Two weeks ago, the Carolina Panthers flew into San Francisco with a four-game winning streak but returned home having been thumped 51-13 by the 49ers.
Last week, the Green Bay Packers flew into Los Angeles with a four-game winning streak but returned home having been blasted 26-11 by the Chargers.
The Panthers bounced back from their blowout loss to beat the Tennessee Titans 30-20 last week. The host Packers hope to rebound in similar fashion against Carolina on Sunday, Nov. 10.
"I think this is just kind of a game that we're going to learn from," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of the defeat to the Chargers. "Obviously, we didn't start very fast on either side of the ball. On offense, we just didn't have that normal juice that we do most game days. We started off with a couple of penalties and some three-and-outs and some negative-yardage plays. I think we just need to get back to the basics this week and get refocused.
"A lot of great teams have gone through kind of those dud games where they're just sloshing through games."
The Sunday game will feature a couple of MVP candidates: Rodgers and his 17 touchdowns, two interceptions and 104.4 passer rating for the Packers (7-2), and Christian McCaffrey, who leads the NFL in rushing yards per game, total yards from scrimmage, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns for the Panthers (5-3).
Rodgers will be tested by a defense that has piled up a league-leading 34 sacks.
"What jumps out is the front," Rodgers said. "Their front is very talented, big and athletic. Two great linebackers inside (Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson) that are sideline-to-sideline players and cover a lot of ground and are really good in the pass game as well. They're good at covering just about any position. You really have to try and stymie their front if you want to get anything going."
McCaffrey will be facing a Packers run defense that gave up 159 rushing yards to a Chargers offense that had 142 rushing yards the previous four games combined.
"We've seen a lot of different coverages, a lot of different personnel groupings trying to match with him," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "The truth of the matter is and the nice thing is, when we're distributing the ball as far as the passing game, it's hard to zero in on just him. Running, obviously, is a little bit different, but as long as we keep distributing the ball, we'll be OK."
The subplot on Sunday will be Packers coach Matt LaFleur vs. Rivera. The Kyle Shanahan-coached 49ers blasted the Panthers on Oct. 27; LaFleur and Shanahan are part of the same coaching tree and share similar offensive philosophies. Both coaches downplayed that factor, though, saying it was circumstances, not scheme, that dictated the outcome.
"There were a few turnovers that really kind of changed the complexion of that game early on, and the Niners were in pretty good field position," LaFleur said. "And then they hit on a couple big runs and a couple passes, and that game spiraled out of control in a hurry. But I think it was more to do with the turnovers than anything else."
Green Bay listed 16 players on its initial injury report, but safety Adrian Amos (hamstring) was the only one who didn't practice Wednesday.
Carolina listed 12 injured players Wednesday, Nov. 6, with McCaffrey (knee), defensive linemen Gerald McCoy (knee) and Vernon Butler (back), cornerback James Bradberry (groin) and safety Eric Reid (ankle) not participating.