Game: Green Bay Packers @ Carolina Panthers
Game Result: Carolina Panthers 31, Green Bay Packers 24
The Packers came up short in Aaron Rodgers return from injured reserve, as he looked rusty throughout the game’s entirety. He finished the day with three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 71.5. He was thoroughly outperformed by his quarterback counterpart Cam Newton, who frequently abused the Packers defense that continues to struggle this season. This loss dropped the Packers to 7-7, while boosting the Panthers to 10-4, and cuts the Packers hopes of making the playoffs down a lot.
Christian McCaffrey continued his strong rookie season as he totaled 136 yards on the day, which included catching six of his seven targets as he frequently made the Packers defenders look overmatched. The best performance of the day was by Greg Olsen as he looked like his All-Pro self after struggling since he returned from injured reserve a few weeks ago. He caught nine of 12 targets including a touchdown and was a security blanket for Newton all day long. Newton finished with four touchdowns on the day and was frequently able to evade the Packers pass rush as he finished with 58 yards on the ground. The Panthers defense looks stout as it has in years past and Newton’s play will decide how far this team ends up going in the playoffs.
On Sunday, Rodgers looked like a guy that hadn’t played in two months. All three of his interceptions were underthrown that we have rarely seen throughout his illustrious career. His arm strength was not what we were used to seeing from him, but it will just have to come back with time to get him back to what he can do. The Panthers defense is strong and they held up on Sunday. Rodgers finished with 290 yards, but it came on 45 attempts. After multiple strong weeks, Jamaal Williams struggled on Sunday, which may result in him losing his job to Aaron Jones, who averaged 15 yards per carry on the day. Randall Cobb, who has been invisible since Rodgers injury, finished with 14 targets on the day, which was six more than anyone else on the team. Jordy Nelson continued to struggle as he finished with only three catches on the day.
The defense continued its season of inconsistency and struggles. Despite a subpar day from breakout Panthers receiver Devin Funchess, the defense was abused by McCaffrey, Newton and Olsen throughout the day and frequently struggled to get off the field on third down. The defense will need to turn things around in the future before Rodgers and the Packers title window closes.
The Panthers (10-4) will look to extend their winning streak to three next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9) as of this writing. The Buccaneers play the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night football as they look to salvage some of their lost season. The Packers (7-7) need a lot to go right for them to make the playoffs at this point. One major piece will be their matchup against the Minnesota Vikings (11-3) on Saturday night. This will be the rematch of the game where Rodgers broke his collarbone and should be a fun one.
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