This week’s low scoring victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was definitely the most credible victory of the year for the Green Bay Packers. Despite it not being as convincing as fans might have liked, Fanduel Sportsbook now have the Packers as a very close joint second favorite to win the NFC with odds of +400. They are joint with the Buccaneers, with the favorites being the Philadelphia Eagles with odds of +370. So how do the Packers match up against their NFC rivals?
Reigning Superbowl Champions, the Los Angeles Rams, are a major threat in the NFC. They have the same record as the Packers, recording 2 wins after the first 3 weeks, with the only loss being against the superbowl favorites, the Buffalo Bills, on opening night. This is not a bad loss as most teams will find it difficult to compete against the Bills this year, but what is more concerning is their points allowed. They allowed 31 points against the Bills and then 27 points against the Atlanta Falcons. It is important to note they have significant injuries, especially in their defense, meaning there are late-round rookies having to be forced into the starting lineup before being NFL ready. Although this week saw a very good game for the Rams against the Arizona Cardinals, where they only allowed 12 points. This shows signs of major improvements from their younger players, and with 3-time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald and the 5-time pro bowler Jalen Ramsey, they cannot be underestimated. They also need Matthew Stafford to be more careful with the ball. He threw 5 interceptions in the first 2 weeks, which could also explain the high points allowed. He threw no interceptions against the Cardinals this week.
The Philadelphia Eagles remain unbeaten after 3 weeks. They narrowly avoided defeat in their week one win against the Detroit Lions, then comfortably beat the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Commanders. Their defense has looked much better in the 2 most recent games, with great performances from their pass rush especially. They recorded 9 sacks against the Commanders! Jalen Hurts has also really found his feet this year, alongside second year receiver DeVonta Smith, new pickup AJ Brown, and long-time Eagle Dallas Goedert. There are still question marks though. The victory over the Vikings came in a prime time game, against a quarterback who has a 2-10 record in prime time. So the amount of credit you should give them for the win is limited. This is alongside an expected victory against the struggling Commanders and a very close game against a Lions team with pretty low expectations this season. This has been a perfect start for the Eagles, and with an easy schedule ahead thanks to a weak division, number one seed is definitely obtainable, but I fear their true level will be exposed early in the playoffs. Watch out for their week 12 matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
Now let’s look at the Packers, specifically how they looked against conference rivals the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They enjoyed early success on offense with nice passes to Romeo Doubs and Allen Lazard for touchdowns, and big plays from Tyler Davis and Randall Cobb. This was until a red zone fumble from Aaron Jones just before half time, which then saw the offense become very flat, not scoring a single point from that moment onwards. This is alarming but there are definitely positives to be taken from this game. The defense won the game for the Packers, only allowing 12 points. The offense didn’t need to score a lot of points to win the game due to the great defensive effort. Special mention needs to go to the super productive De’Vondre Campbell who ultimately tipped the pass during the two point.
attempt which sealed the victory, and Keisean Nixon who massively stepped up when called upon after Jaire Alexander’s early departure. He forced a fumble, had 5 tackles and one assisted tackle, and he also covered a punt on the one-yard line. A lot of people will be hesitant to credit the Packers’ defense when the Buccaneers’ top 3 receivers, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones were out due to injury or suspension. One thing that was at practically full strength, apart from the loss of Akiem Hicks, was the Buccaneers’ defense, one of which Rodgers traditionally struggles against. Despite this the Packers only allowed one sack on Rodgers. This is a major improvement from the other two games this season. This success can be thanks to the return of David Bakhtiari. This was the first game back for the Pro Bowl Tackle after an ACL tear. His return allowed Elgton Jenkins to return to his preferred position and the Packers pass blocking was much improved. The run blocking did struggle though with only 68 running yards from AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones combined. Week 8 against the Buffalo Bills will be a massive game for the Packers and will be a big indicator of the team’s chances of reaching the Superbowl in February.
In conclusion, I think the Packers have an excellent chance in the NFC. I think the verdict is still out on the Eagles, and I think the return of Bakhtiari and Jenkins could be the turning point if we were to go against them in the playoffs. The LA Rams have proven they are a superbowl winning team, but Stafford’s inconsistency could cost them, especially with the Packers’ talented secondary and pass rush. Romeo Doubs has shown signs of serious talent, but the wide receiver position is still a question mark, but if somebody really steps up and stamps themselves in as WR1, the Packers could be unstoppable in the NFC.