Packers-Panthers: Key matchup

Here is a key matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. Both teams meet Monday night in Charlotte:

CBs Al Harris and Ahmad Carroll vs WR Steve Smith

Steve Smith is coming off a huge game against the Miami Dolphins in which he caught 11 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns. He's at the top of his game right now and could have decent numbers again this week against a young Green Bay secondary.

Smith suffered a season-ending injury against Green Bay in the season opener last year on Monday night, so revenge here is a factor for the little man with a big chip on his shoulder.

Al Harris, who usually lines up on the right side, is likely to shadow Smith the entire game. Harris has a 4-inch height advantage over the 5-foot-9 Smith, so he'll have the leverage to throw Smith off his route at the line of scrimmage.

However, if the speedy Smith beats the jam, Harris will have a hard time keeping pace.

Ahmad Carroll, who is an inch taller than Smith and has similar quickness, could be a liability in a periodic one-on-one matchup if his sore left knee isn't 100 percent by Monday.

With both underachieving teams desperate for a victory, points will be at a premium.

It will be up to the Packers defense to keep the Panthers from penetrating inside its 20. Carolina has been next to automatic inside the red zone the first three weeks, cashing in six of its seven incursions with touchdowns, the 85.7-percent conversion rate tops in the NFC and second in the league.

Green Bay's defense has yielded a touchdown five of the eight times (62.5 percent) the opponent has reached the red zone.

"They're a very talented team," said Packers coach Mike Sherman of the Panthers. "Our players are aware of that. I feel confident that we'll play a good game."

Some of this information was obtained through wire services.

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