It’s the holiday season. The season of giving. A time of year when the joy of giving exceeds the grateful feeling of receiving.
The NFL is giving Green Bay Packers fans back-to-back primetime games at Lambeau Field in weeks 15 and 16.
For those who are feeling the holiday spirit, what would you gift Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur for the rest of the regular season and post-season?
“It’s not creative, but it is thoughtful and it is necessary…and that is that run defense,” ESPN-Wisconsin’s Jason Wilde tells Wisconsin’s Afternoon News. “There were those – and I’m among them – who really wanted to see this team go against Christian McCaffrey Saturday night.”
McCaffrey, who rushed for 1,387 yards in 2019, is officially listed as doubtful with a thigh injury. The Packers host the Panthers Saturday night at Lambeau Field. Due to various injuries, McCaffrey has seen action in just three games this season.
“I’m just not convinced that if a team has a strong running game, and is able to possess the ball…I just don’t know if their defense is going to be capable of doing it. So I’d like to see them do it before the playoffs begin,” Wilde continues.
The Packers enter week-15 leading the NFL in scoring average and time of possession, but tied for 23rd in the NFL in yards per carry allowed. In addition, the Packers allow 4.8 yards per carry at home. Through 13 games, the Packers offense has been a great assist to a defense built to stop the pass by pressuring the quarterback.
If the Packers win their final three games, the road to the Super Bowl will run through Green Bay. Of the NFC contenders, who does Wilde believe could pose the most significant threat to the Packers at Lambeau?
“I just don’t know how good I feel about their match-ups with several teams, and one of them is a higher seed. A team they are battling for the number-1 seed, and that’s New Orleans. The Saints make me nervous.”
The Saints ground game is led by Alvin Kamara and Latavious Murray. The duo carries a combined 1,304 yards rushing into a week-15 match-up against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Another team that will rely on the run, should a date with the Packers populate the playoff schedule, resides in the NFC North.
“The Vikings – if they sneak in as the last one into the playoffs – make me nervous. The Packers are a really good team. They are also capable of losing to almost anybody that will be in the post-season, I believe.”
Following a week15 contest against the Panthers, the Packers welcome in the playoff-bound Tennessee Titans in week-16. The Titans offense is fueled by Derrick Henry, the NFL’s leading rusher.