Offensive match-up to watch: Running backs Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn vs. OLB Shawne Merriman
The Packers have struggled to rush the ball in each of their first two games, and now they face a 3-4 defense spearheaded by Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman. Green Bay has to prove that it can be more than one-dimensional with its rushing attack. The Packers improved somewhat last week against the New York Giants, rushing for 85 yards, though, 38 of those yards came on Wynn's touchdown run late in the game when the outcome was already decided.
The Packers don't often face a 3-4 defense, so it may cause problems. But they did go up against Pittsburgh's 3-4 in the preseason, and faced the Chargers during the 2006 preseason.
Defensive match-up to watch: Green Bay's linebackers vs. LaDainian Tomlinson
The Packers allowed the Giants' Derrick Ward to average 6.0 yards per carry on 15 attempts last Sunday in Green Bay's 35-13 win. By taking a commanding lead in the second half, the Giants had to go away from Ward and pass more often. If the game was closer on the scoreboard, Ward probably would have finished with way more than 100 yards rushing.
Green Bay's linebacker corp of Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk and Brady Poppinga will have its hands full with Tomlinson, who has rushed for just 68 yards on 35 attempts this season. If L.T. bounces to the outside of the tackles like Ward did last week, the Packers stingy defense could be in for a long day.
The Packers will win if:
Brett Favre can guide the offense the way he did last week against the Giants. Favre relied on using the short passing game more than taking deep shots downfield. As a result the Packers efficiently moved the ball. Favre spread the ball around to eight different receivers throughout the course of the game and finished 29-for-38 for 286 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception.
If the Packers stay on the field offensively by controlling the ball, all the better for Green Bay's defense.
The Packers will lose if:
Many are predicting the Packers to lose this game, and they will if they turn the ball over two or more times. In order to pull off an upset, a lot has to go right for the Packers, but they absolutely cannot hand the ball over to the Chargers.
Green Bay's defense will have its hands full with San Diego's offense, and to ask the Packers to stop the Chargers on a short field following a turnover is a tall order.
Why not pick the Packers to pull off the upset? There is a quiet confidence and momentum amid this team that should carry it Sunday to a 3-0 record, despite facing a team that is predicted to win the AFC title this season. Green Bay's defense is for real, and the energy of the home crowd will only help the Packers contain the Chargers' offense.
Packers 24, Chargers 17
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