Packers vs Washington: Gameday Preview - 2021 Week 7

The Packers are dealing with a ton of injuries... but so is today's opponent. Is it enough for the Packers to get upset at home? Probably not. Read why:

The last time these teams met was in 2019, when the Packers jumped out to a 14-0 1st quarter lead, then held on with some field goals to win 20-15. Prior to that, Washington won the previous two games in 2016 and 2018, but those were middling teams that finished around .500. This year's team doesn't seem anywhere near that good. With injuries and distractions mounting, this squad already looks like an also-ran at 2-4.

The Packers will be tempted to look past this game with a huge Thursday game looming against the Cardinals, who are the league's last undefeated team and look like legit title contenders. While you can never win a game just by showing up, the Packers should be confident and will probably be very careful with injured players this week. They've shown the ability to win with backups all year and WFT shouldn't pose much of a threat.

 

WHEN WASHINGTON HAS THE BALL

The on-field dysfunction for Washington starts at quarterback.

Ryan Fitzpatrick only made it 6 passes into the season before getting hurt and landing on IR.

Backup Taylor Heinicke took over. He's a great Cinderella rags-to-riches story, a nobody who came up big in the playoffs and earned a big contract. However, his play this year has fans calling for his benching in favor of former UDFA developmental prospect Kyle Allen.

Heinicke has been inconsistent throughout the year and could be without one of his biggest weapons this week, as Antonio Gibson, an explosive dual-threat running back, is listed as questionable with a fractured shin. Gibson has 3 times as many rushing yards as anyone else on the team and, even if he plays, won't be 100%.

Washington's offensive line has been a bright spot this year, but right tackle Sam Cosmi and right guard Brandon Scherff will both miss the game this week. Throw in the fact that their left tackle is Bears castoff Charles Leno, Jr and the picture gets even more grim for Washington.

With a beat up line, the team may be less likely to subject their starting running back to a beating.
 
That could make WFT more dependent on the pass.
 
Terry McLaurin, who is establishing himself as a star receiver, missed a lot of practice this week as he deals with a hamstring injury. McLaurin, who has more receiving yards than all the rest of the wide receivers on the team combined, looks like he will play, but it remains to be seen if his injury will limit him. Receivers Curtis Samuel and Cam Sims have missed time this year and have both been ruled out, which Dyami Brown and tight end Ricky Seals-Jones were limited in practice all week.
 
Beat up skill players and missing offensive linemen usually don't mesh well with backup quarterbacks who have been playing inconsistently.

Even if Preston Smith joins Za'Darius Smith on the bench this week, the Packers should be able to control the line. Kenny Clark has been dominant on the inside and Rashan Gary and Jonathan Garvin have looked great on the edge so far. Newcomer Whitney Mercilus could also get some snaps this week and possibly apply some pressure while settling in to the Packer system.

In the secondary, whatever patchwork lineup the Packers can come up with should be sufficient. If Eric Stokes can take on an ailing Terry McLaurin, the rest should fall into place. Kevin King and Darnell Savage are both questionable, but even without them,  the Packers missing should be able to contain an offense that ranks 21st in the league in scoring.

 

WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL

If you thought the Washington offense sounded bad, wait until you hear about their defense!

No one has allowed more points in the NFL than Washington.

Sure, they have some talented players, and are much healthier on defense, but they just haven't done much. Chase Young is a big name with a ton of potential. He's winning a lot of his matchups, hasn't entered the upper echelon of the NFL's pass rushers just yet. On the other side, Montez Sweat is a solid pass rusher who is tied for the team lead in sacks with 3. Defensive Tackle Jonathan Allen (who also has 3 sacks to go with 14 pressures) has been their biggest disrupter and, with fellow defensive tackle Daron Payne, could give the Packers some challenges with inside pass rush since center Josh Meyers will miss the game.

It's possible that Elgton Jenkins fills in at center, but that would probably only happen is David Bakhtiari played. Given that he just started practicing this week and the Packers have a Thursday game, I'd be surprised if he plays. Instead, I'd look for the Packers to lean heavily on inside runs to neutralize the WFT inside pass rush.

The Washington secondary won't be forcing many coverage sacks, either. They're allowing opponents a 104.4 passer rating and seem to be running at a severe talent deficit. Safety Landon Collins has been taking snaps at linebacker as the flailing WFT defense looks for a way to get stops, which further weakens the back end of their defense. That should play well into the hand of Aaron Rodgers, who seems to be having a lot of fun on the field recently. He should be able to pick apart the field with his Adams and Cobb and really anyone else he decides to throw the ball to.

Here's the most telling stat: In 5 games this year, the WFT defense has allowed 22 touchdowns and forced 18 punts.

The Packers should be able to move the ball fairly easily against this mess.

 

OTHER NOTES

Preston Smith has never missed a game in his 7 year career... this could be a first

After a shaky outing two weeks ago, Corey Bojorquez unloaded one of the longest punts in recent memory last week - he is just so fun to have on the team

Jaylon Smith should be a little more settled into his role and this will be an interesting week to see how his snaps compare to Krys Barnes

The Packers had some miscommunication in the secondary last week against the Bears, but their inexperienced quarterback wasn't able to take advantage of it. Green Bay will try to iron that out against another low-end quarterback, but if they don't get it figured out, the Cardinals will blow it up against them on Thursday.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Washington has been on the low end of mediocre on the field, has key players out, and is dealing with mounting dysfunction off the field. This is a game where the Packers are heavily favored to win and should get a comfortable victory. Even with all their Packers injuries,  WFT doesn't have the talent or intangibles to compete on the road.

There's always a chance for an upset, but that chance feels pretty low this week. The Packers could blow out Washington, or grind out Washington, but the results should be the same either way.

Packers 33, Washington 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Best-selling author of books such as A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan's Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and PackersForTheWin.com.

Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @BruceIronsNFL.

 

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Comments (5)

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Bure9620's picture

October 24, 2021 at 06:33 am

It has been a while since we actually blew a team out....I guess you could argue the Lions game 35-17 but not really. I feel like this could be a grind of a game, kinda ugly. But we do win.
I really hope we blow them out of the stadium and the starters are resting in the 2nd half and are saved for Thursday. MLF seems like a coach cognizant of this, I actually look for MLF and Rodgers to take shots early to jump on them early and coast. Maybe take the ball first too if possible.

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NitschkeFromTheGrave's picture

October 24, 2021 at 08:32 am

Think about this, we all know and are enjoying the Pack's progression that has been building week by week, even with a crap load of injuries. The progression we have been enjoying has other teams with very real concern either heading into Lambeau or having the Green and Gold descend on their stadium for a game. One team in particular has eyes wide open, they know the Packers are nothing short of a freight train running down a healthy slope and the Cardinals are very worried that freight train of green and gold may not slow down as it roars through their town. They have much more to lose than the Packers and they are very concerned.

This Red Skin game is NOT a semi break from a tough schedule, it should be looked at as a link the the chain of growing progression. If this link is questionable it exposes weaknesses to exploit. We don't want this train slowing down or hitting speed bumps. On the other hand if this progression gains steam and this freight train blows through the Red Skins on its downhill slope with the full force, power and speed without even touching the breaks aiming it's next team to run through in AZ with the locomotive's air-horn at full pitch, isn't that what we all want?

Yes, I'm looking for a big game with a wide point differential.

I'm also feeling much better about the possibility of this train picking up speed with the additions on Defense that were missing rails of the packers track. I don't know how much Mr. Smith or Mister Mercilus will get to play but I'm excited to see their contribution.

It's time to keep the opponent under 10 points and blow-out the other side !

Hey! That's my chair... thank you, now pass me a cigar.

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Since'61's picture

October 24, 2021 at 11:35 am

Nitschke fromtheGrave, The only way the Packers lose or have a close game today is if they defeat or stop themselves. I see the Packers 38-16 and I’m hoping no more injuries.

Preferably we get some reinforcements back with P. Smith, King a d maybe even Bak back by AZ, although I’m figuring Bak and Maybe MVS back by the KC game.

In any case Go Pack Go! Be well. Thanks, Since ‘61.

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HawkPacker's picture

October 24, 2021 at 08:30 am

All I have seen this week is basically that Washington is not any good and we should beat them handily. Hey folks, this is the NFL and I can guarantee you Washington has pride. Just remember our first game this year. Everyone, including myself, figured we should win somewhat easily since it wasn't even a home game for NO plus we did not have a lot of respect for their new quarterback. Look what happened. I just hate to see so much banter about how we should win......easily.

Look what happened to Iowa, rated #2 last week against Purdue and then look what the badgers did to them yesterday at Purdue.

As I said, this is the NFL, and from week to week, things change and anyone can win.

Good luck to the packers and I hope they win big.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 24, 2021 at 10:27 am

It does not matter if the team we face is favored or if we are favored. It’s a “on any given Sunday” league. Many games hinge on a few plays. A mistake here or phenomenal play there can change the outcome. I believe that’s why the coaches always preach consistency. Washington looks more inconsistent than the Packers right now.

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