The Packers are coming to Jacksonville this opening weekend, looking to secure their first win of the football season. Not surprisingly, Green Bay is favored to win (-6). Green Bay is in the Super Bowl conversation, so like the first half of the Bengals preseason game, this game will serve as a good barometer for the Jaguars and help them see where they stand in the NFL pecking order.
The Jaguars are incredibly talented on defense this year, probably more talented than they’ve been in any of the past 10 years. Contributing quite a lot to that talent are both defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Neither of them have any experience on an NFL field against a more-than-vanilla offense.
Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers, and the Green Bay offense will probably attack both Fowler Jr. and Ramsey early and often. Ramsey has performed well in the preseason, but has gotten beat in coverages by good receivers, including his own teammates Robinson and Hurns. Rodgers will be looking to create favorable matchups that will target Ramsey.
During the Jaguars’ third preseason game against the Bengals, there were times that the starting defense lost C.J Uzomah (the starting TE at the time) in coverage. One of those times, Andy Dalton overthrew him in what would have resulted in a walk-in touchdown. The Jaguars were lucky there, but Aaron Rodgers won’t make that mistake, especially if Richard Rodgers (TE) is that wide open.
The Packers’ running game is also going to be a large part of what they do on Sunday. Don’t be surprised if they run Eddie Lacy early and often (and right at Fowler Jr.), especially to set up the play action and get Rodgers outside of the pocket.
Defensively, the Packers have to be licking their chops at the thought of going after Jacksonville’s offensive line, which has been a question mark for the entire off season. Since Bottles took over as the team’s starting quarterback, he’s been sacked 106 times in just two years. Of all the improvements the Jaguars have made since last year, the offensive line is perhaps the least improved. They did bring in Kelvin Beachum, but he has been incredibly limited during the preseason due to an ACL injury. Expect the Packers to bring the blitz and take advantage of what could very well be the weak link of this Jaguar team. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind leaving their defensive backs on islands if it means getting to Bortles and possibly forcing him to make mistakes that he’s been prone to during his career.
If the Packers continually attack Ramsey and Fowler Jr. on offense, and take advantage of an offensive line that hasn't improved much since last year, they could very well get their first win of the season over the Jaguars.