News & Analysis

NFL Week 15 Preview: Packers at Panthers

By PFF Analysis Team
Dec 14, 2017

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GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 04: Randall Cobb #18 and Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers line up for a play in the second quarter against the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field on December 4, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The Green Bay Packers visit the Carolina Panthers in Week 15 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.

PFFELO Ranking: 15

Coverage by: Sam McGaw

Matchup: Green Bay Packers offense vs. Carolina Panthers defense

Jordy Nelson, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers

PFFELO Ranking: 10

Coverage by: Mike Manning

Matchup: Carolina Panthers offense vs. Green Bay Packers defense

  • WR Devin Funchess vs. CB Damarious Randall – The Panthers most reliable receiver has seen his production slow a bit as of recently, his catch rate of 51.9 percent the last three weeks is second-lowest among wide receivers with at least 25 targets. But the tough matchups against Marshon Lattimore and Xavier Rhodes the past two weeks would make any receiver work hard for his receptions. Funchess’ biggest struggles have come via the deep ball (20-plus yards downfield), where he’s been targeted 19 times but has been only able to haul in three of them for receptions. Randall on the other hand has been one of the stingiest corners deep, allowing a passer rating of 13.3 on those passes. In the past three weeks, Randall has only allowed a passer rating of 33.3 on any passes thrown his way, which is the fifth-lowest mark in the league.
  • RB Jonathan Stewart vs. DI Kenny Clark – The veteran Stewart is coming off his second 100-yard rushing game of the season and his three rushing touchdowns equaled his season total coming into Week 14. But Stewart had a lot of help from his blocking, with only 23 of his 103 yards coming after contact. He forced zero missed tackles for the second-straight week. His 2.26 yards after contact per attempt this season ranks 43rd out of 51 running backs. Stewart’s ability to run through contact will be tested even more this week against one of the best run defenders in the league in Clark. His 89.1 run-defense grade and 24 run stops both are eighth-highest among interior defenders.
  • TE Greg Olsen vs. LB Blake Martinez – Since Olsen’s return from injury two weeks ago, Panthers tight ends have accounted for only 11.5 percent of Cam Newton’s targets. Olsen only has 0.36 yards per route run in that span, the third-lowest in the league, and his 0.52 yards per route run for the season is on pace for the lowest of his career by over half a yard. Over half of his snaps played this season (52 percent) have been run blocking, if that continues it’ll be the first time in his career that over half of his snaps have been in the running game. Martinez leads the Packers’ defense in snaps covering a tight end and he has allowed a passer rating of 120.2 to the position. His 49.2 coverage grade is the 47th-highest among linebackers this season.

Greg Olsen, tight end, Carolina Panthers

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