The Green Bay Packers improved their record to 7-2 in Week 10 by squeaking by the Jaguars, but it will take a much-improved performance to get a win this week in Indianapolis.
The Green Bay Packers head to Indianapolis this Sunday to face the Colts, and fortunately for the defense, the pressure may be on the other side of the ball this week. After a lackluster performance in their win against Jacksonville last week, Aaron Rodgers and the offense have their work cut out for them this week against the league’s top-ranked defense.
Though the conditions inside Lucas Oil Stadium will be much more favorable than the high-velocity winds the Green Bay Packers have experienced in two of their last three games, the defense they’re facing will be much more challenging. So far on the season, the Colts’ defense has been stingy, giving up the fewest total yards and the fourth-fewest points. They’re also tied for second in the league with 11 interceptions and are +4 in the turnover differential department.
While Aaron Rodgers has only thrown three interceptions so far this season, the Colts have an aggressive defense that puts pressure on offenses at each level. Indy’s defensive line has a plethora of rushers capable of getting to the quarterback. Denico Autry leads the team with six sacks, including four in the last three games. DeForest Buckner, Justin Houston, and Grover Stewart are all having solid seasons and have been controlling the line of scrimmage consistently.
All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard has been the beneficiary of that solid defensive line play this season, averaging over eight tackles per game to go along with a forced fumble as well as a sack. Though only in his third season, Leonard is not shying away from matching up against one of the game’s greats in Aaron Rodgers. In his media session this week regarding Rodgers calling San Fransisco’s Fred Warner “the best linebacker in the game,” Leonard said,
“I’ve been thinking about that ever since he said that. I hope I can change his mind.”
In the secondary for the Colts, veteran Xavier Rhodes leads a young group of talented playmakers that have a knack for getting their hands on the ball. The Green Bay Packers are no stranger to Rhodes, who spent his past seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. Rhodes knows what it takes to go up against a team led by Aaron Rodgers and has made sure his team is aware of it.
Had a chat with Colts CB Xavier Rhodes today, who had plenty of battles with Aaron Rodgers while in Minnesota. He was adamant on this:
"This is not an individual game Sunday. This is a team game. An entire defense type game. We need all 11 — literally — to beat this team."
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) November 18, 2020
On offense, the Green Bay Packers are still uncertain if one, both, or either of their top two receivers will be available on Sunday. Allen Lazard was activated from IR earlier this week, but it’s still unknown if he’ll be able to play as he’s working his way back from a core muscle injury. After being limited in practice on Wednesday, Davante Adams (ankle) did not practice on Thursday, creating uncertainty around his status the weekend.
While the Packers’ offense has been dealing with critical injuries throughout the season, being without their top two receiving options this week could prove to be the most painful. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has reappeared recently with six catches for 202 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games, but it would be a heavy lift for him to be the go-to guy on Sunday.
Luckily for the Green Bay Packers, they’ve got a pair of running backs that are more than capable of checking in as receivers if need be. Both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are averaging over 25 receiving yards per game and have established themselves among the games best at catching the ball out of the backfield.
Ideally, for the Green Bay Packers, everyone will be healthy and able to compete in this matchup of one of the game’s best offenses versus one of the game’s best defenses. However, even if Adams or Lazard aren’t able to go, Aaron Rodgers should still make it interesting.
It should be noted that Denico Autry did not practice on Thursday due to illness. Three other defensive linemen (Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Grover Stewart) were held out of practice and designated as “not injury related.” Details aren’t clear at the time of this publication. There’s speculation that it may be a positive Covid-19 test for Autry and close contact hold outs for the others (be sure to follow @gameonwi on Twitter for updates).