By James Wagstaff – Green Bay Packers Writer
After a 2-0 start to the season for Green Bay, the optimism is starting to grow. The Broncos come to town for week three and stand between the Packers first 3-0 start since 2015 (Incidentally, it was the Broncos who handed Green Bay their first loss of that season on route to the Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl 50).
After jumping out to a big 21-0 lead on three straight touchdown drives last week, the Packers offense looked red hot under the guidance of Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur after a sluggish week one performance against the Chicago Bears. However, this was very much a false dawn for the offense as they struggled to get out of their own way for the rest of the game. Ultimately, it was left to the defense to come to the rescue for the second time in as many weeks and stop the Minnesota Vikings from coming back and snatching victory.
As for the Denver Broncos, they come into this one off the back of a heartbreaking loss at home against the Bears.
In a game that was dominated by punts, poor quarterback play, and field goals, both teams struggled to move the ball with any consistency – that is until the game moved into its final frame. Denver, down by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Joe Flacco led the offense down the field converting two fourth-down throws before finding Emmanuel Sanders in the back of the end zone for a 7 yard TD with 31 seconds left on the clock.
At this point, the Broncos went for two and converted, leaving the Bears only 31 seconds to drive down the field to save the game. Of course, this wasn’t the ball game and nevertheless, the Bears, needed every one of the 31 seconds left but managed to snatch the victory on a last-second field goal. Given the manner of the defeat, I am sure this Broncos team will be fired up to try and win its first game of the season.
As it was coming into last weeks game against the Vikings, the main talking point surrounding this Packers team is when will the offense and Rodgers find its rhythm in Matt LaFleur’s system? It was clear from the first three drives out of the gate in week two that should they start to get on the same page this could be a potentially potent offense. 31 points in two games with Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback is simply not good enough.
The Broncos pose another tough defensive test to this Packers team. Vic Fangio, the Broncos first-year head coach is certainly very accustomed to facing off against Rodgers and the Packers after spending the last 3 seasons as Bears Defensive coordinator. Now with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb at his disposal, this is likely to be another close game.
The major positive so far this season for the Packers and a big reason as to why they are currently sat at 2-0, unchallenged atop of the NFC North standings has been their defense. It appears that some shrewd offseason acquisitions by Brian Gutekunst – Packers general manager has provided Mike Pettine with the pieces he needs on defense to pose a serious problem to any offense that the Packers come up against.
The most important additions so far look to be that of Za’Darius Smith, the Outside Linebacker brought in via free agency on a 4 year $66 million contract. It was a very big contract but he seems to be worth every cent with Smith leading the lead in individual pressures after 2 weeks. This pressure at the front end alongside the fearsome safety tandem of Adrian Amos and first-round rookie Darnell Savage has given the two opposing quarterback problems thus far and in particular, in the red zone.
Through two weeks, opposing quarterbacks have combined to go 0/6 for 2 INT’s with a combined passing rating of 0.0 whilst attempting passes into the Packers red zone. As long as the Packers front can continue to generate the pressure that we have seen thus far, it may be a long afternoon for Joe Flacco.
Should the Packers find some continued rhythm on offense and maintain the standard they have set over the first two weeks on defense, this Packers team really should have too much for the Broncos. However, this is the NFL and the challenge cannot be taken lightly with many Packers fans seeing this game as a classic trap game.
After the hype surrounding the first two-division rivalry games, they cannot let their intensity drop against a Denver team that will be scrapping to avoid falling to the dreaded 0-3.
Prediction: Broncos 10, Packers 28
My Prediction for this week is Packers 28- 10 Broncos with the game being close going into the fourth quarter and the Packers eventually pulling clear.