime, however, he’ll just have to settle for beating on Carolina.
This Packers team has all kinds of issues right now, but the Panthers are an opponent that will make them look at least somewhat competent on both sides of the football. At least for one week.
Packers 24, Panthers 20