2011 NFL Season Week 14: Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders Preview: Hello Bye?

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It nearly disappeared in a New York minute, but the Green Bay Packers have made it to 12-0.

After their biggest scare to date in their 38-35 win over the New York Giants thanks to a brilliant last minute drive by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers return home to face the Oakland Raiders Sunday at 3:15. The Raiders, tied with the Denver Broncos at 7-5 atop the AFC West, come into the game after a 34-14 beatdown at the hands of the suddenly hot Miami Dolphins.

So how will the rematch of Super Bowl II pan out? Let’s look at the Raiders.

Raiders Key Players

QB Carson Palmer The Oakland front office took a lot of heat for the trade that acquired Palmer and sent to the Cincinnati Bengals a first round pick and a conditional second round pick that would become a first rounder should Oakland play for the AFC championship in either of the next two years.

After his length stalemate with the Bengals, it was unknown exactly what shape Palmer would be in. Was he working out during his “retirement” or was he already moving on to his post-football life.

The jury is still out after nine games. Palmer is completing 55% of his passes and has thrown eight TDs against seven interceptions.

In a game where the Packers have a concussed Charles Woodson and could be without Desmond Bishop and AJ Hawk, Palmer presents a challenge for the NFC North champions. He is the biggest upgrade the Raiders have had at the position in years and still has an arm to make a lot of throws. Palmer isn’t setting the world on fire, but he is still a decent QB.

RB Michael Bush Even with Darren McFadden still sidelined with injury, the Raider rushing attack is still potent with Bush carrying the load. At 6’1” and 245 lbs., Bush is a big bruising back who, if he gets through the Packers’ defensive line, he could cause real problems for their depleted linebackers.

Although he stunk last week against the Dolphins with only 18 yards on 10 carries, he still broke 100 against the Vikings and Chargers and nearly put 100 on the Broncos’ revived rushing defense.

Throw in the Packers have given up 100 yards rushing each of the past three weeks, and Bush is a player to watch during this game.

DT Richard Seymour Seymour famously pitched a fit when he was sent from the New England Patriots to the Raiders, but quietly he has become a force for the Raiders defense.

With six sacks and 19 solo tackles, Seymour will be a test against the Packers offensive line. Anyone with a brain knows the key to beating the Packers is getting Rodgers on the ground. Hitting him won’t be enough with his quick release and when you throw in his mobility, it will be a tough challenge for Seymour and the Raiders defensive line.

LB Rolando McClain It would not be an NFL season without a Raider player doing something stupid. McClain was arrested roughly a week ago for misdemeanor assault and discharging a firearm.

The Raiders let McClain play against the Dolphins last week and will likely continue to play until the court makes a decision which in turn will force (or not force) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand. In the meantime, this situation and the Raiders’ handling of it will be a distraction for the team going forward.

As for on the field, McClain was touted as the next big linebacker for the Raiders but he has so far failed to realize his potential. Only 2.5 sacks in his career so far, McClain has not emerged as the pass rusher the Raiders had hoped. Jermichael Finley will likely eat him up for lunch all day.

Three Matchups To Watch

Bush vs. Packers rushing defense The Packers, one week after facing Brandon Jacobs in New York, face another bruising back in Bush. If the rush defense continues to struggle, fans should be thankful it was Bush and not the injured Darren McFadden the Packers went up against who can inflict far more damage.

Stopping Bush will require a greater effort from BJ Raji than what has been seen from him the past couple weeks.

Palmer vs. Packers secondary With Woodson still officially questionable for the game, Palmer will face a secondary that was already sans-Nick Collins. The Packers pass defense has struggled as of late and Palmer could have some chances.

That said, the Raiders won’t be able to keep up with the Packers if this game becomes a shootout.

Saine/Grant vs. Raiders rushing defense December is here which means it’s the time of year the running game starts taking center stage in the NFL.

OK, maybe not in Green Bay but a Grant/Saine one-two punch could open things up for Rodgers and company. The Packer offense has flourished without a running game, and that likely will continue with James Starksout with an ankle injury. But Imagine the possibilities in the playoffs if they establish one. Look for McCarthy to try this week.


Packers 35, Raiders 17

As I stated in yesterday’s post, I’m done underestimating these Packers. Not that I think the Raiders will give them much trouble anyway.

Still, each week the Packers will get their opponent’s very best and with the Raiders in a dogfight with Tebowmania in Denver, the Raiders will be ready for this game.

They still can’t stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers get win number lucky 13.


Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com.


10 thoughts on “2011 NFL Season Week 14: Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders Preview: Hello Bye?

  1. Something that I’ve seen repeated- over and over- by every imaginable source in the media and by all sorts of fans- is that the Giants were the biggest test the Packers have faced, the toughest challenge overcome, the closest game, the biggest scare.

    Pardon me, but the Packers-Giants game boiled down to a tied game with two minutes on the clock and the ball in Aaron Rodgers’ hands. While it’s possible something atrocious could have happened and we would have turned the ball over or given it back on downs to the Giants offense, it certainly wasn’t likely. The (likely) worst case scenario was going into overtime. A tie game with just enough time for the NFL’s best QB to move the ball into scoring position isn’t a huge scare.

    Vs. the Saints in the season opener, however, it came down to the Packers having to stop the last minute drive of the Saints’ offense or lose the game. We couldn’t stop them all game, and they had run rough-shod over our defense throughout the day. Our defense stopping the Saints was less than likely.

    IMO, the Saints game was clearly the narrowest victory of the year, the biggest test to date. Just my view. Thanks for letting me vent!

    1. Oppy,

      While I agree the Saints are the best team GB has played this year – If I remember correctly, we were up by 8 during their last drive. Meaning the best they could do is get the TD and 2 pt conversion. Then hope they got the coin toss and could score before ARod did.

      Not likely. IMO – the closest GB’s come to losing was in Minny. They weren’t interested in the game, and it almost cost them.

      It’s going to take an outstanding team effort for any team to beat GB this year. The blueprint will have to be what it was against NE a couple years ago…

      IF we don’t win it all, it’ll be on the pass D…

      1. Thanks for the correction, I could have sworn it was a seven point game giving the Saints the opportunity to score and go for two to win, but looking at the score I was obviously mistaken.

        I would still be far more concerned with our D having to potentially stop back-to-back Brees-led drives for a chance to win, than having the ball in Rodgers’ hands with 2 mins on the clock for the win.

  2. IMO,the season opener was a bigger test for the Saints than for the Packers.The Packers coming off the SB win knew that game was big for them at home,TNF and the first game of a season where everyone was coming for them.They got a victory and even if they lost,we all knew they were/are at that time very viable contenders if not repeaters.
    However,the Saints were coming off a dissappointing year and a bad,sudden,ass whupping by the lowly Seahawks in the first round.They needed that game to reassure who and what they were and did so even in the lost as proven now,as they are the best bet to attempt a dethroning.
    Also,does anyone really think the Bears and Lions will just lay down.Those two games can significantly alter the results of both goals,16-0 and 19-0 as you can’t have one without the other.

    1. I don’t disagree with your take on the pressure on the Saints.

      That being said, I don’t -care- about what kind of test the Saints were for the Packers, or the pressure they felt to compete and win.

      I’m talking about the biggest test to date for the Packers. Rest assurred, the Packers have been the biggest test to date for most every team they have faced this season.. Hence that 12-0.

      As far as the Bears and the Lions, I definitely do not expect them to lay down. Both are currently in the play off hunt, and even if one or the other falls out of contention, they both have plenty of incentive to put the hurt on the Packers.

      But, again… I was talking about the biggest test TO DATE for the Packers. Future matches are not “to date”. They are, oddly enough, in the future, and therefore not addressed in my original comment.

      1. Whoops, typo, it should read:

        “That being said, I don’t -care- about what kind of test the PACKERS were for the SAINTS, or the pressure they felt to compete and win”

        1. You should care about the test the PACKERS were for the Saints in week one,as the team that made the corrections coming out of it for the “future matchup”may be the difference and a possible ultimate ending.
          Perhaps I’m reading something wrong,but I’m worring about the near loss in the season that ends the 16-0 march but the near loss to a team that may be laying one on us when we cannot afford one.Saints-Giants.

  3. Non of the remaining games will be a lay down game for the other team. The Raiders are in a division hunt, KC will give an effort at home and the bears and lions are scratching for playoff births and are division rivals. With Cutler out, I think the lions maybe the toughest game left. The Raiders don’t seam to have the D to slow Rodgers down, but the Lions will have Suh and Farely back and thier secondary should be healthier then on thanksgiving were a WR had to play DB. Throw in a healthy Smith at RB, and the possibility of needing a win for a PO spot, the lions will come out fighting, this might be the hardest game left on the schedule.

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