Packers XLV

Defenses Likely to Rule at Lambeau on Sunday

Posted October 18th, 2013 @ 03:10pm

The Cleveland Browns are offensively-challenged. The Packers' offense is receiver-challenged. Both teams sport stout defenses (though as you know, the Pack is a bit linebacker-challenged). It points to a low scoring game on a chilly late afternoon at Lambeau on Sunday.

It's been a strange season for the Browns, who dumped the third player in the draft two years ago after an 0-2 start, causing GMs around the league to get in on the fire sale. But a funny thing happened once Trent Richardson was excised from the locker room. They started to win--three in a row, thanks to the emergence of third string QB Brian Hoyer, who replaced Brandon Weeden. But when Hoyer tore his ACL, Weeden was back and the offense is back in sputter mode.

But the Browns' defense (led by new coordinator Ray Horton) is legit and will likely give the Packers' offense all it can handle. They rank seventh in the league in yards allowed and have gotten off to fast starts in each game. The Browns have led in all six games at halftime this season. But when teams make adjustments in the lockerroom, Cleveland has  had no answers. They've been outscored 55-3 in the second half in their three losses--their achilles heel is third downs. They can't get off the field--they rank 29th in 3rd down defense. The Pack has struggled a bit on third down this season, so this should be a good opportunity to turn that around.

A matchup to watch is cornerback Joe Haden on Jordy Nelson. With Cobb and (likely) Jones out, the Packers receiving corps looks much more pedestrian, and Cleveland's shut down corner will likely track Nelson wherever he lines up. But the pass defense has struggled of late: surrendering four TD passes to Matthew Stafford at home last week. They allowed something called tight end Joseph Fauria to score three times--so look for Green Bay to seek similar success with their tight ends.

The Packers will likely feed Eddie Lacy early and often. With the passing game stressed, Lacy provides the perfect tonic--and he's getting better and better each week. Cleveland is not easy to run against, but Reggie Bush found room, once Stafford started moving the ball through the air.

Defensively, the Pack should dominate, even without three starting linebackers. The Browns can't run the ball--Willis McGahee was signed off the street a few weeks ago to replace Richardson and he's a shell of his former self. Still a tough runner, but no burst or ability to get outside. The Browns' passing game has two emerging stars: WR Josh Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron, but Weeden can't take full advantage: he's slow to make his reads and even slower releasing the ball. If the Packers don't plant him at least six times, it will be an upset--even if they have to rely on Nate Palmer (7th round rookie) and Andy Mulumba (undrafted rookie) at outside linebacker.

The Packers will be in their throwback uniforms which will cause many to recall the '65 NFL Championship, where the Packers knocked off the Browns 23-12 at snowy Lambeau, the last title game before the dawn of the Super Bowl era. The Pack rushed for 204 yards on the ground that day, out-Brownsing the Browns, who would watch the greatest running back ever, Jim Brown, retire after the game.

This one will feel old-school all the way, with points at a premium and defenses holding court. Green Bay has held its opponents to 20 points or less in nine of its last ten at Lambeau and has won nine straight at home and 22 of 23 in the regular season. It continues on Sunday. I'm not ruling out a shutout, but:

Packers 16  Browns 9

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Comments (22):

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on December 26th, 2013 at 06:47am

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on December 26th, 2013 at 06:47am

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on December 26th, 2013 at 06:47am

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on December 26th, 2013 at 06:47am

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on December 26th, 2013 at 06:47am

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on December 27th, 2013 at 06:57am

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on December 27th, 2013 at 10:48pm

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on December 27th, 2013 at 10:48pm

[Closed circuit to THC – on your blog, you don’t really have an open forum for stuff like this, so I’m making this post here, if you don’t mind] OK guys, this might be deemed a little off topic, but since many of us who come to TheHeadCheese.com are from the Twin Cities, this may be of some interest. I read an interesting article today written by Tom Powers in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In it he went on to say that for the Vikings to become relevant in the near future, the thing they need to do is trade Adrian Peterson, and do it before the trade deadline of Oct. 29th. Now, from the perspective of being a Packers fan, many of us would say sure, go for it. I’m virtually certain that the more rube-like Vikings fan would say no way, you can’t trade away your best player no matter what. But if I was Rick Spielman, I would think long and hard about doing just this. For a moment, let’s use the template that the Dallas Cowboys used back in 1989 when they went 1-15. Midway through the season, Jimmy Johnson and company realized there was no way the Cowboys would do anything substantial that season, and had to come up with a way to rebuild the roster quickly (relatively speaking). So what did they do? As a few of you may recall, they put the word out that Hershel Walker was available for trade and waited for a bite. They got it in the form of Mike Lynn (remember him?), who said we’ll give you a pile of ridiculously high draft picks along with an assortment of players for him. As history has shown us, one of those picks was used on future HOF’er Emmitt Smith, along with a host of other players who contributed to the Cowboys’ Super Bowl runs in the early ‘90’s. So out of this trade, the Cowboys got 3 Lombardi trophies, and the Vikings got one memorable game against the Packers when Walker’s shoe went flying off. But to make my point, for the Vikings to finally become relevant and take the next step (which in turn, helps everyone in the NFCN), it’s time to have Spielman channel his inner anti-Mike Lynn, find out how many draft picks he can get for Peterson, and ship him off to the highest bidder. Because, Viking fans, let’s face facts here – the squad isn’t going anywhere this season now that they’re averaging 8 starting QB’s this season if they keep up this pace (OK, that’s a cheap shot…), and Peterson is 28 years old and the tread life of an NFL running back is very limited once they hit 30. Not to mention that as hard as Peterson runs, the wheels could come off sooner than anyone expects…just sayin’. Sure, the Vikings would take a major PR hit in the short run, but the mentality of the average NFL fan is not to be a fan of a winner, it’s to be the fan of a winner RIGHT NOW. And if Peterson is ever going to have a shot at a championship, it’s not going to be in a Vikings uniform. Think about this, Viking rubes, it makes a lot of sense. Kevin Williams and Jared Allen are good as gone for ’14, the secondary is a mess, Desmond Bishop didn’t work out (sorry, another cheap shot), the 1st round trio from ’13 isn’t exactly setting the league on fire (yet), Peterson will be one more year older, and the QB situation is a train wreck – don’t think for one minute that Freeman is the answer; you’ll find out otherwise over the next few games. So have RS start shopping Peterson around to the other 30 teams out there (no way TT would pay that price) and see what you get. Then maybe the Vikings can finally build something substantial.

on October 18th, 2013 at 04:33pm

OK, here's my on-topic post. The Packers are beat up pretty good, but hopefully this part of the schedule will work in their favor and give the younger guys experience while the starters heal up, and they can continue the winning streak. Packers 21, Browns 6.

on October 18th, 2013 at 04:36pm

I look for the Pack offense to step it up this week with Rodgers throwing more than many think. I think this would be the perfect time to use J. Franklin for some short tossess out of the backfield or heavon forbid a non Packer play the screen pass. Lacy will get his run touches but these are challenges Rodgers likes down as many key receivers he is. I will leave the score predicting to Davy and the Voice but I look for the air to be filled with Rodgers completed passes. GO PACK GO !!

on October 18th, 2013 at 07:43pm

It's not going to be pretty or easy with so many regular players injured. And it's a situation where the injury situation could get significantly aggravated with so many newer guys having to step in and not having the experience or caliber of the starters to them. I fear Nelson or Finley going down, Eddie Lacy having another injury or - forbid- somebody screwing up an assignment and getting Aaron Rodgers hurt. The Packers' coaches are going to have to do a super job of having the team ready and putting the replacement players in position to win and not make any critical gaffes; especially late in a close game. If the worst doesn't happen the Pack should have enough to get 2 or 3 field goals and a couple of td passes by Rodgers for a win in the 23-13 or 20-10 range.

on October 18th, 2013 at 09:25pm

Dave, I agree with you on the point that times have changed, and the RB is not as valued in the current "modern" offense as it was 25-30 years ago. The factor that may override that is that Peterson is a once-in-a-generation running back, and if a GM (or more likely, an owner) wants to make a big splash, that could seal the deal. One such team could be Atlanta with their slow start, and may want to kick it into catchup mode. Sure, this fun to speculate about, especially with someone else's roster, but I think we can all agree that unless something spectacular and unexpected should happen with the Vikings, they could very well be mired in mediocrity for several seasons...not a good thing when moving day to the new stadium comes. Have fun at Lambeau this weekend (my visit there will be in November for the Eagles game).

on October 19th, 2013 at 03:41pm

Voice, thanks for the interesting post. I discuss this topic tomorrow morning in the 8:00 hour with AJ and Sauce (we taped it because I'm heading to Lambeau right after my show). The fatal flaw is this is not the 80s. Running backs are not as important as they once were and I don't see anyone trading away their future for a running back who's almost 30. Plus, with the money he's making, the Vikes would need to take back a lot of salary in a trade. It would take a crazy owner who wants to shake things up with a team he thinks is a running back away. The Colts might have been that team, had they not made the move for Trent Richardson. The Saints are another, but I don't know that they have the dough with what they're paying Brees. It's fun to speculate about, and if someone approached Spielman with a wheelbarrow filled with players and picks I think he'd do it. But I would be astonished if a team took the plunge.

on October 19th, 2013 at 09:17am

I think were all thinking about the same here on this one. gordon scares the hell out of me, but if shields shuts him down like he did smith last week, they better sign him monday for 4 years and lock him up. he is there best player in the secondary. if hawk plays another game last week, I hope they don't check him for peds. what was that? what a game. I see it 27-21, 1 defesive td from each. GO PACK.

on October 19th, 2013 at 09:30am

Can anything be done on special teams?

on October 20th, 2013 at 07:02pm

THC--the minute I begin to think you are not the Packer-homer equivalent of PA--you go and refer to your Pack defense as "stout". 18th overall and 28th vs the pass is far from stout. Your D is pedestrian at the very best and that was BEFORE all the injuries. That vaunted Baltimore offense you played last week is ranked 22nd and is awful. So do a little homework before posting your next blog THC. Have a little integrity for cripes sake.

on October 20th, 2013 at 07:08am

Oh, Cane Cane Cane. You aren't paying close attention, are you? The Pack is third in the league against the run. When they got safety Morgan Burnett back two games ago the defense rose to another level. Flacco got garbage yards late. Casey Hayward's pending return will only help. Now, if we could get a a few linebackers healthy we could really show you what this defense is becoming.

on October 20th, 2013 at 07:13am

THC called it. The defense was STOUT. Less than 17 points on the board, (the goal in every game for the defense), they did not give up a 100 yard rushing effort, and 3 for 5 against 4th down. Throw in a Pick to boot. Each team may have double THC's projected score, but this was a solid TEAM win.

on October 20th, 2013 at 08:12pm

Cane...what a maroon. Calling Davey out with incorrect facts when you don't know the facts.

on October 21st, 2013 at 08:33am

Mr. Headcheese id like to talk to you can you call me plz. 414-477-6525 thx. Cory

on October 25th, 2013 at 08:56pm

Lose the Jackson 5" show is too brief to waste time on your feeding him your ideas. He brings zero as aVikings fan. Parent him. A father is not meant to be a buddy

on October 26th, 2013 at 07:10pm

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