Here are five things to watch for in the matchup between the Packers and the Panthers:
The Panthers got a strong, 422 yard outing for Cam Newton, and a strong performance from Steve Smith. However, they lost Jon Beason for the season due to a torn Achilles tendon.
Meanwhile, the Packers offense clicked on all cylinders in their 42-34 rout of theSaints. The defense gave up a lot of points, and certainly will have people’s eyes on them to see if they can be dominant again like last year when they helped Aaron Rodgers win the Super Bowl.
1. Aaron Rodgers
The Green Bay Packers offense looked awfully good last Thursday night, especially Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers threw three touchdowns in the first quarter that gave the Packers a 21-7 lead. The Packers wouldn’t trail in the game. Rodgers finished the game 27 for 35 for 312 yards, three touchdowns, and a 132.1 passer rating.
Rodgers hit nine different receivers. Could this be another special season for the Packers signal caller?
The key for Rodgers is to start fast and never look back again this week.
2. Which running back shines the most?
In Week one against the Saint, James Starks outperformed Ryan Grant, who started the game. Starks had 12 carries for 57 yards, and a touchdown. Grant had nine carries for 40 yards.
Starks looked like he got bigger and stronger, and was the beast at running back for the Packers.
You can’t forget about John Kuhn, either. Kuhn completes the Packers three-headed running game.
Grant will probably start again this week, but there’s no question that there is running back controversy in Green Bay. However, it is better to have three solid running backs then no running game.
3. Stop Cam Newton
Cam Newton had 422 yards and three touchdowns last week. Two in the air, and the other on the ground.
Did anyone see that coming from the young, emerging star? Perhaps no one but Panther fans, or maybe not even them.
The key is to get pressure on Newton, who was sacked four times last week againstArizona. It will up to Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji, and the linebackers pass rush they bring. I am sure Dom Capers will bring plenty of it during the course of the game.
4. Will Tramon Williams play?
Tramon Williams bruised his shoulder last week against the Saints, and did not practice on Wednesday or Friday.
Williams is a big time playmaker in the secondary and is key to the Packers pass defense.
If Williams cannot go, Sam Shields will likely start, and that wouldn’t be bad either.
5. Can Clay Matthews get back into beast mode?
After a monstrous rookie and 2010 seasons, Clay Matthews had a rather quiet game. Matthews did have four tackles, and hit the quarterback twice in the game.
The Saints didn’t let Matthews get to Brees. Let’s hope Matthew can get to Newton a few times on Sunday.