Once heralded as a Super Bowl contender, many people are wondering whether the Green Bay Packers will even make the playoffs this year. Riddled by injuries and penalties, the Packers have lost two of their last three games.
This week the Packers return to Lambeau to face a Miami Dolphins team that continues to make strides. They are 2-2, but their two losses came in their division.
Which team will bounce back this week to get a much-needed victory? If Green Bay wants to win, they have some work to do. Here is what Green Bay needs to do to beat the Dolphins on Sunday.
First of all, it will help if Aaron Rodgers is healthy. If not, they will have to rely on backup Matt Flynn, which will put even more pressure on the offense.
Balance is the first key. Rodgers had 46 pass attempts against Washington. This was while the rushing game produced over 150 yards and averaged over nine yards per carry. Yes, one carry went for 71 yards, but even when you take that out, they averaged almost 5.4 yards per carry.
Green Bay has to use its rushing game, even if they don’t trust it. Brandon Jackson has filled in nicely for Ryan Grant. Jackson has the support of John Kuhn, who is averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
Miami is giving up over 117 rushing yards per game and letting opponents average 4.2 yards per carry. This is well within Jackson and Kuhn’s range.
The second key to the offense is protection. Rodgers had a concussion. If he does play, this will be a sore spot all game. Every hit he takes could be damaging. If Flynn plays, they will need to protect him to make sure he is comfortable in the pocket.
Miami only has nine sacks on the season. Green Bay has the capability to protect its quarterbacks against this defense.
Green Bay also has to convert on third downs against Miami. They were an abysmal 2-for-13 on third down against Washington. It did not help that passing plays were called on 3rd-and-1.
The Packers need to convert and keep the Dolphins off the field. This will give their defense a chance to breathe.
The first key to the defense is pressure. Miami has a few weapons, including the Wildcat offense. If Green Bay can knock them off their rhythm early, it can be a long game.
Green Bay is second in the league with 21 sacks. Chad Henne is not exactly a scramble quarterback, so getting pressure on him will be big. The pressure will help create turnovers, which is the next big thing Green Bay needs.
Henne has thrown four interceptions and five touchdowns this season. The Green Bay defense has six interceptions, one which went for a touchdown. They also have four forced fumbles.
No matter which quarterback plays on Sunday, Green Bay needs a short field to score more points against a stingy Dolphins defense that only gives up 16.5 points per game.
The final thing the defense has to do is get Miami off the field on third down. The Dolphins are second in the league on third down, with a 51 percent conversion rate. Green Bay has to step up on third down and get them off the field.
Miami is coming off a bye week after a huge loss to New England on Monday Night Football. While the game is in Green Bay, Miami did have an extra week to prepare.
Injuries are the name of the game for the Packers. Will they have enough healthy bodies to fight this Dolphins team?
TE Jermichael Finley was lost for the season following a knee injury.
QB Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion, his status is unknown for Sunday.
LB Clay Matthews hurt his hamstring, his status is unknown for Sunday.
There is no doubt that if Matthews and Rodgers cannot go on Sunday, Green Bay is in some trouble.
All that being said, this is a home game for the Packers, and the Dolphins have been inconsistent this season. Having Flynn in the lineup could actually be a blessing. It will call on more running plays and create a more balanced offense.
Either way, I’ll take the Packers to eke out a victory over the Dolphins, 24-20.