The marquee game for late Sunday afternoon takes place between two teams likely to be headed to the playoffs. Let's take a look at it:
GREEN BAY PACKERS at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS, 4:25 PM ET (Sunday)
BetOnline NFL Odds: Colts -2, Total 51
Is the Colts' defense for real? Well, we are certain they are. But we believe that they're facing the best quarterback-wide receiver combo they have yet this season. And as we like to say, a guy like Aaron Rodgers has seen the best of the best over the years as far as stop units are concerned, and he has managed to move the ball more often than not.
What's been curtailed, for the most part, that an opponent can do to thwart him is the pass rush. Left tackle David Bakhtiari, who is considered by his peers to be one of the best in the business, just got himself a lucrative new deal, and he deserves it. If you have been around for any length of time, you know Rodgers was one of those guys who had to run for his life. This season, he's had to sustain only ten sacks.
And you'd have to agree that a big factor here has been the offensive scheme employed by head coach Matt LaFleur, who has gotten Rodgers conditioned to using play action when possible (as LaFleur did when he was offensive coordinator for the Rams) and getting rid of the ball on timing-based routes, eschewing the idea of running around and improvising.
So this game, from their standpoint, isn't so much about controlling a Colts stampede, but in getting Davante Adams, one of the league's premier wideouts, loose. Adams has had a tremendous stretch of games, with 38 receptions for 488 yards and seven TD's in the last four games.
Rodgers' bigger challenge might exist with establishing a running game. We would not have been asking that question a month or so ago, because Aaron Jones looked like he was on his way to the Pro Bowl. But he's injured his calf, and he's been less productive (only 119 rushing yards in his last three games). Not that the cupboard would be bare without him; Jamal Williams seems capable of providing what they need.
One Colt with a chip on his shoulder is Darius Leonard, the All-Pro linebacker who bristled when Rodgers had make a comment with lavish praise for a much less decorated LB, Fred Warner of San Francisco. This is what constitutes bulletin board material these days? I'm not sure this makes a lot of difference.
The bottom line for this Indianapolis defense is that they have thrived a great deal on creating turnovers, and Rodgers is just the kind of guy who isn't giving it away that easily. In fact, he has thrown nine interceptions since the start of the 2018 season.
In other words, the Green Bay quarterback isn't going to give them what they want, and what they need.
We don't know that the Packers' defense is something that we can highlight all that much. Indy QB Philip Rivers has been sacked only eight times, but sometimes it seems the Colts' offense is held together by Scotch tape. TY Hilton (11.2 yards / catch) is no longer the guy you really have to game-plan for, which is why 101 yards from Michael Pittman against Tennessee was very encouraging. Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle does return from a concussion. But this ground game, even with Jonathan Taylor, is very controllable.
The Packers have an offense that is much more efficient. They are a 73.5% proposition to score a touchdown in the red zone, with Indy being more sloppy there (55.9%). Rodgers can mitigate the edge Indy brings on defense (the INT's) and thereby he neutralizes the Colts in that area. And Adams is the most dangerous non-QB weapon on the field. We're going to take the short price with GREEN BAY.
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