Oh where oh where have my Packers gone, oh where oh where could they be? The Green Bay Packers look to be a team lost at sea. After as close to devastating as a loss can be, the Packers will look to right the course of the ship in a week 11 matchup with the Washington Redskins. Many questions need answering as the Packers hit the road in game two of a three game road trip. We are going to breakdown 3 burning questions, 2 key matchups, and 1 bold prediction. This is the Countdown to Kickoff.
3 Burning Questions
Can the Offense Find Success?
Let’s start with the basics. As long as Aaron Rodgers is under center, the Packers offense has the potential be highly successful (not unlike our highly successful head coach). But with some accuracy issues recently, and inability to find open receivers, success on offense has been hard to come by. Combine that with an extremely ineffective run game, and that spells trouble.
The Redskins have a mediocre defense that has shown a slight weakness against the run. In order to have success, the Packers need to establish themselves on the ground. It’s too early to expect big things from newly acquired running back Christine Michael. So the Packers need to rely on their versatile playmaker Ty Montgomery. If Montgomery gets the snaps he deserves, he will force the Redskins to respect the Packers run game and open things up for Rodgers and the receivers.
What if Jake Ryan is Unavailable on Sunday?
The strength of the Packers defense is no doubt their run defense. Jake Ryan is a huge part of the front seven. If Ryan is not able to go, it has potential to get ugly once again. Ryan got rolled up on early in the Tennessee game, and Dom Capers was never able to account for the void Ryan left when he exited the game. The Packers should be prepared to play without Ryan on Sunday. And if the Packers are smart, he’ll sit this one out.We all know what happened when the Packers let Eddie Lacy run around on a bum ankle.
The Packers can handle a week or so without Ryan, butDom Capers has to develop a gameplan to account for his absence. Blake Martinez and Joe Thomas will have to step up huge to have any success in shutting down Washington’s run game. Don’t be surprised to see Clay Matthews lining up in the middle on some sub packages.
Will the Packers Come Ready to Play?
I mean, come on! This shouldn’t even be in here, but based on the last two performances Packer fans have seen it’s a legitimate question. Energy levels have been non-existent in the last two games, even if Mike McCarthy won’t admit it.
From all reports, the Packers have been practicing hard this week. Veteran leader and soft spoken Julius Peppers has already come out and guaranteed a Packers victory. The Packers can’t afford to be lackadaisical against a potential playoff team in Washington. Look for Rodgers and Peppers to get these young men hyped up for this game, and the energy level to be significantly better. If there’s no sense of urgency now, after three straight losses and a playoff spot in jeopardy, don’t expect to see it at any point this season.
2 Key Match-Ups
Aaron Rodgers vs Kirk Cousins
Quarterback play is going to win or lose this game. Both of the teams rely heavily on their passing game. Packers pass on 66% of their snaps (2nd in the league), while the Redskins pass on 62% of their snaps (12th in the league). If one quarterback comes out absolutely firing on all cylinders, their team will have a clear advantage throughout the game. Expect lots of yards gained through the air and plenty of point put up on the scoreboard.
Mike McCarthy vs Jay Gruden
With is rear end nearly on fire from how hot his seat is as the Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy needs to give the Packers a reason not to fire him this week. I don’t think anyone can deny his claim from earlier in the week when he said he was a highly successful NFL coach, but this year has been a completely different story. His back is completely against the wall and this game in Washington could be do or die. It’s time for McCarthy to step up his aggressiveness in playcalling and, more importantly, take control of his team.
On the other sideline, Jay Gruden has done an impressive job in Washington. But he also has been scrutinized for not being able to get points on the board. The Redskins rank 4th in the league in yards per game, but 16th in points per game. But the key stat to look at is red zone efficiency. The Redskins rank dead last in the NFL when it comes to touchdowns in the red zone and that has to be a key area of focus for Gruden and the Redskins.
1 Bold Prediction
It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say his name, but Mr. Buffalo Wild Wings himself, Jared Cook, is going to have a nice welcome back party. Washington has been a little suspect against the tight end position this year, and Cook is coming into this game ready to contribute. Look for Cook to finish with 109 yards and a touchdown as he finally returns to action and sparks this dormant offense.
Packers – 31
Redskins – 24