Q1: Breaking Down The First 4 Games Of 2020
Kirien Sprecher |@KirienSprecher
WEEK 1: September 13th, Noon @ Vikings (US Bank Stadium)
- LSU WR Justin Jefferson (round 1, pick 21) will attempt to replace WR Stefon Diggs (Bills).
- TCU CB Jeff Gladney (round 1, pick 31) will be called upon immediately to fill the void from the departure of Trae Waynes (Bengals) and Xavier Rhodes (Colts).
- DT Michael Pierce will replace DT Linval Joseph (Chargers).
- OC Gary Kubiak will replace Kevin Stefanski (HC Browns).
Dalvin Cook vs. Packers Run Defense
Cook is the key to the Viking’s offense. When Cook is able to churn yards, the play action becomes lethal. In the closely contested 2019, week 2 match-up, Cook was healthy and ran 20 times for 154 yards and a TD. In the 2019, week 16 match-up Cook did not play and the Viking’s running game suffered mightily: 16 attempts for 57 yards.
If Packer free agent DT Trayveon Hester makes the 53-man roster, he will be called upon on early downs to stuff the run up the middle. However, Cook is dynamic and can do just as much damage on the perimeter as he can in between the tackles. Safeties Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos will need to make open field tackles when Cook gets out in space.
Aaron Jones vs. Vikings Run Defense
In the two match-ups against the Vikings in 2019, Jones ran 46 times for 270 yards and 3 TDs. The Vikings have yet to make any substantial change to their run defense in the off-season, so expect more of the same from Jones in week 1.
Prediction – Packers 23 Vikings 20
This week 1 match-up of division rivals will be closely contested and will be decided by turnovers and field position. Aaron Rodgers will need to control the game and do what he does best: maximize offensive potential, while protecting the ball. If the Packers go turnover free, they will leave Minnesota 1-0.
WEEK 2: September 20th, Noon vs. Lions (Lambeau Field)
HC Matt Patricia loaded up on free agents who used to play for him in New England. LB Jamie Collins, DT Danny Shelton and S Duron Harmon will all come into Detroit with a sense of familiarity with Patricia’s defensive schemes.
- Veteran free agent CB Demond Trufant and Ohio State CB Jeffery Okudah (round 1, pick 3) will attempt to fill the void left from Darius ‘Big Play’ Slay.
- Georgia RB D’Andre Swift (round 3, pick 3) will try to provide a spark to the Lions lackluster run game.
Packers WRs vs Lions Man Coverage
The rookie CB Okudah will likely be given the task to shadow Davante Adams, with safety help over the top. To ensure Davante Adams does not get doubled all game long, wide outs Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes Scantling will need to win the one on one match-ups against Trufant and slot CB Justin Coleman.
Packers Red Zone Defense vs Lions Red Zone Offense
The Lions were able to move the ball quite effectively against the Packers defense in 2019. However, the Packers were able to limit the damage to field goals, which kept them close enough for the eventual comebacks. The rookie RB Swift will be asked to be the difference in 2020 and turn some of those red zone field goals into touchdowns. The Packers run defense will be put to the test once again in week 2, another reason why DT Hester is a favorite to win a roster spot.
Prediction – Packers 20 Lions 16
This week 2 battle will be a gritty and ugly game, but if we learned anything from 2019, that is just the way the Packers like it.
WEEK 3: September 27th, 7:20 PM @ Saints (Superdome) Sunday Night Football
- Veteran free agent CB Malcom Jenkins and Wisconsin LB/EDGE Zach Baun (round 3, pick 41) bolster the Saints 2020 defense.
- Journeyman WR Emmanuel Sanders adds to the Saints plethora of playmakers.
Michael Thomas vs Packers Secondary
Jaire Alexander is on the brink of stardom, but slowing down Michael Thomas is not a one man job. It is a win for the Packers secondary if they limit the big plays and make Thomas work for every catch.
Marshon Lattimore vs Davante Adams
Lattimore has grown to be a stud CB in the league after winning Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2017-18. However, the NFL is a league where you constantly have to prove yourself, and this Sunday Night Football match-up against a top 5 receiver in Adams will be another test for the star youngster.
Prediction – Saints 30 Packers 27
With stars all over the field, lots of scoring and the game coming down to the last possession, this Sunday Night Football tilt will be an instant classic. The Saints home field advantage proves the difference.
WEEK 4: October 5th, 7:15 PM vs. Falcons (Lambeau Field) Monday Night Football
- Former Raven TE Hayden Hurst, and former Ram running back Todd Gurley were added to the Falcons’ offense in free agency.
- Draft picks, Clemson CB AJ Terrell (round 1, pick 16) and Auburn DT Marlon Davidson (round 2, pick 20), will need to provide an impact on defense in 2020, with free agent DE Dante Fowler coming in to add some much needed pass rush.
Julio Jones vs Packers Secondary
Another major test for the Packers secondary on prime time. If the young core can stand their ground and limit Jones, it could provide confidence and swagger for the rest of the season.
Falcons Pass Rush vs Packers Offensive Line
Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn loves to get after the quarterback, and he will focus all of his energy on making sure Rodgers is as uncomfortable as possible. Whoever wins the OT position that was vacated by Bryan Bulaga (Chargers) will be put to the test. The Packers might need to use RBs and TEs to provide help to the tackles by chipping before releasing into their route.
Prediction – Packers 28 Falcons 16
The offenses will outshine the defenses on Monday night in week 4. Although the Packers defense gives up some yards, they keep the Falcons out of the end zone and avenge their prime time loss in week 3.
Starting off the season 3-1 can only be viewed as a success considering the tough slate to begin 2020. September 13th can’t come soon enough.