So the Hundley-led Packers have a win streak going and look to capitalize on in against a Cleveland team playing at home, desperate for their first – and potentially only – win of the season. Let’s look at a few of the big storylines and get down to predictions.
The Offense is Grounded
Hundley has shown flashes in the passing game, but not enough consistency to be depended on as a passer, especially against a solid defense, on the road and in the cold when Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are both healthy. Hundley ran the ball well last week, Williams ran the ball very well, and Jones looked like a stud in his one carry. In a cold game, expect the Packers to grind this one out with read options and zone blocking on the interior to give their backs – who excel at finding holes – multiple levels to weave through. However, Cleveland’s defense is actually #1 in the league in terms of average yards allowed per rush (3.3), so it will be interesting to see how the Hundley-led ground attack does. If there was a week where they need Hundley’s passing – maybe in the form of some quick-hitting run-pass options – this would be it.
I predicted that the Packers would sack Jameis Winston 4 times last week. They did… plus a few more. With 7 sacks, the pass rush showed what they are capable of, albeit against a sub-par line. The Browns spent a lot of money on their line, but with All-World Great Joe Thomas out, they currently rank third in the league in sacks allowed (although their QBs aren’t doing them a lot of favors). This week, the defense is capable of another big outing, especially given how much the run defense has improved by the play of pretty much everyone in the front 7.
The Human Element
Many people overlook this when thinking of football in terms of stats and analysis. The Browns suck, but sucking in the NFL puts you in the top 0.000001% of all athletes in the history of mankind. They are men and they want to win. They know this is their best chance, and beating the Packers – even without Rodgers – would be a great source of pride for the team,
The Packers, on the other hand, all seem to believe their savior is coming to lead them to the promised land next week, if they can just win this game. Since Rodgers got hurt, the script was written – make it to 7-6 and let Aaron come back and do the rest. It’s unlikely, but we’ve seen unlikely before. I won’t hold my breath, but I will certainly enjoy the ride, and this part of the ride should feature two Midwest teams playing the cold desperately battling for a win.
I can’t wait.
- Neither QB will pass for over 200 yards in a cold game with a chance for snow (based on last week, they may struggle to combine for 200 yards)
- Williams and Jones will both see plenty of action, but Williams will be the steadier producer this week
- Isaiah Crowell will be held under 4 yards per carry
- Mason Crosby will be clutch in the cold
- Damarious Randall will surprise his doubters with his play, especially against Josh Gordon
- Myles Garrett is heavily schemed against, but still makes a couple big plays
- Kenny Clark will have multiple TFLs
- Lenzy Pipkins, who I already told you about, will actually fare pretty decent
- Jason Spriggs will have at least one major whiff and it will overshadow a relatively solid performance
- The Browns home crowd will start loud – this is their best chance for a win and they want it
- This won’t be Hundley’s last start this year 🙁
- Mike McCarthy will come up with a duct tape game plan to get a limited offense enough production to beat a bad team with a good defense – it won’t be pretty, but it’ll be enough
Packers 17, Browns 14