On paper, the Jacksonville Jaguars are huge underdogs when they travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers.
On the field, the matchup may be even more lopsided than that.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers come into this game on the heels of two impressive wins, while the Jaguars have now lost three straight, including last week's heartbreaker of a loss to the Oakland Raiders in overtime.
Both teams will also look to overcome key injuries, with Maurice Jones-Drew lost for the Jags and Charles Woodson out for an extended period of time for the Packers.
Two teams moving in different directions this season will meet in a game both will feel they must win. Only one team will emerge with a victory. Let's find out which team it will be.
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
When: Sunday, October 28 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Stream: NFL Audio Pass
Listen: Sirius XM 92 and 138; Dial Global
Betting Line: Green Bay (-12), according to Covers.com
Jaguars Injury Report (via ESPN)
RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Foot, Out
QB Blaine Gabbert, Shoulder, Questionable
WR Laurent Robinson, Questionable
RB Montell Owens, Shoulder, Questionable
CB Rashean Mathis, Groin, Questionable
LB Daryl Smith, Groin, Doubtful
S Dwight Lowery, Foot, Doubtful
Packers Injury Report (via ESPN)
WR Greg Jennings, Groin, Questionable
DT B.J. Raji, Questionable
CB Sam Shields, Questionable
S Charles Woodson, Collarbone, Out
What's At Stake?
For the Packers, the chance to keep pace with the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears. For the Jaguars, the chance to prove they aren't the worst team in the NFL. That should prove to be an uphill battle.
Fantasy Start 'Em, Sit' Em and Sleeper
Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and the Packers defense are all must starts. Randall Cobb isn't a bad flex play, especially if Jennings doesn't go. I don't love Jermichael Finley this season, but he's worth a look this week. It's a good week to use the Green Bay defense.
For the Jaguars, the only player you definitely have to start is Rashad Jennings. Cecil Shorts isn't a bad option at the flex in deeper leagues if you're really in a pinch. I wouldn't start anyone else on this team.
Your sleeper is Alex Green, who has had a minimal impact for fantasy owners since taking over for Cedric Benson as Green Bay's starting running back but should be able to put up big numbers in this one.
The Jags are giving up 147.3 rushing yards per game, and if the Packers jump out to a big lead Green could see a lot of touches in the second half as the Packers protect their lead. I expect to see a breakthrough performance from Green this week.
What They're Saying
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel asked a few folks "who know things" how they thought this game would play out. Here's what they had to say:
"I'm going to say 42-7," an executive in personnel said, nixing that idea. "The Packers are playing against a team that can't run the ball. This is a game where (Aaron) Rodgers should throw five or six touchdown passes if they want to throw the ball."
It should be a long day for the Jaguars. A really, really long day:
"They have a bunch of overachievers as pass rushers that Green Bay should be able to block," one scout said. "And I would think (Blaine) Gabbert and (Chad) Henne should be under fire the whole day.
"They're going to be one-dimensional because there's no threat of somebody running the ball. The Packers should have about eight sacks in this game. If they don't, then there's an issue there."
There you have it, folks. Not exactly the picture of optimism for Jacksonville, huh?
Jaguars Player to Watch: Rashad Jennings, Running Back
Before the season began, it looked like we would get to see how Jennings performed as the Jags' starting running back. But Jennings was injured in Week 1, Maurice Jones-Drew showed little rust after a lengthy holdout and Jennings resumed his role as the team's backup runner.
Now is his chance to shine, and improve upon what has been a disappointing 2.6 yards per carry this season. He's sure to be one of the most added fantasy football players via the waiver wire this week, and Jacksonville has to establish a running game if they are to have any chance in this game.
If they become one-dimensional, you can bet Dom Capers and the Packers defense will ratchet up the pressure on Blaine Gabbert (see above). That's a recipe for failure, so Jennings will need to be a stud for Jacksonville.
Packers Player to Watch: Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback
I know it's the most obvious selection ever, but Rodgers has been so phenomenal over the past four weeks I couldn't ignore him. Take a gander at these tasty stats since Week 4: 1,234 passing yards, 87 rushing yards (the fantasy folks appreciate those), 16 touchdowns, two interceptions, three wins.
If he has another one of his MVP-like performances, it's hard to imagine the Jaguars even keeping things close in this game, let alone winning. Rodgers is on fire again, and with the amount of weapons he has at his disposal, that's a really bad sign for the rest of the NFL.
Key Matchup: Jaguars Offensive Line vs. Packers Front Seven
Everything—and I mean, everything—comes down to whether or not Jacksonville can have any success running the ball. In turn, their ability to do so comes down to whether or not the offensive line can get a push and wear the Green Bay defense down as the game goes on.
Here's what happens if they can't establish a running game:
- The Jaguars become one-dimensional and find themselves in long third-down conversions. With Clay Matthews on fire this year (nine sacks) and a Capers' defense bred to blitz teams when they get the opportunity, the Jaguars would have difficulty moving the ball.
- Each time Gabbert drops back to pass, the odds of turning the ball over increase. And Jacksonville has to win the turnover battle if they are to pull off the upset.
- Without a running game, it will be a lot harder to keep the ball out of Rodgers' hands. Jacksonville's defense will have a hard enough time slowing down Green Bay's passing attack—the more possessions Rodgers gets, the harder it is to keep the game close.
The battle between the Jags O-line and Packers front seven is also key when Gabbert drops back to pass. If he has pressure in his face all day long, he's going to struggle, plain and simple.
Jacksonville's offensive line better come to play. If they're weak, the entire team will crumble rather quickly.
This one could get ugly fast. Unfortunately, the Jaguars don't really do anything well—I'm not kidding, just look at their team rankings—while the Packers have hit their stride and are an incredibly unlucky 4-3. The Packers will cruise to an easy win, 38-14.
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