4 key matches to watch in Week 7


Are the Green Bay Packers (3-3) closer to finding their identity, or will their confidence continue to wane after back-to-back losses? We will know more this Sunday during the trip to face the Washington Commanders (2-4).

This week, it’s the same story as the previous two. The Packers have the upper hand on paper but are quite capable of losing if their execution continues to flounder.

As always, let’s take a look at three key matchups that could very well decide the outcome of this Week 7 meeting.

The Packers’ ball peddling against QB Taylor Heinicke

The Commanders will be without starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who broke his ring finger in his throwing hand in Thursday’s win over the Chicago Bears. That means Green Bay will have to face Taylor Heinicke, a game director with 16 career starts. Honestly, the Packers would probably like to play Wentz.

As SI.com’s Bill Huber pointed out, the Green Bay secondary has struggled to show off their ball skills this season, and Wentz has done a good job putting the ball in danger. According to Pro Football Focus, he has 10 turnover-worthy games in 2022, which is tied for second among all quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Heinicke threw 15 interceptions in 16 appearances last season. The takeaway in all its forms is obviously huge, and there’s a good chance the Packers will get their first interception since Week 2.

Packers offensive line vs. Commanders pass rush

Last week was brutal for the Green Bay offensive line, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers being hit nine times and sacked four more. The New York Jets had a pretty solid pass rush, but Washington’s could be even better. They have five guys with at least three sacks this season, led by their top two defensive tackles, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. The Packers need to be ready to block, and that may require a reorganization up front. Right guard Royce Newman had a particularly bad outing against the Jets and could head to the bench. No matter who’s out there, Green Bay can’t afford a repeat performance in the trenches or the offense will suffer greatly.

Packers run defense vs. Commanders run attack

Starting Heinicke means commanders can build on their running game. If so, this game could look like last week’s game against the Jets, when Zach Wilson totaled just 110 yards in the air while the ball carriers racked up 179 on the ground. Washington’s rushing offense isn’t exactly strong, but they have a new starter in Brian Robinson. Washington’s third-round pick has made an incredible recovery since being shot twice in an attempted robbery just before the start of the regular season. Last week, Robinson had 17 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown in a win over Chicago. The Packers have a ton of loose ends to iron out, and their 27th-ranking run defense is high on the list. They can’t afford to let another team crush them, and with all the talent they have on defense, that shouldn’t happen against a backfield with Robinson and Antonio Gibson.

Matt LaFleur vs. RB Aaron Jones

No, it’s not a quarrel between player and coach. It’s to see if LaFleur keeps his promise to get Jones more involved. Jones is arguably Green Bay’s most skilled player on offense, so it’s no wonder they struggled last week when he received just nine carries. After the game, LaFleur admitted it wasn’t good enough, but that’s not the first time we’ve heard that from the Packers. It’s time for LaFleur to put his words into action and prioritize more contact with Jones. He should total no less than 15 runs against the Commanders on Sunday.

The story originally appeared on Packers Wire


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