Dec 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Mike Neal (96) sacks Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) with Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers (56) during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Oakland Raiders 30-20. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Last Game: 20 Points Allowed, 3 Sacks, 2 Interceptions, 1 TD; 14.00 fantasy point
While the offense has had issues, the defense has been the surprising strength for the team.
Going by DVOA statistics, Green Bay has been one of the better units league-wide (#9 Defensive DVOA, #13 Weighted Defensive DVOA, #8 Pass Defense DVOA), even managing to be maybe better-than-expected against the run this year (#18 Run Defense DVOA).
Their play has been mostly consistent, even with injuries hitting on multiple levels, young players getting gradually integrated, and their best player out of his most effective position due to necessities elsewhere.
They face a stern matchup here against Arizona though.
The stats are definitely impressive (#3 Offensive DVOA, #3 Weighted Offensive DVOA, #1 Pass Offense DVOA, #15 Run Offense DVOA), but the way they compile them is what should be worrisome.
Mainly, they are explosive as hell.
Carson Palmer has been dropping a perfect deep ball all season. David Johnson has gone from intriguing 3rd-RB to a consistently improving — and quite dangerous — option that gets utilized in multiple facets each game. Larry Fitzgerald has been revitalized as a slot receiving option. John Brown burns defenses to the ground on the outside. Michael Floyd is a dynamic pass-catcher in his own right too. Plus, their offensive line is the best they’ve ever had in Arizona.
Suffice to say, stopping this group is no easy task.
Adding to the issue: Sam Shields could miss this game too. While Damarious Randall had a nice overall game against Oakland in his stead, he was beaten by Amari Cooper quite decidedly on multiple occasions. He will have to do much better for the whole game to prevent a big showing from this offense.
Beyond the coverage is the pass rush, which tends to be inconsistent in terms of pressure. though they have guys like Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers while being one of the more sack-happy teams in the league, things simply aren’t as good as they seem. Because Matthews is playing inside instead of outside, he doesn’t get to rush as often as he usually would. Without Matthews rushing all the time, Peppers doesn’t have anyone across from him that consistently applies pressure; if that happens here, Palmer will have too much time and will find his guys open downfield.
As with most weeks, the saving grace for the defense’s fantasy score could be sacks and turnovers. Outside of the Thanksgiving game against Chicago, Green Bay has at least one turnover forced in every single contest this year, while they have had at least one sack in all but three games this season.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be anywhere near enough done in these areas to overcome the points given up to arizona’s offense across the contest.
If there were ever a week to avoid this defense this year, now is that week.
Week 16 Prediction: 27 Points Allowed, 1 Sacks, 1 Forced Turnovers; 3.00 fantasy points
Verdict: Stay All The Way Away