Yeah, I know, on any given Sunday, blah blah blah. This one’s a gimme for the banged up Packers who couldn’t be happier to see the Jaguars coming to Lambeau this week.
Jacksonville probably isn’t as horrible as you think. They were tied with the Bears 3-3 at halftime a couple of weeks ago, they led in Oakland 17-3 last week, they took the Purple to overtime in the season opener at the Dome. And they did something the Packers couldn’t do: they beat the Colts in Indy.
That’s all I got. They’ve lost their best player, running back Maurice Jones Drew to a foot injury. It looks like young QB Blaine Gabbert will play, despite tearing the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. But this is a team that’s years away from competing and will likely clean house after the season, with new owner Shad Kahn running the show.
They’re the perfect opponent for the Pack, who return home after three straight dome games that have decimated the defense (not to mention Cedric Benson). The Pack will take the field without opening day starters Charles Woodson, DJ Smith, Nick Perry and Sam Shields (though Shields hasn’t been ruled out). BJ Raji looks iffy. To compound matters, Jordy Nelson is now dealing with a hamstring and Greg Jennings is going under the knife next week and will likely be out till December.
If the Pack can manage things through Thanksgiving and stay in contention, they could welcome back Woodson, Jennings and Benson for the stretch run. But for now, they will count on guys stepping up. From Cobb and Jones taking leadership roles in the offense, to youngsters Casey Hayward, Davon House, Jerrion McMillain and MD Jennings taking over in the secondary. And don’t be surprised if rookie WR Jarrett Boykin makes a play or two. He’ll be #4 on the depth chart and was released by the Jags earlier this year.
The bye week can’t come soon enough for this MASH unit. With home games against the Jags and Cards, the Pack can afford to be careful with players nursing injuries and try to get as healthy as possible for the post bye slate, which includes five divisional games and a Sunday night monster at the Giants.
Although they’ll take the field as the biggest favorites all season, likely two touchdowns, the Pack must guard against lethargy early and need to feed off the energy of their starved fans who haven’t seen them in weeks. For some guys, it can be tough to get up for an opponent you know you should crush. The Packers are too good to let that happen and the Jags are too limited to keep it interesting.
Their defense ranks 28th, giving up 27 points per game. They may be without their best corner, Rashean Mathis, who’s dealing with a groin injury. He’s no longer near the Pro Bowler he once was and has lost a couple of steps when healthy. Their best player is free agent pick up Paul Posluszny, the former Bill who runs the show from his middle linebacker spot.
But let’s not be afraid to call this what it is. A complete mismatch. And no matter how deep the Packers need to reach on the depth chart to fill out their gameday roster, this one will not be close.
Packers 38 Jaguars 10