Packers at Panthers: Gameday Preview - 2023 Week 16

The Panthers are the worst team in the league... unless they win today...

The last time the Packers played the Panthers was 2020, when they jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead before cruising to a 24-16 win.

The Packers ran for 7.2 yards per rush (thanks to a 20 carry, 145 yard Aaron Jones performance) and Aaron Rodgers only needed to throw for 145 yards.

Teddy Bridgewater threw for 258 yards, which is more than the Panthers rookie quarterback Bryce Young has ever had in his career. 

One way or another, Joe Barry will have something to say about that today.



The Panthers defense ranks 29th in points allowed and is dead last in takeaways.

At the same time, they rank 3rd in yards allowed.

Interesting, let's dig deeper.

Opponents have only attempted 397 passes on the Panthers (the fewest passes attempted against any team in the league), which is a big reason why they've given up the 3rd fewest passing yards in the league.

However, opponents have attempted 410 rushes against the Panthers, which is the 5th most in the league.

The lost to the Saints 28-6, despite giving up only 207 yards. They lost to the Colts 27-13, despite giving up only 198 yards.

How can these things happen?

Well, simply put, the Panthers are a bad team.

They make a lot of mistakes. They turn the ball over at inopportune times. They let opposing defenses score. They do all the things that let teams jump out to early leads. Then, their opponents get out to big leads, they just grind out the clock.

Teams don't need to put up huge numbers to win against the Panthers.

The Panthers defense isn't without talent, though.

Derrick Brown is a force in the interior offensive line and the Packers have struggled recently against Vita Vea and Dexter Lawrence. On the edge, Brian Burns is quick-twitch speed rusher that can bend the corner against any tackle. Jaycee Horn is a top-end cornerback who can compete with the best receivers in the game.

The Panthers have talent at each level of the defense... just not a lot of it.

Green Bay can run left and avoid Brown and Burns, who line up next to each other on the offense's right (which conveniently allows Love to read pressure sooner).

They can throw away from Jaycee Horn because the Packers don't have a #1 receiver that they need to force the ball to. They can spread it around and find the open man, like they have been doing successfully for the past month.

Jordan Love should be able to produce points against this bunch, but the offense can't rest with a lead.

This would be a great week to have AJ Dillon so the Packers could grind out yards with a lead, but that isn't likely. Aaron Jones isn't a run-out-the-clock kind of back either. Throw in the fact that Joe Barry didn't get fired this week, and it becomes clear that no lead is safe.

If the Packers can get a lead (and the should be able to), they cannot get complacent. They need to keep throwing the ball and they need to keep scoring to make absolutely sure this one doesn't get away.



I think the Packers players are frustrated and fired up. That can either lead to a physical, dominating performance or a complete implosion.

I'm an optimist by nature, so I'm going with the former.

Not only do the Panthers rank 29th in points and 30th in yards on offense, they're dead last in starting field position.

So, they start with bad field position and don't get very far.

They haven't scored a touchdown since December 3rd.

And that's not unexpected with the talent level they have.

Chubba Hubbard, their top run threat, only broke 90 yards once this year and isn't much of a receiving option. He's a solid run threat, but not a game breaker. Old vet Adam Thielen is their best receiver and the only one who has really produced.

Rookie quarterback Bryce Young is not ready to elevate a team yet and it shows. The rookie, with a weak supporting cast, hasn't even thrown for 250 yards in a game yet and has just 9 touchdown passes to go with 9 interceptions. He's been held under 200 passing yards 9 times this year.

Enter Joe Barry.

The kingmaker has led a defense that gave career days to bottom third QBs in back to back weeks. Let's not count out Bryce Young and the Panthers just yet.

It seems like the players are frustrated and I hope that leads to positive change this week.

If they play solid up front up keep Bryce Young from running (the Packers have really let QBs break out on the ground the last couple of weeks), they should be able to simply double Adam Thielen and suffocate this underwhelming offense.




This is the third week in a row where I feel like the Packers are clearly superior to their opponent and should win on talent alone.

The first two weeks didn't go so great.

Based on players social media comments and coaches press conferences, we have reached a bit of a tipping point. I think the Packers players and coaches, especially on defense, want to make a statement today. I have faith in them (against the worst team in the league, anyways).

If nothing else, the Packers should be able to lean on the offense to win this one.

It's been a roller coaster year, but the Packers have realistic playoff hopes and are facing the worst team in the NFL.

There's not much analysis needed - just quit playing down to the level of a bad teams and beat the league's doormat so we can all have a Merry Christmas.

Packers 22, Panthers 13





Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Best-selling author of books such as A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan's Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and

Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @BruceIronsNFL.


3 points

Comments (8)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Houndog's picture

December 24, 2023 at 07:44 am

Good morning,
So today is the the big coming out party for Bryce Young when he shows why he was picked so highly in the draft. There's nothing like a Joe Barry defense to build confidence in a rookie or a 3rd string QB!
Plus he's got "Old vet Adan Thielen" who in all likelihood will revitalize his career by showing he can still get wide open in the middle of the field as he sets a career high in receptions and easy first downs, while Chubba Hubbard has a field day running the ball.
The Panthers' defense is not great, and we''ll get a chance today to see how they are with the dozen or so "double tight end, double reverse, double lateral, and then back to Love for the bomb" plays GB comes up with.
Fasten your seat belts, there's lot of bumps and bruises inside the defense from being run over by LaFlake's bus a few days ago. What I'm wondering is if that's the same bus Murphy uses for his Kumbaya kruises around the state every August? He'd better get that undercarriage cleaned and checked for DNA.
But hey, "It seems like the players are frustrated and I hope that leads to positive change this week".
Well, Don't hold you breath, Cuz Yes! The players are frustrated, and so are the fans!
We've been looking for that "Positive Change" for almost two years, but Barry's still there, and thanks to Murphy and LaFlake the place is in shambles.

0 points
mnbadger's picture

December 24, 2023 at 10:24 am

come on 'dog, shambles?
IMO, we're a competent coaching staff away from the playoffs today.
Once we shed some money and bring in FA's to fill holes, we'll be back in the running.

2 points
Coldworld's picture

December 24, 2023 at 07:52 am

Despite having to swim up hill in terms of time of possession and an inability to score on O never taking away the run, the Panthers D has been pretty good overall. It’s not likely to be easy to run on them. So the O isn’t likely to have it all their own way, particularly if we don’t try to stretch them vertically. Use Melton if needed.

Usually the Panthers O has throttled all hope that they might have had. Setting things up nicely. Their RB is an old fashioned battering ram. They are going to pound him a lot. We didn’t elevate Ford, so what will be Barry’s approach to stopping that?

They need the run game at least moving to maintain possession, keep rushers off Young, something that’s been a struggle, and to give them a chance to get Thielen involved. For most teams, the game plan versus the Panthers had been to win with D …

0 points
beerandbrats's picture

December 24, 2023 at 08:34 am

All I want for Christmas this year is complimentary and competent football!

2 points
Ima Payne's picture

December 24, 2023 at 08:51 am

Merry Christmas to all. Dont know what team shows up today we never do. will it be the lost looking defense of gb. will they save jones from himself with 8 runs and then sunday off. will love again try and throw a 30 yard pass. will our pass rush actually get a sack. is there such a thing as interceptions on this d. i predicted a 6 win season and am on track still. lose and your playin golf early boys.

2 points
Ferrari-Driver's picture

December 24, 2023 at 10:36 am

The Packers are favored to win this game and I expect they will do so against the NFL team with the worst win/loss record. A loss in this game would really reflect badly on the Packers players and coaching staff and I think both players and coaches are well aware of that. The Packers are around a 4 point favorite to win the game on the road and I think they will cover that. I expect this game will lift our spirits at least a little bit. Merry Christmas to all you Packer fans and your families.

4 points
CheesedDeadHead's picture

December 24, 2023 at 10:47 am

If the Panthers prevent the Packers from jumping out to an early lead and keep the score close going into halftime, I think they smell the blood in the water plus adjust at halftime and it could be another embarrassing loss for the Packers.

If the Packers can put some early points on the board I think they can hold on (even with the gifts that a Joe Barry defense gives to the opposition) to win.

0 points
ricky's picture

December 24, 2023 at 10:51 am

Any bets on which linebacker will be covering Thielen all game? How many yards will Young run for after escaping the pass rush? If it gets to third and eight for the Panthers, will the DB's be playing back 12 or 15 yards? These are all legitimate questions. After all, against Tampa, the Bucs best WR's were being shadowed by Campbell. And recall that DeVito got over 70 yards rushing against the Packers, with no sacks. As far as the depth of the DB's? Is any explanation needed? I really hate being so cynical, but this team, especially the defense, has been so frustrating for so long, it begins to wear a person down. On the bright side, Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to one and all, and may our New Year be filled with the anticipation of an improved team next year.

1 points