As we know the Packers are decimated by injuries. Brandon and I exchanged some Q&A to get some insight. Here's his insight on who will play and what drop-off to expect.
Hogs Haven: Let's start with the injuries. With LB Nick Barnett and SS Morgan Burnett out...what's the level of drop-off there? Do the Redskins have any advantages mismatched they can take advantage of? Also, what's the update on Nick Collins and his affect on the D if he can't go?
Acme Packing: Collins plays through so many injuries that I expect he'll play, but he is hurting and things could change over the weekend. The loss of Morgan Burnett is disappointing because he was playing better, and getting past some of his early rookie mistakes. Even their top backup safeties, Charlie Peprah and Derrick Martin, are hurting. If Martin and Collins start, then I won't be too worried. The Packers have a lot of depth at linebacker, so A.J. Hawk becomes a full-time starter and backups Brady Poppinga and Desmond Bishop will rotate in at the other inside spot. Nick Barnett, and injured inside LB Brandon Chillar, are their top two coverage backers, so their absence should help the Redskins short passing game. Still it's not a significant drop-off in talent and neither had an irreplaceable skill.
I also saw Chad Clifton, Tauscher, and Charles Woodson missed practice yesterday. Any chance one of them doesn't play?
Clifton and Woodson are on a veteran preferential practice schedule. The miles on Clifton's knees and ankles have really added up, but he's only missed 5 games over the past three seasons. Woodson had a painful toe injury that he played through in 2008, and he aggravated it at the start of this season, so he's sitting out some practice time to help it heal.
I see Bryan Bulaga has been seeing some time for Clifton. Who can we expect to start on that OLine? Orakpo has been unstoppable all year...I see Clifton and Tauscher have struggled some this year...are they weak links?
I skipped the Tauscher question earlier because it appears he's out for Sunday, and Bryan Bulaga will start at right tackle. I'm not sure I've ever seen him play right tackle, but he's a natural left tackle and I don't expect he'll have any problems. He's strong, has good lateral movement, good size, and I'd expect he'd start for a lot of teams. Clifton is still slightly above average as a pass blocker, he's not a good run blocker anymore, and they're an above average tandem in pass protection. The biggest problem in pass protection last season was former starting RT Allen Barbre, who was released at the end of training camp.
It kind of surprised me to see that the Redskins are ahead of the Packers in total offense (yards per game). Is the lack of running game putting too much pressure on Rodgers?
It's been an odd season. Rodgers was out of sync in week 1 at Philly, he clearly had some preseason rust to shake off. The Bills game was a blow out and the game plan went more conservative. The Bears game was typical. And then last week the Lions controlled the clock with a dink-and-dunk offense that kept managing to convert on 3rd down, and the offense only got to run about 45 plays. The yardage isn't impressive, but the scoring is, as they lead the NFC with 106 points. They haven't been settling for field goals very often.
What's your prediction and why?
Usually I look for a comparable game. The Bengals win over the Packers in 2009 is a good example, when Cedric Benson had a big yardage game and Carson Palmer threw for 3 TDs. However, this season, the Packers have only allowed 4 passing TDs in their first four games. Their red zone defense has seemed to improve, while the Redskins 3rd down percentage is in the dumps. And the Redskins have only managed to score over 20 points once this season. The Packers are going to score, it's a matter of whether the Redskins can win a shootout. As a Packer homer, I'll go with Packers 24, Redskins 17.