Last week was last week, it’s time to look ahead! We’re coming back home to host the Bills in a game that doesn’t look quite as easy as it did a few weeks ago.
The defense will probably be missing Kevin King again and Davon House went to IR (which is not the cause for celebration some fans seem to think it is, even with the signing of Bashaud Breeland, who could be a steal after his freak injury in the offseason). Add in what may be a season-ending injury to Muhammad Wilkerson and the defense is thrown for a little bit of a loop.
Injuries happen and the always suck, but the bigger part of the problem is that the team is still learning a new defense. We’ve seen a little miscommunication early and shuffling guys around usually doesn’t help.
The D now has to face an unfamiliar Bills offense that is out-rushing its opponents 295-240 over 3 games. That’s a little misleading, though, because Bills only rush for 3.6 yards per carry (which, ironically is exactly what they allow on defense). In case you didn’t know, 3.6 yards per carry is not a lot.
In the passing game, rookie Josh Allen is completing 56% of his passes and has thrown 2 TDs and 2 picks. Not stellar, but he has rushed for 97 and 2 TDs and his athleticism really showed last week against Minnesota.
The Packers would be wise to try to keep him in the pocket, much the way they’ve contained Russell Wilson over the years. Dean Lowry is great at doing the dirty work and holding the edge. He’s not the pass rusher that Wilkerson was, but he should be able to fill a key relief role in this matchup. Allen has also shown a fumbling propensity, putting it on the grass three times already.
The rookie QB still hasn’t decoded NFL coverage schemes, either and Mike Pettine’s creativity, coupled with the athleticism of the young corners, should help keep him off-balance.
As for the rest of the Bills running game, LeSean McCoy (who was banged up with rib cartilage issues), Chris Ivory, and Marcus Murphy are talented backs that have shared carries. If McCoy is fully recovered from his injury, he is a big play threat, especially as a receiver out of the backfield. So far this year, though, their overall run game hasn’t amounted to much.
It seems like they have a sketchy offense that we should dominate. So how come they throttled the Vikings, who have a much better defense than the Packers?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
For one, I think the toll of playing an overtime game all the way through is real and carries over physically and mentally to the following week, messing with preparation and wearing on legs.
The bigger issue is how the momentum shifted and grew early in that game. Let’s look at how that game started:
- The Bills got the ball, got sacked on 3rd down for a three and out, but a sissy penalty gave them 15 yards and a first. Then they got into field goal range, got a facemask penalty for another 15 yards, and scored a touchdown.
- The Vikings got the ball a their own 7 after a holding penalty on the kickoff and Kirk Cousins fumbled on the third play, giving the Bills the ball for a chip shot field goal.
- The Vikings got the ball right back and Kick Cousins promptly fumbled again on third down deep in their own territory, then Josh Allen threw a quick TD.
- When the Bills got the ball back, Josh Allen fumbled, but they maintained possession after a review, then got a horse collar penalty on what would have been 3rd and 16 to keep the drive moving for another touchdown.
The Vikings had to pass almost every down and the Bills rode a ton of early momentum. We’ve seen how early momentum can swing a game.
So they beat the Vikings (which the Packers also did, ahem), but don’t forget that they got spanked by the Ravens and Chargers, too.
On defense, the Bills have shown an ability to harass quarterbacks. Jerry Hughes is a solid sack threat and Trent Murphy and Kyle Williams each have a sack and a half as a part of the team total of 8.
This is a defense that gets after the quarterback and Aaron Rodgers is hobbled. I’m hoping for some quick passes with some quick runs as Aaron Jones gets more carries. Surprisingly, Jones got the most carries on the team in his first game back. If the Packers can hold on to the ball, they should be able to move down the field reasonably well.
The right side of the line is cause for concern and that’s another factor that can figure into sacks, so we’ll have to depend on Rodger’s blitz recognition and quick release to keep things going. Based on last week, he could get a lot of help from the run game.
This offense has half a dozen weapons capable of carrying the load. This week, it’s just a matter of the banged up line holding together in front of a limping quarterback.
Question of the Week
What percentage of plays do you think the Packers offense will run on against the Bills Sunday?
Respond to our twitter thread to see how you stack up.
Rodgers audibles all day to make up for line deficiencies against a tough pass rush
David Bakhtiari allows zero pressure on the blind side
Jimmy Graham gets 100 yards
Jaire Alexander comes up with another pick
Oren Burks keeps Josh Allen’s scrambling in check
Clay Matthews gets a sack without being penalized
Randall Cobb breaks a long punt return
Packers 27, Bills 13