PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: How to Avoid a Letdown?

Letdown games happen when there is light at the end of a tunnel.  This week, boy is there.  If the Packers can win against the beat up Chargers team on Sunday they have a lot to look forward to.  First and foremost is the bye week.  If Green Bay can secure the “W” at Lambeau Field they get a week off and they do so at 6-0.  The bye week is important because it will allow key players to rest up and get healthy.  It also gives the Pack two full weeks to prepare for the toughest defense in the league.

The Packers are a beat up team, no question about it.  While the news on the injury front is improving key guys are still dealing with injuries.  Davante Adams, Morgan Burnett, Jake Ryan and Randall Cobb have been dealing with injury issues all season.  BJ Raji and Nick Perry were both injured against St. Louis.  While none of those injuries seem to be threatening any seasons they could all use two weeks off.  The offense specifically is a part of the team that is underachieving and could greatly use the addition of Adams and the resurgence of Cobb to open things up for Aaron Rodgers.

The game against Denver is no joke, either.  Despite how poorly Peyton Manning is playing the Broncos are undefeated.  The Bronco defense is more than likely the best in the league.  Edge defenders Von Miller and Demarcus Ware are almost unblockable.  Using two weeks to prepare for them, get David Bakhtiari right and Bryan Bulaga healthy would be a fantastic thing for the Pack.

All of these things sound well and good but the Packers cannot suffer a letdown.  The great hope for this game is that Green Bay blows out the Chargers and no one gets hurt.  In order for that to happen the Packers have to focus, play well, and run into a little luck.

Why the Packers will win: they are a good deal better than San Diego.  What I saw on Monday Night leads me to believe that neither San Diego or Pittsburgh is any good.  The Chargers had a chance to be good before the season started, but they are so banged up.  I honestly can’t believe that the Chargers are only getting the 9.5 points on the road that the Rams got.

On a neutral field I think St. Louis would win 7 or 8 times against this group of Chargers.  If Davante Adams can return, if Randall Cobb looks better, if Aaron Rodgers is sharper the Packers should be better on offense.  San Diego isn’t quite as beat up on defense as they are on offense but they just aren’t very good.  The Chargers are 22nd in Football Outsiders Defense DVOA.

The offense certainly might play better against San Diego on Sunday than they have over the past two games.  That’s very possible.  They more than likely won’t need to.  San Diego is incredibly beat up on the offensive line and the statuesque Philip Rivers is not the type of QB to combat that problem.  When you couple the design of the Chargers offense (deep passing) and the Packers #1 DVOA pass defense and you have a real problem.

Even though it’s likely Nick Perry misses this game, the Packers have plenty of pass rush to deal with this rag doll Chargers offensive line.  All five offensive linemen listed as starters for the show up on the injury report, with only DJ Fluker even a limited practice participant on Thursday.  If San Diego can’t block the Packers they can’t score.  If they can’t score they’re not gonna win.

Why the Chargers will win: They’re just not going to.  Sure, Philip Rivers is probably the best QB they’ve faced depending on your opinion of Russell Wilson.  Yes, Antonio Gates is back and Keenan Allen is very good but it’s not likely going to be enough.  Green Bay doesn’t lose at home and they’re certainly not going to start doing that against this version of the Chargers.

The real issue that San Diego is going to run into is the fact that they can’t stop anyone from running the ball.  If they play a cover 2 shell to slow down Aaron Rodgers like the 49ers and Rams did Eddie Lacy will lay waste to them.  If Green Bay gets to run the ball effectively early it just might open up that deep passing game that everyone has been pining for.  Either way the Chargers just don’t match up with the Packers.

Bottom Line: this game would have been a lot of fun if San Diego wasn’t so incredibly beat up.  The Packers aren’t bastions of health either but San Diego has too many injuries in the same spot.  When you can’t block you can’t win, it’s basic football.  A lot of really, really weird stuff would have to happen for Green Bay to lose this game.  No win in the NFL is guaranteed but this one is extremely likely.  What I hope as a Packers fan is that no one gets hurt and Green Bay gets into the bye and 6-0 and gets healthy.  They’re gonna need to be to beat the Broncos in Denver. Packers 34 Chargers 10

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

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