Look for James Starks to continue to play a big role for the Green Bay Packers offense.
After an impressive win in Week 2 over the Washington Redskins, the Green Bay Packers will travel to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 of the NFL season. The Bengals won at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, so they'll be looking to get back-to-back wins this week.
Like last week, there are things you need to know heading into this week's matchup. We'll take you through the updated division standings, give you an injury report and tell you where exactly the Packers need to improve heading into Week 3.
|Chicago Bears||2-0||@ Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Detroit Lions||1-1||@ Washington Redskins|
|Green Bay Packers||1-1||@ Cincinnati Bengals|
|Minnesota Vikings||0-2||vs. Cleveland Browns|
The Chicago Bears currently sit atop the division after beating the Minnesota Vikings in another close win, while the Lions lost a close game to the Arizona Cardinals. It's extremely early in the season, but it appears the NFC North will come down to Chicago and Green Bay.
Both Minnesota and Detroit appear to have too many issues to be real threats this season. For the Vikings, the problems revolve around quarterback Christian Ponder. As for the Lions, inconsistent play is what will ultimately hurt the team.
With three of the four NFC North teams playing tough road games and the Vikings hosting the feisty Cleveland Browns, it's definitely possible the division could go 0-4 this weekend.
The only new names added to the injury report this week are running back Eddie Lacy and cornerback Jarrett Bush. Lacy was knocked out of the game against the Redskins due to a concussion. The severity of the concussion is unknown, and Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reported there won't be news about Lacy's injury until Wednesday.
McCarthy on Eddie Lacy: We'll have an update for you on Wednesday.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) September 16, 2013
Losing Lacy for an extended period of time could have been a huge blow. However, the emergence of James Starks in Week 2 makes the potential loss of Lacy a little easier to swallow.
Still injured are Casey Hayward and Morgan Burnett. The secondary once again struggled against Washington, and getting these two starters back would instantly help. Unfortunately, Hayward is still expected to miss at least a month, and Burnett could also miss extended time.
The Packers have their bye week in Week 4, and Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports that Green Bay may hold Burnett out in Week 3 to give him the bye week to get to full strength.
While it isn't ideal for so many key players to be missing time, the team should be just fine if it can get healthy after the bye week.
What Must Improve
Much like last week, the area that needs to improve most is the pass defense. After giving up 412 passing yards to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, the Packers allowed the Redskins to pass for 314 yards in Week 2.
As you can see in the chart below, the pass defense hasn't just been bad. It has been the worst in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required):
|Team||Pass Rush Rating||Pass Defense Rating||Total Pass Defense|
|Green Bay Packers||-14.4||-13.8||-28.2|
Simply put, the Packers need to do two things better in this week's matchup. First, they need to limit the big plays they give up. In Week 1, they gave up passing plays of 43 yards and 37 yards, and last week they gave up a 44-yard reception to wide receiver Pierre Garcon.
Safeties Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings need to be better at keeping things in front of them, and the entire secondary needs to do a better job of not missing tackles.
What Area do the Packers Need to Improve Most?
Second, the Packers need to make a concerted effort to stop the opposing offense's No. 1 receiver. They didn't do it against San Francisco, and Anquan Boldin went off for 13 receptions, 208 yards and a touchdown. They also failed to slow down Washington's Pierre Garcon, who had eight receptions, 143 yards and a touchdown.
Whether this means allowing Tramon Williams to cover the opposing No. 1 receiver the entire game or making it a point to double-team as often a possible, the Packers secondary needs to take away that top option for the quarterback.