October 4, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Mike Neal (96) celebrates after sacking San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) during the fourth quarter at Levi
Last Week: 3 Points Allowed, 6 Sacks, 1 INT; 15.00 fantasy point
On a week where the Packers’ offense was not able to fire on all cylinders, the Green Bay defense that stepped up big-time.
The competition must be noted — San Francisco isn’t exactly a top-quality team this year — but it is always an impressive showing when a team can only score one single field goal.
The defense stepped up against the run for another week — Carlos Hyde managed just 20 yards on 8 carries — and the pass defense got a pick along with 6 sacks while just running roughshod over whatever that is San Francisco calls an offense.
This unit has a ton of potential and plenty of talented players throughout, but that run defense aspect seems like it will always be a worry that sits with fans and analysts. The eye test doesn’t seem to give credence to those thoughts, but advanced statistics do; Green Bay ranks a pitiful #31 in run defense DVOA so far in 2015.
That has to do with the level of competition as much as anything; each of the teams Green Bay has done well stopping the run against had many factors working against them. Seattle lost Lynch at one point, Kansas City was in a huge deficit that prevented them from running too often, and San Francisco’s offense as a whole is a black hole of despair. Also, each team built with a suspect passing game and are all showcasing pretty poor offensive lines.
St. Louis does have the talent needed to beat a defense like this, but they also could have those same worries working against them. Their offensive line has been surprisingly decent on many fronts, but the group isn’t really all that established and is working with multiple rookies. The passing game is also not something to be feared in and of itself. If the running game is firing on all cylinders though, it can be deadly; Nick Foles isn’t afraid to cut it loose on the deep ball and they have a good mix of experience and explosiveness in their receiving group.
Ultimately, I see the game following a particular routine. Things will be close early, with both sides running well and scoring. Then Green Bay scores again before making a stop on defense. Following the defensive stop is another Packers score, which takes away the ground game to some extent for St. Louis, forcing them to have to pass more than they like. Some of those passes end up as turnovers, Green Bay scores enough to put things out of reach, and St. Louis adds a garbage-time score or two to make things appear closer than they really were.
Wishful thinking? Perhaps. Just about anything could happen here, but to me this happens to seem most likely.
If things do end up close to what I envision, it should be a decent day in the fantasy sector for Green Bay’s defense.
Week 5 Prediction: 17 Points Allowed, 4 Sacks, 2 Forced Turnovers (2 INT); 9.00 fantasy points
Verdict: Start (If You Believe In The Run Defense)
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