The Carolina Panthers have struggled in 2020, going 4-9 so far this season under first-year head coach Matt Rhule. Turnover at all levels of the organization is a factor, from the coaching change to Teddy Bridgewater taking over at quarterback from Cam Newton, to changing personnel on defense.
However, one of the biggest changes the Panthers have dealt with this season is the fact that running back Christian McCaffrey has barely played. Last year, McCaffrey earned first-team All-Pro honors as he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage as he racked up over 1,000 yards each through the air and on the ground. But this season, he has played in just three games, leaving the Panthers without its primary ball-carrier and a versatile receiving weapon out of the backfield.
McCaffrey suffered an ankle injury in the Panthers’ week two loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he was able to return in week nine, when he injured his shoulder against the Kansas City Chiefs. He also has a calf injury that has contributed to his absences of late, and now should miss a fifth straight game.
This is a matchup that the Packers’ defense will not be sad to miss. In two career games against the Packers, a 2017 Panthers win and a 2019 Packers victory, McCaffrey has totaled 277 total yards of offense and a pair of touchdowns. However, he was stopped just shy of the goal line at Lambeau Field last year as time expired with the Packers up by 8 points.
Look for Mike Davis to again carry the load as Carolina’s primary running back on Saturday evening. Davis has averaged just over four yards per carry this season and has added 57 receptions out of the backfield, but at just 6.5 yards per catch. The matchup with the Packers’ porous run defense is a good one, but expect the Panthers to also rely on their passing game with Bridgewater throwing to three talented receivers in Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, and D.J. Moore (who is expected to return from the reserve/COVID-19 list in time for the game.