The Carolina Panthers (4-5) will face a tough challenge against one of the NFL's hottest teams in the Green Bay Packers (8-1) at Lambeau Field on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST. The Panthers are in search of their fifth win of the season, while the Packers will attempt to win their fifth consecutive game.
Since Jake Delhomme suffered a season-ending injury in Week 3, Carolina has not had consistency at quarterback, and the offense has struggled as a result. The Panthers have not started the same signal caller in back-to-back games over the last three contests, and the offense has managed only 20 points over that span, including just two field goals in a 20-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week in which the defense scored the team's only touchdown.
Green Bay, on the other hand, features a quarterback in Brett Favre who will be making his 247th consecutive start and an offense that ranks sixth in the NFL in scoring with an average of 25.3 points per game. Making things even more difficult for the Panthers will be a Packers defense stands 10th in the League and is coming off a 34-0 shutout of the Minnesota Vikings
CAROLINA PANTHERS (4-5) AT GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-1)
Panthers travel to Green Bay to face first-place Packers
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2007
LAMBEAU FIELD, 1:00 PM (EST)
THIS WEEK'S GAME
Carolina will face a stiff challenge Sunday against one of the League's
hottest teams in the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field . The Panthers
are in search of their fifth win and consistency at
quarterback to spark a struggling offense.
Carolina has not started the same quarterback in back-to-back games
over the last three weeks and the offense has managed just 20 points
over that span. Vinny Testaverde started against the Falcons last week
as Carolina scored just two field goals in a 20-13 loss in which the
defense scored the only touchdown.
Now they face a Packers defense ranked 10th in the NFL and coming off
a 34-0 shutout of the Minnesota Vikings, and a Brett Favre-led offense
that ranks sixth in the League in scoring. Sunday will be Favre's 247th
The Panthers are on the other end of that spectrum. Jake Delhomme
started the first three games of the season, and David Carr and
Testaverde have split the next six starts. The Panthers have not had a
quarterback play an entire game since Week Four.
Last week, the Panthers options were Testaverde and rookie Matt Moore
since Carr was sidelined with a concussion and Delhomme is on injured
reserve after elbow surgery. Testaverde did not practice Friday with an
inflamed Achilles tendon, and his status was uncertain until after pregame
A lack of scoring punch continues to plague the Panthers. Carolina has
scored two offensive touchdowns in three games and rank 28th in total
offense. The most consistent aspect of the unit has been the running of
DeShaun Foster, who ranks fifth in NFC rushing, but his status is uncertain
after sustaining a toe injury while gaining 59 yards versus the
Falcons. The Panthers are 12th in the League in rushing but 27th in passi
Steve Smith led the team with five receptions for 61 yards against
Atlanta as the Panthers recorded 153 yards through the air. He remains
the team's leading receiver with 45 receptions for 590 yards and six
touchdowns but has been limited to two scores since Delhomme was
injured. Following Smith is tight end Jeff King with 32 receptions for 316
yards while Keary Colbert, who missed last week's game, and Drew
Carter have combined for 41 catches, 482 yards, and three touchdowns.
However, those individual performances have not translated into points,
putting increased pressure on an improving defense. After a slow start,
the Panthers have improved to 13th in yards and points allowed, thanks
in large part to the play of rookie middle linebacker Jon Beason.
Beason is coming off his third consecutive double digit tackle performance
and leads the team with 78 stops, most of which have come since
taking over the middle linebacker duties in Week Five. He is trailed by
safeties Chris Harris and Deke Cooper, who have 54 tackles each and
have combined for six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and four
Harris has accounted for four of the forced fumble, including one last
week that was returned 27 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Ken
Lucas. The Panthers limited the Falcons to 277 total yards, but a Packers
offense that is averaging over 376 yards per game will be a test,
particularly if Cooper, who left the Atlanta game with a shoulder injury, is
unable to play.
Included in the recent defensive improvement has been a better pass
rush, which has seen Carolina record five sacks in the last two games
after posting only four in the first seven contests. Veteran Mike Rucker,
who made his 100th start, had one of the Panthers two sacks last week
while linebacker Na'il Diggs added the other.
A steadying force on the defense has been Diggs, a former Packer, whose
consistent play at outside linebacker, has benefited the younger Beason
and Thomas Davis. He is one of several former Packers, along with starting
guard Mike Wahle and defensive backs Marquand Manual and Patrick
Dendy, with the Panthers.
"Green Bay is playing as well as any one in our conference right now, and
our margin of error is not very great, so it is going to take a tremendous
effort," says head coach John Fox.