PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Coming Home

Football Friday: The Packers home opener is against the Washington Redskins. Both teams are 0-1 coming off of losses to good NFC teams.

The Packers are in a very similar position as they were at this time a season ago.  They are 0-1 coming off of a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.  There is some crazy statistic about teams that start 0-2 only making the playoffs 12% of the time, which would make this game, like last year’s game against the Bears, a “must win”.  I actually believe that the Packers are in a much better situation than last year.

First of all, I legitimately believe that there is more healthy talent on the Packers this season than there was last season, despite the loss of Bryan Bulaga and DuJuan Harris.  Nick Perry is developing, Johnny Jolly is a welcome addition to the defensive line, and Eddie Lacy really does appear to be a player that is unlike anything the Packers have had in almost a decade.

Secondly, that was a home game that was lost last year to the 49ers last season.   The Packers still have plenty of wins coming this year.  They are 15-1 at home in the last two seasons and have all 8 home games left and they are 12-1 in games against division opponents in the last two seasons and have all 6 of those games left.

I believe that the winning starts on Sunday, and I’m making the trip up there to see it myself.  RG3 looked rough in his first start against the Eagles, with almost all of his gaudy numbers coming after the Eagles were up by a thousand (by the way, how wildly excited are all of you for the Nov. 10 game against Philly at Lambeau?).  I don’t think this team thinks it’s backs are against the wall and I don’t think it matters.

Why the Packers will win: It appears that the infusion of depth and talent into the defensive line is allowing the Packers run defense to control the line of scrimmage.  It would also appear the Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is not ready to beat a team through the air, as evidenced by the 7-33 hole he dug his team.  I’m very glad that the Packers play the Redskins early in the season, although I believe quite strongly that they will be better than the Redskins at every point of this season.

Washington’s defense did not look very good, especiially up the middle of the field.  I think in a straight line starting from the nose they struggle.  They don’t have very good NT play, their best ILB is the oldest non-specialist in the league and their safety play is not great either.  I think that Sunday will be the true debut of the new Packers offense.  The 49ers are fantastic defensively, but with a team that can’t cause as many problems for an offensive line, I think you’ll see Eddie Lacy finally get to really pound the ball and the play action game get back to where it was in 2011.  I really think you could see a good old ass-kicking here.

Why the Redskins will win: This Redskins team is a playoff team from a year ago.  They got Ryan Kerrigan back and when he teams with Brian Orakpo they have a team of pass rushing OLBs that any team would envy.  The read option offense (that they can’t run any more until RG3 is healthier) is the same thing that would have given the Packers fits a year ago.  The Redskins winning this game is unlikey, as the Packers -9 line in Las Vegas (remember kids, betting on sports is illegal outside Nevada) would indicate, but not impossible.

In theory Kerrigan and Orakpo could pound on the Packers’ young tackles and Griffin could stand in the pocket and sling the ball for 400 yards like Colin Kaepernick did.  Here’s why I don’t think that happens: the Packers designed their week 1 defense to stop Kaepernick from running.  They weren’t going to let him run on read option, and they weren’t going to let him scramble.  I don’t believe they will do the same with RG3.  I think that they’ll blitz him and play their normal schemes until he proves otherwise.  I saw a lot of him throwing off of his back foot and moving around like he’s not confident on Monday night.

Fantasy Packer to start: Jermichael Finley- if Finley is able to play, I expect a monster game from him.  I can’t see a single one of the Redskins linebackers even dreaming of covering him and as I mentioned, I don’t think the Redskins have very good safeties either.  They can’t throw a nickelback on him because the nickelback has to worry about the runnin’ Randall Cobb.  Finley should be open, and he should be gettin’ that money production.

Fantasy Packer to sit: Packers defense- I pick this for two reasons.  First, I can’t make a legitimate argument for any offensive skill position player (Rodgers, Lacy, Nelson, Cobb, Jones) that you would normally be starting not to start.  Second is that if this game goes how I think that this game is going to go, the Packers are going to score early and often, allowing the Redskins to come back in that game.  The Eagles defense had the same thing happen to them, they dominated the game, blitzing and causing all sorts of problems, but when they were way up the coaches had to go more conservative and their defensive effort lost fantasy points repeatedly as the game went on.

Packers Stat of the Week: Robert Griffin III had a 26.2 Passer Rating against the blitz last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.  Dom Capers invented the zone blitz.  Do the math.

Bottom Line: The Redskins are coming off of a short week, with a QB that isn’t confident in his knee and the defense went through what looked like one of the most exhausting experiences of their professional careers.  The Packers are coming off of a game that they feel like they played well enough to win, and I think feel slighted that no one felt like they had chance.  Morgan Burnett looks like he will be returning and that’s huge for the defense.  I think the defense blitzes the hell out of RGIII and the Redskin defense is no match for the Rodgers and Lacy show.  Packers 34 Redskins 24

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Ross Uglem is a writer at PackersTalk.com. You can follow Ross on twitter at RossUglem

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