|Oddsmakers Make Packers 3-Point Favorite Over Panthers|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 26 November 2008 12:45|
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Each team looks to bounce back from a disappointing road loss when they meet Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Packers –3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 61% of bets for this game have been placed on Packers -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Though both teams find themselves in the NFC playoff picture, they certainly didn't play like teams ready for the postseason last week.
Carolina (8-3) was pushed around in a 45-28 loss at Atlanta last Sunday, allowing the most points in coach John Fox's seven seasons guiding the Panthers. Despite the outcome, Fox won't panic knowing his team is tied for the NFC South lead with Tampa Bay, and currently owns the conference's top wild-card spot.
"I'm sure glad we were more emotionally and technically right in eight of them than the other three (games),'' Fox said. "The other team practices, too, and it's hard to win all of them.''
Green Bay (5-6), meanwhile, lost 51-29 at New Orleans on Monday night one week after beating the Bears 37-3 at home. More importantly, the loss dropped the Packers out of first place in the NFC North, in which it now trails co-leaders Chicago and Minnesota by one game.
It was the most points allowed by Green Bay since a 51-21 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 21, 1980.
"Five games to play, we're not out of anything,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's right in front of us. We need to win football games. We know that. That's our focus."
This is the second straight season these clubs will meet after Green Bay won 31-17 at Lambeau last November. The Packers rushed for 103 yards in that contest and hope to better that number against a Carolina defense that's struggled to stop the run recently.
The Panthers opened the season by not allowing high-profile backs LaDainian Tomlinson, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson or Michael Turner to reach 100 yards rushing. In the last three weeks, though, they've yielded 142 yards on the ground to Oakland, 130 to Detroit and 133 to the Falcons.
Carolina has also dropped from second in the NFL scoring defense to seventh after giving up 67 points in the last two games.
"I don't know what you call problems,'' said a defensive Fox. "I think overall in our body of work we've played pretty good defense and good enough to win eight games. Are the three losses problems? I guess. I don't really know how else to answer that.''
The Packers' Ryan Grant, who has run for 837 yards on 216 carries this season, gained 88 yards on 20 attempts in last season's win over the Panthers.
While Grant has rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games at Lambeau, the Packers hope quarterback Aaron Rodgers bounces back from a subpar performance. Rodgers threw for 248 yards and two TDs, but also threw three interceptions - including two on consecutive possessions - against the Saints.
In order to win their third straight home game, Green Bay's defense will need to rebound after allowing New Orleans' Drew Brees to throw for 323 yards and four touchdowns.
The Packers' pass rush continues to contribute to the team's defensive inconsistency. They have 18 sacks, tying them for 25th in the league after recording a respectable 36 a season ago.
"It's always execution,'' McCarthy said. "The ability to prepare and perform is something that we strive (for) every week. The disappointment or frustration that I stand here with as a coach is the way we've been preparing and the way we've been practicing, and coming off a very solid, strong performance against Chicago, and the ability to take another step forward. And we didn't do that.''
Though not as potent as New Orleans', Carolina's offense is by no means devoid of talent. DeAngelo Williams has rushed for more than 100 yards in four straight games, averaging 117 yards during that span.
Steve Smith caught eight passes for a season-high 168 yards against Atlanta, but has just 13 receptions for 188 yards and no TDs in four career games versus Green Bay.
Jake Delhomme was 21-for-35 for a season-high 295 yards with a touchdown last week. He has thrown for 490 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in two contests against the Packers, who have won four of the last five meetings between these teams.
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Posted: 11/27/08 11:47PM ET