The much-maligned Green Bay defense has its work cut out for itself when the team travels to Indianapolis and takes on the surging Colts.
It’s a small sample size. The Green Bay Packers have yet to lose two games in a row under current head coach Matt LaFleur. And they are not in position to do so this Sunday. Twice this season, the NFC North leaders have bounced back in resounding fashion after a loss. But back to those defeats at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings, respectively. It was the same old story when it came to the Green Bay defense. Even prior to Mike Pettine’s arrival in Green Bay, the club has struggled against the run.
Now comes Sunday’s challenge at Indianapolis against the 6-3 Colts in facing one of the best offensive lines in the league. Frank Reich’s team doesn’t have the big numbers this season when it comes to the ground attack. But there’s one way to cure that if you’re the Colts and that’s to exploit the Packers’ defensive unit that has struggled in this aspect.
Back to a season ago. In losses to the Eagles, Chargers, and a pair to the 49ers, Pettine’s defenders allowed 176, 159, 112, and 285 yards rushing, respectively. This season, Ronald Jones and the Bucs amassed 158 yards on the ground and Dalvin Cook and the Purple Gang ran for 173 yards. All told, the Packers have allowed an average of 177.2 rushing yards per outing in their six total losses under LaFleur.
So will Reich’s club take advantage of Green Bay’s shortcoming? The key here is whether the Packers’ explosive offense can put enough pressure on the league’s top-ranked defensive unit and make Indianapolis rely on Philip Rivers and less on the NFL’s 20th ranked ground game. While rookie Jonathan Taylor leads the club in rushing (428) and total yards from scrimmage (631), unsung Nyheim Hines has been a very productive performer and leads the club with six total touchdowns.
It makes for a very intriguing chess match at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. And it will be interesting to see if the Colts opt for power football if the Packers are up to the challenge.