Packers or Panthers? How we're picking it

Press-Gazette Media
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Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) tries to sack Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) in the second quarter during their 2011 game.

Weston Hodkiewicz (6-0)

Packers 30, Panthers 24

Cam Newton and the read option will be the Panthers' best chance at breaking Dom Capers' defense, but how willing will Carolina coach Ron Rivera be to expose his franchise quarterback to collision? Their banged-up backfield doesn't command much respect, either. As streaky as the Packers' offense has been this season, Aaron Rodgers knows how to stress a defense. If Eddie Lacy and James Starks can hold up their end of the bargain against a shaky run defense, Rodgers should be able to carve up Carolina's thin secondary for a fourth straight victory.

Ryan Wood (5-1)

Packers 35, Panthers 31

This one won't be as easy as the touchdown spread indicates. On paper, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is a tough matchup for the Green Bay Packers' defense. Newton's ability to run the read option — exploiting the Packers' weak spot — will induce headaches inside Lambeau Field. But Aaron Rodgers is too good. The Packers quarterback has played nearly perfect football over the past three weeks, and that's not likely to change against a Panthers defense ranked in the NFL's bottom 10 in points and yards allowed per game.

Robert Zizzo (5-1)

Packers 31, Panthers 21

Its read option will be a challenge, but Carolina doesn't have enough offensive weapons beyond Cam Newton and Greg Olsen (add in Kelvin Benjamin, if he's healthy enough to play) to give Green Bay's defense too many problems. The Packers are playing at home against a suspect Panthers defense that has given up an average of 34 points over its past four games.

Pete Dougherty (4-2)

Packers 31, Panthers 21

The Packers have their problems with running quarterbacks, but Cam Newton doesn't have weapons like San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick and Seattle's Russell Wilson do. Also, Carolina's defense isn't the same without suspended defensive end Greg Hardy. The guess here is the Packers start a favorable home stretch with a sound win.

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