Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2020 Week 11

Atop the NFC, the Packers head to Indy to face an AFC opponent. Keep these six things in mind during the Week 11 matchup.  

The 7-2 Green Bay Packers head to Indianapolis to take on the 6-3 Indianapolis Colts. It’s an uncommon opponent the Packers only see once every four years. Here are six things to keep an eye on heading into Sunday’s game: 

1. Winless in Indianapolis 

The Packers have faced the Colts five times in the regular season, and they’ve yet to win a game. Per the dope sheet, the Colts are 4-0 against the Packers since moving to Indianapolis, and 1-0 against Green Bay in Lucas Oil Stadium (founded in 2008). 

Of course, these are entirely different football teams now, but in 2012 when the teams met at Lucas Oil for the first time, the Colts were led by then-rookie Andrew Luck who helped Indianapolis overcome an 18-point deficit down 21-3 to win 30-27. 

In 2016, when the Colts last played at Lambeau Field, they beat the Packers 31-26. Another one-score game seems entirely possible on Sunday. 

2. Colts O-Line Elite

This is arguably the best offensive line the Packers defense will face all season, and defensive lineman Kenny Clark said as much earlier this week, calling the Colts a “good test” not only for the line as a whole, but for the run defense, too.  

Indianapolis has invested high draft picks into its offensive line over the years, and those investments have paid dividends. The team’s left tackle, left guard, and center were all selected in the first round of the draft, and all are elite players at their positions. This loaded offensive line has only given up nine sacks through nine games, the fewest in the NFL. 

3. Country Rhodes, Take GB Home  

This Colts defense ranks in the top five in a number of key categories. They’re first in the NFL in yards per game with 290.4, fourth in the league in points against with 177 points, or an average of 19.7 points per game, second in passing yards allowed (198.7), and third in rushing yards allowed (91.8). 

There are some big names on defense that contribute to the team’s success, including Justin Houston, Deforest Buckner, and Denico Autry, who leads the team with six sacks so far on the season. The Colts also have one of the best inside linebackers in football in Darius Leonard, who’s equal parts athletic, explosive, and hard-hitting. 

In the secondary, former NFC North foe Xavier Rhodes has seemingly rejuvenated his career in Indianapolis, with two interceptions and one pick-six on the season. Davante Adams didn’t practice Thursday, so his status for Sunday’s matchup is up in the air, though he’s used to one-on-one battles with Rhodes. Allen Lazard will likely be back, but limited, so it’s possible Marquez Valdes-Scantling will be the receiver looking for Open Rhodes in Indy. 

4. The Kirko Effect 

I was a big Christian Kirksey fan when he signed with Green Bay during free agency. Part of that was of course my familiarity with him given his tenure with the Cleveland Browns, but I also felt he brought leadership to a very young inside linebackers group. The same way we saw Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith take on leadership roles in their first season with the Packers, I thought Kirksey brought a veteran presence to the middle of the defense. 

While he missed five games this season, he returned last Sunday against Jacksonville and played 100% of snaps on defense, something no other inside linebacker has done this season. With Kirksey back donning the communication helmet, he takes responsibility away from rookies Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes, allowing them to play more freely without having to command the defense. While Barnes is still on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, last Sunday was the first time we got to see Kirksey and Martin on the field at the same time, and it’s a tandem I’d expect to see a lot more of moving forward. 

5. Fans in the Stands 

It’s been said by the head coach and players alike that in 2020, an unprecedented NFL season, the Packers have struggled at times without fans in the stands. In a season with no Lambeau leaps, Roll Out the Barrel, or beer races, Green Bay is 3-1 at home with matchups looming against the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers, and Tennessee Titans. There’s been talk of a “lack of energy” in post-game pressers, and that the team has come out flat against certain opponents at home. 

Well, Green Bay is in luck this week. 12,500 fans are allowed into Lucas Oil Stadium for Sunday’s game, and hopefully that will give this team the “juice” it needs against a playoff-caliber opponent. From what I’ve gathered on social media, there should be plenty of green and gold amidst the royal blue. 

6. Return of the King(s)

The Packers secondary should be at full strength against the Colts with both Kevin King and Jaire Alexander full participants at practice this week. While Alexander only missed one game with a concussion, King had been out since Week 4 when he exited mid-game against the Falcons with a quad injury.

While Josh Jackson and Ka’dar Hollman have both made plays in King’s absence, he’s the starter for a reason. Pro Football Focus ranks Alexander as the league’s top cornerback out of 120. For context, Chandon Sullivan is 85th and Josh Jackson is 89th. While King’s rank of 64th won’t leap off the page in comparison to Alexander, he’d put together a great 2019 campaign and was looking good through the first quarter of the season before his injury sidelined him for five games. 

For Alexander, he’ll have an opportunity to lock up T.Y. Hilton, Indy’s WR1 who’s yet to score a touchdown this season. 

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV, podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said, and hosts a weekly live show called Happy Hour through Game On Wisconsin. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (15)

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Lphill's picture

November 20, 2020 at 08:12 am

Maggie the only way the Packers win is if they play mistake free football , the offense , defense and special teams all have to show up on Sunday and they need to find a way to make Rivers uncomfortable in the pocket.

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jlc1's picture

November 20, 2020 at 08:58 am

Well if all three units show up for four quarters that would be a first. But hey they don't have to play outdoors and get dirty so maybe they will.

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murf7777's picture

November 20, 2020 at 08:19 am

Your comment about Kirksey’s experience in reading opposition’s offensive and setting the D is right on. I like Martin’s potential but expecting him to Excell at setting our D is a bit too high. Bringing Martin in for 25% or more of plays, depending on the opposing team, without those expectations should help our D. He has shown to be a playmaker. Does that combination of players make us great at ILB, not really, but It provides us with the best chance to enhance our D.

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PeteK's picture

November 20, 2020 at 08:50 am

I think the offense will do enough to win because even a limited Lazard will prove too much to handle and open up our running attack. However, I agree with LP, if we make Rivers jittery in the pocket we'll win.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 20, 2020 at 09:57 am

Can this team stop the run? That will decide this game. Rivers has been hot lately and his WRs are healthy. Pettine better keep four-five man pressure on him all day.

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Guam's picture

November 20, 2020 at 08:59 am

Agreed that Kirksey's experience will be beneficial, but I wish I felt better about his abilities as a run stuffer. The Colts have a good RBs behind a strong O-line and that means the linebackers will be busy. It's hard to feel good about the matchup.

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Coldworld's picture

November 20, 2020 at 09:14 am

To me, the first question in this game is, for once, not whether we can stop the run (that is number 2) but whether our O line can keep Rodgers clean long enough to get the ball out, part of which will involve establish some kind of run game against an elite run D team. To beat this team, I think we have to out score them and force them to try to get more chunk plays.

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Leatherhead's picture

November 20, 2020 at 09:19 am

In 1997, the Packers were the defending Super Bowl champion and went 13-3. The Colts went3-13 that year. Yet we lost 41-38. I quit betting on football games after that.

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murf7777's picture

November 20, 2020 at 09:51 am

Lol....things in the nfl that look like a sure thing rarely are. Betting is a losing proposition over time. I still do it for entertainment expense.

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PeteK's picture

November 20, 2020 at 10:11 am

I couldn't agree more! I make tiny betts usually on the Pack and televised games just to keep it a bit interesting.

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Packers0808's picture

November 20, 2020 at 12:28 pm

My bet is the Packers will have Rodgers moving more this game and passing out of pocket and when in pocket short quick passes and running back tosses to them!

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fastmoving's picture

November 21, 2020 at 05:14 am

Of course there was never such a thing like mistake free football in the history of mankind, but if the PACK avoids the big errors, we have a good chance to come up with an win.
Colts are not that scary, Rivers is just Rivers of old, not so much to worrie about. And the Packers are better than the most giving them credit for.
I like our chances. Its football, nothing for drama queens and crybayies

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porupack's picture

November 22, 2020 at 05:33 am

LIke your post. good humor, optimism and all. But, there's that thing about the pack facing a lot of not-scary QBs and giving them a break out game. Career games for RBs and unheard of WRs
I think Rivers had a resurgent game when he faced the pack last time.
I was def a crybaby through the whole Jax game. Embarrassed myself. I'm already crybaby before this game.

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PhantomII's picture

November 21, 2020 at 11:43 am

Rivers as good as he can be is also a turnover machine when things don't go right for him. If our CB's are in the WR's face and locking them up at the line, it should allow time to pressure Rivers. None of which matters if we cannot get off the blocking of their elite OL and once again stop the run. Looks like a big job for Sunday. I hope Lazard is full go. We may have our full arsenal of offensive weapons. I hope Rodgers can finally hit our TE in stride this week. It's inside a dome so no weather issues. It should be a good game and a better test of who we are as a team and how far they can go.

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porupack's picture

November 22, 2020 at 05:38 am

Yeah, Rivers can be jinxed and rattled, but that requires talent, a plan, and an imposing attitude by all-11, and a bit of risk taking right out the gate by Pettine, instead of 'playing not to lose. The pack should have sufficient talent, but it's stunning how the D is so soft and porous. One only wonders....how....for a decade.....despite change at DC and HC. The debate continues: Talent or leadership?

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