Black & Blue Huddle, Week 10: Panthers looking to avoid repeat of last season

Carolina Panthers

Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey runs for a touchdown while Tennessee Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson tackles during the second half in Charlotte, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) — It was Week 10 of the 2018 NFL season when everything took a 180-degree turn for the Panthers.

The team started 6-2 and just like this year, Week 9 of the 2018 season was a breeze for the team. Carolina defeated the Buccaneers 42-28 in 2018 and took care of the Titans 30-20 this season.

But in Week 10 of last season, the Panthers ran into a hot Pittsburgh Steelers team that managed to hang 52 points on them, sans star running back Le’Veon Bell.

Carolina would go on to lose seven of their final eight games to finish 7-9 — enough to keep them out of the playoffs.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’d see that it’s Week 10 again for the Panthers but things are different this time.

Kyle Allen is the quarterback, Christian McCaffrey has taken a step up, while the defense takes turns stomping on opposing teams — something they didn’t quite do last season.

Allen and company will visit Lambeau Field for a matchup against Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers.

Like a lot of great quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers is nearly unbeatable at home (68-18-1), but the Panthers have the recipe to grab a key win on the road.

The Packers have not been great at defending the run. In fact, they rank near the bottom in rushing defense at 24th out of 32 teams. Christian McCaffrey should be salivating at every chance to touch the ball in this contest.

But, NFL coaches are smart, and McCaffrey’s quarterback-like effect on the team’s gameplan and success is likely what the Packers will try to take away.

Fortunately, not many teams have been able to slow down McCaffrey, no matter how obvious it can be that he’s getting the ball.

Carolina will need Kyle Allen to make plays through the air with so many eyes set to be on McCaffrey. To this point in the year, if you get it to guys like Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore, they have shown that they can take care of the rest.

The Panthers will need their offensive line to hold up against a formidable Packers pass rush. Defensive ends Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith have done damage on opposing offensive linemen all season and the Panthers pair of tackles aren’t the most reliable on the planet.

Expect Ron Rivera and his staff to stress the importance this week of keeping Kyle Allen’s jersey clean.

The Packers offense has gone through changes all season, sometimes leaving Rodgers with unknown commodities at wide receiver due to injury. Whatever adversity you throw at the guy, he continually overcomes.

Green Bay has been middle of the pack in allowing sacks and the Panthers have been electric in that department.

Rodgers gets rid of the ball faster than most, if not all quarterbacks, so getting home on sacks will be hard. As long as the Panthers can generate pressure, the task will be tall for Rodgers to deliver.

This puts the onus on linebackers and defensive backs to make plays in what will likely be an assignment-oriented game.

If the Panthers defense stays in position, Rodgers will be forced to hold the ball a bit longer, allowing the rush to get there effectively. Coverage sacks are the impressive kind of sacks.

Will Kyle Allen make enough plays to help in a game that will feature more than enough Christian McCaffrey? How will the Panthers slow down Aaron Rodgers? Can they?

These questions and more will be answered when the Panthers and Packers meet up at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday.

Hopefully, Week 10 won’t be the start of the ending for the Panthers’ season — as recent history has suggested.

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