Five fearless predictions for Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game against the Green Bay Packers.
1. Aaron Rodgers will throw for 300
Because that’s what he typically does against the Panthers – surgically rebuilt collarbone or otherwise. Rodgers has two 300-yard performances in four career games vs. Carolina, and has averaged 307.5 yards, with 12 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 112.1 passer rating. Rodgers will show signs of rust. But the Packers’ deep receiving corps will create problems for the Panthers’ secondary.
2. Rodgers also will be sacked four times
The Packers’ pass protection has been dreadful. They’ve allowed 43 sacks, the fourth-most in the NFL. Rodgers was sacked at least four times in three of his first five games before he was injured. The future Hall-of-Famer will look to get rid of the ball quickly. But the Panthers’ defense is coming off a six-sack effort vs. the Vikings’ Case Keenum. Edge rushers Mario Addison and Julius Peppers each will collect a sack.
3. The Panthers will grab a two-touchdown lead
Rodgers will post big passing numbers in part because the Packers will fall in an early hole and he will be forced to throw to try to catch up. This is not new territory for Green Bay, which has posted three comeback victories when trailing by at least 14 points for the first time in its history. And Carolina has lacked the killer instinct when playing with a lead. Sunday will be no different.
4. Mike Daniels will test Amini Silatolu
The Panthers finally got Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil back last week, just in time to see Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner enter the concussion protocol. Stepping in for Turner will be Amini Silatolu, the second-round pick from 2012 who started 25 games during his first stint with Carolina. Silatolu will have his hands full with Daniels, the defensive tackle who has four sacks, 14 quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss this season. Dom Capers moves Daniels around a lot up front, but expect the former Carolina coach to align Daniels opposite Silatolu early in the game.
5. Cam Newton will account for three scores
While Rodgers’ return has dominated the headlines, one thing has been overlooked: The Packers have a bad defense. Green Bay has given up 400-plus yards in four games, and allowed 395 to a mediocre Tampa Bay offense in an overtime win two weeks ago. Cornerback Davon House is out with a back injury and another CB, Demetri Goodson, has been limited with a hamstring injury. Newton will throw for two TDs and run for another. Panthers 34, Packers 27.
Packers at Panthers
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
Sunday, 1 p.m.
FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews)