On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will wear their throwback 1950s uniforms: all green, with gold numbers, green socks, and plain gold helmets. The uniform harkens back to that unforgettable run in the early 50s when they went 3-9, 3-9, 6-6, and 2-9-1. You know, the more you think about it, the more sense it makes to wear those threads this season.
We could very easily be talking about the 3-9 Packers a few weeks from now, after games against the Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions, and Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers game may be the most winnable; it will have the shortest spread of the three games, with Vegas listing LA as three-point favorites.
The game feels a little less winnable after the news that Rashan Gary had some kind of “mishap,” as Matt LaFleur put it, in practice on Friday. The Pack’s best defensive player is now dealing with a shoulder injury and is questionable to play. He joins Jaire Alexander and Quay Walker on the questionable list. However, both of those guys practiced on Thursday and Friday and seem to be on track to make their returns on Sunday.
At 4-5, the Chargers are certainly a beatable team. They have only knocked off one team with a winning record: the Minnesota Vikings. They have one of the NFL’s five or six most talented QBs. However, Justin Herbert is without three of his top four targets, and his team can’t run the ball despite having the excellent but oft-injured Austin Ekeler. He’s still dangerous as a receiver, but Ekeler has struggled on the ground behind the league’s 30th-ranked run-blocking offensive line.
Of course, the Pack’s run defense could be just what the doctor ordered for Ekeler and the Chargers’ running game. If not, Herbert will probably look Keenan Allen’s way 15-20 times, whether Jaire is playing or not. Allen is dealing with a shoulder injury, and the Chargers have listed him as questionable. However, he’s expected to play, and he’s one of the top five in the business when he’s out there.
The Chargers defense is similar to the one the Packers just faced in Pittsburgh. They have one of the best pair of bookend pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. However, they give up yards and points in bunches because their linebacker and cornerback play is mediocre at best.
It’s another good opportunity for this young offense to take another step forward. Let’s see if Jordan Love can eliminate his tunnel vision to Christian Watson. Maybe he will pay more attention to the three rookie pass catchers who are all getting better every week, especially Jayden Reed, who looks every bit like the most talented receiver of the bunch.
It will help if the running game can do its part. Aaron Jones is finally off the injury report and needs to begin to look like the explosive element of the offense we know he can be. AJ Dillon’s 40-yard scamper last week gives us hope that it’s too soon to give up on the impact he can have in the back half of the year.
The Chargers are not a team that will turn the ball over. They have seven all season, which is the least in the league. They have 15 takeaways, including a league-most nine fumble recoveries. Therefore, the skill position guys need to be ready for guys looking to punch the ball out.
I was going to pick the Pack in this one, figuring they were due to win a close game against a team adept at blowing games late. Plus, they’re a West Coast team coming east for an early kickoff. But if Rashan Gary isn’t out there to make things sticky for Justin Herbert, I’ve gotta go with the team with the much better quarterback.
Look for the Pack to live up to, or down to, the era of the throwback uniforms they’ll be wearing.