Just 24 hours ago, it seemed unlikely that the Panthers’ next opponent would be coming off a loss heading into Week 10.
But this is the NFL, and the now 7-2 Green Bay Packers lost (badly) to the 4-5 Los Angeles Chargers.
With the Panthers looking to stack wins of their own once again, how exactly did the Chargers take care of business against Aaron Rodgers & Co.? Can Carolina repeat their performance?
Let’s take a look at three keys to the Chargers’ success.
Run the ball
This one shouldn’t be too hard for the Panthers.
After going up 9-0 in the first half, the Chargers needed to run the ball to keep it away from Rodgers and take time off the clock. Despite the Packers knowing that they would be relying on the run game, the Chargers were able to do so with ease, accumulating 110 yards on the ground in the second half.
Coming into Week 9, Los Angeles only had two other games this season where it totalled at least 110 rushing yards in the second half. The Chargers finished with a season-high 159 rushing yards despite averaging just 79.4 yards per game (28th).
With the second leading rusher in the NFL heading to Green Bay on Sunday, the Panthers should be able to take advantage of the Packers’ run defense. Christian McCaffrey is also second among running backs in yards per attempt (5.3). Green Bay has given up over four yards per carry in each of their last three games.
Pressure Aaron Rodgers
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Rodgers averaged just three air yards per completed pass vs. the Chargers, bottom five in the league for Week 9.
The lack of success passing showed; Rodgers finished the first three quarters with 61 yards, a career-low when he has played all three quarters.
Despite having star wideout Davante Adams back in the lineup after missing four games, the offense couldn’t get going. Adams caught seven of his 11 targets for just 41 yards. Rodgers didn’t have a single completion of 20-plus yards.
The answer for the Panthers? Limit Rodgers’ big-play ability by creating pressure.
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram combined for three sacks and six quarterback hits on Rodgers. They were able to get pressure without blitzing, which limited big plays. Carolina’s defense will also need to make it a long day for Rodgers.
Don’t make mistakes and keep the ball away from Rodgers
This might seem like oversimplified an key for every game. But maintaining possession of the football was how the Chargers were able to hold the Packers scoreless until almost the end of the third quarter. Green Bay had just three possessions in the first half, and all of them ended in punts.
Philip Rivers completed 21 of his 28 passes and made good decisions. Nothing flashy or exciting, but a clean game. The Chargers sustained drives and had zero turnovers.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Rivers was the least aggressive thrower in Week 9, meaning he had the lowest percentage of passing attempts into tight coverage.
The Chargers were smart with the football, making sure they kept the ball away from Rodgers, which is exactly what the Panthers will need Allen to do Sunday.
Allen has thrown interceptions in two straight games and was tied for the third-most aggressive passer in Week 9 with Deshaun Watson (25 percent. Sunday in Green Bay would be a wise time for him to limit the risky throws.