The Green Bay Packers are dealing with a host of injuries on both sides of the ball at the moment. Clay Matthews fractured his thumb badly a couple of weeks ago and he won’t be back anytime soon — a big blow to their defense. On offense, a dirty hit led to a broken fibula for Randall Cobb last week and he’s been placed on short-term IR. James Jones is dealing with a sprained PCL and doesn’t appear likely to play this week, either. That leaves Aaron Rodgers very short on reliable weapons and raises the question of how the team will generate offense against the Cleveland Browns.
The first answer that comes to mind is that Rodgers will throw the ball to Jordy Nelson until the cows come home. Nelson is easily talented enough to handle the challenge, so he’ll be peppered with targets all game long. The issue is that there’s a strong chance he’ll be covered by Browns corner Joe Haden, who’s been lights-out this season. Jermichael Finley should wind up with a big game if that happens because the Packers’ other receiving options this week aren’t very desirable.
At first glance, it seems like their passing game could struggle some in this one, so the Packers are going to have to factor a heavy dose of the run into their game plan. That means a big workload and game for Eddie Lacy.
Lacy’s numbers so far are deceiving. He’s only rushed for 270 yards and one touchdown on the season, but in reality, that’s come in just three games. He got hurt near the very beginning of the Packers’ Week 2 game against the Washington Redskins, sustaining a concussion after just one carry for 10 yards; so that game really can’t be counted when analyzing his stats. He’s coming off his second-straight strong performance, having rushed for a career-high 120 yards against the Baltimore Ravens last week. He’s looked very good the last two weeks and the Packers seem happy to keep feeding him the ball, as he’s carried it 46 times in that span. With their receiving corps depleted, it only stands to reason that they’ll continue the trend against Cleveland.
The Browns’ defensive line is typically considered to be one of the best in the league, but in reality, they’ve been pretty poor at stopping the run recently. Lacy is a physical, punishing bruiser who shouldn’t have trouble grinding his way up the field tomorrow. He’s on the verge of a breakout game and I wouldn’t be surprised if it came this week. The Packers are poised to give him as many carries as he can handle until they get their passing weapons back, so his arrow is pointing way up at the moment.
Expect a third-straight solid outing for Lacy this week as he edges closer to that game-changing performance.