Another week down in the NFL, but for the Washington Commanders, these weeks feel like months in between. With more media headlines and now an injury to their starting Quarterback Carson Wentz now on the table, the Commanders welcome a struggling Packers crew to FedEx Field.
The return of Taylor Heinicke is upon us and boy, sports can be a fairytale sometimes, huh? Heinicke returns to the starting lineup, facing the team he and his father rooted for growing up, the Green Bay Packers, in hopes to create a new future that doesn’t resemble the rollercoaster ride that took place in Lambeau just a year ago.
Infamous memes, glaring weaknesses in the linebacker room, and a few Terry McLaurin highlights came out of the Commanders 2021 matchup against Aaron Rodgers and company, but this time, the odds may be in Washington’s favor to pull off the upset. You can check out the current odds for this one courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Green Bay enters this contest with question marks at nearly every position outside of QB, with unproven talent out along the perimeter, a shaky defensive line, and a backend that looks to have very little synergy amongst one another. In addition, Green Bay has yet to play a full four quarters of football, coming in after a tough loss to a shockingly feisty New York Jets squad.
Both teams haven’t been able to put together significant stretches of good football thus far and both teams will come into this ballgame shorthanded. Yet, this battle of two David’s might generate a Goliath level of interest.
Matchup #1: Scott Turner vs. Joe Barry
Oh, yes. Scott Turner and Joe Barry have both been criticized for similar reasons, and shocker, both have a history in Washington. Joe Barry’s vanilla defensive scheme and inability to play to his players' strengths clearly shined throughout his time in Washington, and Scott Turner’s lackadaisical play-calling and inability to take advantage of the plethora of options Washington’s offense has at their disposal has led many to call for his job.
Interestingly enough, both Barry and Turner have yet to get the most out of the talent currently present on their side of the ball, and both will be facing matchups that favor one another. The Commanders should take advantage of the 24th-ranked Packers defense any way they decide to.
In coverage, the Pack hasn’t been able to slow teams down with four starting members of their secondary ranking in the bottom quarter percentile in terms of their grades from Pro Football Focus. Against the run, they’re giving up the third-worst EPA in the NFL, and they rank dead last in rushing success rate.
For Washington, they have plenty of options and opportunities to take advantage of a porous unit, but they’ve had their fair share of issues offensively as well. Now coming in surely without Jahan Dotson yet again, it’s unclear if backup Taylor Heinicke and OC Scott Turner can dial up just enough of the goodies to take home the W.
Matchup #2: Romeo Doubs vs. Benjamin St-Juste
Rookie Romeo Doubs was a standout performer back in Mobile during my time at the Senior Bowl, and he seems to have hit the ground running at the next level. Doubs has been the WR1 for Green Bay thus far, seeing 5 or more targets in all but one game this season.
A savvy route-runner with subtle hints of athletic ability at every level of the field, he’ll likely match up with Commanders CB Benjamin St-Juste, in what will be a good test for BSJ. Canada’s own will have his hands full with one of the more underrated rookies in pro football, a guy that wins with finesse and physicality over raw athletic tools.
In particular, Doubs wins most at the intermediate level of the passing game, and if Washington is looking to keep this game in front of them, literally, St-Juste must set the tone by limiting those backbreaking 10-19 yard completions that Rodgers and Doubs have made routine over the first six weeks.
Matchup #3: Commanders OL vs. Packers DL
The Green Bay Packers currently rank 5th in total team sack rate through six games. In addition, the Cheeseheads have five players with 8 or more pressures thus far.
Specifically, guys like Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark have over 18 pressures each, and are boasting pass-rush win rates of over 27% on under 155 pass-rushing attempts. In other words, those two are absolutely balling. Even former Washington EDGE Preston Smith has 19 pressures of his own to start the year.
What hasn’t been said about the Commanders offensive line thus far? From injuries to guys like Sam Cosmi and Chase Roullier to putrid performances from Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner, the Burgundy and Gold are in trouble as they await this nasty Packers defensive line.
If Washington is looking to bring home the victory, they must keep Quarterback Taylor Heinicke as clean as possible. Heinicke struggled mightily last season under pressure, with 14 turnover-worthy plays when facing pressure last season.
If the Commanders win this game, whoever wins this battle in the trenches will likely exit FedEx Field as the victors.
How many sacks does Washington’s OL give up against the Packers?
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