The Green Bay Packers will return to Lambeau Field on Sunday to take on the New England Patriots. Fresh off a 14-12 nail biter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 2-1 Packers will look to make it three straight wins in Week 4. Ahead of the game, let’s give a preview for what to expect in this Packers vs. Patriots matchup.
Belichick’s Defensive Strategy
The offense for the Packers should have their biggest challenge on Sunday going up against one of the greatest defensive minds in NFL history. Belichick famously takes away one aspect the opposing offense tends to favor. For Green Bay, that will likely be the run game.
The run game as been a focal point in Green Bay all season. Last week against the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay’s defense forced Aaron Rodgers and the passing game to beat them after holding the Packers to just 67 yards on the ground. Expect a similar opposing game plan this weekend.
For the Packers, the passing game needs stay on rhythm. Last Sunday, Green Bay started off hot with two straight scoring drives (and nearly a third). However, they failed to score a point the remainder of the game. In order to keep Belichick and the Patriots’ defense on their toes, the Packers will have to use all of their playmakers in the passing game to be effective.
Romeo Doubs, the NFL’s Rookie of the Week, is quickly becoming a reliable target for Rodgers after leading the team with eight receptions and 73 yards last week. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb should both continue to produce at a high level for the Packers. Hopes are high for tight end Robert Tonyan to continue progressing his way back into the offense. Tonyan caught six passes for 37 yards against the Buccaneers and looks more explosive every week, he should be in-line for a larger role this weekend.
The real deciding factor in this game will be the availability of Christian Watson. The Packers’ offense missed a crucial element to their offense last week without Watson that opposing defense need to take note of, speed. If Watson can go on Sunday, the Packers can return to mixing in deep shots and jet sweeps into the offense to keep the Patriots off-balance.
Preparing for Brian Hoyer
After Patriots’ quarterback Mac Jones left Week 3’s matchup against the Baltimore Ravens with a severe high ankle sprain, the Packers likely will have a new quarterback to prepare against. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told reporters on Wednesday that veteran Brian Hoyer will get the start for Sunday’s game if Jones is unable to suit up.
Hoyer last started for the Patriots in a Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs during the 2020 season. However, he appeared in five games last season going 9-for-11 passing for 227 yards and one touchdown. Hoyer holds a career 53-35 touchdown-interception ratio and has completed 65.1% of his passes in New England, according to Pro Football Reference.
The Packers’ defense is coming off of easily their best performance of the year holding Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense to just 12 total points. The Buccaneers were 2/11 on third-down and coughed up two fumbles.
The Packers’ defense can’t afford to overlook their opponent going up against Hoyer and the Patriots’ offense. New England will likely rely heavily on the run game against the 18th ranked run defense in the league. Running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson are averaging 4.6 and 5.0 yards per carry respectively this season. Belichick will look to establish the run game early on Sunday.
If the offense in Green Bay can get the better of Belichick’s brilliance, the Packers’ defense should be able to handle their end of the bargain against either quarterback on Sunday.——————
Kole Noble is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in North Carolina and is a huge NFL Draft nut. You can follow him on twitter at @SlawSportsShow.