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Packers Preview: San Diego visits Green Bay

The undefeated Green Bay Packers will host the 2-3 San Diego Chargers in an afternoon game in Lambeau Field this Sunday.  The weather is set to have a crisp high of 53 degrees and very little wind, and should make for a beautiful day of football.

The Packers have dominated the matchup with the Chargers, leading the series 9 games to 1, and having last lost in 1984.  This will be only the third time the Packers have hosted the Chargers since 1990, with the last two results a 1996 Packers’ win 42-10, and a 2007 31-24 victory.  Both games featured Brett Favre at quarterback.  In the only start since Aaron Rodgers took over, the Packer won in San Diego 45 to 38 in 2011.  That score feels like a microcosm of that season.

To move on to 10-1, here is what the Packers need to do on Sunday.

Hit Rivers

The Chargers are second in the league in passing yards per game this year, averaging 318 yards each game. Philip Rivers comes into the contest with a rating of 103.9, and 10 touchdown passes in five games.  His worst outing of the season, however, came in week three while visiting the Minnesota Vikings.  The Vikings pressured rivers all day, sacking him four times and hitting him on 12 of his 38 dropbacks.  Rivers is immobile, and appeared completely unable to avoid the rush.

Meanwhile, the Packers’ front seven on defense has performed well all season.  Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews have 4.5 sacks each, tied for third in the league with a host of others, Nick Perry has another three, and Mike Daniels, who has been a terror, has added another 2.5.  Overall, the Packers are second in the league in sacks with 20 (Denver has 22).  They are also tied for second with Carolina in interceptions, having grabbed 8 so far (Arizona has an outstanding 11).  If the front seven can continue to pressure the quarterback and get to Rivers, not only will the sack tally increase, but there is a good chance the interceptions will as well.  As the Chargers are 24th in run offense, this is probably the key to the game.

Find  Rhythm

For two straight weeks, the Packers’ offense has struggled to find its rhythm, and the team has won on great defensive efforts (giving up just 13 points in that span).  Difficulty with the St. Louis Rams a week ago may have been predictable, and it is probably true that the San Fransisco 49ers defense was underrated coming into the season.  Nevertheless, the Packers offense is reputed to be one of the top units in the league, and through three weeks looked like it.

It seems apparent that injuries to Davante Adams, Bryan Bulaga, T.J. Lang, and others have taken their toll.  However, this is a good week to right the ship.  The Chargers have an average or below defense, ranked 15th in the league in yards per game given up, and 23rd in points per game given up.  While they have been somewhat stout against the pass, giving up just 218.8 yards per contest, they are 29th in rushing defense, permitting 130.2 yards a game on the ground.  Eddie Lacy has had an up-and-down season.  This may be a prime week for him to put up big numbers and carry the offense to a victory.

Reduce Turnovers

Though it is not a common ailment for the Packers, the team had 3 turnovers last week, all attributed to Aaron Rodgers.  Without them, the game likely would have been over before the midway point of the third quarter.  Given the history of protecting the football in Green Bay, I anticipate this will not be an issue.

Prediction

Packers in a laugher, 38-17.