Believe it or not, the game between the 3-3 Cleveland Browns and the 3-2 Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field will only be the 18th regular season meeting between the two teams. The Packers hold a 10-7 edge in the series.
The two teams also played in the 1965 NFL Championship Game, also at Lambeau Field, where Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor combined to rush for 201 yards on a muddy field in the 23-12 victory by the Packers. The great Jim Brown of the Browns, only gained 50 yards rushing in that game.
You could see a similar type of game on Sunday, at least in terms of running the ball for the Packers.
The Browns play the run and the pass on an almost equal level. Cleveland is ranked eighth in pass defense and seventh in run defense.
The Packers are ranked fourth in the NFL in passing, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers is averaging 329.2 yards a game in that department. The Pack is also fifth in rushing, as the team averages over 140 yards a game running the rock, along with a very robust 5.2 yards a carry.
The Packers will have some issues in the passing game however, as wide receiver Randall Cobb was placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list after breaking his fibula against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
The Packers may also be without another one of the Big Three, as James Jones is nursing a knee injury, also suffered in the game against the Ravens.
The Packers were only able to use two wide receivers in the game after those injuries, with Jordy Nelson manning one of those spots, while Jarrett Boykin played opposite Nelson.
The Packers added some more receiving help this week, as the team brought up wide receiver Myles White and tight end Jake Stoneburner from the practice squad.
The Packers can also put tight end Jermichael Finley out wide like a receiver, so bringing up Stoneburner helps to add depth to the tight end position.
As good as Rodgers is (10 touchdown passes versus four picks for 1,646 yards and a 101.9 quarterback rating), his options are limited with all the injuries.
The biggest threats will be Nelson, who has 27 receptions for 484 yards (17.9 average per catch) and four touchdowns, plus Finley, who has 20 catches for 228 yards and two touchdowns.
That means that running back Eddie Lacy could have a big role in the game on Sunday. Lacy rushed for 120 yards against the Ravens last Sunday, and had 99 yards rushing the week before versus the Lions.
For the season, Lacy has rushed for 270 yards (4.4 yard average) and has one touchdown. Lacy can also be an option in the passing game, as he has three receptions for 34 yards.
It's obvious that the Packers see Lacy as an excellent fit in their offense. Lacy was also in at crunch-time at running back against the Ravens, as the Packers were trying to put the game away.
Lacy did just that, as he rushed for four yards on a key third and two play with just over a minute to play.
In terms of stopping the run, the Packers should be in good shape. The Packers are ranked third in the NFL in rushing defense, while the Browns are only ranked 22nd in rushing offense.
The Packers might finally get back nickel-cornerback Casey Hayward on Sunday, and that would definitely help. The Packers are ranked 28th in pass defense this season, as they have allowed almost 300 yards a game (293.6).
Fortunately, the Browns are only ranked 17th in passing offense this year, and they have given up 24 sacks, which is tied for second to last in the league.
Overall, the Browns are ranked 24th in total offense, while the Packers are ranked 18th in total defense.
Bottom line, expect to see Lacy carry the ball a lot on Sunday, as the Packers will rely on their running game to open up options for their limited passing game, which is only limited due to injuries to key personnel.
It's still pretty early in the season, but the Packers have not had this type of quality in the ground game since the 2003 season, when the Packers were ranked third in rushing offense in the NFL and Ahman Green was the running back.
I wouldn't be surprised if Lacy gets 25 carries in the game on Sunday, even against a tough Cleveland run-defense. I also expect Lacy to get over 100 yards rushing for the second straight game.
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