Packers-Panthers: How we picked it
WESTON HODKIEWICZ (7-0)
PACKERS 26, PANTHERS 24
The Packers haven't lost back-to-back games with Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback since early in the 2010 season. However, this is an unusual situation. Only twice in NFL history has a team faced a pair of teams with 6-0 records or better in consecutive weeks. The Packers are only 6-6 since the start of the 2014 season on the road, but Rodgers tends to have some of his best games after disappointing losses. The Panthers will put that theory to the test with the NFL's top-ranked rushing offense and a potent defense coming off an emotional overtime win on Monday night. The Packers' offense will right the ship eventually. No better way to do it than knocking off Carolina.
RYAN WOOD (6-1)
PANTHERS 27, PACKERS 23
The outcome of this game could hinge on the health of inside linebacker Clay Matthews' left ankle. Matthews is listed as probable after getting his ankle rolled last week in Denver, and the Packers will need their defensive player of the year candidate to be full strength against Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. In his fifth season, Newton has blossomed into one of the game's best players. Newton has led the Panthers to 11 straight wins, including four straight to close last season and clinch an NFC South title. He is the type of dual-threat quarterback that can give the Packers fits, keeping the chains moving with his legs. The Packers really can't afford to lose this game if they want to maintain pace for home-field advantage in the playoffs, but an undefeated Panthers team will be hard to handle on the road.
PETE DOUGHERTY (7-0)
PACKERS 27, PANTHERS 24
Another tough road game for the Packers against one of the league's better defenses. Cam Newton presents a much different challenge at quarterback than Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers the last two weeks, but the Packers will have Clay Matthews, who injured his ankle and knee last week, to help defend Newton's runs. That matters, a lot. Also, Carolina is coming off a tough overtime game on a short week. So the guess here is that Aaron Rodgers, coach Mike McCarthy and play caller Tom Clements rebound from last week's horrid showing at Denver and put up enough points to win.
STU COURTNEY (7-0)
PACKERS 24, PANTHERS 20
The Packers admit they were lethargic coming out of the bye week and were overwhelmed by the emotionally charged Broncos. Look for a more focused Packers team to rebound against the unbeaten Panthers, who are due for a letdown after blowing a big lead against the lowly Colts and then rallying to win in overtime. Eddie Lacy will have to work to find running room against a tough Carolina defense featuring standout linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, and few NFL receivers are able to get open against lockdown cornerback Josh Norman, but the feeling here is that Aaron Rodgers somehow will find a way to win.
ROBERT ZIZZO (6-1)
PACKERS 21, PANTHERS 17
Three times in the past three seasons, Green Bay has followed a loss in back-to-back road games with a win, including twice last year. The Packers seem to play at a higher level after a loss. I'm betting that continues at Carolina. Aaron Rodgers is coming off the worst game of his career, albeit against possibly the NFL's best defense. Carolina's defense is good, but it's not at Denver's level. Look for Rodgers to bounce back with a big game.