Key Matchups: Packers vs. Dolphins- Home Sweet Home

David Michalski breaks down the key matchups for this Sunday's clash at Lambeau Field.  

Is it just me, or has this week in between games seemed like a month? It's just probably because of the back to back brutal losses that the Packers have been reeling from which have brought criticism from every angle and have prematurely started the search to replace Mike McCarthy.  Although this streak of poor play feels different, as Randall Cobb alluded to this week, playing the Miami Dolphins should bring the Packers a more familiar result, a win.  

What makes me so optimistic that the Packers will play good football, let alone win a game? That's simple, Home Field Advantage.  The Packers are 3-0-1 at Lambeau Field and average 27 points per game and allow only 20.5 points against which put them at a +6.5 point margin.  On the road, however, the difference is startling as the Packers are averaging just 21 points per game and are allowing 30.5 points against which puts them at an astounding -9.5 point deficit.  

The old saying in the NFL, is you are who your record says you are, furthermore, your average home-road splits give a pretty accurate indication of how you will play when at home or on the road.  I expect this matchup against the Dolphins to reflect more of how the Packers play at home which is why I think that they will win tomorrow by 7-10 points.  

Key Matchups to Look for:

1. Cameron Wake vs. Brian Bulaga, Byron Bell, and Jason Spriggs

Cameron Wake is still the Dolphins best defensive player and I look for Miami to utilize the same game plan that the Bears did with Khalil Mack which means, expect Brian Bulaga and Byron Bell to be tested early and often.  This week's matchup between Bulaga and Wake will be very similar to opening night against the Bears as Brian Bulaga will not be at 100%, which means that the Packers need to give him help.  

Look for Jamaal Williams and Lance Kendricks in the backfield in certain rushing situations to help protect Aaron Rodgers.  Personally, I would like to see more of Marcedes Lewis because he has shown that he is a versatile and athletic blocker who can open up running lanes and provide extra protection. (But hey, what do I know?)

2. Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. Xavien Howard and Minkah Fitzpatrick 

Aaron Rodgers has lamented on many occasions not targeting Davante Adams as much as he would have liked to and now that teams are double teaming Adams targeting him may continue to be more of a challenge.  If this is the case, and Davante sees Xavien Howard with safety help that may free up Marquez Valdes-Scantling into single high coverage against fellow rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick.  

Despite the notoriety that Fitzpatrick carries out of Nick Saban’s defense at Alabama , he will still be at a disadvantage in one on one situations against MVS because of his speed, length, and height.  I look for MVS to be utilized early on with some go and crossing routes which should open up opportunities for Jimmy Graham and Randall Cobb which could allow favorable matchups later in the game for Davante Adams in single high coverage against Xavien Howard.

3. Aaron Jones vs. The Dolphins Rush Defense

This game is the litmus test for whether Mike McCarthy has a brain or not.  The Dolphins run defense is giving up an average of 136.1 yards per game and 4.6 yards per rushing attempt.  Couple these stats with the fact that Aaron Jones is averaging 6.0 yards per attempt and you have the recipe for a big day running the ball.  Jones receiving 20 carries is not a foregone conclusion with Mike McCarthy calling the plays.  In week 3 against Detroit, in his first game back from suspension, Aaron Jones received just 7 carries against Detroit's 27th ranked defense that allows an average of 5.1 yards per carry.  

Yes, I understand that the score was lopsided early on and the game went sideways very quickly, but that's when the running game can stabilize the game and help put together a long scoring drive that can change the momentum.  With Aaron Rodgers off of his game, this is a golden opportunity to take off some of the pressure by exploiting the Dolphins run defense by pounding the ball down the field which will give him extra time and open up play action to put the game away with some big passing plays.

4. Brock Osweiler vs. The Packers Secondary

Everyone who has ever watched Brock Osweiler knows that he can be reckless with the ball at times.  With that being said, we know that pressure will cause Osweiler to make bad decisions with the ball which will lead to the Packers secondary having at least 3-4 opportunities in the game to score a takeaway.  If the Packers can get 1-2 takeaways on defense this could end up being a two or three score win and finally give the Lambeau faithful something to cheer about.  

5. Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels and Dean Lowry vs. Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake

The outcome of this game on defense will hinge on the Packers ability to exploit their best matchup of the day which is their elite trio of Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, and Dean Lowry against the Dolphins poor run blocking.  The Dolphins struggle in run blocking and do not have a player with a grade higher than a 62.7.  The matchup that I would look for the Packers to feast on would be Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, and Dean Lowry against right guard, Jesse Davis, center Travis Swanson, and left guard Ted Larsen who have run blocking grades of 43.4, 59.9, and 40.3 respectively.  Picking apart the center and guards of the Dolphins offensive line will be the key to arriving early in the backfield and stopping Gore and Drake which will make Osweiler one dimensional.    

Predictions:

  • Packers defeat the Dolphins by a score of 27-20. 
  • Jaire Alexander has an interception
  • Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark stifle Frank Gore and Kenyon Drake
  • MVS has a 2 touchdown game.
  • Aaron Jones rushes for 125 yards
  • Clay Matthews has a sack and multiple quarterback hits without a flag. 
  • The Packers do not fumble the ball.  

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David Michalski is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter @kilbas27dave 

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Comments (33)

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Lare's picture

November 10, 2018 at 11:32 am

Looking at the two teams on paper and there should be no way the Packers lose this game. I think they will win, the score depending on if they try to beat themselves again.

Mistake-free Packers show up- Pack 32- Dolphins 17.

Mistake-prone Packers show up- Pack-24-Dolphins 21.

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Bert's picture

November 10, 2018 at 12:21 pm

The Dolphins just kinda suck. Pack 27-Dolphins 10.

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Coldworld's picture

November 10, 2018 at 12:22 pm

What comes to mind this year before any other thought is that the Packers have to get out of their own way. The rest is secondary.

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henry113's picture

November 10, 2018 at 12:25 pm

The pack will find a way to make this game interesting. Fumble, interception, bad penalty, etc. etc., etc..

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CAG123's picture

November 10, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Minkah Fitzpatrick is out of Alabama and this game will give the Packers a good look at the DB I believe they originally wanted I know it would have been impossible for them to get both but can you imagine this secondary with Fitzpatrick and Alexander in it.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

November 10, 2018 at 05:59 pm

It is a great thing to read a post that is happy in tone and not a knock down or make up reality thing

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Rufus's picture

November 10, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Mr. David, I like #3. Does Big Mike have a brain?? NO!!!

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tomklein3's picture

November 10, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Hasn't Josh Sitton been on IR since Miami's first game?

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Rick1's picture

November 10, 2018 at 01:12 pm

The key to the game is attacking the QB and forcing turnovers. Offense run the ball to set up the pass.

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Kb999's picture

November 10, 2018 at 01:31 pm

Rick, with this team, the key to the game is not shooting yourself in the foot. How many times this year did we say they should win by several touchdowns, instead they lost or just sqeeked it out. I will watch on Sunday, but in the back of my mind I'll be waiting for the big screw up. I think this is not a good Packet team. They do have some good players, but do not properly function as a unit.

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Rick1's picture

November 10, 2018 at 06:04 pm

MM better have them prepared to rip them apart at home with a physical well executed game plan. The discipline part is on MM if he doesn’t hold them accountable and get after them right away and putting in someone different he will be gone. Gute is not messing around, shipping players out and cutting them mid season. MM is coaching for his job and he knows it. MM has been here a long time and I think in years past he was comfortable and not driven like in year 1. You have to stay driven and hungry to coach, once you become satisfied you lose that killers edge.

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Kb999's picture

November 10, 2018 at 07:09 pm

Rick, just look back to the Niners game. They almost lost. Nothing has changed. We are getting out coached & out played every week!!

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PAPackerbacker's picture

November 11, 2018 at 05:33 am

Agreed. But if the Packers weren't out coached then they wouldn't be out played. Success begins with the coaching.

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Kb999's picture

November 11, 2018 at 10:15 am

Point well made

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cheesehead1's picture

November 10, 2018 at 02:00 pm

Time to force some turnovers and for Nick Perry to show up.

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stockholder's picture

November 10, 2018 at 03:44 pm

This game will be a Packers blow out. The only reason it isn't. Ask A-Rod about his INTs after the game.

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Demon's picture

November 10, 2018 at 04:33 pm

Heres one for you stockholder. If Jones doesnt have 150 yards total yard, ask your buddy big Mike why.

The QB is struggling, young receivers struggling, unspecial teams struggling and Miami with terrible run defense. What better time to feature the running game.

If the job of the head coach and OC is to attack the other teams weakness, does anyone here think he will do it? If as a team they dont run the ball 25 to 30 times his whole gameplan is a sham.

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CAG123's picture

November 10, 2018 at 05:02 pm

Lol what receivers are struggling? Moore is probably the only one and he is hardly on the field. ESB has answered the Bell when called and MVS needs no explanation.

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Lare's picture

November 10, 2018 at 06:30 pm

Adams is currently 12th in the NFL in receiving yards, Graham is 46th, MVS is 68th, Allison is 86th, Cobb is 104th and ESB is 164th.

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CAG123's picture

November 10, 2018 at 07:16 pm

That doesn’t imply that they’re struggling Allison and Cobb were having great years until injuries struck, MVS wasn’t a primary target until about 3 weeks ago and MM just doesn’t properly use Graham plus he’s always getting double team so what are you really saying? How about the Pack having 5 receivers with at least 250 yards or Allison averaging 15 yards per catch or MVS averaging 21 yards per catch the receivers are far from struggling and far from the problem.

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Demon's picture

November 10, 2018 at 09:01 pm

Watch this then say the young receivers havnt struggled

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bax9C8damOU

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Fire_Gute's picture

November 11, 2018 at 01:27 pm

Cobb is not and was not having a good year. He had a great catch in the first game. He's got 25 catches for 183 yards minus the big touchdown. That's less than 7.5 yards per catch. Glad he helped us beat the Bears, but he is what he is now man.

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Lphill's picture

November 10, 2018 at 06:19 pm

McCarthy will find a way to make this a close game , win the toss defer , allow the Dolphins to march down and score . Groundhog Day for the Packers.

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Rufus's picture

November 10, 2018 at 07:25 pm

Lphill, you forgot clock management, time outs. The gang that cant shoot straight. Embarrassing.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

November 10, 2018 at 06:20 pm

If MM would call the game to the strength of the Packers offense he will run the ball with Aaron Jones 20 to 25 times. This will set up the play - action and Adams and MVS would have an outstanding game. Mix in a couple of short to medium passes to the TE's and the slot receiver and a screen or 2 and the score will climb in the Packers favor in this match up. Run the hurry up just enough to keep the defense off balance and the Packers will come away with a double digit win. The defense needs to come up big with a couple of turnovers and force the Dolphins into a one dimensional game. Can all this be accomplished? I believe it can, especially against a weaker opponent like the Dolphins. But DO NOT take the Dolphins lightly and play 60 minutes of football or the Packers will be in catch up mode yet again.

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mamasboy's picture

November 10, 2018 at 08:58 pm

if the last 6 predictions are right, then the final score should be 57 to 20, not 27 to 20.

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Chuck Farley's picture

November 10, 2018 at 09:39 pm

I dont see miami winning. When they were playing good earlier, they looked tough. Their play has dropped off. Lets hope the pack doesnt make dumb mistakes and give one away.

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4zone's picture

November 11, 2018 at 09:00 am

This should be 35-17. If we don't see some serious attitude from the Pack this week then the season is over.

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Rufus's picture

November 11, 2018 at 10:42 am

4zone, shouda, woulda, coulda. But, If, if, if. That sums up the season so far. If the queen had a set of stones she'd be king.

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leaerin4's picture

November 11, 2018 at 10:40 am

We should be able to run all over the Dolphins. Aaron Jones will have 100 yards rushing in the first half if we get him the football. This takes the pressure off the passing game and guys will be open if we have an effective running game and Jones gets the touches. It's as simple as that and McCarthy should know that by NOW!!!!

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DD's picture

November 11, 2018 at 11:38 am

Key point made: Whether MM can change! I doubt it. He will rely on Rodgers arm again and will not use the run after the 1st quarter based on what I've seen to date. If MM fails to change and it's a close game or we lose at home then MM should be fired tomorrow. Enough is enough. The eye test will tell us a great deal. Solution then you say, use Philbin and let Rodgers call the plays at the line. Go Pack or go MM.

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Fire_Gute's picture

November 11, 2018 at 01:30 pm

We almost lost at home to a backup Qb who's been benched for a UDFA after another Lions ass kicking. Not sure how we weren't up for that game or why people expect this one to be different. I think GB will win but by no means will I be surprised if we loose and someone finds another way to write some we can still make the playoffs articles.

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gerenrique's picture

November 26, 2018 at 03:37 am

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