5 Things to Watch in Packers vs Titans: Christian Watson's Encore

Okay, Christian... what else you got?

The Packers have a pulse.

A dramatic comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys may have given Green Bay new life just in time to save their season, and now they have a chance to keep the momentum going on Thursday Night Football.

With a trip to Philadelphia on the horizon, this week’s game feels like another must-win, and it figures to be a four-quarter battle against Mike Vrabel’s tough-as-nails Tennessee Titans.

Here are five things to watch as the Packers look for their second straight win.

Christian Watson’s encore

After a frustrating start to his NFL career, Christian Watson officially arrived on Sunday, going off for 107 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay’s win over Dallas.

Having a legitimate deep threat is a game changer for the Packers on offense. They are simply a much more effective and explosive unit when Watson is out there.

This is not only because of the plays he can make, but also because opposing defense’s have to take account of Watson’s ability to hurt them over the top, which should in turn open up the run game which is so critical to Green Bay’s success.

Watson is still unpolished, and his game versus the Cowboys was littered with mistakes as well as jaw-dropping plays. The question he now has to answer is whether he can stack success and follow Sunday’s impressive showing with another impactful performance on Thursday night.

Will Randall Cobb return?

Aaron Rodgers may be getting more help at receiver this week, as his old buddy Randall Cobb nears a return from injury.

Prior to getting hurt, Cobb was a genuinely important piece of Green Bay’s offense, and getting him back for Thursday’s game would be a real boost.

On a short week, the Packers may choose be cautious with Cobb, but with very little margin for error in their quest to make the playoffs, you can bet Rodgers is eager to get his trusty sidekick back in the line-up.

Can the Packers contain Derrick Henry (again)?

The big bad Titans rolled into Lambeau Field back in December 2020 ready to steamroll the Packers and their suspect run defense. They walked away with a 40-14 loss and Derrick Henry was held under 100 yards.

Green Bay’s current defensive co-ordinator Joe Barry said the first tape he watched ahead of this week’s matchup with Tennessee was from that game two years ago, in which Mike Pettine’s unit stepped up to the task and held Henry mostly under wraps.

Outside of Henry, Tennessee doesn’t have much to scare the Packers with. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is healthy again, but his pass catchers are underwhelming to say the least.

No Titans player has more than Robert Woods’ 266 yards and their leading receiver in touchdowns is Nick Westbrook-Ikhine with two.

Joe Barry hasn’t shown much interest in stopping the run during his tenure in Green Bay, but if there was ever a week to make it a priority, its this one. If the Packers can control Henry, they have a great chance of coming out with a win.

Can Green Bay’s offensive line hold up?

At last, the Packers were able to suit up their preferred ‘starting five’ along the offensive line against the Cowboys, and the results were clear to see, as they put up 30-points for the first time this season (although it did take an overtime period to do so) on one of the NFL’s best defenses.

Another tough assignment faces Green Bay’s O-line this week in the shape of the Titans defensive front led by Jeffery Simmons.

If the Packers are to get anything going in the run or the pass game, their big guys are going to need to bring their A-game on Thursday night.

Who’s the new punt returner?

With the Amari Rodgers era over, the Packers will have a new punt returner this week. But who will it be?

Keisean Nixon took over punt return duties after Rodgers was pulled on Sunday, and while his style was… unorthodox, he got the job done, and Rich Bisaccia may trust him to keep the ball safe this week.

There are other potential options though, in rookie Samori Toure and the newly signed Dede Westbrook, who has fairly extensive return experience.

Whoever ends up taking the job on Thursday night, it’s hard to imagine they can be worse than Rodgers was. Forget setting up the offense with big returns, just keeping hold of the football would be a good place to start.

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

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Comments (7)

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MooPack's picture

November 16, 2022 at 09:08 pm

"At last, the Packers were able to suit up their preferred ‘starting five’ along the offensive line"

Who's preferred? I dare say not coaches. They trotted out Hanson and Newman with terrible results at the beginning of this year. Why? Work out warriors? Practice phenoms? Why did it take so long to make the change that many pundits and fans with at least a working knowledge of football savvy, skill and technique could see? Many could see that Bahk, Jenkins, Myers, Runyan, Nijim was the best group. All we've seen is Left side from certain players since signed (discounting what they did in college), so can't play Right with enough ability is the conjecture. Really? Come on, really? Left is were the money is, but can't? I don't believe it.

Some people think that ALL coaches must have loads more of football acumen than people that haven't been coaches on the college or pro level. No, don't agree. Barry Switzer anyone? Sometimes, the forest gets in front of the trees for these guys. Belief in their own "coach-up" ability blinds them. They are slow to admit, slow to make a change. This goes beyond the OLine. I'm hoping this last game was at least some sort of wake up call for Packers coaches to use more of what their eyes tell them and less of what their ego tells them to make this team cohesive contenders going forward.

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Razer's picture

November 17, 2022 at 07:19 am

I agree that we have issues with miscasting players. The tackle to guard trick that the Packers keep trying is getting old and gives us a false sense of depth. I get that good tackles are gold but a killer guard(s) helps to control the LOS and makes running the ball possible.

I dare say that the same square peg round hole issue exists at safety, kick return and D-line. We only seem to have this issue with our draft picks. Our pro scouting guys appear to recognize players who know how to play a position and have good football sense.

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 16, 2022 at 09:13 pm

Titans OLB Bud Dupree has been ruled out, and Jeffrey Simmons is questionable. Given how well our O-line performed against the Cowboys, I think we can expect them to do relatively well against an injured Titans front.

I want to see Jack Heflin, whose main expertise is in run defense, elevated for this game. I want Joe Barry to use more 3DL and 4DL fronts, like we somewhat did against the Cowboys. We should want to stack the boxes and devote as many men as reasonable possible to run support (and predominantly those why are best suited for it). If we can limit Henry as much as possible, our secondary can easily take care of the Titans’ pass-catchers (maybe even 1-on-1)

Just because the Titans have bad receiving corps doesn’t mean we should play soft zone all the time. If anything, I would like to see us mainly utilize aggressive man coverage to intimidate their receivers and drive them into the ground. Our personal excell in man coverage - we have a great opportunity here.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 16, 2022 at 10:12 pm

Yes Heflin! Another forgotten player that never received enough time for whatever reason. I liked his quickness and attitude. Certainly something we could use on that side and in that area. Sure can't hurt.

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Lphill's picture

November 17, 2022 at 05:37 am

Agree on Heflin he should have already been up .

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Johnblood27's picture

November 17, 2022 at 07:40 am

Heflin and an aggressive secondary in coverage.

That is a winning combination.

This coaching staff? Not a chance in hell that the obvious tactics get used. These guys are all about "let's trick 'em" instead of "I have confidence that our guys can beat 'em".

THAT is the core of the problem between the players and the coaches on this staff.

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Coldworld's picture

November 17, 2022 at 08:44 am

Heflin and a 4DL looks would be my starting points. This might be a game where Abrams can help as sort of extra ILB too.

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