Early Bird Breakdown Week 4 – Bills @ Packers
Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown. It’s the fourth week of the season and the Packers already have their third home game of the season. Before diving into the breakdown, let’s look at the recap for last week’s game.
Last week the Packers traveled to Washington to play a team who came out of an ugly loss to the Colts the week prior. However, Washington was locked in from the opening snap lead by the Packers’ old nemesis Adrian Peterson who ran over and around Packer defenders throughout the game. The Packers were down at one point 21-3 in the second quarter before scoring to make it only an 11 point game with two minutes left in the half. But the defense bent and was eventually broken by a Peterson score just before half, leading to an 18 point deficit heading into the locker room. The Washington defense held the Packers to only a single touchdown in the second half and walking out of the game winning easily 31-17.
Packers’ Offense vs Bills’ Defense:
While I am not sure the Bills’ defense will replicate the lights-out play they did last week in Minnesota, holding the Vikings to only 6 points while the Rams defense just gave up 31 points to the Vikings just a few days ago, I do expect them to play closer to that level than they did week 1 and the first two quarters of week two. Since half time of week 2, the Bills have drastically improved on defense. The first six quarters of the season, they were giving up 6.2 yards per play, the last six quarters only 4 yards per play. They lowered their opponent’s third down conversions from 47% to 30%. What does that mean? Well, for starters it is too small of a sample size to extrapolate from. However, it does show Buffalo has talent on their defense and are finding a groove lately.
Aaron Rodgers this week called for more Aaron Jones carries to help take the load off of himself while his knee is still hobbled. I expect McCarthy to do so, hoping to at least early play a field position game against the Bills’ rookie quarterback Josh Allen and an attempt to wear out the Bills defense in the second half. If I was designing the game plan, I would utilize short passes, both crossing routes and screens, in conjunction with runs for the first few series in the game to see if I can chew some time of possession and make the Bills a bit slower for the second half. That will go out of the window though if the defense starts the game as they did last week.
The Packers likely will suit up wide receiver Randall Cobb and tight end Jimmy Graham but both are listed as questionable this week.
Packers’ Defense vs Bills’ Offense:
Buffalo may have drafted who scouts considered the rawest rookie quarterback in the draft but so far Josh Allen has played with a lot of poise and has not made any costly mistakes so far. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine not only will have to find more schemes to get to the quarterback, as so far the Packers rank tied for 25th in the league for sacks, but also to rattle the rookie.
Depending on whether questionable backs LeSean McCoy and Marcus Murphy are available, the Packers may be able to go all-in on trying to stop the pass and dare the Bills to beat them. The Packers are now without defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson for the season as he was placed on injured reserve this week after having ankle surgery from his injury in Washington, so it will not be as easy for Mike Daniels and company to stop the run and dare the Bills to pass but it is worth testing early despite how poor the defense was against the run last week. Make Josh Allen beat the Packers defense has to be the game plan until Allen proves he can.
While the game conditions should be a pleasant 50 degrees and cloudy, there is projected to be rains all morning before kickoff so the field likely will be muddy, cutting down the ability for quick cuts and mitigating some speed.
Green Bay should beat a team like Buffalo handily, but then again Minnesota, who were one of the largest point-spread favorites in years last week, also should have beaten Buffalo. The Bills (in a small 6-quarter sample size) have looked quite good offensively and very good defensively. The Packers need to pressure Josh Allen, something they have not done yet to any of the three quarterbacks they have faced thus far, to really put a stamp on this game. While Allen has been impressive, he is bound to have a three interception game in the coming weeks. The Packers cannot afford to lose, even with the Vikings losing Thursday, at home and against the Bills. I think Rodgers knows what must be done and will lead the Packers to their first victory since week one. Packers win 24-16.As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University