The Packers welcome the Indianapolis Colts to Green Bay with open arms this weekend. After a one point loss to a division leading Atlanta – a week riddled with injuries to key players on both sides of the ball – the Packers will look to rebound in a very winnable game. Breaking it down this week we got 3 burning questions, 2 key match-ups, and 1 very bold prediction. This is the Countdown to Kickoff.
3 Burning Questions
Can the Packers offense keep rolling?
The defensive side of the ball for the Colts is weak to say the least, they rank in the bottom half of nearly all defensive metrics. Combine that with a resurgent Aaron Rodgers and a plethora of emerging weapons, and you should see a very dominant offensive performance from the Green and Gold this Sunday. Even if Cobb and Montgomery are not able to suit up, look for Davante Adams and Trevor Davis to continue their stellar play and provide the offensive spark needed.
Can the Packers get to Andrew Luck?
In the same light that the defense for the Colts has been non existent, the offensive line has been equally bad, if not worse. Their offensive line has given up the most sacks in football this year, and that has definitely played a role in the effectiveness of Andrew Luck. Luck is a quarterback who, given time in the pocket, can eat you alive – very similar to Matt Ryan. It’s very important that the Packers get to Luck, disrupt timing, and force him into difficult throws. Look for the Packers to get creative with blitz packages in order to chase Luck early and often, and relieve some pressure off the beaten up secondary.
Will the Packers have any sort of run game?
By now, everyone knows the Packers cut Knile Davis, who spent just two weeks. It seems they will roll with second year, undrafted rookie Don Jackson, that is at least until James Starks is ready to play. The Packers have the luxury of playing one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL this week. Rodgers has extended several drives with the use of his legs, and Aaron Ripkowski has also had some nice runs. If the Packers are to make the playoffs and expect to make a serious run once they get there, they’ll need to establish some semblance of a threat on the ground. But as far as this Sunday is concerned, the running game is likely to be used as nothing more than a ploy to keep the defense honest.
2 Key Match-Ups
Packers Defense vs. Colts Tight Ends
It’s no secret that the Packers have struggled to cover the tight end position this year, and for the last 5 years if we’re being honest. Many teams have found ways to get the tight end open establish themselves in the middle of the field. The Packers need to shut down Colts tight end Jack Doyle and take Luck’s safety blanket out of the equation. If the Colts start to take over the middle of the field, it’ll open opportunities for TY Hilton down the sideline when he’s inevitably lined up across from a cornerback who won’t be able to keep up with him. If the Packers, however, can keep the middle of the field covered – we’re looking at you, Blake Martinez – the Colts offense stands little chance of lighting up the scoreboard.
Packers Offensive Line vs. Colts Pass Rush
The Packers offensive line has been incredible this season, and we really can’t give them enough credit for what they’ve been able to do. As a pass blocking unit especially, they have been lights out. As stated previously, the Colts don’t have much of a pass rush, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective on Sunday. This game represents an opportunity for the Packers offense to build off the momentum they’ve established in the past couple weeks. No one has been able to get to Rodgers consistently this year. The Colts know that, and they know they have to buck that trend in order to win this game. If they’re unable to do that, and Rodgers has time to sit in the pocket and pick out his passes, the scoreboard operator is going to be earning his paycheck and then some on Sunday.
1 Bold Prediction
Is it bold to say Aaron Rodgers will have a good game? No way. BUT, what I will say could still be categorized as bold even for number 12. Rodgers will have his way all day long in a clean pocket against the Colts. He’s going to put up a stat line, the likes of which will remind you what this offense looked like in the 2011 season. This Sunday, Aaron will rock your world and drop your jaw as he throws for 437 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Final Score Prediction
Green Bay Packers – 49
Indianapolis Colts – 24