Jacksonville Jaguars at Green Bay Packers Preview: Jags Head Into Lambeau Without Maurice Jones-Drew
It’s hard to think of a way that the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) walk out of Wisconsin with a win. Upsets happen every week in the NFL but the Green Bay Packers (4-3) playing at home against a bruised and battered Jacksonville side do not look like being overthrown.
Jaguars half back, Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the best running backs in the game and the Jaguars’ only consistent offensive threat. However, he is out indefinitely with an injured foot, leaving backup Rashad Jennings as the presumptive starter. Jennings has been mediocre so far this year, gaining 90 yards on 34 carries. But he will be taking on a Packer front seven that is a poor 28th against the run. Watch how the Packers’ linebackers and safeties tackle at the second level. The defensive line has been fairly stout – although the potential absence or, at best, limitation of defensive tackle B J Raji will take its toll – but the linebackers and safeties have not been nearly as good in run defence as they have in defending the pass.
For some strange reason, people seem to be buying into this Minnesota Vikings team. However, the advanced metrics tell a different story. Let's take a closer look at why there is value on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I have to say that the NFL is one of the most fickle sports in the entire world. The look ahead line on this game was Vikings -5. It actually opened higher after Week 7. It now sits at -6.5, but -7's are out there (odds from SBRforum). I'm not sure about you, but I didn't see much last week to shift my favor towards Minnesota.
In Favor of the Vikings
There are three primary advantages Minnesota have in this matchup.
1) Home field advantage on a short week.
2) Superior run defense vs an average run offense.
3) Extreme advantage on special teams.
Both Chicago and Detroit's passing attacks received top billing in the lead up to Monday Night Football’s NFC North showdown. Instead, fans were presented with a defensive showcase.
The only trips into the end zone occurred on the first Bears possession of the night and the Lions’ last. They came 55 minutes apart but despite Detroit’s abysmal offensive showing, the game wasn’t won until the Bears recovered an onside kick with just 30 seconds remaining.
Like son of Detroit, Mitt Romney's performance in the presidential debate, the Lions prevented the result from being ruled a TKO but ultimately, the offense has plenty of questions to answer moving forward. The rushing attack was putrid, Burleson has set sail for the land of the injured reserves and Matt Stafford has regressed significantly since last season. Beside's that and they're 2-4 record, things are going swimmingly at Ford Field.
Here are the three factors that contributed to the Bears win besides Lovie Smith's 9-2 record on Monday Night Football.
Matt Stafford’s Poor Mechanics And Shaky Decision-Making
Monday Night Football heads to the NFC North this week for a renewal of the division rivalry between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears. For a rarity, the best players on the Soldier Field grass might be at the wide receiver positions, where Chicago’s Brandon Marshall and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson have been among the NFL’s best in 2012.
The passing attacks, however, only tell part of the story in this showdown, whose outcome will rest on these three key questions:
1. Can even the red-hot Bears defense contain Matthew Stafford?
With four defensive touchdowns in the last two games, Chicago is on a roll even by the high standards of a Bears defense. That said, they have yet to face a passing game as dialed-in as Matthew Stafford and Detroit’s.
The Lions rank second in the league with nearly 320 yards per game through the air, led—as usual—by the incomparable Johnson (35 catches for 558 yards). The Bears are no strangers to this matchup, but knowing how to slow down Detroit's offense and actually executing the plan are two very different problems.
The Green Bay Packers will travel to St. Louis to take on a team that used to be considered one of the butt jokes of the NFL. Since fading from its glory days as the Greatest Show on Turf, the Rams have been best described as hapless. However, no longer. Under the tutelage of moustachioed head coach, Jeff Fisher the Rams have become competitive in what is suddenly one of the toughest division, the NFC West.
However, the arrival of the Packers in town signals a challenge unlike any the Rams have faced this year. Although both teams are 3-3, the Packers represent a team with significantly higher quality, especially like when last week, quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws for a personal-best and franchise record six touchdowns.
The Packers have blown hot and cold all year, turning up against teams such as the Chicago Bears but collapsing against others, such as the Indianapolis Colts. It is worrying how much the team depends on Aaron Rodgers being on form. If he has a bad, they do not have the defence or running game capable of bailing the team out.