Packers go for fourth straight win vs. struggling Panthers
The Green Bay Packers will go for their fourth win in a row when they host the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.
Green Bay (10-3) already has clinched the NFC North title for the second consecutive season. The Packers are tied with the New Orleans Saints for the best record in the conference heading into Week 15.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur said the team had plenty of unfinished business in the final three games of the regular season.
“There’s a lot out in front of us,” LaFleur said. “We know the work that it’s taken to get to this point. Nothing changes in our mind.”
Next up is a prime-time contest against Carolina (4-9), which has lost seven of its past eight games. The Panthers will finish below .500 for the third season in a row and the first under head coach Matt Rhule, who arrived from Baylor in January to try to turn around the franchise.
Rhule has faced tough challenges, including the extended absence of his best player, running back Christian McCaffrey. A quadriceps injury has kept McCaffrey out since Nov. 8, and he has appeared in only three games this season.
McCaffrey hopes to return before the end of the season, but Rhule said he did not expect to have the playmaker available Saturday.
That creates a challenge as the Panthers look to keep pace with Green Bay’s high-scoring attack. The Packers have the second-best offense in the NFL with 397.6 yards per game, trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs (429.2).
The bulk of the credit for Green Bay’s success on offense belongs to Aaron Rodgers, who is putting together a spectacular season at age 37. Rodgers has completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 3,685 yards, 39 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Rodgers’ passer rating of 119.7 ranks first in the NFL.
Davante Adams is Rodgers’ favorite target in the passing game. Adams has caught a touchdown pass in eight consecutive games, which is tied for the third-longest streak in a single season in league history. The only players to record longer streaks are Jerry Rice (12 games in 1987) and A.J. Green (nine games in 2012).
Minus McCaffrey, the Panthers’ top weapon on offense is wideout Robby Anderson, who needs four receiving yards to reach the 1,000-yard milestone for the first time in his five-year career. The ex-New York Jets player leads Carolina with a career-high 83 receptions.
Teddy Bridgewater will look for a better result after posting a 3-9 record in his first dozen games as Panthers quarterback. Bridgewater has completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 3,102 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
“As we all know, Teddy is going to be measured by the end of game (result) — take it down there and go win,” Rhule said. “It hasn’t worked out here, but a lot of other things have. So I’m of the mindset that we have to build around him and build with him and go win this game against Green Bay.”
The Packers are 5-1 at home. Carolina is 2-4 on the road.
–Field Level Media