Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2021 Week 5

Dominant middle linebackers, high-powered offenses, and more in this week's Pre-Game Six Pack. 

The Packers are headed to Cincinnati for a sunny noon CT kickoff against the Bengals. It’s the second AFC opponent of the season and another uncommon opponent for Green Bay. Here are six things to keep an eye on going into the NFC North AFC North contest: 

1. Touchdown Milestones

Aaron Rodgers moved up in the NFL history books last Sunday throwing two touchdown passes to Randall Cobb. It brought his career passing total to 420 touchdowns, tying Dan Marino for sixth on the all-time list. With two more touchdowns against the Bengals on Sunday, Rodgers will eclipse Philip Rivers (421) for sole possession of fifth all-time. Fittingly, he’d be right behind his predecessor, Brett Favre, who sits at 508. Tom Brady (591), Drew Brees (571), and Peyton Manning (539) make up the top three. 

2. Party Like It’s 1998

The Packers haven’t won a game in Cincinnati since, you guessed it, 1998. While the Packers did beat the Bengals in 2017, that was a wonky overtime matchup at Lambeau Field with some of the hottest temperatures on record in Green Bay. It should be another hot one in Ohio with temps hovering around 84 degrees. Sunday will also mark the Packers’ first 12 p.m. CT game this season, the first of three straight noon games for Green Bay. Coincidentally, the Packers are 11-1 under Head Coach Matt LaFleur in noon games, a win percentage of 91% and the best record in the NFL since 2019. 

3. Coaching Tree Branching Out

Speaking of that head coach, LaFleur will be squaring off against a familiar face in Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor. Both coaches were on the Los Angeles Rams staff in 2017, and both are currently in their third NFL season as a head coach. LaFleur boasts a record of 29-7-1 (.806) with Taylor holding a 9-26-1 (.264) record. Being uncommon opponents in different conferences, LaFleur and Taylor have yet to face off in the NFL. Both will enter Sunday’s matchup with a 3-1 record.

4. Revolving Door on Defense

The Packers are expected to be without All-Pro corner Jaire Alexander for at least the short term future if not the season. With the team already missing fellow All-Pro Za’Darius Smith and losing backup edge rusher Chauncey Rivers to a non-contact ACL injury suffered in practice, it’s entering treacherous territory on the injury front. On the bright side, Rookie Eric Stokes has impressed in his increased role, currently tied for second in the NFL in passes defensed with six. Who will play opposite him on the boundary though remains to be seen. Kevin King is back at practice after clearing the concussion protocol, but he had been playing in the slot before his injury, so it’s possible Barry may keep him there moving forward. The Packers also added corner Rasul Douglas this week, an NFL vet with 60 games worth of experience and 29 starts. That gives them options between King, Douglas, Isaac Yiadom, Chandon Sullivan, and Shemar Jean-Charles. At the inside linebacker position, Krys Barnes also cleared concussion protocol and returned to practice this week, but the Packers added to the roster there, too, bringing in Jaylon Smith who was released by the Cowboys. With all of those moving pieces, one thing remains clear on defense. The Packers are 3-0 this season when forcing a turnover, and they’ve had two turnovers in each of the last three games. This trend will need to continue on Sunday if the team wants to leave Ohio with a W. 

5. Evening Out the Offenses

The Packers and Bengals are pretty close when it comes to outputs on offense through the first four weeks of the season. Green Bay ranks 14th in points for with 23.8 per game while the Bengals are 20th with a 23-point average. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry will have his hands full against Cincy quarterback Joe Burrow and his trio of wide receivers in Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins (if he’s healthy enough to play). The Bengals had over 400 yards of offense last week alone against the Jaguars on Thursday Night Football, with Chase already hauling in four touchdowns on the season. He also has three explosive plays of 40+ yards on the year. Comparatively, All-Pro receiver Davante Adams leads both offenses by a wide margin with 373 receiving yards on the season. His 31 receptions more than double the second-highest reception total on the Packers (running back Aaron Jones has 13 receptions for 126 yards). Even with Bengals running back Joe Mixon yet to practice this week, it could be an offensive shootout in Cincinnati. 

6. Men in the Middle

Inside linebacker Logan Wilson has been everywhere for the Bengals defense. He has all three of the team’s interceptions this season with three passes defensed, a sack, and 40 total tackles. Green Bay’s De’Vondre Campbell has been equally impressive, with Pro Football Focus ranking fifth out of 81 eligible linebackers. He’s also PFF’s highest graded Packers defender with a grade of 82.2. So far this season he’s got one interception, two passes defensed, and 40 tackles. What’s more, through five weeks, Campbell has been playing 98% of snaps on defense. His previous high was 91% of snaps in 2017 when he was with the Falcons and started all 16 games for Atlanta. Given Green Bay’s recent history at the inside linebacker position, Campbell has been a refreshing change of pace in the middle of the defense.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (17)

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Handsback's picture

October 08, 2021 at 07:43 am

More than a strong defense, I wish I made 700 dollars a day sitting at home. I wonder how I could find a way to do that!

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x24's picture

October 08, 2021 at 08:13 am

Please don't feed the trolls

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PeteK's picture

October 08, 2021 at 08:39 am

Just wear Faye's outfit and give it a try. Hahahaha

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BradHTX's picture

October 08, 2021 at 08:48 am

Seriously, when you look and dress like that you make $700 per hour, not per day.

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PeteK's picture

October 08, 2021 at 08:46 am

I'm glad Barnes is back so that we keep Campbell fresh and healthy. Burrow has been under pressure so far and that needs to continue. Gary and Clark need to dominate and hopefully Keke will begin to blossom.

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Since'61's picture

October 08, 2021 at 08:57 am

IMO the Bengals have yet to face an offense or a QB as good as the Packers or Rodgers. Also, if Jaire was playing I would consider this game a lock based on how our defense has been playing over the last 3 games.

The Packers need to prevent a fast start by the Bengals offense. I suspect the Bengals will look to take advantage of our CB situation regardless of who replaces Jaire. We'll need to sustain pressure on their QB and force mistakes. I do not know much about the Bengals ground game so I don't know if the Bengals are capable of slowing the game down and keeping Rodgers off the field.

On offense the should ground and pound their way to building a lead and force Cincy to be one dimensional. Keep our defense off the field as we work through our CB injuries. I've noticed Jenkins has been participating in light practice this week so hopefully that is a sign that he will be ready to return against the Bengals. His return can only make our already solid OL even better.

If our defense can prevent easy TDs our offense should be able to build a lead and pull away in this game. It could become a shootout if Alexander's replacement can't hold his own but we'll see. I like the Pack 31- 20. GPG! Thanks, Since '61

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Minniman's picture

October 08, 2021 at 02:53 pm

“ On offense the should ground and pound their way to building a lead and force Cincy to be one dimensional. Keep our defense off the field as we work through our CB injuries”

I agree - and posted something similar earlier in the week - the packers need to play “keep away” football. Were they to win the toss I’d even suggest to elect to receive the ball first up…. Make Cincy play from behind the whole game.

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jont's picture

October 08, 2021 at 09:06 am

After watching the Bengals' games, here's my scouting report.
QB Burrow is their best player; he's got a legit chance at being a long-term franchise QB. He's already good. Throws well, moves well, seems to make good decisions.
Their TE Uzomah looks pretty good-- tall, runs well with good hands, reminds me of Kittle without the experience-- but has only 9 catches so far. If GB needs to help the young corners, then he might find space.
Three WRs have 50 of Burrow's 78 completions, 64%, (vs 46 out of 85 for GB, 54%) and 68% of Burrow's yardage (vs 61% in GB). I've read positive things about them but, frankly, don't see what the fuss is about. Maybe I'm spoiled by Devante, but they look just OK, good but not special.
If Mixon doesn't go, their run game will be sorely hurting.
On D they seem fast and rally to the ball, but don't appear to have any stand out players. There's no DE you've got to double team, no shut-down corner. I'm no expert and won't say it's all ordinary players, but I didn't see anybody special in four games.
They can't afford to fall behind against GB early as they did against Jax. They were lucky to get back to a tie and win on a last second FG.
I expect it will depend on GB's D: a fairly good game by the D and the Pack wins.

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Since'61's picture

October 08, 2021 at 10:00 am

jont, thanks for sharing your observations about the Bengals.

I am curious though, why would you watch 4 Bengals games?

Thanks, Since ‘61

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jont's picture

October 08, 2021 at 05:50 pm

"why would you watch 4 Bengals games?"
🙄
recent retirement and leisure time... and the Bengals don't suck anymore, worth watching

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greengold's picture

October 08, 2021 at 10:24 am

Good stuff, jont! Thank you. I do think this will be a good test for the Packers. They couldn't have played worse against the Saints. The Lions were decimated by injury, and their secondary hit harder during the game. SF was legit. That was a HUGE win for GB. The Steelers suffered from a weak OL and an even weaker Ben Roethlisberger. This will be a better test going against CIN at their home. Especially with Jaire out with injury.

Hoping for the best, and that no one else gets injured!

GPG

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greengold's picture

October 08, 2021 at 10:34 am

Good piece, Maggie!

Yeah, our secondary is going to get tested, and let's hope our pass rush comes through for them, because they will benefit greatly if Burrow is forced to get the ball out quickly. I think Rasul Douglass was a solid signing. He's very comparable to Kevin King in King's best season, and an inch shorter at 6-2 209. Hoping to see some good stuff from him. Same with Jaylon Smith. Another great addition who should pair well with Campbell. Tackling machine.

Logan Wilson was one of my draft crushes, and he's proving to be as good as billed. Hopefully he's made a non-factor with all the weapons at our disposal. This would be a great week to win the ILB battle, with Smith aboard.

GPG

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Since'61's picture

October 08, 2021 at 11:03 am

Good points as usual greengold. It’s becoming a bit concerning that we have yet to hear anything definitive about Jairo’s injury. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad sign. It would be good to know one way or the other. Be well.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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Minniman's picture

October 08, 2021 at 03:18 pm

On the plus side - when Alexander did the injury he didn’t get that instantaneous shoulder drop that people get when they really blow up the AC joint. Even on the medical cart, his arm was a little limp, but the telltale sign of a completely blown shoulder is when the person has to rest their hand of their blown shoulder onto their opposite shoulder and support\prop up the elbow of the affected arm with their good hand - to keep the shoulder joint in place and try to temper the pain……..else the whole shoulder just drops down - as there’s no attached ligaments or in-tact joint capsule to support it - and it’s extremely painful.

It’s certainly not completely busted or a high grade labrum tear - else he’d have been under the knife already.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 08, 2021 at 12:10 pm

I wonder if Myers will be able to start. He has been DNP all week. I guess that maybe Jenkins could start there if he is ready or, possibly Patrick at center. Whoever it is they will be tested at a position they have not played much.

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NJMagic's picture

October 08, 2021 at 01:44 pm

Interesting to see how they handle this offense. Think we need to prepare ourselves for lots of zone and off coverage... The passive D we all dislike watching, but likely makes sense when rolling out Stokes, King, and.... ??? At DB.

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Minniman's picture

October 08, 2021 at 03:30 pm

With Smith being reportedly a better pass defending linebacker than run, and Barnes being back, I’m quietly confident that there will be a lot of safety help over the top for the CB’s and Smith and Campbell can handle the TE’s and check-downs to RB’s.

If the D line plays like they did against SF and PIT - and both sets the edge and keeps the middle ok - GB could do OK defensively in this game and cover the loss of Alexander.

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