The Green Bay Packers hope to bounce back from last week’s disappointing loss in Pittsburgh when they return home to host the Los Angeles Chargers at Lambeau Field. The Packers enter the game with a 3-6 record while the Chargers are 4-5. The Packers are coming off a 23-19 loss in Pittsburgh while the Chargers fell at home to the Detroit Lions 41-38. Here are six key matchups that determine who will win Sunday’s Packers-Chargers game.
The Packers lead the all-time series between these two teams 10-2-0 in the regular season. These two clubs first met in 1970, the first year of the merger between the NFL and AFL. The Chargers won the last meeting between these teams in 2019, but the Packers won the seven previous meetings. The two teams have never met in the postseason.
Here is a look at six key factors that will determine who wins Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field:
Packers Key Matchups: Number One, Protect Jordan Love
The Chargers have a potent pass rush and rank third in the league with 31 sacks. They have proven talent coming off the edge with Khalil Mack on one side and Joey Bosa on the other. Mack leads the team with nine sacks while Bosa has 6.5. Both these players are outstanding bull rushers.
The good news is that if the Packers can protect Jordan Love, the Los Angeles secondary is very vulnerable. Look for Matt LaFleur to pepper the Chargers with quick release passes and rollouts to help minimize the impact of the potent LA pass rush.
Key Matchups: Number Two, Contain Keenan Allen
Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen is the most dangerous receiver on the team. He has 73 catches already this season while no other player on the roster has more than 23.
Allen is a big target at 6’2”. He will certainly get his catches but the Packers secondary needs to prevent him from having a big day and breaking off long gains.
Jaire Alexander did not practice Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and may miss another game. He would be the Packers top option to try to contain Allen. If Alexander can’t play, Allen will be matched up with either rookie Carrington Valentine or Corey Ballentine. This is a mismatch that the Chargers plan to take full advantage of.
Packers Key Matchups: Number Three, Get Pressure on Justin Herbert
The simple fact is that if Justin Herbert has time to throw, he can pick apart any NFL defense. Herbert is big, has a strong arm and is a solid decision maker. He has completed 67.1 percent of his passes and has thrown 17 touchdowns with just five interceptions this season.
If he’s under pressure, he can be taken off his game a bit and the Packers defense must do that to have a chance to slow down the Chargers potent offense.
The Packers must find a way to get pressure on Herbert or they could be in for a long day defensively. That could get worse Alexander and safety Rudy Ford, who did not practice Wednesday or Thursday due to a biceps injury, are unable to play.
Key Matchups: Number Four, Get Aaron Jones His Touches
The Packers cannot abandon the running game. One way to limit Herbert’s effectiveness is to keep the Chargers offense off the field. That means the Packers need to run the ball with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon and hold on to the football.
Jones can also be a part of the short passing game which can help reduce the effectiveness of the Los Angeles pass rush.
The Chargers run defense isn’t bad, but by running the ball enough and keeping the defense honest, the Packers can slow down the pace of the game, stay out of obvious passing situations and limit the pass rush all at the same time.
Packers Key Matchups: Number Five, Win the Special Teams Battle
Keisean Nixon has been the major bright spot for the Packers on special teams. Jayden Reed has done a solid job as a punt returner when he has been called upon. The Chargers have Derius Davis who has already run a punt back 87 years for a touchdown.
The Packers need Anders Carlson to make his kicks when they get into field goal range. Cameron Dicker has been almost automatic on field goals for Los Angeles. Former Packers punter JK Scott is having a good year for the Chargers but how will he handle the colder weather in Green Bay?
Winning the field position battle will be important for the Packers as they try to keep pace with the Chargers potent attack.
Key Matchups: Number Six, Take Advantage of the Vulnerable Chargers DBs
The Chargers rank dead last in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game with 291.2. That means that if he has time to throw, Love needs to take advantage of the vulnerable Chargers secondary.
LaFleur needs to make play calls to scheme open players like Reed, Dontayvion Wicks, and Romeo Doubs. Luke Musgrave has been a bigger downfield threat in recent weeks as he gets more comfortable in the offense.
The Packers also need to get Christian Watson more involved on short passes and plays that can get him the ball in space. That could help restore his confidence and set him up for a better second half of the season.
Love should be able to have a big game against the Los Angeles secondary as he continues his development in his first year as a starting quarterback.
This game has the potential to be a real shootout. The Chargers defense is porous and vulnerable while their offense is dangerous and skilled.
Both teams are also inconsistent this season and have suffered through disappointing halves of their seasons.
Right now, the Chargers are further along in their development than the Packers. This will be a close game and the weather could help the Packers, but the Chargers are the favorites.
Chargers 33, Packers 27
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