After a shellacking by the Falcons last Sunday night, the Packers return to the friendly confines of Lambeau Field looking to rebound against a struggling Bengals team. But it isn’t a guarantee for the Pack, who are facing the likelihood of being without seven key players in the tilt.
And without those seven (Bakhtiari, Cobb, Perry, Brice, House, Ryan, Daniels), it will be a completely different experience for Packers players and fans. So we need to look deep to find some key players in this one. So let’s do that with the Week 3 edition of this series in 3…2…1…
In this article, and this series all season, we’ll take a look at 3 X-Factors (less obvious ones, not established superstars like Aaron Rodgers or Jordy Nelson), I’ll make 2 Bold Predictions, and then I’ll make the 1 prediction that matters: the score. So let’s dig in.
1. Damarious Randall
After last week, Randall needs a big performance, first (and most importantly) to regain his own confidence, and to allay concerns from fans that he was a wasted first round pick. And yes, he really struggled against Julio Jones (but then again who doesn’t). He will likely be the other boundary corner to start opposite Kevin King, and will more often than not be lined up with Brandon LaFell or Tyler Boyd. Or they could move him into the slot with Quentin Rollins or Josh Hawkins outside. He’s more of a natural there where he can be more aggressive. But the biggest thing for Randall is regaining his confidence. When he is dialed in and has faith in himself, he is a good slot corner who is the best playmaker among the cornerback group. That has to come back this Sunday.
2. Kyler Fackrell
With Nick Perry out after playing in Atlanta with a broken hand, it’ll be up to Fackrell, Ahmad Brooks, and Chris Odom to pick up the slack as pass rushers. And Fackrell could be the biggest beneficiary. Brooks will start most likely and will hold his own, but Fackrell will see an increase of snaps outside. And he has been solid in the first two games, getting pressure on quarterbacks much more in games than in practice. He could be one of those guys who is much better on Sundays than the six days preceding. If he can generate a consistent edge rush against a rough offensive line and a shell-shocked quarterback, the Packers have a good chance of winning.
3. Jamaal Williams
With Ty Montgomery seeing a massive number of snaps through two games and pace to lead NFL Running Backs in snaps, Coach McCarthy made a point of saying that they need to be more diligent in not wearing out their dual threat back. That means more snaps for Jamaal Williams at the very least, and maybe some for Aaron Jones and Devante Mays as well. But, most likely, Williams will be the biggest beneficiary. The best blocker among the backs, he will be important in keeping Rodgers upright with David Bakhtiari likely out again, and he has the power to be a consistent chain mover if he gets a full series. This could be his first big impact game of his career.
2 Bold Predictions
1. Packers end up with more rushing yards then Cincinnati
For years, the Bengals have been known as a strong running team and that was expected to continue in 2017. With Giovanni Bernard, Jeremy Hill, and Joe Mixon, they have a three headed attack that is very formidable. But they haven’t really tried to run the ball much, with only 159 rushing yards through 2 games. Conversely, the Packers have at times tried to run, but have turned away from it for long stretches at times. With the heat expected Sunday, the Packers will try to wear down the Bengals active front seven, and will run for over 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. And after some quick scores early on, the Bengals will have to throw the ball more. They won’t get 100 yards total.
2. Kevin King gets his first NFL Interception
After being one of the few bright spots against Atlanta, Kevin King definitely is in line for significant playing time going forward. It’s the best way for the rookie to learn on the job in the NFL and you can’t teach his height, length, and speed. Plus, with Davon House likely out, King is going to be expected to step into that outside starting spot and will match up with AJ Green a lot. And with Andy Dalton at times forcing the ball to his big receiver, King will be able to get position and snag one for himself. And to add on, I think it will be in the first quarter, setting the offense up in a short field which will lead to a touchdown.
The Packers rebound in a big way, channeling their frustration into a 38-13 win over the Bengals.——————
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.