In what is the first of the Packers three consecutive road games, the Packers must get a win today despite QB Aaron Rodgers saying he didn't think it was a must-win game. Technically, true. Spirit-wise...no. To lose two games in a row to AFC South teams would be...not good. At all.
Photo by Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
To say the Packers have underperformed to the halfway point in the season is an understatement. Yes, injuries have played their part. But every team has injuries. At some point, you can't blame it all on that. This blog and other media pundits and countless fans on call-in shows have all theorized about what's to blame: lack of player leadership, quarterback mechanics, quarterback girlfriend, lack of a running game (hard to run without any actual running backs available), lack of ability of receivers to get open, lack of coaching, bad play-calling, bad front office personnel decisions...well...you get the idea. There's something for everyone to not like about the performance of this Packers team so far this season.
As to what this means for today's game, does anyone really know what to expect? We've seen the Pack arguably play only two good halves of football this season...and that was across two different games weeks apart.
Today, the Packers will have to take on an underrated and, to some, a similarly underperforming team. The Titans have a young, mobile quarterback -- the kind that has given the Packers fits in the past -- in Marcus Mariota. They have a solid running game; third-ranked in the league overall. Not much in the way of receivers, really. A defense that is also middling in performance, and one which -- on a good day -- the Packers offense should be able to take advantage of.
The problem is, we don't know when Rodgers and company are actually going to have one of those good days. If the Packers have RB James Starks and TE Jared Cook back (both were listed as questionable at the time of this post), that may help some, although given both players just coming off weeks of inactivity because of injury (and surgery in Starks' case), we can't really expect much from them. Until the offense shakes itself out of its doldrums, it's hard to project outcomes, isn't it, Packer fans?
Of course, part of this is the Packers defense getting itself back together, too. With the inability to stop opposing offenses late in the game recently, again, we don't quite know what to expect. Although being without OLB Clay Matthews for the third straight week because of his ongoing hamstring problem doesn't help, does it?
As a result of the above unknowns today, this game can be viewed -- unfortunately -- as a toss-up despite the Packers being favored by 2-1/2 points.
As it is, we're calling it...27-23 Packers.
Go Pack Go!!!