It’s a tough game coming up this week for the Packers. This is the first week where I’m alone in thinking the Packers are going to win in the APC staff pickem’…so that tells you just about everything. That said, there have been surprising number of Texan fans that I have interacted with that have said they wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers win. It’s been a fluky season, and maybe the Packers have another surprise in store for us this year. If they do win the Packers are going to have to get a big game out of these five guys….
RB Alex Green. The five to highlight can’t start anywhere else. The Packers offense rolls along smoothly if there is a competent running threat to pair along with the passing game. The Packers also need to be at around a 60/40 pass to run ratio…if not a 50/50. Since Cedric Benson is on the shelf for the foreseeable future, it’s going to be up to Green (and a lesser extent James Starks) to get this job done. Kevin made the point early in the week that it looks like Green is up for the task. I hope he’s right. At the very least the carries will be a good opportunity for him to learn and grow so he can get better down the stretch.
C Jeff Saturday. Saturday did not have a great day in his home coming to Indianapolis. He’s also not been super fantastic as a center so far this year. From the rumors I’ve heard the Texans can be a little weak at NT, so this may be a good chance for him to bounce back. If he can help stop J.J. Watt all the better. Bottom line? Saturday has got to get the offensive line together and make sure that Aaron Rodgers has the ability to step up in the pocket or else the Packers will be in for a long day.
ILB D.J. Smith. The Texans feature a very good tight end and a running back combination in Arian Foster and Owen Daniels. This means that there is more pressure on the ILB to make plays in the running game and the passing game. Smith has been dogged by many since stepping into the lineup but he has gotten a little better each week. A solid to good game from him could be just what the doctor order to keep the game within reach.
S Morgan Burnett. Burnett was the only Packer to miss multiple tackles last Sunday according to ProFootball Focus. Why do I bring this up? Because it’s further evidence that shows my ongoing "Morgan Burnett is disappointing me" line. It’s time for his down season to stop because the Packers are going to need solid safety play to keep Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels in check. If he has another below average outing then a shakeup may be necessary at the S spot.
WR Randall Cobb. This game seems to be uniquely positioned for Cobb to put in a big day. The Packers need a running game, a screen game, and someone to make things happen in short timing passes. Cobb if fantastic at all of these things. Throw in the fact that Greg Jennings will probably be out again and I don’t see why a game plan for this week shouldn’t involve a healthy dose of Cobb in the slot, out wide, and in the backfield. Mix in some other contribution from either Jordy Nelson or James Jones and the Packers could surprise people.
Not part of the five because you should always watch this guy
QB Aaron Rodgers. The Rodgers haters are out in force this season. Whether it’s trolls from other teams, or those that just don’t seem to like him in the Packer camp that have been hiding the last two years, they are out in force now. The complaints are the same from 2008-early 2010: he holds the ball too long, he tries to make the big play instead of the check down, he takes too many hits, etc. etc. The truth is that he’s still having a pretty good year…it’s just not a great year and it’s not a historic year like last year. If Rodgers can stay patient and focus on keeping the offense moving, then the Packers should be able to pull out a victory. If he starts launching it down the field and trying to be the hero…well…that’s how the second half last week went and it was a bumpy ride.