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Packers vs. Panthers: Performances to watch

Carolina’s pass rush vs. Green Bay’s pass protection a major storyline

T Bryan Bulaga and G/T Billy Turner
T Bryan Bulaga and G/T Billy Turner

GREEN BAY – The Panthers have never beaten the Packers three straight times, but they'll try to follow up their victories over Green Bay from 2015 and '17 on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Here are five things to watch.

1. Protection priority: From Weeks 2-7, the Packers' pass protection was a huge key to offensive success, as QB Aaron Rodgers was sacked just seven times over six games. He's been sacked eight times in the last two contests, and the Chargers pressured him steadily without having to blitz. The Packers will look to get back to where they were up front against a Panthers defense leading the league in sacks with 34.

2. Touchdown machines: Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey leads the NFL with 13 touchdowns (10 rushing, three receiving) and Green Bay RB Aaron Jones is right on his heels with 11 (8-3). McCaffrey is coming off a three-TD outing while Jones was kept out of the end zone last week.

3. Takeaway tracker: Is it any coincidence that in the three games the Packers' defense has not generated a takeaway, Green Bay has lost twice and in the other game trailed the entire time before needing a walk-off field goal to win? Probably not. Carolina QB Kyle Allen didn't throw an interception in his first four starts this season, but he's been picked four times in his last two.

Take a look inside the Green Bay Packers' locker room before their Week 10 matchup with the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field. Shop the 'Salute to Service' collection:

4. Ripe for returns: Neither team has generated much on kickoff returns this year, with the Panthers' season long at 35 yards and the Packers' at 36, achieved just last week by Tremon Smith. With the cold weather and kickoffs not flying as far, someone might be primed for a breakout.

5. Division doings: Detroit (3-4-1) travels to Chicago (3-5) for the first meeting between the two this year, so one of them will get a fourth victory to stay out of the NFC North cellar. More important, Minnesota (6-3) travels to Dallas (5-3) on Sunday night for a big conference matchup, and the Vikings will know by kickoff whether they're playing to tie the Packers (7-2) for first place, or if they're at risk of falling two games back.