It’s better to head into the bye week with a win than a loss. It’s been an up and down start to the season for the Packers, and Green Bay needs a win before the week off.
“I mean we’re not going to label this a must-win game, but we gotta get this. We gotta prove something to ourselves and obviously the bye week dropping a divisional game, you gotta get this. You always hate heading off into a bye with a bad taste in your mouth and not having an opportunity to kind of redeem yourself. This is one that we definitely need to get,” said Clay Matthews.
Enter the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.
The Niners had plenty of hype heading into the season, but much of that has changed. Losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppollo for the season due to a torn ACL derailed much of that momentum. It also dragged down the marque match-up of the young star, Garoppollo, and a two time MVP, Aaron Rodgers.
The leader of the Pack said this past week he believes the offense is close. A big part of changing that might be getting off to a better start. So far this season the Packers have been outscored 42-13 in the first quarter.
“You know, I told you guys week 1 it’s going to be a work in progress, I don’t feel like we’re far off. I feel kind of like after Washington a couple years ago, we are very close to getting things going and like I said then and I’ll say again now, I feel like if we can get off to a better start, it makes the entire squad play with a different type of confidence, so we need to lead from the front,” said Aaron Rodgers.
“We’re a tick off. It comes down to timing and hitting on all cylinders at the right time. That’s kind of where we’re headed, that’s the trajectory that we’re on right now, but it’s about getting to that point and we haven’t gotten to that point yet,” said Randall Cobb.
The receiving corps Rodgers will throw to is still a question this week. Against the Lions, Rodgers and company were missing both Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb. Rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown did step up, but getting their number two and three wide outs back would be a big help for the offense.
Head coach Mike McCarthy said late in the week leading up to the game that a decision on Allison and Cobb will come on game day.
On defense the Packers have also been up and down to start Mike Pettine’s first season as the coordinator. Against the Lions a week ago they faced short fields due to turnovers, and held Detroit to just seven second half points.
At the same time Green Bay is near the middle of the league in turnovers. Creating more takeaways against a team with a back-up quarterback, C.J. Beathard, and limited weapons on offense could be a key come Monday night.
“I mean you see the opportunities, you know I don’t think anytime you’re going in for a tackle or sack or whatever you think it is, you’re think oh this team has the tendency to give over the ball, but I think it’s a point of emphasis when you see something like that and obviously it a case in what I just said in that we didn’t produce any turnovers so getting the ball out, whether it be quarterback, running back, receivers, whatever it is we need to find a way to do that,” said Matthews.
“Up front they’re a very physical offensive line. I played Beathard in college for a number of years, so I think he’s a scrappy quarterback so a lot of challenges for us this week,” said Dean Lowry.
Ultimately the Packers will need to play their game in a match-up that on paper seems like a win. In the NFL any one knows that’s easier said than done. That means taking control early, not giving an opponent hope of an upset, may be the biggest key of Green Bay is going to get that all important win heading into the bye week.
“I’d like to think we’re ramped up every time we step out on the field. You know especially at home. This is a special place and we definitely take the responsibility of defending Lambeau Field. It’s at the forefront of our thinking at our home games. Monday night just makes the atmosphere better, even more so for our fans. I think this is a great night for our fans and it’s a full day and weekend leading up to it so it should be a heck of a game,” said Mike McCarthy.
It’s Monday Night Football under the lights at Lambeau Field and anything can happen.