Green Bay Defense
Week 9 Statistics: 31 Points Allowed, 2 Sacks, 2 INTs; 5.00 fantasy points
Green Bay’s defense seemed to have a good matchup: a one-trick pony of an offense (albeit one led by a stellar QB) that cannot run the ball and had only one wide receiver of notability.
I definitely underrated their abilities, and apparently so did the Packers.
Luck had some mistakes early, but he led his group to 31 points while standing up through tackle attempts and hitting guys beyond his usual T.Y. Hilton-centric approach (namely Jack Doyle and Donte Moncrief). Frank Gore even had a strong day on the ground behind his two TD runs.
The matchup this week is a vastly different sort.
Marcus Mariota is nowhere near as consistently great as Luck as a passer, but he does bring more of a running threat to the equation. Their offense runs what their coach called “exotic smashmouth”, led by a resurgent Demarco Murray and 2nd round pick Derrick Henry. Behind these areas, Tennessee ranks as the #8 offense by DVOA, #8 by Weighted DVOA, #7 by rushing DVOA, and #7 by passing DVOA.
Green Bay could be without Clay Matthews yet again — damaging their ability to rush the passer — so the pass defense (still missing multiple key players at cornerback too) could have problems even though there isn’t any individual player who should particularly scare them.
If their run defense (#6 in rush defense DVOA) is able to stand up to another strong rushing opponent (mixed results against top running teams; Atlanta was slowed in that facet, but the Cowboys blew them out of the water), they could force Mariota into having to come from behind — where he may make some mistakes.
A close contest probably doesn’t bode well — strong running games hold control over time of possession, meaning less drives and opportunities for the opposing offense — so the defense’s production might be tied to whether or not the Packers’ offense can get off to a hot start.
As evidenced earlier, I think they’ll have an okay showing on offense, but not the kind which keeps the running game from being a factor. I expect the Green Bay defense to show us an effort kind of like the one managed against the Colts: make it difficult most of the way, but give up a couple big plays in the red-zone. That will keep Tennesse close on the scoreboard, but a couple mistakes could still be forced on Mariota that upend their chances.
Those potential turnovers will be key, not only for the Packers’ chances at winning but also how well the defense producing in fantasy football. With them, this unit is a low-end play; without, stay far away.
Week 10 Prediction: