Jclombardi’s gameday Packers vs Bills headlines.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Week 2 Game Scout: Bills at Packers—Kickoff: Noon. TV: CBS. Injury report: Questionable–LB Bishop (hamstring), G Colledge (illness), FB Hall (hip), DE Neal (rib/side), CB Underwood (shoulder). Probable–LT Clifton (knee), DE Jenkins (hand), S Martin(ankle), LB Matthews (hamstring), CB Woodson (toe). Keys to the game–the Bills simply do not match up talent wise with the Packers, one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Last season, Green Bay was one of the best at scoring points and stopping the run; Buffalo was one of the worst in those departments. Green Bay’s roster is virtually the same while Buffalo’s is weaker with the losses of WR Terrell Owens and DE Aaron Schobel. The only hope for a Buffalo upset is if it can somehow run the ball and limit the touches Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers has with the ball. If the Bills have to blitz an overabundant amount to get heat on Rodgers, he can name his score with the weapons at his disposal.
Preview: Packers vs. Bills–Stout Bills front, but not much Bills pass rush. Overload–good Bills returners.
Packers vs Bills Top Matchups:
1. Donte Whitner vs. Jermichael Finley–After an impressive second NFL season last year, the Packers tight end is poised for a big year in Green Bay’s highly-productive passing attack. Finley is more of a tight receiver than a tight end with great speed for a player his size (6’5” 247). Whitner is likely to serve as the main coverage defender, but the Bills might be wise to mix things up against him knowing how dominant he can be.
2. Cornell Green vs. Clay Matthews–Matthews was a monster in Week 1 at Philadelphia posting a career high nine tackles, a forced fumble, four QB hits and was eventually credited with three sacks. He’s been dealing with a hamstring injury and is on the injury report again this week. Buffalo’s veteran right tackle will likely get some assistance from the tight ends and the backs to deal with this handful who witus is a bit up in the air for Sunday. He’s technically the team’s left cornerback, but figures to be drawing Evans as his primary assignment. Woodson has kicked down into the slot at times, but with Evans being Buffalo’s biggest passing threat, the Packers are expected to put the man who tied Jairus Byrd for a league-leading nine interceptions last season on Buffalo’s top wll switch sides as his outside linebacker spot throughout the game.
3. Lee Evans vs. Charles Woodson–Woodson is dealing with a toe injury so his status is a bit up in the air for Sunday. He’s technically the team’s left cornerback, but figures to be drawing Evans as his primary assignment. Woodson has kicked down into the slot at times, but with Evans being Buffalo’s biggest passing threat, the Packers are expected to put the man who tied Jairus Byrd for a league-leading nine interceptions last season on Buffalo’s top wideout.
Packers Game Plan:
GAME PLAN: Offensively, how much more pass-happy can the Packers offense get now that featured back Ryan Grant is out the rest of the season because of a broken ankle? Conventional wisdom is head coach/play caller McCarthy has the convenient excuse to get greedy and have Rodgers throw at will, especially against an ordinary, short-handed Bills defense. McCarthy won’t stoop to being so one-dimensional and predictable. He has a lot of confidence in Grant’s replacement, Jackson, as an every-down back and will want to get Jackson in the flow of carrying the football. Defensively, the Packers’ priority will be to stop the run as the Bills roll through a triple threat of Spiller, Jackson and Lynch. By putting Buffalo in difficult down-and-distance situations, defensive coordinator Capers can have his pass-rushing charges pin their ears back and force an easily flustered Edwards into mistakes. After Masthay did a terrific job with his directional punts of pinning the Eagles’ Jackson along the sideline in the opener, look for Crosby to angle his kickoffs to one side or the other to keep the dangerous Spiller from being a spoiler.
Packers’ Finley fights to break free: Just about anywhere Finley went last week, he got double-covered. “I think they did a little bit of everything,” Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “I think they have a multiple defense and utilized some of those techniques. I’m sure some teams make it difficult to get off the line of scrimmage, get physical and slow him down. Some will give help over the top.” Of the 54 official plays in which Finley took part, on 21 of them he was lined up wide as a receiver and on eight he stood up in a slot position. In other words, more than half the plays he took part in were designed to help get him free.