Week seven sees the Packers make another cross-country trip to face their second AFC West team in a row as they take on Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos. Let’s break down everything you need to know in our week seven game preview.
Back from the Bye
The Packers are back on the field after surviving a harrowing bye week that no one enjoys.
Matt LaFleur’s Packers have started to shake the “post-bye week slump” image that had followed his teams. Green Bay has won their last two regular season games coming off the bye week. Granted, the Packers have had a bit of scheduling luck around the bye the last two years, going up against teams who finished their seasons well below .500 (Chicago and the Rams). Luck is on their side this year as well, it seems, as this Broncos team looks not just to finish the year sub-.500, but do so in almost historical fashion.
Broncos Offense Still Danger-Russ?
Whew…where do you start? This Broncos team has been somewhat of an enigma to watch this year. One week, they’re getting a 70 burger dropped on them, then turn around and give the Chiefs a legitimate run for their money in front of a sold-out Taylor Swift concert.
Sean Payton seems to have learned early on in the season that, just maybe, it wasn’t all Nathaniel Hackett’s fault last year in Denver. Turns out, an offense led by a waning talent at quarterback with not much protection and very little to speak of in terms of weapons makes for tough sledding in the NFL.
Russell Wilson is no longer the player of old, and maybe his top target, Jerry Jeudy, seems more concerned with the opinions of Steve Smith than playing football. Despite the drop-off, Wilson remains a dangerous passer of the ball at times and is getting the ball where it needs to be at a top-tier rate (9th in adjusted completion percentage).
The biggest weakness of the Denver offense plays right into the hands of Green Bay, which is pass protection. Wilson has been sacked 19 times, 5th most in the league, which should provide plenty of opportunities for Rashan Gary and this Packers pass rush.
A lone bright spot for the Broncos offense that could give Green Bay trouble is a young running back, Jaleel McLaughlin. The rookie runner hasn’t had many chances yet this season, but when he does get his chances, he makes the most of it, sitting second in the league in yards-after-contact. If Sean Payton realizes what he has in McLaughlin, it could make things a bit more interesting.
This Time, I Mean It
Everyone, myself included, said that the Raiders defense was the best chance for the Packers offense to get right. Those people, myself included, didn’t know what they were talking about. Everyone, myself included, knows that THIS is the best chance for the Packers offense to get right.
Yards per game, passing yards, rushing yards, points against, penalties. By almost every major metric, the Denver defense is near the bottom, if not dead last. And unlike the Raider’s defense, there’s no Maxx Crosby-level player that can take over a game and wreck it. In fact, there’s little pass rush to speak of in Denver, hopefully giving Jordan a bit of a breather from the last few games, who’s been pressured on 23% of passes over the last three games.
As much potential as Love and the Packers pass catchers could have vs. a bad Broncos pass defense, maybe, more importantly, is the potential AJ Dillion and (if he’s healthy) Aaron Jones could have. Denver is, you guessed it, at the bottom of the league in run EPA and tackling. If anyone could use a bounce-back game, it’s these two, and this defense is practically begging them to do it.
Packers Win…Or Else
We’ve beaten it to death a bit here, but this is a game that the Packers should be able to win. Green Bay seems to have an edge in nearly every spot on the field. When you add on top of the disappointing results from the last two games, it’s almost to the point where this becomes a game the Packers NEED to win. It’s a litmus test to show where the Jordan Love-era Packers are in their journey toward being an NFL contender again.