Green Bay Packers Week 2 Preview: On the Road Against the Carolina Panthers
Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton both made unbelievable season debuts in Week 1, with Rodgers throwing 312 yards and three touchdowns, and Newton throwing for an NFL rookie record of 422 yards and two touchdowns.
The champs are coming to Carolina with an impressive showing against New Orleans. Though their defense gave up more than 477 yards, that should be expected to improve as the season drags on, and their offense is arguably the best in the league on paper.
Here's a look into what can be expected in next week's game.
Aaron Rodgers, the Offense
After the impressive offensive beating the Packers gave to the Saints defense, there isn't much reason to expect this game to be any different.
Charles Johnson is the Panthers' only legit pass rusher, and Packers left tackle Chad Clifton is more than capable of shutting him out.
The Panthers do have other big defensive players like James Anderson, Jon Beason (though he's not expected to player), Charles Godfrey and Richard Marshall, but the Packers have an answer for each and every one of them and then some.
The only thing in the way of Green Bay scoring 80 points would be coach Mike McCarthy taking his foot off the gas peddle in an effort to just waste the clock.
Ryan Grant and James Starks are forming a formidable duo and should only rack up even more yards against a team that ranked only 23rd against the run a year ago.
Carolina did, however, boast one of the better pass defenses in the NFL, ranking 11th overall, but its secondary will easily have its hands full with Green Bay's passing attack.
I've been wrong before—plenty of times, even—but I can't possibly see the Packers scoring any fewer than 30 points.
Can Newton Exploit an out-of-Sync Defense?
Cam Newton, as I mentioned, looked phenomenal in his debut, and the league doesn't quite know what kind of player he is yet. If he's as good as he looked in Week 1, the Packers might be unprepared for what they're up against here.
The Packers defense looked way out of sync in the season opener, albeit it was against Drew Brees and his high-octane offense.
Greg Olsen and Steve Smith are Carolina's two biggest weapons, but the Packers are familiar enough with Olsen to know how to deal with him, and Smith is only one player. However, the Packers might choose to sit out their top corner, Tramon Wiliams. I know I certainly would.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have been one of the best running back duos in the league, but they simply haven't looked like themselves so far this season and are going up against a heavy defensive line.
All things considered, I expect Newton to surprise the Packers to some degree, but not anything to the extent of pulling off an upset.
Mike Neal and Vic So'oto
If Mike Neal and Vic So'oto play, it will interesting to see how much pressure the Packers can generate against the passer.
Drew Brees was sacked three times against the Packers, and the Saints have one of the best offensive lines in football.
The theory is that with two more legit pass rushers, the Packers could be just as successful at getting to the quarterback as they were when they made their Super Bowl run last year, if not more so.
Chances are, neither player will play against Carolina, but if they do, keep your eye close on just how effectively the Packers get to escape artist Cam Newton.
There are five things in the NFL that I simply despise: wasted talent, refs screwing up games (they ought to be held accountable, in my opinion), commissioner Roger Goodell's inconsistent punishments, players whining about their paycheck and—most of all—score predictions.
If someone wants to do them just because they're fun, feel free to do it, and I'm not against them giving a range of probable game scores either.
However, when they're actually right about even one score prediction, they suddenly think they deserve all the credit for it because it means they're just so smart.
Seriously, score predictions are the biggest fail I have come across in the NFL.
I like to keep a bit more simple and say something like, "Well, this team matches up pretty well with this team, so I expect it to be a close game," or "I like this team's chances; it has a great quarterback and I think it will win in a blowout."
My prediction: Packers beat the Panthers in convincing fashion (well, duh).