The Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Chargers are both hungry to erase the taste of bitter losses in the closing seconds last Sunday.
The 3-6 Packers had the opportunity to pull out a victory in Pittsburgh, but interceptions on their final two drives were crucial in a frustrating 23-19 defeat. The Steelers continue to find ways to win the close ones, while the NFL’s youngest team continues to fall short with the game on the line.
The Chargers lost in a wild 41-38 shootout at home on Riley Patterson’s 41-yard field goal as time expired—a particularly stinging defeat for a team now 4-5 that entered the 2023 season with lofty expectations.
Los Angeles comes to Lambeau Field for a rare visit with elite quarterback Justin Herbert and a high-powered offense capable of lighting up the scoreboard—and with a defense that yields points.
The Chargers have averaged 31 points in their last three games but rank 31st in total defense and allows 291 passing yards per game.
This may be a golden opportunity for Love and his arsenal of young receivers to have success. Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs, Dontayvion Wicks, and Luke Musgrave are contributing and growing in the offense and struggling Christian Watson is poised for a breakout game.
Green Bay has struggled to score points, particularly when in the red zone, and has not exceeded the 20-point mark since Week 2 in Atlanta.
The Packers must finish opportunities to have success on Sunday.
“Every game, you’ve got to have the mindset that you never know what they’re going to do offensively, but you’ve always got to be able to match them and obviously go one step above,” said Love, who knows Herbert well and trains with him in the offseason in California. “And when the defense gets a stop, we’ve got to go capitalize on that, put up points.”
Herbert is one the NFL’s elite quarterbacks (2,349 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs), and he has plenty of talented targets, including the NFL’s leading receiver Keenan Allen (73 receptions, 895 yards, 6 TDs) and Austin Ekeler, who has returned to form after a month-long ankle injury and produced four touchdowns in the past three weeks.
The Chargers are well aware of the Steelers success running the ball for 205 yards against the Packers defense last week, and Ekeler may get more carries until Joe Barry’s unit shows it can tackle and stop the run.
With or without Jaire Alexander, the Green Bay defense will have to bracket Allen and stay stout in the red zone. The Packers have done well to limit opponents in the red zone this season, allowing touchdowns 48 percent of the time. The Chargers excel in the red zone, scoring touchdowns at a 73 percent clip inside the 20-yard line.
A shoot-out may well loom at Lambeau on Sunday, with turnovers and red zone production the determining factors.
Chargers 37, Packers 31
Green Bay’s keys to success are to contain Ekeler, pressure Herbert, and create turnovers. Love must limit turnovers and the offense sustain drives and finish with touchdowns in the red zone. Packers keep it close, but in the end, Herbert and Chargers offense have too much firepower.