November 6, 2015

Arman Three Pack Preview & Predictions: Carolina Panthers

The Green Bay Packers were dominated in Denver and now travel to NFC powerhouse Carolina to take on the undefeated Panthers, led by MVP front-runner Cam Newton. While it's only week nine, this pivotal match up may go a long way in deciding which path NFC hopefuls will travel in route to Super Bowl 50. Will the Packers offense and Aaron Rodgers bounce back, or will Cam Newton thrash the Packers suspect secondary and protect his home turf? The Arman brothers offer  perspectives on three key questions that will decide this game, then predict the outcome.

Aaron Rodgers hasn't lost back to back games as the Packers starting quarterback since weeks five and six in 2010. What is the key to the Packers offense and Aaron Rodgers getting back on track against Carolina? Do you expect big changes to their approach?

Aaron Rodgers attempting to throw a pass
Aaron Rodgers (photo:
Adam: Protection. Rodgers was pressured on 63 percent of his drop backs against the Broncos and the Panthers defense is stout. I don't expect big changes to their approach. The Packers need to use tempo and get into a rhythm with short to intermediate timing routes. It would be nice to see Cobb back in the slot with Davante Adams back in the mix. Cobb has been the most lethal running option routes in space and getting yards after the catch.

Shane: Two things: start fast and establish the run game. I would love to see the Packers get nasty and own the line of scrimmage by pounding the ball with Eddie Lacy. Corey Linsley and Richard Rodgers got embarrassed in Denver - both were beat off the ball consistently and were unable to hold blocks for enough time to open up holes for Lacy. Once Green Bay establishes the run game, play-action will open up lanes in the middle of the field. And against Carolina's secondary, that may be the only way. I do expect big changes in the approach, in terms of focus on the run game, early and often to set up the pass.

Mitch: The key to the offense is protection of Aaron Rodgers and having effectiveness in the run game. I don't  see the need for major changes, I think the Packers just need to execute the game plan more effectively. The Panthers do have a stout defense and it seems that anyone Josh Norman covers is done for the game. With that being said, those who watched the Monday night game between Carolina and Indianapolis saw that Carolina does have some issues rushing the passer. If we can give Rodgers time and effectively run the ball, things will open up for the offense.

Cam Newton is having an MVP-caliber season. If you are Dom Capers and/or Mike McCarthy, what is the plan to minimize his effectiveness?

Cam Newton takes on the Green Bay Packers
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Adam: Cam Newton is prone to interceptions if the defense can stay in favorable down and distance situations. To forces those throws, it starts with stopping the multi-faceted run game of Carolina, which ranks 1st in the league in yards per game. The combination of Stewart and Newton helps Carolina control the clock and wear defenses down. The Packers have to commit to the run, tackle much better than they did in Denver and force Newton into third and long situations.

Shane: The Packers need their pass rush swagger back. Capers needs to dial up more creative blitzes and move Clay around the line constantly to confuse Newton. While Russell Wilson did have some success rushing against Green Bay, the Packers did a decent job of collapsing the pocket, while getting pressures, knockdowns and sacks in that game. They need to do the same against Newton with an increased focus on wrapping up and tackling, because Cam is a big boy, as are Stewart and Tolbert.

Mitch: STOP THE RUN. I'm sure none of us are really that threatened/scared by the Panthers mediocre wide receiver core. Newton doesn't have a ton to work with, so it starts with stopping the read option, and TACKLE TACKLE TACKLE Cam Newton when he keeps it.

The Packers run game has be abysmal the past few weeks, after being a top-10 rushing attack the first handful of games. Will we see a re-focus on the rungame and if so, how will the Packers be successful doing so?

Adam: This seems like a tough week to revive a struggling ground game. McCarthy usually starts preaching about the importance of controlling the clock and finishing teams off with an effective run game as winter approaches, but the Panthers top 10 scoring defense will need to be attacked with the Packers strength - the passing game.

Green Bay Packers Eddie Lacy hopes to have a bounce back game against Carolina Panthers
Green Bay Packers Eddie Lacy Needs to Bounce Back(Photo courtesy: JSOnline)
Shane: The Packers chances of winning depend on getting back to a more balanced approach on offense. We saw what happened when the offense turns one-dimensional in Denver - Green Bay does not have the outside speed and talent with the current WR core, to win only with the pass game, even with Aaron Rodgers (at least against elite defenses). To win on the road against a top-10 defense, the Packers will need at least 100-125 yards rushing. Without that, they lose this game.

Mitch: As I eluded to in my first response, we have to get the run gameback on track. A major reason for the Packers averaging under 20 points per game in the last four games is their abandonment of the run game and lack of execution. Feed Eddie and James!

Game score prediction and player of the game.

Adam: 27-20 Packers; Aaron Rodgers bounces back with 250 yards 3 TDs

Shane: 23-20 Packers. Eddie Lacy gets back on track and fuels a five-minute drill late in the fourth to set up Mason Crosby for a 50-yard game-winner. Lacy finishes with 118 yards and a TD.

Mitch: 24-16 Green Bay in a grinder; time for the defense to step it up a notch. Player of the game: Clay Matthews has a sack and is disruptive


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