Early Bird Breakdown Week 7: Browns @ Packers

First and foremost Packer fans, I want to apologize for not having the Week 6 breakdown. Life had other plans and I could not get it up for you.

Now, as for the recap to last week’s contest:

 The Good: Mason Crosby

After last season I was not sure if Crosby would be back but look at him now, getting accolades on some guys blog post; look how far Crosby has come! In all seriousness, Crosby has been very consistent this season and this time last year this was a game we would have lost. Honorable mention for, “The Good,” goes to Eddie Lacy for carrying the rock to a career high 120 yards and being a consistent force for Green Bay.

The Bad: Red Zone Offense

This was a strange phenomenon because since Rodgers took over he has been the best red-zone QB statistically in the league. This season it has been down due in part to play calling and performance, but both trips to the red zone ended in 31 yard field goals. Green Bay needs to be converting these chances into points. The only touchdown was on a bomb to Nelson, and plays like that do not come every week.

The Ugly: The Injuries….again

Every week it seems that injuries seem to take this slot in the review. Randall Cobb was Rodgers favorite receiver and the team’s best weapon on offense and alone would be devastating on the field. Add in an injury to Jones (although he will be out significantly less time) but this is getting ridiculous. I would be discouraged, but the last time Green Bay was this injured was in 2010 and we know how that ended.

Opponent Recap:

Cleveland suffered its first loss since trading budding star Trent Richardson to the greener pastures of Indianapolis last week against the Lions. In what looked like a sure-sign that Cleveland was tanking it for Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Lousiville) by trading there best player for a draft pick, Cleveland suddenly became red-hot, beating the struggling Vikings, the enigmatic Bengals, and the always-close-game Buffalo Bills (except, ironically this game as this was the only double-digit point differential they played).   They played the Lions much tougher than the score indicated, leading 17-14 going into the fourth quarter. Then the Lions came alive and outscored the Browns 17-0 in the fourth to ice the game.

The Breakdown:

Packers Offense vs. Browns Defense:

Green Bay faces a good Browns defense, ranking 8 th against both the pass and the run per-game, and 7 th best in total defense. The Browns have shown the ability to be stout against a good passing team like the Lions (only giving Stafford 248 yards through the air) and against the ground (earlier in the season it took Peterson 25 carries to get only 88 yards). Green Bay offers Cleveland the toughest combination of a work-horse running back and an elite quarterback. Cleveland’s scheme is a base 3-4, similar to the one Dom Capers runs. The defense is anchored by its defensive line and Joe Haden, one of the best man-coverage corners in the league. Nelson will have his work cut out for him this week, as historically he has been shut-down by the league’s best corners, especially when other receivers were hurt (see Seattle last year without Jennings and two-years-ago against Kansas City, also Jennings). Cleveland has been a little soft to tight ends this year, so if Finley can play like he has most of the season and not make crucial drops, he could be the story of the game. I feel it comes down to Lacy this week. Without Cobb and Jones (who is a game-time decision), the Packers will need him to be huge on first and second down to give the Packers a consistent offense today.

Packers Defense vs. Browns Offense:

As good as Cleveland’s defense is, their offense is the 24 th -best in the league.  As I said earlier, they traded away their best player in Trent Richardson and the run game has been lack-luster since. As long as the Packers can find a good rush against Weeden, a 0-threat to take off and run, without Matthews they will be fine. Weeden can throw and the Packers do tend to give up yards in bunches to Quarterbacks, but Cleveland always asks itself how it will score.

The Weather Factor:

Forecast shows it will be a cold and most-likely wet day in Green Bay. Perfect for defenses, not fun for offenses, and less fun for a particular writer’s first regular-season Packer game at Lambeau Field. Though like his excitement for going, I do not expect the conditions to hurt either teams offense since they are used to playing in these conditions over the years.

The Game:

This has all the looks of a low scoring game. The Packers will not score easily in these conditions against this defense. Cleveland never scores easy, even in sunshine against the practice team. Green Bay gets a big edge at home. I think it will be close for most of it but in the fourth Green Bay will pull away.

Packers 24-13 .



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