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.