The Packers opened defense of their Super Bowl crown with Thursday’s 42-34 win against the Saints.  Mike McCarthy’s troops continue the campaign with Sunday’s journey against the Carolina Panthers, who logged a 28-21 defeat last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Sportsbooks opened Green Bay as a 10 ½-point road favorite, while first setting the ‘total’ at 43.  Early betting action on the Panthers and ‘over’ moved the numbers to 10 and 46 ½, respectively. 

Pack defense bailed out by Rodgers 

Cam Newton Carolina Panthers

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tossed three touchdowns in Thursday’s triumph, while completing 27-of-35 passes for 312 yards.  The Super Bowl MVP led his offense to 24 first downs in its 33 minutes of possession, reaching the end zone in all four of trips inside the New Orleans’ 20-yard line. 

Green Bay’s James Starks and Greg Jennings led their squad in rushing and receiving, respectively, taking in one touchdown each.  Starks ran for 57 yards on 12 carries, while Jennings caught seven passes for 89 yards. 

The Packers’ defense gave up a sizable 419 yards of passing to Saints quarterback Drew Brees, while recording three sacks.  Linebacker Desmond Bishop notched a team-high eight tackles. 

The contest’s combined 76 points soared ‘over’ the ‘total’ of 47 ½.  Green Bay was flagged six times, costing Rodgers and Co. 48 yards.

The Packers logged a 4-4 spread mark in their eight regular-season road games last year, with the ‘under’ cashing at 7-1. 

Newton solid for Panthers in defeat 

Carolina’s Cam Newton made his NFL debut under center in Sunday’s defeat, torching Arizona’s defense for 422 yards.  The Auburn alum found four-time Pro Bowl selection Steve Smith for two touchdowns, while rushing for one score himself. 

Panthers running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart united for 56 rushing yards.  The duo combined with Newton for 27 carries, helping Carolina’s offense move the chains for 26 first downs. 

The Panthers allowed 394 total yards, with 99 coming through the ground.  Linemates Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy registered one sack each. 

The battle’s combined 49 points leaped ‘over’ the ‘total’ of 37 ½.  Carolina picked up 10 penalties, while committing just one turnover.

The Panthers went 2-6 ATS in their eight home dates last season, with the ‘under’ going 5-2-1.

Panthers the play as home dogs 

Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET).  The weather forecast at Bank of America Stadium (grass) calls for a partly cloudy 70 degrees, with calm winds. 

This handicapper is backing the Panthers, taking Ron Rivera’s squad and its sizable double digits at the NFL betting windows. 

Green Bay comes in a little vulnerable to this type of spot, following its emotional win at home on national television while looking ahead to its first divisional foe in Chicago next week.  The Packers defense kept New Orleans hanging, while their special teams gave up a 72-yard punt return by the Saints’ Darren Sproles for a touchdown. 

Carolina’s offseason moves showed early dividends despite dropping Sunday’s opener.  Newton’s performance was among Week 1’s top stories, bringing an array of weapons that Green Bay could have trouble keeping up with.  Panthers tight ends Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey quietly had a pair of good days on the field, uniting for 129 receiving yards. 

The Panthers last met Green Bay in 2008, when Carolina notched a 35-31 win as a three-point road dog in the odds. Williams reached paydirt four times for the Panthers, while Smith notched a sizable 105 yards of receiving.

Look for Carolina to play a thriller at home, cashing tickets in a contest that could come down to the final drive.