The Packers achieved the first goal of their 2021 campaign, clinching the NFC north for the 3rd straight year. Although the 31-30 victory against the Ravens was much closer than the team would have liked, it was amazing to see the team fight through to secure a victory. Next up is a special treat on Christmas Day when the Packers welcome the Cleveland Browns to Lambeau Field. The Browns will be a hungry, desperate team who need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. For Green Bay to continue to make progress towards securing the #1 seed in the NFC, they will need step-up performances from some key players.
Easily one of the very best mid-season pickups in recent NFL history, Rasul Douglas has went a fringe NFL player to entrenched starter in just a few weeks. Who knows where the Packers season would stand without his play. Additionally, he brings an attitude and drive the defense is clearly feeding off of. He is exactly who the Packers needed this season.
Against the Browns, the Douglas will have a chance to shine yet again. The Browns’ offense has been fairly static, which coupled with erratic quarterback play will provide numerous opportunities to gift an instinctive cornerback like Rasul interceptions. A turnover or two would go a long way towards securing a Christmas Day victory.
Juwan Winfree and Equanimeous St. Brown
Tuesday’s news of Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s placement on the Reserve/Covid-19 list leaves a huge number of snaps to be absorbed this week. In the moments this season where Green Bay has needed a wide receiver to step up, both Juwan Winfree and Equanimeous St. Brown have flashed ability. Against Arizona, Winfree showed a penchant for creating separation a being a target that can be trusted. Similarly, St. Brown has begun to show the consistency which has eluded him thus far in his career. If the game has begun to slow down for him, then that would be a huge boon for an ailing receiver room.
If MVS cannot be cleared in time for the game on Saturday, a combination of Winfree and St. Brown could buoy the Packers this week. One or both of their numbers could be called in big moments. For the Packers offense to keep the pace of the past month, Winfree and St. Brown will have to answer the call throughout the game.
Packers Offensive Tackles
Against the Ravens, tackles Yosh Nijman and Dennis Kelly had an up and down performance. While Baltimore edge rushers rarely got home, they definitely made Aaron Rodgers uncomfortable throughout the game. While this isn’t completely unexpected given that neither started the season in their respective roles, improvement is going to be necessary.
Unfortunately, they get a ferocious team of pass rushers this week with the Browns stars Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. Both are capable of taking over a game, but the more terrifying player at this point is Garrett. Nijman and Kelly will have their hands full from the first snap to the last. The fate of the Packers offensive production could come down to how effectively Kelly and Nijman contain the Browns rushers.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.