Starting each Friday for the rest of the season, we will take a look at what to expect for the Green Bay Packers’ upcoming game.
As of Thursday’s practice, only Aaron Rodgers and Kevin King were non-participatory in practice. Barring some new set back, Rodgers will certainly play (he’s expected to practice on Saturday), even if he will remain hobbled. King seems much less likely to play. It will be interesting to see if the Packers throw rookie Josh Jackson on the perimeter or stick with veteran Davon House who was taken advantage of last week against Minnesota.
It looks like Oren Burks and Josh Jones will make their regular season debut, but it is unclear how much playing time the Packers will feel comfortable giving them as they return from injuries.
On the Washington side, former All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman missed practice on Thursday due to an illness, but he returned to the practice field on Friday. Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao did not practice on Friday and looks to be doubtful for the game. Starting middle linebacker Zach Brown was a limited participant on Friday.
What to Watch For:
- The talk of the week in Packer Land and throughout the NFL has been the penalty on Clay Matthew for his fourth quarter sack of Kirk Cousins. The NFL has doubled-down on the call while Mike McCarthy has reiterated that the Packers will continue to pursue the quarterback and tackle as they always have. Will they be penalized again? Will defenders let up as they approach the quarterback (as appeared to the be the case with Mike Daniels last week)?
- Aaron Jones will also make his regular season debut. It’s clear that Jones is the Packers’ most explosive back, but he has also been unreliable in pass protection. Mike McCarthy has already stated that Jones will come in playing third fiddle behind Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery. Still, Jones is the sort of player that can leave his mark on a game with just a few carries.
- Washington has an underrated defensive front. Matthew Ioannidis has been particularly disruptive and will pose a challenge to the interior of Green Bay’s offensive line. Ryan Kerrigan is still looking for his first sack after averaging nearly 12 sacks per year over the last four seasons. Washington is quietly ranked the #1 defense in the league after two weeks. Once we have a larger sample size of football it is quite doubtful that they will remain ranked over the likes of the Chicago Bears (with Khalil Mack) and the Minnesota Vikings, but they’re not to be overlooked either.
- Washington have been a bad team against tight ends for some time, ranking in the bottom eight since the start of last season in regard to defending tight end receiving yards and touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers is going to go to Jimmy Graham early and often. Graham will hang 100+ receiving yards and 1 TD on the Redskins.
- Multiple articles this week have called for Washington quarterback Alex Smith to be more aggressive and begin throwing down the field. Smith and his offense are tailored toward a more traditional, west coast, dink-and-dunk offense. The problem is that they haven’t been good at it, scoring a measly 9 points against a middling Indianapolis Colts defense last week. The pressure will force Smith to try and make some throws down the field in order to keep up with the Packers’ offense. Josh Jackson will see time on the outside as he fills in for Kevin King and gets the nod over Davon House. He will get his first NFL interception and take it to the house for 6 points.
Turnovers can flip the narrative of any game, but Washington simply doesn’t have the firepower to overcome Green Bay in this one. The Packers will roll 31 – 20.——————
Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.