Week 1 boom: Sammy Watkins – MISS
Week 1 bust: Rasul Douglas – MEH
Week one in the Matt LaFleur’s Era has been troublesome for the Green Bay Packers, but the team may have more significant issues this year than in years previous. The Packers’ 23-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings highlighted some major flaws, but will the Packers quickly repair them as they have before? This question poses some difficulty to the boom and bust predictions for the Packers in their matchup this week against the Chicago Bears.
Boom: Aaron Rodgers
At least one thing is certain for the Packers: Aaron Rodgers owns the Bears. In 27 career starts against the Bears, Rodgers and the Packers have won 22 of those games. In his last six performances against Chicago, Rodgers has accumulated a 6-0 record while throwing 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Rodgers has attained near perfection in his recent matchups against the Bears, which could continue after the Bears lost significant defensive pieces this offseason. Although Rodgers posted an unimpressive showing in Week 1, he has expressed little concern for the team’s offense moving forward. The Packers are familiar with slow starts and some over exaggeration of their struggles, which Rodgers usually shuts down quickly. Even last season, the Packers looked miserable in Week 1 when they scored a mere three points. However, Rodgers returned to MVP form and led the Packers to seven straight victories beginning in Week 2. This year’s Week 2 showdown against the Bears could be a classic game for Rodgers in which he silences the haters. Considering his track record against the Bears, this outcome seems highly likely.
Bust: Preston Smith
In a matchup in which one roster heavily outweighs the other, spotting bust candidates on the more talented team can be difficult. The Packers outmatch the Bears in most phases of the game so it is quite possible that no player for Green Bay ends up being a bust. But if there is one player who there may be some concern for, it is Preston Smith. As he approaches the age of 30, Smith may no longer be the game changing force he has been for the Packers in the past three seasons. He vacates a prominent role in the defense as one of the starting edge defenders, but it seems as if his counterpart Rashan Gary has far surpassed Smith’s quality of play. The Packers will still receive meaningful production out of Smith, but maybe not to the extent that Packers’ fans expect. Last week against Minnesota, Smith barely put his fingerprints on the game, and his quickest pressure resulted from miscommunication along the offensive line. Smith will see appealing matchups against Bears tackles Braxton Jones and Larry Borom this week, so expectations are that he excels. If he does not, it could be a sign that Smith is no longer a high level player.