Game: Green Bay Packers @ Cleveland Browns
Time & Location: Sunday 1:00 PM EST; FirstEnergy Stadium; Cleveland, OH
Previous Meeting: 2013 Week 7; Packers Won 31-13
In what could be the Green Bay Packers final game without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers need a win over the winless Cleveland Browns to keep their playoff hopes alive in a tight NFC. The Packers placed former starting running back Ty Montgomery on injured reserve, as well as, top draft pick cornerback Kevin King. Demetri Goodson is also out and starter Davon House is doubtful for this game. This leaves Damarious Randall, Josh Hawkins, Donatello Brown, and Lenzy Pipkins to soak up those snaps. The Packers pass defense has struggled and this won’t make things any easier. The Browns injury report is much shorter with only defensive back Jabrill Peppers doubtful and only defensive lineman Danny Shelton among major contributors in doubt.
Josh Gordon made his long-awaited return to the field last week and in triumphant fashion. Although he was not the most efficient, he flashed the athleticism and big-play ability that he has shown throughout his young career. With House doubtful, the Packers secondary is going to be hurting to cover Gordon. The chemistry between him and rookie quarterback Deshone Kizer has only gotten better and will only continue to get better. Nick Perry is also questionable heading into Sunday, but the team will need him out there to take advantage of left tackle Spencer Drango who is in place of the injured Joe Thomas. Both he and Clay Matthews have surged as of late and their play will be important in this game, as the weak points on the Browns offensive line are the two tackle positions.
The Packers kept their playoff hopes alive last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers thanks to an opportunistic defense and a strong running game. With a myriad of injuries on the defensive side and facing the 6th ranked run defense in the NFL, this recipe might not be one for success this week. Damarious Randall leads the team with four interceptions and will be the primary corner for the team. He will need to have another big game for the Packers defense to be successful against Kizer who has struggled with turnovers this season. Dean Lowry had a big game last week en route to winning NFC defensive player of the week. If Perry is unable to go, he will have to step up to help provide a pass rush from somewhere else.
This is an absolute must win for the Packers to keep any shot at the playoffs alive for them. The Browns do not want to go 0-16, but the team still does not possess a ton of talent. They have a lot of young players on this team that are getting better every week, but it still does not seem that this is going to be the week that they get the first one in the win column. I think the Packers get the win on the road to set them up for a wild end of December with Rodgers under center.
Final Score Prediction: Green Bay Packers 24, Cleveland Browns 17