Packers Periscope: Week 4 vs. Buffalo Bills

The Green Bay Packers host the Buffalo Bills for just the seventh time since their first meeting in 1974.  It's a short history but let's take a look back and ahead to Sunday's game.

The Past

The Bills lead the all-time series 8-4.  The teams have traded wins since 1994 with the home team winning each match up.  

The Packers should be glad this one takes place in Gren Bay as they've never won a single game in Buffalo.  

The last meeting was in 2014 late in the season with the Packers still vying for the top seed in the NFC race.  On the road against a Bills offense quarterbacked by Kyle Orton, Green Bay seemed poised to get a big road win.

Alas, Orton's incredible luck against the Packers continued (he also led the Kansas City Chiefs over the an 13-0 Packers team in 2011).  Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions and a big dropped pass by Jordy Nelson that would have been a touchdown proved too much to overcome and the Packers settled for the two seed that season.

The last time Buffalo was in Green Bay was in early 2010, the last Super Bowl season the Packers enjoyed.  Green Bay ran the Bills out of the building to the tune of a 34-7 score.  At the time, a story line going into that game was the rumor about the Packers looking to acquire one of Buffalo's running backs, namely Marshawn Lynch.  Packers linebacker AJ Hawk had played sparingly up to that point and was listed as a possible trade piece.  The game came and went with no deal struck.

The Packers drew the Bills on opening day in 2000 in Buffalo and met at Lambeau Field in 1997, when the Packers were on their way to their second-straight Super Bowl appearance.  

Will another showdown in Green Bay be a part of the next Super Bowl run by the Packers?

The Present

The Bills seemed to be on their way to another typical season in Buffalo.  They were trounced by the Baltimore Ravels in the opener 47-3 and lost their home opener the following week.  Then came a road trip to Minnesota to face the Vikings.

Buffalo controlled the game all day long, to the shock of just about everyone.  Rookie quarterback Josh Allen played well enough, throwing for a touchdown and running for two more.  Buffalo's defense did the rest, holding the Vikings to just six points in a 27-6 boat racing at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Allen seems to have given the Bills offense a spark and he can run.  He rushed 10 times last week and managed to leap over Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr's tackle attempt at one point.  I'm hearing many orders for that poster are streaming in from Green Bay.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott is no stranger to the Packers.  He spent 12 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and six with the Carolina Panthers between 1999 - 2016, holding defensive coordinator duties with both organizations.  He's seen Rodgers a time or two.

Bills running back LeSean McCoy is recovering from bruised ribs and missed last week's game in Minnesota.  He says he's playing this week against the Packers, who are allowing 124 rushing yards per game through three weeks.

In Washington, the Packers played one of their worst games with Aaron Rodgers since. . .the last time they were in Washington in 2016.  Rodgers missed some wide open throws, there were several key drops by his receivers and the defense gave up too many points in the first half.  

It all equated to Green Bay's first loss on the season and many questions about who this Packers team is.  Rodgers continues to work through playing with the bone bruise suffered in week one.  He's still a great quarterback but many eyes are on him after watching some declines in his play.  The injury appears to be affecting his ability to scan the field as he usually does and hopefully he reads some of the open throws that were there for him last week.

A few injuries along the offensive line are concerning, namely right guard Justin McCray who won't play this week.  Back up Byron Bell will get the start in McCray's stead.  Protecting Rodgers is always paramount and especially now.  We know the Packers won't get any help from the officials so it's up to the line to keep him clean.

Against a Bills defense that is among the top against the run (80 yards per game allowed), the Packers offense won't necessarily have an easy time moving the ball.

Packers running back Aaron Jones returned to action last week and looked good in limited action.  More limited than many wanted and the hope is that Jones has earned more carries this week and beyond.  He's by far the Packers' most dynamic runner and Green Bay will need it against Buffalo's stout run defense.

Rodgers and the passing game have to hope that some home cooking does them some good.  Randall Cobb had a particularly rough day and should look to bounce back this week.  Tight end Jimmy Graham is still looking for his first touchdown as a Packer.  

On the defensive side of the ball, Green Bay's pass defense was especially bad to start last week's game.  The safety play has received much attention and justified criticism as several deep balls were tracked but not played correctly, which resulted in long gains or scores for Washington.

The Packers placed cornerback Davon House on injured reserve and added veteran free agent Bashaud Breeland to the mix.  Breeland was set to join the Carolina Panthers this season after signing a three-year deal but the deal was voided when he failed his physical.  Breeland was drafted by Washington in the fourth round of the 2014 draft and had spent his entire career there until this season.

This may be a week where we see more from Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in terms of pressure and scheme to confuse Allen.  Cornerback Kevin King's status is uncertain after missing last week in Washington.  Rookies Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson will see more time with House down and Breeland easing his way into the defense.

The big question is when will Clay Matthews be allowed to touch another player?  Matthews has drawn a flag for roughing the passer in each game this season.  In last week's game, Washington wasn't able to do anything with that possession and punted.  But the weeks prior, it allowed Green Bay's opponents to keep playing when both sacks should have effectively sealed a win.

The rule and enforcement are a mess but by now, Matthews has to understand how he's being watched and called.  Maybe if his wind pipes are strong, he can just blast the quarterback down?  All I can say is that at some point, the targeting of Matthews has to end.  It's football for crying out loud.

The Future

A Packers team licking their wounds vs. an unfamiliar opponent and after their performance last week?  I don't know how to call this one. 

The Packers looked as bad as they possibly could in their last game.  The Bills looked as good as they possibly could in theirs.  It was just one game, in either case, but both were convincing performances.

Green Bay can't afford an early deficit and needs to start fast.  That's asking a lot after what we've seen so far this season.  The Bills will be riding high but are they primed for a letdown? 

I can't pick the Packers right now until I see evidence that they can play to their capability.  I also don't think Buffalo wins this game but it's a lot more possible now than it was a week ago.

We'll find out in two days!

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (2)

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PatrickGB's picture

September 28, 2018 at 04:35 pm

Jason, I am with you. I really don’t know this team yet. But I do see a lot of potential. If the Bills had not trounced the queens using their new QB, then it would have been easier to predict.

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flackcatcher's picture

September 28, 2018 at 08:38 pm

I fell pretty much the same. In reality, this is still preseason football being played, and it is awful for both the players and us fans who watch it. Like you Jason I can't get a read on this team. Heck, might a well extend that to the entire league. Just sucks.

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