“I’m not worried about this squad. In fact, this might be the best thing for us. This week, nobody’s going to give us a chance. Going to Buffalo on Sunday Night Football, a chance to get exposed.”
-Aaron Rodgers after Packers 23-21 loss to Washington
In the preseason hype during training camp, the Packers-Bills game in Buffalo in Week 8 of the NFL season was viewed by many pro football experts as a potential preview of Super Bowl LVII in Arizona in February.
What a difference two months can make.
Buffalo, 5-1, stands alone atop the AFC East and looks like a bona fide Super Bowl contender. The Bills are rested and coming off their bye week. Reeling Green Bay, 3-4, is on a three-game losing skid that began in London and is tied for second with Chicago in the NFC North behind 5-1 Minnesota.
Speaking of streaks:
The Bills Streak: In the storied history of the Green Bay franchise, the Buffalo Bills are the only team the Packers have failed to beat on the road. Buffalo is 6-0 at home against Green Bay and leads the all-time series 8-5.
The Packers Streak: Since 2000, the Packers have won 13 consecutive games when they play in primetime, the league record in the century.
One streak will be broken Sunday night in Buffalo. Green Bay enters the game as a decided underdog, which Rodgers said right after the Packers loss to Washington may be a great motivator.
Rodgers also stated on Tuesday on “The Pat McAfee Show” that mental mistakes were plaguing the offense and playing time/reps should be reduced for players who consistently continue to make these drive-killing mistakes.
“When you’re struggling on offense, you’ve got to look at everything, the details, and there’s been too many simple mental errors,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “I’m not a robot up here. I think people in this society have a hard time hearing the truth sometimes, so I’m going to hold guys accountable.”
False starts, illegal motions, holding, delay of games—penalties are the self-inflicted wounds that stymied drives and set up challenging down-and-distance situations for the Green Bay offense. And this week the Packers face the Bills, who feature the NFL’s top-ranked defense: No. 1 against the run, the pass and scoring. And their offense is the league’s best overall and top ranked passing unit led by quarterback Josh Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs.
Head coach Matt LaFleur said accountability starts with the coaching staff and ends with the players.
“I think what he (Rodgers) was trying to get across is, everyone needs to be on top of their game and it starts with us as coaches, first and foremost, making sure we’re on the details,” LaFleur said at this mid-week press conference.
“I think we have to be truthful with one another, and sometimes the truth hurts. It’s no different than when your kids make a mistake, you tell them about it. I don’t think he publicly called out individuals. . . ultimately for him (Rodgers) to be at his best, we need the other 10 guys to be at their best.”
The Packers’ injury report on Friday includes David Bakhtiari (knee), Rashan Gary (concussion), Elgton Jenkins (knee/foot), Allen Lazard (shoulder), Marcedes Lewis (veteran rest), Rodgers (right thumb), Sammy Watkins (hamstring), and Christian Watson (hamstring). Bakhtiari, Gary, Jenkins, and Watson were all listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Week 8 NFL Picks
Bills 33, Packers 27
Buffalo boasts the NFL’s top offense and defense; a formidable challenge for Green Bay to stop their losing streak. Keys will be coaching adjustments after halftime and sustaining drives in the second half to give the defense a breather. Winning the turnover battle will be a difference-maker in a potential shootout.