This week’s scoop will be a short and sweet one. The Carolina Panthers and their quarterback Cam Newton are in the house and the Green Bay Packers better be on full alert.
As much as we all know what Newton’s running capabilities are, and the Packers do as well, they still seem to struggle with the obvious. Mobile quarterbacks have been the Packers’ kryptonite for the last three seasons. Last week against a mediocre Cincinnati Bengals defense, Newton carried 17 times for over 100 yards. The pace of that game as well as the fact that it went an entire overtime period likely contributed, but that’s one example of what Newton can do to a defense that has trouble stopping him.
Newton said after the game that the running lanes were there and he’s all about taking advantage of them. The Packers have had a tendency to leave one too many escape routes for guys like Newton and it will cost them dearly if they allow the same tomorrow. As if game planning for Newton weren’t enough, Green Bay will likely be without both of their starting cornerbacks. Sam Shields has already been ruled out with a knee injury. Tramon Williams has an ankle issue and is still listed as questionable. Davon House will step in for Shields and Casey Hayward will sub for Williams if Williams can’t go. Both House and Hayward have had a decent amount of playing time in this defense and have performed adequately so far this year. Hayward collected his first interception of the season last week against the Dolphins, and his first since 2012. Linebacker Jamari Lattimore left last week’s game with a neck stinger and is still listed as questionable. Brad Jones will step in if Lattimore is inactive. Jones struggled a bit last week and isn’t the playmaker that Lattimore can be. Jones lacks the type of ideal speed and instinct the Packers need against Newton.
Carolina will have tight end Greg Olsen after he missed some practice this week. Rookie first-round receiver Kelvin Benjamin has been listed as questionable as he continues to recover from a concussion suffered last week. Benjamin did actively practice this week.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers again silenced his critics (well, most of them) with another late comeback drive in which he showcased both his leadership and big-play ability. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last five games. Against a very marginal Panthers secondary, Rodgers will get many opportunities to get the Packers into the end zone. This could also be another chance for running back Eddie Lacy to be a big contributor. The Panthers are allowing a league-worst 5.5 yards per carry this season.
The Packers are 2-0 at home so far this season and have won three straight. Winning streaks mean little in today’s NFL but as head coach Mike McCarthy likes to say, this is an opportunity for the Packers to stack success. It would also be a win against a good team and quiet some of the doubts about Green Bay’s ability to climb back into the conversation about the NFC’s best teams.
With a win and if the New Orleans Saints can knock off the Detroit Lions, the Packers would be alone in first place in the NFC North. Hopefully every member of the Packers’ defense has the image above ingrained into their heads as they step onto Lambeau Field tomorrow.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: