Behind Enemy Lines: Part II

Our Scout.com experts, Eric Hartz of ColtPower.com and Bill Huber of PackerReport.com, continue their discussion of Sunday's game between the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers. In Part II, Eric has five questions for Bill about the Packers' first year in the post-Favre era.

Eric Hartz: The Packers are ninth in the league in scoring, and the Colts have put up 31 points in each of their last two games. With both defenses banged up a bit, do you see this game being a shootout?

Bill Huber: I would be shocked if the teams don't combine to score at least 60 points. To mention Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers in the same breath isn't fair, but I will say that other than Manning, no quarterback throws a prettier deep ball in the NFL than Rodgers. Even with the injured throwing shoulder, Rodgers has had pinpoint accuracy on bombs to Greg Jennings the last two weeks.


CB Charles Woodson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

EH: Speaking of Green Bay's defense, it looks like both of the Packers star corners, Al Harris and Charles Woodson, could be missing in action Sunday. Who are their likely replacements, and can they keep up with Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison?

BH: Woodson will play. He's practiced just once in the last five weeks — and that was only a little bit mdash; since breaking a toe. The guy's football IQ is just off the charts. On his interception last week, he saw the route unfold and recalled seeing it once — only once — on film, yet he broke off his receiver and jumped a route in the flat to a tight end for the pick. He has five interceptions since breaking the toe in Week 1. Replacing Al Harris (lacerated spleen) will be Tramon Williams, who has held up surprisingly well. He has an interception in all three of his starts. Those guys will be fine against Wayne and Harrison, as long as the Packers can put some heat on Manning. If not, Manning will put up big numbers.

EH: How is Aaron Rodgers doing at winning the hearts and minds of the Green Bay faithful? Obviously he's stepped in and played well so far, but Brett Favre casts a long shadow. Obviously Rodgers is here to stay, but what does he need to keep improving on if he wants to have a long stay in Green Bay, like Favre did?

BH: While he'll never be as popular as Favre — who could? — Rodgers has definitely won over the fans, and his superb play since injuring his right shoulder has only added people on his bandwagon. Playing hurt, after all, is a big part of the Favre legend.

Rodgers just has to continue progressing, and that comes with experience. He holds onto the ball too long at times, putting himself in harm's way. One reason why guys like Favre and Manning never get hurt is because they rarely get hit. Rodgers has some learning to do in that regard, but he's a bright guy. I'd be surprised if he's not putting up big numbers in 2018.

EH: Like the Colts, the Packers have struggled to defend the run so far in 2008. With Joseph Addai likely out, do you see this week's game as a chance for the Packers to "get healthy" against the run and build some confidence in that area of the game? What do they need to do better that they haven't been?

BH: The Packers' run defense showed signs of life last week at Seattle. Now, was that better play or a defense taking advantage of facing a third-string quarterback? Amazingly, the Packers played the first six games with just three defensive tackles. They hope to get last year's No. 1 pick, Justin Harrell, back this week. That will help keep those guys fresh, and with starting tackle Ryan Pickett having a strained tricep and being a question mark for Sunday, the Packers can use the extra body. But it's hard to say what Harrell can provide, since he's had back surgery twice since playing in the NFC title game. Certainly, if the Packers can't stop the run this week, they have almost no chance to beat the Colts.

EH: In looking at Green Bay's statistics for the season, they seem about what you would expect from a 3-3 team — their yards gained and yards allowed, and points scored and points allowed are very similar, and they don't jump off the board in any particular category. You've been following the team since they opened training camp. What do you think they do particularly well and how can they use those strengths to their advantage against the Colts?

BH: The clear strength is on offense, where Rodgers has superb talent with Driver, Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Ruvell Martin and Donald Lee to throw to. If they can get something out of a running game that just hasn't gotten going, the offense will be practically impossible to stop. On Sunday, if the Packers do enough on first and second down to set up third-and-5 or less, then they'll go four receivers on third down and complete a short pass to move the chains. After a bunch of those short passes, Rodgers will go deep. But if it's third-and-long most of the day, the Colts have the advantage.


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