The Green Bay Packers week one debacle is starting to look more like the exception than the rule. The Packers have won three games since their initial defeat, improving to a very respectable 3-1 record while playing against quality opposition.
The Packers offense was balanced and deadly against a strong Pittsburgh Steelers defense in a 27-17 victory. Aaron Rodgers once again got the better of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in a Super Bowl rematch. The Packers defense was also able to get the better of the veteran quarterback, as their consistent pressure resulted in two crucial turnovers.
Rodgers Makes History
Already considered amongst the greats, Aaron Rodgers further solidified his legendary status by passing Dan Marino in all time touchdowns. The historic pass was caught by his good friend Randall Cobb, giving Cheeseheads all the feels.
— NFL (@NFL) October 3, 2021
Rodgers has been brilliant since his poor showing against the Saints. The reigning MVP threw two touchdowns and ran another in, and could have had at least one more if not for a bad bounce of the fingertips of his pass-catching corps. Rodgers and his young offensive line worked in harmony, as Rodgers used his lightning quick throws all over the field to neutralize the Steelers pass rush.
Mason Crosby and Randall Cobb have had many impactful games and moments during their career as Green Bay Packers. This high level of play continued against the Steelers. Both Cobb and Crosby looked like players in their prime as they combined for 21 of the Packers 27 total points.
On a day when the Packers were without deep-threat Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Rodgers relentlessly attacked the middle of the field. Many of these throws were directed at Cobb, who showed his clutch catch ability gaining several first downs and two touchdowns. All of Cobb’s catches were for first downs or touchdowns, showing the trust between Cobb and his QB. Rodgers’ off-season drama ended with his request for the Packers’ to trade for Cobb, who proved he was well worth the small amount of draft capital needed to acquire him.
The Packers may have paid dearly for the win over the Steelers, as super-star cornerback Jaire Alexander suffered a shoulder injury while making a key fourth down stop. Rookie Eric Stokes may be forced to an even more prominent role, which all signs point towards him being ready for. Rumors of mutual interest between the Packers and former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore have been swirling. Gilmore and the Packers seem like a perfect fit, especially considering the time Alexander may miss. Signing Gilmore would also show the front office’s willingness to go all in, which could be a helpful factor in resigning Rodgers next season.
UPDATE- Stephon Gilmore has been traded to the Carolina Panthers for a 2023 sixth round pick. The Packers are expected to sign CB Rasul Douglas and Jaylon Smith to bolster their defense.
The Packers have already been bitten by the injury bug early in the season, as David Bakhtiari, Elton Jenkins and Z’Darius Smith have missed time and will miss additional time. The Packers depth across multiple has proven to be solid as the next men up as impact contributors work to return for a late season run.
On To Cincinnati
The Packers will face their second AFC North opponent in a row as they travel to Cincinnati for a showdown with the Bengals.
Bengals QB Joe Burrow has shown the talent made him the first overall pick in last years draft, leading his team to a 3-1 record. Burrow and his fellow LSU Tiger Ja’Marr Chase have already become a top level connection, made even harder to defend with the loss of Alexander.
The Packers will need to control the game with their running game as they did against the Steelers. Packers running back A.J. Dillon showed his power and speed, while Aaron Jones made three important catches for 51 yards. The two backs combined for over 200 total yards, which helped Aaron Rodgers quick passing game to be even more effective.
Prediction: Packers keep marching forward. Rodgers tosses three touchdowns in a high-scoring game. Packers win 34-24.