The Green Bay Packers (6-8) travel to Miami, Florida to take on the Miami Dolphins (8-6) tomorrow on Christmas Day. The Packers are winners of two straight games (Bears, Rams) while the Dolphins are losers of 3 contests in a row (49ers, Chargers, Bills). Green Bay goes into tomorrow’s game with a glimmer of hope – a win for the Packers on Christmas is a must in regards to their playoff chances. However, I caution you to prepare for disappointment tomorrow afternoon and it doesn’t bring me joy to say that. Call me scrooge, but our 2022 Green Bay Packers just aren’t that good.
The wins against the Bears and Rams were nice, especially since Packers fans haven’t had much of those this year. Obviously, any person who follows football knows that those were games the Packers were expected to win and to their credit, got it done. We can’t say the same about many other instances this season (Giants, Jets, Commanders, Lions, Titans), to name them. Tomorrow, they go into Hard Rock Stadium as 3.5 point underdogs.
The Dolphins meanwhile, are 8-6. They started the season 3-0 and then saw Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sustain a scary injury in Week 4 against the Bengals in a game they would lose with backup QB Teddy Bridgewater in relief. They’d lose 2 more games consecutively with Tagovailoa on the sideline in games against the Jets and Vikings. When he returned, the Dolphins rattled off 5 straight victories, only to drop 3 matchups in a row, all on the road against quality opponents. Christmas Day will be the first Dolphins home game since November 27th.
Miami is 5-1 at home this year, their only loss occurring against the Vikings in a game engineered by the Dolphins’ two backup Quarterbacks. On the season, Miami ranks 9th in the league in points per game at 24.6. In order for the Packers to have any shot to pull off the upset, their defense will have to step up and put out an “A” type letter grade performance.
It always starts with stopping the run, a facet Miami leaned on much more regularly in their last game against Buffalo. In that 32-29 loss, the Dolphins had their best rushing performance of the season, running for 188 yards at an average of 7.1 yards per carry. That’s a discouraging sign for Packers fans, as Green Bay’s rush defense has been abysmal all year long, ranking 29th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (148.9) in addition to a laughable 196.7 rushing yards allowed per game in their last 3.
Through the air, the Packers defense has been much better, ranking 2nd best in the NFL in pass yards allowed per game (185.1). They go against a Dolphins team where passing has been their strength this season, ranking 3rd best in passing yards per game (273.6). The key point to take home here is that while the Packers have been relatively impressive in pass defense this season, they’ve been exposed against better quarterbacks such as Josh Allen and Dak Prescott when forced to step up. Heck, even Ryan Tannehill and the now-reeling Tennessee Titans put on a clinic at Lambeau Field not too long ago throwing the football. The Packers 2nd best pass defense feels more like a faux statistic instead of a true indicator of their talent. Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and the rest of the Dolphins playmakers will look to prove that on Sunday.
Offensively, the Packers have been markedly better since their 15-9 loss to the Lions in Week 9. Since the emergence of rookie WR Christian Watson when the Packers beat the Cowboys in Week 10, Green Bay has scored 31, 17, 33, 28 and 24 points in their last 5 games, an average of 26.6 points per game. Going up against a mediocre and underachieving Dolphins defense tomorrow, the Packers will have their opportunities to put points up on the board.
When it comes to my pessimistic view of Sunday’s game, this is what I have to say. All season long, the Packers have been a massive letdown, outside of their wins against the Buccaneers and Cowboys. It started in Week 1, when they could’ve set a strong tone for the season against Minnesota. They lost 23-7. Then of course, it was 5 losses in a row against the Giants, Jets, Commanders, Bills and Lions, an inexplicable phenomenon that actually happened and derailed the entire season. After finally winning a football game against Dallas and picking up momentum, Green Bay thudded at home to the Titans 27-17, followed up by a 40-33 loss to Philadelphia in a game where the Eagles rushed for 363 yards, the 16th most rushing yards by a team in a single game in NFL History.
Just about every single time the Packers have needed to step up this season, they’ve taken two steps down. My final score prediction for tomorrow’s game is Dolphins 37, Packers 24. Perhaps their two consecutive victories against Chicago and Los Angeles will give them the confidence they need to pull off an upset but based on their body of work in 2022, I’m not expecting it. While I certainly hope to be wrong and ultimately get roasted for my pregame thinking, I expect the same issues to plague the Packers that they’ve had have all year long against a better and more complete team than them in the Dolphins.——————
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a Packers guy. Alex\'s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.