Here’s a specific prediction we know we can get right: the temperature for the Packers’ next game will be a lot higher than it was in their last one.
Now that we’ve got one on the board for sure, here are the rest of our specific shots for this week. Last week’s outing wasn’t so hot; we can’t really even say that anybody came close. But pretty much everybody seems to think this week’s game could feature a lot of high-flying offense, at least on one side of the ball, and our writers’ predictions generally follow accordingly.
Here are our most specific predictions for Week 16.
Paul Noonan: Tyreek Hill breaks Flipper Anderson’s record
Willie “Flipper” Anderson has the NFL’s single-game receiving record with 336 yards against the Saints in 1989. It was a bizarre game that the Saints won just 20-17 and Anderson almost unbelievably only scored once. Anderson was part of a prolific passing attack led by Jim Everett at quarterback, and the also outstanding Henry Ellard at wide receiver.
Jaylen Waddle’s presence makes covering Hill that much more difficult, and Joe Barry’s defense excels at giving up big plays to an almost absurd extent. The Packers have the horses to make this into a shootout, and a defensive coordinator who won’t alter his approach even if one receiver has 200 yards at halftime. Hill’s current high is 269 yards in a game against Tampa. That’s a recipe for records.
Kris Burke: The Packers score a special teams touchdown
They have a legitimate returner in Keisean Nixon. He’s going to go where no Packers’ special teamer has gone in what feels like an eternity: the opponent’s end zone.
Jon Meerdink: JJ Enagbare gets another sack
The Packers seem to have something in 2022 fifth-round pick JJ Enagbare, who nabbed his third quarterback sack of the season on Monday. He has steadily improved as the season has gone on, and perhaps just as importantly, he hasn’t really faltered as he’s picked up more snaps in the Packers’ post-Rashan Gary world.
The Dolphins pass it a lot and they don’t protect Tua Tagovailoa especially well; they’re Pro Football Focus’ second-worst graded pass-blocking team. I think Enagbare makes it two consecutive weeks with a sack this year.
Tex Western: Robert Tonyan scores two touchdowns
The Dolphins are one of the worst teams in the NFL in defending against tight ends, as their defense ranks 30th in the league in DVOA against the position. Teams are averaging just under 8 pass attempts to tight ends per game and just shy of 60 yards. Some of this production has come against upper-tier tight ends – Mark Andrews had over 100 yards and a score early on this season and Dawson Knox just put up 98 and a touchdown last week – but one of the biggest issues for the Dolphins has been covering the position in the red zone.
Players like Hayden Hurst, Jordan Akins, Irv Smith, Jr., and Harrison Bryant have all scored touchdowns on the Dolphins defense. The Bears’ Cole Kmet scored twice! I’ll say that one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite red zone targets over the last few years has a resurgent performance in this game with a pair of scores.