The Carolina Panthers faced the Green Bay Packers Dec 17 at Bank of America Stadium. The final score was 31-24.
The game was filled with playoff implications for both teams. The Panthers in the dominant NFC South division, competing with both the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons heading to the postseason. And Green Bay, still in the hunt. Let’s delve into the biggest takeaways, for the Panthers, from that week 15 matchup.
Biggest takeaways from the Panthers-Packers game
Christian McCaffrey will be huge in the playoffs
McCaffrey has 592 reception yards and has rushed for another 382 through 14 games. It is no secret that the Panthers needed him to work into their offense and fast. His 136 offensive yards and one touchdown may not sound impressive but the way he earned them were.
According to Justin Patrick’s week 16 playoff scenarios, the Panthers need a win this week in order to clinch a playoff berth. With Mike Shula’s offensive scheme that was created for the rookie, McCaffrey can cause confusion against defenses. Being a rookie hinders him from being confident sometimes when he’s running the ball. That could hurt him during their possible playoff run. However, nerves could work to his benefit.
The resurgence of Byrd man
Damiere Byrd had a big game against the Packers last Sunday, grabbing two touchdowns on the day. He didn’t put up major numbers but he did add another dimension to Carolina’s offense. The franchise traded Kelvin Benjamin earlier in the season in an attempt to make a change on the offensive side of the ball. Instead of bringing the normal “giants,” Benjamin lined up on one side and Devin Funchess on the other, the Panthers will bring more speed.
Byrd along with McCaffrey brings that to the team. Byrd is around the same height as the average safety. Each target his way is going to be a fight. What he also has the ability to do is make the difficult catch which he made apparent with his second touchdown catch. Like McCaffrey, he is a rookie that has growing to do. He looks promising.
Panthers’ secondary is better than you think
No, they aren’t the Legion of Boom, which might be a good thing considering most of those guys are injured right now, but they have some grit about them that has only grown with their experience. The youngest two, Daryl Worley and James Bradberry, have muscled up against some of the best receivers in the league.
The Packers were eliminated from playoff contention with a Falcons loss Monday night. That leaves Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve and their team figuring out the next step. For the Panthers, they have back-to-back division games to end their regular season.