The Green Bay Packers have run hot and cold this year. After losing their first game of the year, they rattled off three consecutive victories to pull themselves to 3-1. Since that point, the Packers have lost three straight games against teams that hail from along the I-95 corridor, dropping one in Washington, DC and two against those New Jersey teams in Lambeau Field.
The Buffalo Bills could make it a sweep for New York teams—obviously, since they’re the only one—against the Packers this year. To do so, though, they’ll need to shut down Green Bay’s impact players this week.
Here are the five Packers we’re watching this week as they take on the Bills.
QB Aaron Rodgers
The future Hall of Famer has been solid this year, completing 66.8% of his passes for nearly 1,200 yards, 11 touchdowns, and three interceptions so far. However, over his last three games, the Packers haven’t been able to move the ball very well through the air, and now they see a Buffalo defense with a 1:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the year. For all their struggles this year, the Packers are still led by one of the best to ever do it, so he can’t be discounted until the final gun sounds. Buffalo will need to disrupt Rodgers at the line of scrimmage by moving him off-platform. They can alter the timing of the passing game by jamming the Packers’ young wideouts, too. If they hit Rodgers and jam his receivers, they can keep him off-balance and put this game in the win column.
RB Aaron Jones
Buffalo has been excellent at making teams one-dimensional this year, but Jones has been dynamic running the ball with limited touches. What’s the best way to stop Buffalo’s offense? By running the football, controlling the clock, and keeping them off the field. Buffalo doesn’t always panic in situations when they don’t have the ball much, but sometimes it looks like Josh Allen and company press in those scenarios. If Jones can run at 5.5 yards per clip like he has this year, it will give Green Bay a chance. The Bills could negate the run game by continuing to score, as well, which is why the running back position is so unpredictable. Jones is a dynamic threat who might also be Green Bay’s best pass-catcher right now. Matt Milano will probably see him in the passing game, but it’s up to the unit as a whole to stop Jones from running wild.
WR Romeo Doubs
I was tempted to talk about old friend Sammy Watkins here, but I’m going with the player whom Rodgers has targeted more than anyone else. While Watkins has that big-play potential that Doubs doesn’t, it seems that Rodgers will go to the rookie wideout when in doubt. Doubs is averaging just 9.0 yards per catch, and with either cornerbacks Christian Benford, Dane Jackson, or Kaiir Elam to cover him, the advantage should go to the Bills. Buffalo should have the horses in the secondary to smother Doubs, making Rodgers go elsewhere—like to tight end Robert Tonyan, instead.
EDGE Rashan Gary
What a disruptive force the fourth-year man has been this year. Truthfully, he’s been a beast since entering the starting lineup full-time last year. In 2021, he notched 9.5 sacks in 16 starts; so far this year, he has six sacks, seven tackles for a loss, and ten quarterback hits. He’s had at least one sack in all but two games this year. Gary generally lines up on the right side of the defensive alignment, so left tackle Dion Dawkins will need to stick with him. Perhaps the Bills will give Dawkins some help in the form of chips from the running backs and tight ends staying in, but it will probably be Dawkins versus Gary for much of the evening. If that matchup stays in Buffalo’s favor, Allen will be able to do what he needs to do.
CB Jaire Alexander
Green Bay’s top cornerback isn’t someone who many teams trifle with, but since he’ll probably be on Stefon Diggs for much of the night, Buffalo will end up throwing his way quite a few times this week. Alexander is one of just two Green Bay players with an interception this year, and he also has four pass breakups on the year. Three of those came in a loss to the New York Jets, though, so he’s otherwise not done much in the way of deflecting passes. Alexander is an excellent corner who is going to have his hands full this weekend. Buffalo would be wise to attack him in a controlled way, as he has the ability to change a game with one play. Alexander has six interceptions and 48 pass breakups in his five-year career.