The Green Bay Packers are back.
That’s what some prognosticators would have you believe after their thrilling overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. Green Bay, entered the game — a must-win situation — with a 3-6 record. A seventh loss in 10 games would’ve almost eliminated the Packers from serious playoff contention with over a month left in the season.
With new life at 4-6, Green Bay clashes with Tennessee on Thursday Night Football in another game the Packers need to win in order to keep pace in the NFC. The Titans have had their own resurrection this season after losing two games to open the season; Tennessee has won six of its last seven games and leads the weak AFC South at 6-3.
While a loss wouldn’t hurt the Titans too severely, the Packers have reverted to a style that plays right into their hands. In the win over Dallas, Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon ran the ball 37 times (combined) for 203 yards and a touchdown. That’s precisely what Tennessee wants in slowing down the game.
Although he’s struggled this year, taking the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands is ideal for the Titans. Rodgers threw only 20 times against the Cowboys, completing 14 passes, of which three were TDs. This was Rodgers’ first three TD game of the year — a week after throwing three interceptions against the lowly Detroit Lions.
Unlike the Cowboys game, if the Packers plan to stick to the ground and pound offense, that’s exactly what the Titans desire. Because you know they will run Derrick Henry down Green Bay’s throat regardless. Dallas tends to fall into that trap of wanting to be flashy and throw the ball even when the running game is working. Tennessee will run it again and again and again. Then they’ll run it some more.
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Even after the big win last week, this game will be even more challenging for the Packers to pull off. Slow, methodical drives down the field running the ball usually turn into low-scoring games, where the Titans thrive. Tennessee has given up more than 22 points once all season, and that was in the Week 2 loss to Buffalo, 41-7. And they haven’t scored more than 24 points in any game.
If the Packers are to win this game, they’ll need Rodgers to be the same guy he was last week. If he plays like he did before the Dallas game, the Packers might get blown out at home in Week 11. Green Bay should go for a similar formula, with a nice mix of passes from Rodgers and enough running to make the play action an effective option.
Ultimately, the Titans will get a big road win at Lambeau Field and douse another splash of ice-cold water onto Green Bay’s playoff chances. Rodgers had been bad most of the year until he faced the Cowboys, a team he usually owns no matter where they play. This week the Titans will knock the Packers back down to earth on Thursday night, forcing Rodgers to point the finger at everyone else again.