By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce
It’s here, It’s finally here! Week One of the 2016 NFL Season kicks off Thursday night and continues throughout the weekend. Our Packers head to sunny Jacksonville to open the campaign. Here are our predictions and thoughts on this match-up.
Packers 27 Jaguars 21
The Jaguars have been a joke for the better part of the last decade, however over the last couple of years a lot of young talent has been added to this roster. For the first time in awhile it feels like the Jaguars are building towards something and I think this game will be a lot tougher than many people might assume.
The Florida heat could be a factor in keeping guys fresh, and it will be of paramount importance for Green Bay to run the ball, win time of possession, and let the defense rest. Whichever team does this better will likely win. There will be some nervous moments, but Green Bay comes out ahead in the end. The Jaguars lose, but prove that they are a team trending in the right direction.
Packers 35 Jaguars 21
As a fan of the game of football, it is hard not to like and appreciate what is going on in Jacksonville. The team has taken some major strides on both sides of the ball and look like they have the real deal in Blake Bortles. While I think Bortles will regress slightly off his impressive 2015 campaign, I think it is safe to say he is here to stay in the NFL and will only get better with time. The Jags added some seriously talented pieces on defense in Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack and these rookies will get a difficult test to start out the season with Green Bay’s offense looking to regain its form.
That being said, I’m extremely confident that Green Bay’s offense will be too much for Jacksonville’s defense to handle come Sunday. I think Rodgers will throw for 350+ and three touchdowns while leading Green Bay to a no-doubt-about -it victory. The real game winner will be Eddie Lacy, as he will be the reason Jacksonville’s defense gets worn down and Green Bay wins big in time of possession. Green Bay’s defense will constantly pressure Bortles, especially with a suspect run game with Ivory and Yeldon splitting carries.
Packers 27 Jaguars 17
Yes, after a big free agency spending spree and plenty of high draft picks the Jaguars on paper look like a team with a lot of young talent but let’s not forget this was a 5-11 team last year. And despite the reported heat expected Sunday, it also should not be overlooked that a sizable portion of the sellout crowd expected will be cheering for the green and gold. Packers fans know how to travel. After training all summer in hot and humid temperatures, the weather really should not play that much of a factor, especially according to Mike McCarthy.
The first week of the NFL season can be ugly and sloppy at times but I expect a battle tested team like the Packers to impose their will on the Jaguars and take control early in the game. I’m also not sold on Blake Bortles being able to navigate his team against the Packers defense with success. I think the Jaguars get a late touchdown to make the score more respectable. Expect a heavy dose of Eddie Lacy and James Starks behind an offensive line that should be highly motivated to prove they are still one of the NFL’s elite units, despite the release of Josh Sitton.