After beating the Super Bowl champs at their house, the Packers get to come back home to face the Cleveland Browns. This would seem to be an easier game with Brandon Weeden back at quarterback, but this could easily turn into a trap game.
Cleveland is much better than their record. They rank 24th on offense, but that is more to the changing of quarterbacks due to injury and the adjustment after the trade of Trent Richardson. They have two rising superstars on offense in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron. The offense will have it tough traveling to Green Bay, but they may start to gel at the perfect time, which would be bad for the Packers.
Defensively, this team is another story. They rank 7th on defense, playing both the run and the pass equally well. They have a shutdown corner in Joe Haden, and a formidable defensive front featuring Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, Desmond Bryant, and Ahtyba Rubin. They do a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage and creating pressure. As long as the young pieces around Haden can keep on their man, they can force three-and-outs with regularity.
Green Bay has a lot to do in this game to come out with a win. First, the offensive line is going to have to do its job. Aaron Rodgers cannot be constantly on the run. They have to open up holes versus a stout Browns line. Second, the run must be established. Eddie Lacy is the key to winning the game, and the Browns know it.
Third, the receivers have to do their job despite injuries. Jordy Nelson is most likely matched up with Haden during this game, and while I believe he will have a good game, that does no good if the Packers cannot take advantage of the other matchups in this game. The Browns secondary is weak, and Rodgers must test them early and often.
Fourth, and possibly most important, the defense must continue to be destructive. The front seven must stop any resemblance of a running game and create pressure. The secondary cannot allow Josh Gordon to run free and eat them alive as he has done the past few weeks. They must force Jordan Cameron to look human, even though he has the last few weeks. Lastly on this point, they must force turnovers. Get in Weeden’s head, and he will cough it right up.
This game will be quite the fight, but it will either be a Packers blowout, or a close one either team can win. Overall, the Packers cannot fall asleep during this game, or it could be the difference between playing at home or on the road in December. Packers tickets are still available so pick out the best seats and find a way to Lambeau Field this week to cheer on the pack.