WHEN: Sunday, Noon CT
WHERE: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Brian Baldinger
SERIES: 10th meeting. Packers lead series 6-3. The Packers are 2-1 against the Panthers at Lambeau Field. Purely by coincidence, these teams played every year but one from 1996-2005 and there have been some very memorable games. The last two have come on Monday Night Football, both at Bank of America Stadium. In the last encounter on Oct. 3, 2005, Carolina ended a three-game losing streak to the Packers with a 32-29 win, doing so only after holding off a furious fourth-quarter rally by Brett Favre. Jake Delhomme threw for 204 yards and two scores, while Stephen Davis ran for two more touchdowns in the victory.
PREDICTION: Packers 23-16
KEYS TO THE GAME: Coach John Fox stressed better execution after the Panthers converted just three of 16 third downs last Sunday, including one of seven that were five yards or less. Carolina is averaging 4.2 yards per carry, and an improved effort on the ground would help open things for WR Steve Smith, who has 10 catches for 94 yards and no touchdowns the past three games. ... RB Ryan Grant has provided a legitimate running threat, but make no mistake that the Packers' plan is to pass their way to victory. Green Bay spread the field with as many as five receivers last Sunday, leaving QB Brett Favre on an island in the shotgun. While Panthers DEs Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker are in season-long slumps, Carolina has five sacks the past two games and Favre will still look to get rid of the ball quickly on screens and slants.
KEY INJURIES: Panthers: FS Deke Cooper (shoulder) likely will play; WR Steve Smith (shin) did not practice this week and will be a game-time decision. Packers: FS Nick Collins (knee sprain) will miss at least two more games; TE Bubba Franks (knee) is out, but doing some light running.
FAST FACTS: Peppers has 35 tackles, 1.5 sacks and eight QB pressures. At the same point last season, he had 55, 11 and 23. ... Favre has 60,257 passing yards, second all-time to Dan Marino's 61,361.