The inside track to one of the NFC’s top two playoff seeds and home-field advantage throughout the postseason is on the line when the undefeated, but underdog, Carolina Panthers host the Green Bay Packers in Week 9’s match up Sunday afternoon from Bank of American Stadium.
The Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton enter the potentially pivotal showdown on a seven-game winning streak to start the season, joining New England, Denver, and Cincinnati as the only undefeated teams left in the league.
But even at home and on such a hot run, Carolina is considered an underdog in its own stadium to a Packers squad coming off its first loss of the year.
The Panthers largely decimated Indianapolis before coughing up a 17-point fourth-quarter lead and requiring overtime to keep the franchise’s best start in history alive in Week 8. A win over Green Bay, who blasted them 38-17 in Week 7 of last season, would help the Panthers make their case as the NFC’s best team and could act as a tiebreaker during the playoff race later this season.
Yet Green Bay is coming off one of its worst losses, a 29-10 beat down at the hands of Denver, that saw quarterback Aaron Rodgers complete 14 passes for only 77 yards against the league’s best defense.
The Packers are still one game ahead of rival Minnesota for the NFC North lead, but like Carolina, a victory this week could decide the difference between one or two home playoff games.
Green Bay takes to the road, where it is 2-1 on the year, with several worrisome injuries while the Panthers are relatively healthy.
The Packers listed cornerbacks Quinten Rollins (neck) and Sam Shields (shoulder) as questionable for Sunday’s game, as well as rookie receiver Ty Montgomery (ankle), who’s played in spots but helped out when second-year wide out Davante Adams missed time.
Carolina will miss starting left guard Andrew Norwell (hamstring) for the first time this season, while reserve defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (ankle) is expected to miss his third straight after returning to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday but pulling out the last two days, according to the team’s official injury report.
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Live Stream: NFL Online