This Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will travel back to Lambeau Field and take on the Buffalo Bills. The Packers are currently 1-1-1 and are tied for second place in the NFC North. Their opponent in this Week 4 contest, the Buffalo Bills, are in a three-way tie for second place in the AFC East despite looking like the worst team in the entire league in the first two weeks of the season. The Bills shocked the NFL world and beat the Minnesota Vikings on the road last week despite being double-digit underdogs entering the contest. If the Bills can ride their newfound momentum, this game could potentially be closer than people think.
1. Green Bay’s Running Backs vs. Buffalo’s Defense
The Packers entered the 2018 season with hopes of establishing a quality running game to develop a more balanced offensive attack which would potentially prevent quarterback Aaron Rodgers from getting injured again. However, the running backs on the roster have failed to get anything going thus far and it is a large reason why this team is not currently leading in the NFC North. The Packers are currently averaging less than 90 rushing yards per game, which ranks 24th in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers is definitely capable of leading this team to a division title with the absence of a prolific running game, but one of the team’s running backs needs to step up moving forward.
Ty Montgomery entered the season as the favorite to win the starting running back position. However, he has been very underwhelming through the first three weeks. Montgomery has a total of 54 rushing yards and zero touchdowns. However, it’s important to note that the converted wide receiver does have nine receptions for 78 yards, which should make him the third-down back moving forward.
Jamaal Williams has received the bulk of Green Bay’s carries this season and has done relatively nothing with them. In the first two games, Williams carried the ball 31 times for a total of 106 yards and zero touchdowns. Williams was an absolute stud at BYU in college and the Packers selected him in the fourth round with the hopes of him becoming the starting running back for years to come. Unfortunately, he has not lived up to the hype up to this point in his short NFL career. If Williams continues to struggle, it might be time for Green Bay to insert someone else into the lineup.
Aaron Jones returned last week after finishing his two-game suspension. Jones led the team with six carries last week and averaged a solid seven yards per carry. However, the Packers were getting blown out early and gameflow forced the team to abandon the run during the majority of the contest. The Packers ended the game with only 17 total carries, so it is definitely a good sign for Jones that he received over 33 percent of the team’s reps. Jones has looked like a nice steal for Green Bay since his fifth-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. His return could not have come at a better time and he should be able to give the Packers a much needed jolt on the ground moving forward.
2. The Packers’ Defense vs. Josh Allen
The 2018 NFL Draft included some extremely talented players at the quarterback position. While some of them, like Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, received national recognition, Josh Allen was kept a secret during the majority of his career at Wyoming. However, Allen’s hype picked up right before the draft and he was selected with the seventh overall pick. Allen started the season as the backup quarterback but was quickly asserted into the starting lineup in the second week of the season. After struggling against the Chargers in his first professional start, Allen was fantastic against the Vikings last week as he carried the Bills to a 27-6 victory. Allen was extremely efficient throughout as he completed 15 of his 22 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown. However, Allen was also great on the ground and rushed for two more touchdowns. Now, Allen will look to duplicate last week’s performance against another NFC North foe.
So far this season, Green Bay’s passing defense has been average at best. Excluding Week 1, both opposing quarterbacks have torched the team’s secondary — which helps explain how this supposedly-improved defense has allowed over 28 points in consecutive weeks. The defense was simply overmatched against the Redskins and the Vikings and will need to bounce back if the Packers hope to win this contest. Although Allen looked great last week, he is still a rookie and I expect the Packers to send a little bit of added pressure to help compensate for their inconsistent secondary.
3. Davante Adams vs. Tre’Davious White
A lot of Packers supporters questioned the team’s decision to let star receiver Jordy Nelson walk during the offseason. The move essentially stated that the team felt confident enough in Davante Adams to become the team’s new No. 1 receiver. So far this season, Adams has lived up to those expectations. In three games, Adams has 20 receptions on 29 targets for 204 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Adams has been able to generate separation against No. 1 cornerbacks, which is a great sign moving forward. However, Aaron Rodgers has not connected on any big passing plays with him over the last two weeks. Excluding Week 1, Adams’ longest reception has been 16 yards. Look for Rodgers to take some deep shots this week to Adams with Buffalo’s inconsistent secondary in town.
In 2017, the Bills lost star cornerback Stephon Gilmore to free agency, where he later signed with the division rival New England Patriots. As a result, the Bills decided to address that large hole in their secondary through the NFL Draft. With the 27th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the team selected Tre’Davious White out of LSU with the hopes of him becoming a solid replacement for Gilmore. So far in his short NFL career, White has been extremely solid. In his rookie season, White intercepted four passes and was a serious contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year. This season, White has not recorded an interception, but that is mostly because teams have not targeted him as frequently as last season. The Bills have a below-average defense, so teams have simply targeted weaker cornerbacks in the passing game instead of going after a ballhawk like White. This should be a terrific matchup between two future superstars in their respective positions.
Prediction: Packers 34, Bills 17
As for my prediction, I gotta side with the Packers. Congrats to Buffalo for shocking the world last week but I just think the Vikings came out extremely flat. They were clearly looking ahead to their Thursday night matchup against the Los Angeles Rams and were unprepared for last week’s contest as a result. The Bills are definitely a better team with Allen as the starting quarterback but the team simply does not have enough talent to compete on a week-to-week basis. I expect Rodgers to torch this Buffalo defense as the Packers take out all their frustrations from last week’s performance.