This Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will return home to face a struggling 0-2 Cincinnati Bengals team. The Bengals will look to revive their playoff chances by pulling off a difficult upset in Lambeau. If the Bengals fall to 0-3, their slim playoff chances will be reduced to near-zero. As for the Packers, they will look to rebound from their Sunday Night Football loss last week against the Atlanta Falcons. However, the Packers are still an NFC powerhouse and a win this week will help this team get back on track.
There are three specific matchups that can decide this game:
- The Packers’ Secondary vs. A.J. Green
One glaring concern that the Packers had to deal with going into the 2017 season was their secondary. Last postseason, the Packers lost in the NFC Championship to the Atlanta Falcons 44-21, with the main reason for the defeat being an inability to contain star wide receiver Julio Jones. Jones destroyed the Packers’ secondary for 180 yards and two touchdowns as Atlanta ran away with the game early. The Packers attempted to fix their secondary over the offseason by signing cornerback Davon House and drafting cornerback Kevin King in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Now, the Packers have to face off against another elite receiver in A.J. Green, who has had over 950 receiving yards in every season of his career and is a huge target in the red zone. In both games this season, Green has had five receptions which suggests that he will continue to be a major focal point of the offense on Sunday.
2. The Packers’ Offensive Line vs. the Bengals’ Defensive Line
Another principal issue for the Packers entering the 2017 regular season was the offensive line. Throughout the preseason, the offensive line was consistently manhandled by opposing pass rushers and gave up a number of quarterback pressures. However, once the regular season started, Packers fans hoped that the offensive line would correct itself. That simply did not occur. Despite winning the first game of the season, the Pack’s offensive line was destroyed by the Seahawks and gave up four sacks in Week One. Their struggles continued in Week Two as the Falcons sacked Rodgers three times. The issue could potentially be resolved if injured left tackle Bryan Bulaga returns to the starting lineup for the Packers, but his status remains questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bengals.
3. Aaron Rodgers vs. the Bengals’ Secondary
So far this season, Aaron Rodgers has been somewhat underwhelming. Despite having over 600 yards passing and three touchdowns, Rodgers has also thrown two interceptions along with losing a fumble. However, a large reason for Rodgers’ minor issues is the Packers’ offensive line. Rodgers has been sacked seven times in two games and needs to get rid off the ball faster. If Rodgers can get proper protection while in the pocket, one can expect less turnovers in the future. Another player who will have a huge impact on Rodgers’ success is star receiver Jordy Nelson. Last week, Nelson left early with with a quad injury and had zero catches in their loss against Atlanta. If Nelson’s health is close to 100%, expect him to have a big day against Bengals’ cornerbacks Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31, Cincinnati Bengals 13