As the offense continues to hum under MVP-favorite and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers begin their last road trip of the season against the Buffalo Bills Sunday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The 10-3 Packers boast the NFL’s highest-scoring offense and Rodgers is second in the league with 35 touchdown passes to only three interceptions. Currently maintaining a one-game lead in the NFC North, Green Bay is only one win back from Arizona for the top seed in the conference.
The Packers have lit up opposing defenses by an average of 40.2 points during their current five-game winning streak, but Buffalo’s stingy defense has let up more than 24 points only once this season and it’s also contending for a spot in the postseason.
In Week 14’s 43-37 victory over Atlanta, Rodgers went 24-for-36 for 327 yards and three touchdowns, while running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks each rushed for touchdowns. Lacy caught another score, and he’s become another solid receiving option for Rodgers during the streak.
Already leading the Packers with 843 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, Lacy’s totaled 18 of his 36 receptions on the year in the last five games, scoring four times. It’s another weapon to a Rodgers arsenal that already includes Jordy Nelson, who’s fifth in the NFL with 1,265 yards and 12 scores, and Randall Cobb’s 10 touchdowns.
But the Bills have an enormous amount of defensive might that could hinder Green Bay’s progress. Powered by the league’s best pass rush, and a secondary that’s third in the NFL with 17 interceptions, the Bills are more than capable of upending the 4.5 point road-favorite Packers and Rodgers.
After last week’s difficult 24-17 loss to Denver, the Bills dropped to 7-6 and the matchup against Green Bay will be their final home game of the year. Buffalo’s one game behind a number of teams in the AFC Wild Card race, and its 4-6 record in conference games serves as a tiebreaker with other contenders like Kansas City, Miami and Houston.
The Bills best chance at making the postseason requires them to win out, but they’ll need to thwart the Packers and then beat Oakland and New England on the road in the next three games.
The defensive front, led by Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams, leads the NFL with 48 sacks but faces a stiff test against a Packers offensive line that’s allowed six total sacks during the winning streak.
But as they proved last week, the Bills can still be effective on defense even if the pass rushed is slowed. Denver didn’t allow a single sack or a quarterback hit on Peyton Manning, but Buffalo still forced Manning into two interceptions.
The Buffalo offense can also punish the Packers No. 20 ranked secondary, especially with top rookie receiver Sammy Watkins. A hip injury limited the young star in the previous three games, but Watkins unloaded seven receptions for 127 yards off 12 targets against a star-laden Broncos secondary.
Watkins return to form is an encouraging sign, but Buffalo will need some signs of life from the running game. The Bills were down by three scores to Denver, which forced quarterback Kyle Orton to throw a season-high 57 times and held leading rushers Fred Jackson and Anthony Dixon to 11 total carries.
Orton also needs to protect the ball better. The veteran’s tossed four interceptions to two touchdowns in the last two games.
Start Time: 1 P.M. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Betting Odds: Green Bay -5.5
Over/Under: 50.5 points
Prediction: Green Bay over Buffalo, 30-17