The Green Bay Packers are 3-0, one of seven teams that remain undefeated after three weeks of football. The Atlanta Falcons, on the other hand, are 0-3, one of seven teams yet to record a win in 2020. Despite the obvious gap between the two teams, the adage “Any given Sunday” is around for a reason, and the Packers should not overlook the Falcons. In order to achieve their fourth straight victory, the Packers will need these X-Factors to come through:
X-Factor #1- Marquez Valdes-Scantling
The Packers’ front office faced a great deal of criticism following the NFL Draft. Many fans and analysts believed the team needed more depth at wide receiver. Devin Funchess, who signed as a free agent, opted out of the season due to the COVID crisis. The team, basically, returned the same receiving core as they had last year, which many fans found worrisome.
Through three weeks of the season, though, the passing game has shined. Aaron Rodgers is playing with a smile on his face and receivers are making plays.
However, Davante Adams has a hamstring injury that kept him out of the game against the Saints, in Week Three, and may keep him out on Monday night. Allen Lazard, who had a career game with six receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown, is going to miss time with a core muscle injury. With the top two receivers down, it is time for MVS to shine.
In Week One, MVS had a stellar game, recording four receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. The following week, he had a solid game with three receptions for 64 yards. However, in Week Three, we was relatively silent with one catch for five yards. The problem has been drops, which have hurt his totals in each week. Even if Adams does play, MVS will be an important X-Factor in the success of this offense.
X-Factor #2- Jaire Alexander
Earlier this week, the Packers added Jaire Alexander to the Injury Report with a hand injury. His game status, though, has not changed and he is expected to play. This is good news for the Packers suspect defense as they will be facing one of the best wide receivers in the game in Julio Jones.
Alexander had a brilliant start to the 2020 season in Week One, when he recorded a safety and interception. He had another standout game against New Orleans, deflecting a pass and recording a stuff-tackle for a loss of two yards. He will need to be on top of his game as he defends Jones, who has torched the Packers in the past. In five career games against the Packers, Jones is averaging 5.6 receptions and 103.6 yards per game. Alexander’s ability or inability to limit his receptions could be a deciding X-Factor on Monday night.
X-Factor #3- The Run Defense
One of the most glaring holes in the Packers defense has been and continues to be their inability to stop the run. Nowhere was this more evident than on Sunday night when Alvin Kamara broke numerous tackles for a long gain that kept the Saints’ hopes alive. Granted the play was on a lateral pass, but it might as well have been a sweep to the outside. Luckily, the Packers’ offense was even better and the defense held on just enough. However, a time will come when opposing teams will use this weakness to earn a victory over the Packers. It is up to Mike Pettine and the players themselves to improve in this area before we have to watch a decimation similar to last year’s NFC Championship game.
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