The Carolina Panthers currently have the seventh best pass defense, giving up an average of 229 yards per game, and this is due in large part to the emergence of Josh Norman. Pro Football Focus has Norman rated as the best cornerback in the NFL with a rating of 17.3 and opposing quarterback's have a ridiculously low QB rating of only 25.5 when throwing his direction.
This will be a good test for Norman as he will be going up against arguably the best wide receiver he has seen this season when he lines up across from Packers' Randall Cobb. Last week against the Colts, the Panthers tried their best to keep Norman on the Colts' number one, T.Y. Hilton and he was held to only one reception for 15 yards. If Norman is able to contain Cobb on Sunday, it will make Aaron Rodgers' job that much more difficult due to the fact that they don't have a consistent second option.
The Panthers' veteran defensive end could have a little extra motivation in this one, as Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Jones details in his article. As a member of the Minnesota Vikings, Allen came up a half sack short of the single season record in sacks in 2011 but missed the record on a technicality.
Allen had registered two sacks on Rodgers during a game that season but one was taken away later in the week due to the fact that the Packers' quarterback fumbled the ball before Allen got to him. The sack, and subsequently the record, was taken away from Allen.
The Panthers' trade for Allen has had its ups and downs as Allen suffered a back injury in the first game with the team and missed the game against the Seattle Seahawks after the bye week. However, he has started to make his presence known with sacks in each of the past two games and a total of 10 tackles. The Panthers are going to need a similar performance against the Packers to keep the pressure on Rodgers and not allow him to sit in the pocket.
The one Achilles heel for the Panthers' defense this year has been the run defense, which has given up an average of 113.7 rushing yards per game and ranks 20th in the NFL. The Packers meanwhile have an excellent running back in Eddie Lacy, who has been struggling lately due mostly to a lingering ankle injury. The injury has lingered for a majority of the year and he looks to be getting back to being 100%. It would not be surprising with how strong the Panthers' pass defense is for the Packers to try and establish the run early with Lacy.
If that is the case, this could be a game for Thomas Davis to make his mark on the stat sheet. The Colts did a good job of avoiding Davis and he finished the game with only two tackles. This is certainly not the norm for Davis as it is only the second time he has two or fewer tackles since 2007. If the Packers try to lean on the run game, expect to hear Davis' name mentioned a great deal throughout the game.