The Packers enter their bye week riding a wave of momentum after crushing Peyton Manning and the Colts. It's not only that they beat an always competitive Colts team, but it was the way they did. They completely dominated Indy and handed them their second worse less since Tony Dungy era. As if that wasn't impressive enough, add on the fact that the Packers were without three of their best defenders-Harris, Bigby, and Jenkins- and that Rodgers still hadn't thrown a ball all week in practice. Normally this combination would lead to a humiliating loss, but the youth and resiliency of our beloved Green and Gold fought through. The depleted Packers defense not only didn't get embarrassed by Peyton Manning, but rather embarrassed him. With this impressive showing Packer fans can only wonder; If this is how good we are banged up, how good will we be when we are back to full health?
Returning from their bye week the Packers certainly have their work cut out for them as they face the currently undefeated Tennessee Titans(6-0). The Titans have a dominating, aggressive defense, that plays in your face comes up with a lot of interceptions. In fact, Tennessee has two players tied for first in the league in interceptions with 4 a piece-Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin. What's even more interesting is that the two other players they are tied with are none other than Green Bay's very own, Charles Woodson and Nick Collins.
Tennessee's defense ranks in the top ten in almost every category. In points allowed per game they rank 1st, with 11 pts/game. On average they give up only 268.5 yards/game, ranking them 3rd behind the Steelers and the Ravens. Also on average they allow 4.3 yards/game, 2nd behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers. Another impressive stat is that in 6 games they have only given up 66 points, putting them in the 1st spot by 23 points. Tennessee, having played one less game than Green Bay, has 6 more sacks than the Packers.
While their defense keeps opponents' offenses in check, their offense manages the ball and runs at you with their two head monster, LenDale White and Chris Johnson. These two back have rushed for a combined 863 yards, 11 touchdowns 40 first downs and have yet to fumble the ball. This duo has lead the Titans to the 4th best rush offense in the league, averaging 154.5 yards/game. Compare this to the average passing yards/game, 160 which ranks 26th in the league, even worse than the horrific Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens passing attack. No, its safe to predict, with almost 100% certainty, that when Green Bay travels to Tennessee to play the Titans(Nov. 2) they will get a heavy dose of the Johnson-White duo.
This last prediction may prove to be a scary thought for many Packer faithful as they look down the team defense list and see their team sitting at 25th. Very scary indeed. The Packers face the 4th best rushing attack in the league, and many are wondering, can the 25th ranked Packers run defense stop the Johnson-White duo. In my opinion the answer is simply, no.
Don't be too hasty to label me as a traitor. While I believe the Johnson-White duo will have no troubles with the pathetic Packers rush defense, I don't not believe they will emerge victorious at the end of the day. When the Packers offense is clicking and in rhythm, and it certainly looks like they are, there is not a single defense in the NFL that can stop them. How can you shut down Driver, Jennings, Nelson, Lee, Grant, and Jones? The Packers have all the weapons to be an unstoppable offensive force, but their run game has been nearly non-existent this year, 101 yards/game, 22nd in the league. When Grant rushed for 100+ yards good things tend to happen. The same whill hold true for next Sunday's game against the Titans.
If the Packers want to be a serious championship contender they need to get their run game going. The Titans, with the 8th best rush defense, will be the perfect test for a struggling Packer's ground game. Success on the ground= Success in the win column.
Keys for a Packer's win:
1) Slow down Johnson-White...These two are practical the entire offense for Tennessee, if the Packer's can stop them, they can stop the Titans offensive attack.
2) Get Grant going...Success on the ground=Success in the win column, and helps get the play action passing going.
3) Score, early and often...The Titans are not capable of putting up a lot of points, so if the Packers can get into the 30's they should be in for smooth sailing.