1. Breakout game for Rashan Gary with two sacks
For the first time since the season opener, the Packers should have all four of Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Kenny Clark, and Rashan Gary all healthy and active. This is huge news for the Packers defense and it could lead to a breakout performance by former first-round pick Rashan Gary. Gary is returning from injury himself this week.
In Clark’s absence, Za’Darius Smith has spent a lot of time on the inside, helping create one-on-one matchups. After Week 4, Smith ranked second in the league in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric among defensive tackles. You didn’t misread that; it says among defensive tackles. Smith has since dropped out of the top 10 but didn’t play in Week 5.
The point here is that Smith already commands a lot of attention from opposing offenses, and Clark will do exactly the same. Clark will line up on the nose tackle, freeing up Smith to move around. This all plays into the hands of Gary, who should see one-on-one opportunities all game.
Gary has outperformed Preston Smith this season and has shown big improvements from his rookie year. Gary has 1.5 sacks on the season and is second on the team in QB hits with four, behind only Za’Darius Smith. He’s also only played in three games.
With so much attention going to Za’Darius Smith and Clark, Gary returns to the lineup, makes two sacks, and pressures Tom Brady all game long.