The NFL season has kicked into gear, as we are already heading into week 4 of the season. At 4:25 PM EST, the 1-2 New England Patriots will be in Lambeau Field to take on the 2-1 Green Bay Packers. The Packers are heavy favorites going into this game, but Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick may have some tricks up his sleeve.
Keys to the Game
Time of possession:
One thing the Patriots are good at is dominating time of possession. The Patriots are a run first offense, and this will especially be the case with quarterback Mac Jones being out due to an ankle injury. In order to maintain time of possession, the Packers need to establish the run game early, getting both the elusive Aaron Jones and physical AJ Dillon involved. This is easier said than done, as the Patriots have a great run defense despite a weak performance against quarterback Lamar Jackson running the ball in week 3. I expect the Packers to run the ball efficiently, but it will not be easy. Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer will be starting for the Patriots, and the 36 year old quarterback will not be expected to pass the ball much. The Packers’ run defense is currently ranked as 25th in the entire league, allowing 4.9 yards per rush. The Patriots’ game plan will likely attempt to take advantage of the Packers’ weak run defense, and we will see a lot of the Patriots’ 1-2 punch in Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris. I expect the Patriots to run the ball well against the Packers, but will it be enough to keep up with the Packers offense?
Rodgers and his young receivers:
The Packers have a future hall of fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers at the helm, and they need to let him cook. Aaron Rodgers was able to absolutely carve up the Buccaneers’ secondary in the first half of a win in week 3, and the Patriots have a much weaker secondary. Although the Packers will need to establish the run game, I also expect them to take some shots down the field on 1st and 2nd down. Rookie receiver Romeo Doubs, who is a speedy threat, has Rodgers’ trust and respect, as he broke out last week for 8 receptions, 73 yards and a touchdown. Doubs is a playmaker and the Packers need to get the ball in his hands. 2nd round pick Christian Watson has not done much in his first few weeks in the NFL, so it would be nice for the Packers to also get him the ball, as he has the size, speed and talent to be a future star. If the rookies are not able to have an impact in the passing game, Rodgers will always have his trusted veterans in Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard who he can get the ball to.
Despite Brian Hoyer being the quarterback for the Patriots, I expect this game to be much closer than some may think. The Patriots are a run first team, and the Packers have a weak run defense, which gives the Patriots an advantage in that regard. However, Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers, and I expect him to do his thing. If the Packers are leading the game late in the 4th quarter, it will force the Patriots to pass the ball, which could be a recipe for disaster with Brian Hoyer leading an offense with a weak receiving corps. Bill Belichick may have some tricks up his sleeve, but I am going to trust the better team in the Green Bay Packers to get the job done. Give me the Packers to defeat the New England Patriots, 24-17.