Panthers vs Packers Preview & Free Pick [December 19th 2020]

Carolina (4-9) at Green Bay (10-3)
When: Saturday, December 19th, 2020
Where: Lambeau Field,
Green Bay, WI
Time: 8:15 ET | TV: NFLN
Opening Odds: Green Bay -9.5/51

We have a treat this week in the NFL with two games on Saturday and will feature two of the league’s best teams. The first game during the afternoon is Buffalo vs. Denver, and you can find our predictions for that game over on our Week 15 Staff Selections page. The nightcap features the Carolina Panthers visiting the Green Bay Packers from Lambeau Field on NFL Network. Green Bay, which has won three in a row, already has clinched the NFC North title for the second consecutive season and are tied with the New Orleans Saints for the best record in the conference heading into Week 15. The Packers own the tiebreaker and control their own destiny for the all-important bye week in the postseason. Green Bay has been beating up on inferior opponents during the winning streak, including a 31-24 road win at the Detroit Lions last Sunday. Next up is Carolina, which has lost seven of its past eight games and will finish below .500 for the third season in a row. First year head coach Matt Rhule has faced tough challenges rebuilding this franchise, including the extended absence running back Christian McCaffrey. A quadriceps injury has kept McCaffrey out since Nov. 8, and has appeared in only three games this season. It might be a good idea just to shut the team’s best player down until next season. The Panthers’ offense has come to life in the second half of the season, but the defense continues to let them down. Carolina allowed 32 in a loss to Denver last week and 28 the week before in Minnesota.

Green Bay opened as a 9.5-point favorite with a total of 51. The line has now moved up to 9.5 as the public is all over the Packers, while the total has stayed steady. The line is key because five of the last six matchups in this series have been decided by eight points or less, including a 24-16 victory by Green Bay last season at Lambeau Field. McCaffrey was stopped just short of the goal line as time expired. Aaron Rodgers was held in check, but Aaron Jones rumbled for for three touchdowns. The teams have split the past 10 against the spread, but Carolina is on a 4-2 ATS run in the series.

Without McCaffrey, wideout Robby Anderson if flourishing and 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. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is completing 70.7 percent of his passes for 3,102 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions but has limited weapons at his disposal. Mike Davis ran for two scores as the featured back again with McCaffrey out in the loss to Denver last week and Bridgewater also rushed for a touchdown. Bridgewater completed 30-of-40 passes for 283 yards and didn’t get intercepted but also had zero passing touchdowns. Wide receiver DJ Moore missed the game on the reserve/COVID-19 list but should be back for this one. The defense is ranked 21st overall (364.4) and 23rd against the pass (250.8). Carolina will be at Washington next week before closing with New Orleans. The Panthers are 5-0 in their last five road games.

Carolina is going to have a hard time keeping up 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). Rodgers has completed 69.6 percent of his passes for 3,685 yards, 39 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also has a passer rating of 119.7, which ranks first in the NFL. Rodgers passed for three more touchdowns last week in the win over Detroit while also rushing for a score. It was his 26th career game with both a passing and rushing touchdown – the third-most by a player in NFL history after Cam Newton (42) and Steve Young (31). Wide receiver Davante Adams caught seven balls for 115 yards and a score. 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. Defensively, the Packers have stepped up of late, with just 210.7 passing yards allowed per game during their winning streak. The Packers, who are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games at Lambeau Field, will host Tennessee next Sunday night, pending a flex by the NFL.

The Panthers defense was destroyed last week by Drew Lock, one of the worst quarterbacks in the league this season. Rodgers should have his way and the underrated Packers’ defense won’t give Bridgewater and company much. I’ll lay the points.

Pick: Packers -8.5
Week 15 Staff Selections