What to watch in Packers vs Browns: Who catches number 443?

Five things to watch as the Packers take on the Browns on Christmas Day, with Aaron Rodgers set to make history.

Who catches number 443?

Unless something goes very, very wrong, Aaron Rodgers will make history on Christmas Day, throwing his 443rd touchdown pass and breaking Brett Favre’s franchise record. The big question is, who will catch it?

If Davante Adams is the man to receive the historic pass, another record will be broken, as Rodgers to Adams will become the most prolific partnership in terms of touchdowns in franchise history, overtaking the combo of Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, who caught 65 TD passes from number 12.

Personally, I will be absolutely shocked if Matt LaFleur and his play calling brain trust have not cooked up a play for Marcedes Lewis for when the Packers enter the red zone, in an attempt to get Big Dog his first touchdown reception of the season and break the record at the same time.

Whoever is the recipient of number 443, it is sure to be a special moment at Lambeau Field and will further cement Rodgers as one of the greatest players to ever play the game, in Green Bay or anywhere else.

Myles Garrett’s status

Green Bay’s offensive line has held up improbably well throughout the season, with Aaron Rodgers being sacked a respectable 2.1 times per game.

That mark is tied for 14th best in the NFL, and when you consider some of those sacks have been of the zero-yard variety, much to the ire of Rodgers, their ranking could be even more impressive.

Yosh Nijman, Green Bay’s third-string left tackle, has already faced T.J. Watt, Robert Quinn and Nick Bosa this season, holding his own on each occasion.

It has not seemed to matter who suits up for the Packers up front or who is lining up across from them, they always find a way to get the job done.

The big question this week, however, is whether Myles Garrett will take the field at all for the Browns. Cleveland’s Head Coach, Kevin Stefanski, gave Garrett a “50/50” chance of playing against Green Bay.

While Garrett was bullish on his hopes of playing on Christmas Day, with the Browns needing to win out to have a chance of making the playoffs, the decision is not ultimately his to make.

Even if Garrett is able to go, it is fair to wonder how impactful he will be while playing through a groin injury.

The fearsome pass rusher is capable of taking over any game when healthy, and if Garrett does play on Saturday, the Packers will have to assume he will be at the peak of his powers, and take anything less as a bonus.

Stop Chubb, get the dub

With quarterback Baker Mayfield struggling to find any consistency this season as he plays through a litany of injuries, the Browns have become even more reliant on bruising running back Nick Chubb to carry their offense.

Cleveland’s attack goes as Chubb goes, and stopping him from getting into a groove on Saturday afternoon should be priority number one for the Packers.

If the Browns have a path to victory, it is to shorten the game and keep Rodgers and company on the bench.

If Joe Barry’s defense can force Mayfield (or whoever is playing quarterback for Cleveland) beat them, it should make for a much more comfortable Christmas Day.

Which Baker Mayfield shows up?

Cleveland’s signal-caller missed their delayed matchup with the Raiders, and has still not been cleared from the COVID-19 reserve list as of writing, despite claiming to have no symptoms.

That means Mayfield has not been able to practice since his positive test last Wednesday, a far from ideal situation.

Kevin Stefanski still expects Mayfield to play on Saturday, and the former 1st overall pick will be motivated to get his team back in the AFC playoff race.

This has not been a banner year for Mayfield, but he is still a potentially dangerous QB, certainly more so than Case Keenum or Nick Mullens who have been made to play in his stead on occasion.

If indeed Mayfield had no symptoms from his bout COVID-19, the time off may have at least allowed his various injuries to heal. Will he return to the lineup rusty or rejuvenated?

Will Green Bay’s defense rebound?

The Packers defense has cooled off a bit of late, giving up at least 28 points in each of the last four games, after shutting out the Seahawks prior to that.

Fortunately, Joe Barry’s unit has still come up with big plays in the form of turnovers to make up for their general struggles to get off the field in recent weeks.

In general, there does not appear to be much reason for concern, especially considering the unique circumstances facing Green Bay in the last two weeks.

Two weeks ago, a desperate Bears team threw the kitchen sink at the Packers from the off and managed to hit some big plays early. Green Bay’s defense was also not helped by the embattled special teams unit consistently putting them in bad spots.

Allowing Tyler Huntley’s Ravens to put up so many points was alarming on the face of it, but ultimately, Baltimore are an uncommon opponent who run an offensive scheme the Packers will not see again unless they meet in the Super Bowl.

As long as the defense is either allowing very few points or producing timely turnovers, there is no reason to worry, but now would be the ideal time for the Packers to round back into shape without the ball, as the playoffs near.

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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 (13)

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Lphill's picture

December 24, 2021 at 02:28 pm

Hopefully Clark is back to bolster the run defense , Merry Christmas 🎁

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Oppy's picture

December 24, 2021 at 04:18 pm

Who catches #443? I hope it’s anybody except a player who’s never caught a pass for a touchdown in the NFL before.

That sure would be awkward.

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

December 24, 2021 at 04:24 pm

Deguera hasn't caught a TD yet. He is due. It would make for an awkward situation.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

December 24, 2021 at 10:40 pm

Deguera got his first TD vs the Vikings Week 11

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

December 25, 2021 at 09:42 am

Can't believe that I forgot that. I must have tried to forget that game.

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mrtundra's picture

December 24, 2021 at 04:46 pm

I think will be Aaron Jones from out of the backfield to the left corner of the end zone.

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Oppy's picture

December 24, 2021 at 11:59 pm

My only point is that a presumably young NFL player would be denied the opportunity to keep his first, maybe only, NFL touchdown souvenir ball, because clearly, Rodgers would want to keep it.

But since we're playing the guessing game.. I don't know who'll actually get the reception, but I almost guarantee Rodgers is going to try his damnedest to force it to a particular receiver, for better or for worse.. he's gonna want Davante to have that reception. I just hope the blinders don't cost us an early 6 points.

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Oppy's picture

December 25, 2021 at 07:15 pm

I was happy to see that Rodgers threw to the open WR instead of being selective to start the game today.

Nice work by Lazard to hustle and hit the pylon.

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TheKanataThrilla's picture

December 24, 2021 at 04:22 pm

I really like the idea of Big Dog getting the record catch. I just hope we plan to score first and not force anything.

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CWolf's picture

December 24, 2021 at 11:51 pm

A question, because I've seen this mentioned several times in different places now: The punt return for a TD in the Bears game, does that count as "points given up by the defense"? I assumed the answer is no, but like I said, I've seen it counted like that several times now. Thanks!

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Oppy's picture

December 24, 2021 at 11:56 pm

Cwolf, there are several idiots in the world.

That is definitely not points given up by the defense, as the defense is not on the field.

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CWolf's picture

December 25, 2021 at 02:35 am

Ok, thanks. I thought so, but at some point I do start second guessing. Merry Christmas!

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TheVOR's picture

December 25, 2021 at 02:04 pm

Hope it's the Big Dog, but huge money is on Adams. Would love to see Lewis get the honor.

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