The 1-1 Green Bay Packers hosting the 0-2 Cincinnati Bengals, who have yet to score an offensive touchdown in the 2017 regular season. Two teams that prognosticators expect to be on the opposite ends of the NFL rankings at season’s end.
“That’s why you play the game,” said Mike Ditka, former Chicago Bears head coach and ESPN analyst.
“This is the NFL. Anything can happen if you don’t focus on the game at hand. That goes for the Packers and everyone else—you don’t want to look ahead.”
Green Bay hosts the rival Chicago Bears four days later at Lambeau Field on Thursday night. The Bears are currently 0-2 and face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Soldier Field Sunday. The Detroit Lions, 2-0, host the high-flying Falcons, who dominated the Packers last Sunday evening. The 1-1 Vikings host the 1-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Head coach Mike McCarthy’s team is looking to rebound from that resounding defeat in Atlanta, a game when the lumps came not only on the scoreboard.
The Packers’ injury list is long for this early in the season, and the team received bad news midweek that starting linebacker Nick Perry will be lost for a period of time and undergo hand surgery.
Ahmad Brooks, who just got the green light to practice after suffering a concussion in the season opener against Seattle, will be counted on to help fill that void and put pressure on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The team also resigned lineman Ricky Jean Francois, released last week, to fortify the defensive interior with starter Mike Daniels dealing with a hip injury.
There were 11 more Packers listed on the injury report, including David Bakhtiari (hamstring), Davon House (quad), Randall Cobb (chest), Jake Ryan (concussion/hamstring), and Kentrell Brice (groin).
The Packers have struggled offensively in its first two games, starting slow and producing only seven points in the first halves against Seattle and Atlanta, two of the NFC best units.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offense should be bolstered by the return of favorite target Jordy Nelson against the Bengals—and look to produce more points early. While Cincinnati has produced just three field goals, the Bengals’ defense has given up 33 points.
“It easy to say it—the Packers should score more early to take pressure of their defense, which is banged up too,” Ditka said. “Well, Rodgers is one of the best in the game and he’s going to have to make some plays—throwing or running-to ignite his team. This is a game Green Bay has to have at home and Aaron should have a big game. But he can’t do it by himself. Other players have to step up.”
Week 3 NFL Picks
Packers 37, Bengals 13
It’s fortunate for the Packers that the struggling Bengals come to Lambeau Field Sunday. In the aftermath of another blowout in Atlanta, Green Bay’s extensive injury list is a major concern, especially the offensive line and impact players Jordy Nelson and Mike Daniels. In the short term, Rodgers and Packers rebound at home against an inferior opponent.