(WFRV) – Every season, a challenging stretch of road games looms on the Green Bay Packers schedule.
In 2021, it’s four games on the road in the next five weeks that may define the season. And the gauntlet begins in Cincinnati against the ascending Bengals at 12 noon Sunday.
Green Bay travels the following week to Chicago to take on their antediluvian rival Bears, who currently reside in second place in the NFC North Division.
After a hiatus to host Washington at Lambeau Field on October 24, the Packers fly west to face the high-flying Cardinals in Arizona. Their gauntlet ends with the toughest test of all: Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on November 7.
Under Matt LaFleur, the two-year history of these road stretches has revealed Green Bay doesn’t fare well out west but prevailed in the won-loss column. The only place it matters.
In 2019, Green Bay went 3-2 on their gauntlet:
- Won 31-24 at Kansas City, sans Mahomes
- Lost 26-11 to Chargers in Los Angeles
- Won 24-16 versus Carolina at Lambeau
- Lost 37-8 to 49ers in San Francisco
- Won 31-13 over Giants in New Jersey
In 2020, the Packers finished 2-2 on their toughest road stretch:
- Lost 38-10 at Tampa Bay
- Won 35-20 over Texans in Houston
- Lost 28-22 to Vikings at Lambeau
- Won 34-17 over decimated 49ers in San Francisco
LaFleur always preaches there’s adversity and challenges every season, and his team’s resiliency will be tested in Cincinnati. The Packers will be without their top two defensive players as outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith will miss a fourth straight game due to a back injury and the severity of cornerback Jaire Alexander’s injured shoulder is still being determined.
On the offensive side, All-Pro tackle David Bakhtiari is on IR for at least the first six games of the season and Elgton Jenkins has missed the past two contests with an ankle injury. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is also on injured reserved due to a hamstring injury.
While Aaron Rodgers will miss the big-play potential of MVS and his speed that stretches defenses, the veteran quarterback redeveloped his connection with slot receiver Randall Cobb last week against Pittsburgh, which double-covered Davante Adams throughout the game.
The Green Bay offense will again need contributions from its 1-2 running punch of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, and more production from the tight end group led by Robert Tonyan.
Joe Burrows and the Bengals will attack and test the Packers weakened secondary with receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, who is expected to return to action this week. Workhorse running back Joe Mixon is listed as day-to-day with an ankle sprain against Jacksonville last Sunday.
Week 6 NFL Picks
Packers 30, Bengals 23
Green Bay limps into this one without Alexander, and Burrows will test Packers secondary early and often. This one could turn into a shootout. Rodgers-Adams, Jones-Dillon, and turnovers are the difference.