The key to the game every time the Packers meet the Vikings is stop Adrian Peterson. When the Packers met the Texans, the key to the game was stopping Arian Foster. This week, against the Titans, the story will be much the same. Stop Chris Johnson and you stop the main threat the Titans have.
What may surprise Packer fans is that the Titans will also need to stop the Packer run game.
While the Packers are a pass first offense, the run will likely be used more heavily this Sunday. Even though the Packers don’t use the run very often, we’re meeting a team that’s ranked #25 in run defense. Even a poor run offense can move the ball against a team that does that bad against the run.
If the Pack can move the sticks with the run game, they’ll keep the defense off Aaron Rodgers back. We do want the win this week because we want that #2 seed and a bye week for the playoffs. But, we also need to keep Aaron injury free going into the playoffs. Hand the ball off more and the defense will have less opportunity to put hits on Rodgers. We’ve had difficulty protecting Aaron this season and we have a new center taking over. Couple that with Tennessee’s difficulty stopping the run and I anticipate McCarthy will rely more on the run this game than he typically does.
Now, just because the Packers are a pass first offense doesn’t mean they rarely run the ball. In fact, McCarthy calls runs about 40% of the time. However, a lot of those calls are intended to keep the defense honest and set up some play-action. Against the Titans, the Packers should get some good productivity out of their running backs though.
So, keep an eye on the Packer running backs tomorrow. Watch them chew up some yardage and open the wide receivers up for some shots downfield.