Q4: PREVIEW WEEKS 14 – 17 OF THE 2020 SEASON
Kirien Sprecher | @KirienSprecher
If you haven’t seen the previous quarter by quarter breakdowns, make sure to check them out!
WEEK 14: December 13th, Noon @ Lions (Ford 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 Packers offense struggled in their divisional match-ups with the Lions in 2019. This could have been for a litany of reasons but the most obvious was the Packers WRs inability to consistently beat the Lions man coverage. WR Allen Lazard sparked the comeback in both games with huge 4th quarter TDs, but before those big catches the Packers offense was dormant. Lazard, free agent WR Devin Funchess, or 3rd-year WR Equanimeous St. Brown will need to come up big against man coverage in week 14.
Kenny Golladay vs Kevin King
Lions WR Kenny Golladay had 5 catches for 121 yards in the week 5 meeting between these division foes last year. Golladay is the Lions surefire WR1, but his size (6’4 215) makes it a tough match-up for Packers star CB Jaire Alexander. Therefore, CB Kevin King (6’3 200) will draw the task of slowing down Golladay in week 14 of 2020. King has a tendency to get beat in between the 20’s but often makes up for it with big plays (5 INTs and 15 pass breakups in 2020
Prediction – Packers 23 Lions 20
Although the Lions are at home, playing in a dome gives Aaron Rodgers the advantage. Rodgers connects with Funchess and Lazard for early TDs to seal the season sweep of the Lions.
WEEK 15: December 20th, TBD vs. Panthers (Lambeau Field)
- The free agent signing of QB Teddy Bridgewater ushers in a new era for Panther fans.
- WR Robby Anderson was signed in free agency to complement future star WR DJ Moore.
- Auburn DT Derrick Brown (Round 1, Pick 7) and Penn State DE Yetur Gross-Matos (Round 2, Pick 6) headlined the Panthers 2020 draft class, which consisted entirely of defensive players.
DJ Moore vs Jaire Alexander
DC Mike Pettine and the Packers defense will do whatever it takes to slow down RB Christian McCaffery. This will leave CB Jaire Alexander on an island with WR DJ Moore. Moore got the best of Alexander in 2019 — 9 catches for 120 yards — and sparked a 4th quarter comeback. This is a match-up that Alexander will have to win if he wants to vault into the top tier of CBs.
Matt LaFleur vs Panthers New Look Defense
The Packers offense got whatever they wanted in this match-up last year, as did the rest of the Panthers opponents in 2019. So, it was no surprise to see the Panthers devote their entire draft to the defensive side of the ball. By week 15, LaFleur should have enough tape on the Panthers youngsters to develop a sound game plan that can repeat the offensive success of last year.
Prediction – Packers 27 Panthers 24
In a December game at Lambeau the Packers always have the advantage. Nonetheless, McCaffery and Moore are able to make things interesting before their comeback falls short.
WEEK 16: December 27th, 7:20 PM vs Titans (Lambeau Field) Sunday Night Football
- The Titans signed EDGE Vic Beasley to a 1-year deal, giving Mike Vrabel a versatile defender to utilize as he sees fit.
- Georgia OT Isiah Wilson (Round 1, Pick 29) will attempt to replace OT Jack Conklin (Browns).
- Veteran CB Jonathon Joseph and LSU CB Kristian Fulton (Round 2, Pick 29) will battle for the slot CB role that was vacated by the departure of CB Logan Ryan.
Derrick Henry vs EVERYONE
Tackling RB Derrick Henry (6’3 238) is never an easy task. Then add sub-zero temperature and some snow and it becomes an almost impossible task. The Packers will have to throw fresh bodies at Henry all game long. The key to slowing Henry down is to never let him get going in the first place. The Packers will have to surround him at the line of scrimmage and gang-tackle him before he gets into open space — easier said than done.
Aaron Rodgers vs Titans Secondary
In 2019, the Titans failed to force a turnover in only 3 games, they lost all 3 — including the AFC Championship game against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. En route to the AFC Championship game, the Titans relied heavily on their disruptive defense. They forced 2 turnovers against the Patriots in the Wild Card round and 3 against the Ravens in the Divisional round. Aaron Rodgers has to do what he does best and protect the football at all costs.
Prediction: Packers 20 Titans 26
Derrick Henry is able to control the clock and limit Rodgers’ opportunities. With fewer opportunities, Rodgers will start to press. One mistake — whether it be an errant throw, a bobbled catch or a fumble — will give the Titans the edge.
WEEK 17: January 3rd, Noon @ Bears (Soldier Field)
- The free agent signing of EDGE Robert Quinn is an upgrade from the release of LB Leonard Floyd and makes the Bears linebacker core one of the most talented in the entire league.
- QB Nick Foles was brought in via trade to challenge QB Mitch Trubisky for a starting spot.
- Free agent TE Jimmy Graham and Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet (Round 2, Pick 11) will provide some mismatch opportunities for HC Matt Nagy.
- The Bears also have 4 new offensive coaches in 2020: OC Bill Lazor, QB coach John DeFilippo, OL Coach Juan Castillo and TE Coach Clancy Barone
Davante Adams vs Kyle Fuller
WR Davante Adams success went hand-in-hand with the Packers offensive success against the Bears in 2019. In the first meeting between these rivals, Adams was held in check and the Packers only scored 10 points. In the 2nd meeting, the Packers were able to put up 21 points and Adams got free for 7 catches for 103 yards and a TD. Adams’ release is one of the best in the league and his ability to get open quickly is a great counter against the Bears dangerous pass rush.
Packers Defense vs Pass Catching RBs
In the two meetings against the Packers in 2019, 23 of QB Mitch Trubisky’s 55 completed passes were to running backs. The Packers did an excellent job of limiting yards after the catch in these situations and was one of the main reasons they were able to stymie the Bears offense. The Packers defense will have to replicate this tackling effort against the Bears in 2020.
Prediction – Packers 17 Bears 16
If my optimistic predictions are accurate, the Bears will be out of the playoffs by week 17, and the Packers will be competing for a playoff bye. However, that does not mean the Bears will take it easy in week 17. If anything can salvage a down year, it is beating the tar out of your divisional rivals in the last game of the season. The Bears will be playing as if week 17 is their Super Bowl. The Packers will get tested, but will ultimately prevail, vaulting them into playoff readiness with a record of 12-4.