Here are three keys to the game that can help.
Offense: More Mike Davis and Robby Anderson
While it’s good to have multiple playmakers, at times the way the touches have been distributed for this Carolina offense has been confusing. Last week in Green Bay, Robby Anderson didn’t get his first catch until the fourth quarter despite Curtis Samuel struggling and Christian McCaffrey being ruled out yet again. Anderson has been a model of efficiency this year and needs to be more involved in the passing game.
Backup running back Mike Davis has also seen his role somewhat diminished of late. The extra looks for both Trenton Cannon and rookie Rodney Smith have formed a sort of diet running-back-by-committee approach. Trouble is, Davis has been far more effective than either of them, especially when it comes to adding yards over expectation. In Green Bay, Davis saw 14 carries but was only targeted twice. Until McCaffrey comes back, Davis should be Carolina’s bellcow.
Defense: 60-minute focus, stop TE Logan Thomas
If the Panthers had just managed to contain (or at least marginally disrupt) Aaron Jones last week they might have beaten the Packers in spite of everything else they did wrong. Carolina did a superb job defending Aaron Rodgers the entire night though – especially after the half – another sign of a potentially bright future for this unit. What they need more of is consistency. Aside from the shutout victory over the Lions, we haven’t seen a full 60-minute effort yet from this group. Collectively they need to play smart, avoid penalties and perform to their full potential.
One guy they will need to stop on the other side is tight end Logan Thomas. With No. 1 wide receiver Terry McLaurin not expected to play, Thomas’ role might be much more important than normal. He already leads the team with five touchdown catches this season and is second behind McLaurin in receiving yards. Eliminating Thomas as a threat in the red zone could be a critical wound for Washington’s offense, especially if running back Antonio Gibson (listed as questionable) can’t go.