From there, it does not matter the outcome of the matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the St. Louis Rams because 10 teams will fully be in play for the Wild Card.
A week ago, before the loss to the Denver Broncos, the Packers looked unbeatable, as if this season could go down as one talked about for generations. They had won 6 games by 10.5 points. They had a balanced team, where the running game paced them and helped them maintain leads.
Even Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was in on the act (160 yards in 6 games), while throwing it on everybody, averaging 8.16 Yard per Attempt , heading for roughly 4,000 yards for the season. Was Denver's defense the driving force to Rodgers's poor 3.5 Yards per Attempt performance? Or was it something that had been looming but hidden?
Mike Tyson famously and accurately quipped, "Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth." Until facing the Broncos, Green Bay had scored first in all of its games, even the come from behind win against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Carolina Panthers are more of a team that builds momentum as the game progresses. They are as likely to fall behind by 3 points as they are to take a 7 point lead.
Though the underdog, the Panthers have more than a puncher's chance to beat the Packers back into the playoff pack; they have Cam Newton.
Using the previous metrics, through 6 games, Cam was on his way to 3400 yards for the season and had 245 yards rushing.
Third in the NFL, Cam Newton averages 13 yards per completion and this is not due to his receivers' YAC (yard after catch). The Panthers use long passes to open up the running game and they lead the NFL in Rushing, where Green Bay's defense is near the bottom.
This is a toss-up for the win, with Carolina getting the slight nod because they are at home. The numbers break as Panthers (.526) to win by 7 points, and Packers (.474) to win by 5 points.
So, I take the Panthers (OVER). Pick wisely, come back for Monday's pick and until then watch which team triumphs.