Official Week 1 prediction for Packers vs Jaguars

October 4, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) celebrates in front of defensive end Mike Daniels (76) after sacking San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7, not pictured) during the third quarter at Levi
October 4, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) celebrates in front of defensive end Mike Daniels (76) after sacking San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7, not pictured) during the third quarter at Levi /

The big day is finally here as Week 1 takes the most storied franchise in NFL history on a trip to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Regardless of the opponent in Week 1, there’s always a ton of excitement for the Green Bay Packers season opener.

They’ll travel to the up-and-coming Jaguars who some see as a potential breakout team with a talented receiving core and potentially improved defense in 2016.

Jaguars’ Offense

They were 27th in rushing (92.1 yards/game), so they relied heavily on the pass to put up points, often in comeback efforts where Blake Bortles was chucking the ball around the field.

Bortles tied for second in touchdown passes with 35 and racked up the seventh-most yards through the air last year. However, he also led the league with 18 interceptions.

Daniels could very well eat him (Luke Joeckel) alive and introduce himself to Bortles a few times in Week 1

Pressure on Bortles will be the most effective way to limit the damage in Week 1, and the Jags’ QB has been sacked a record 106 times over the past two seasons.

Don’t expect too much out of the running back tandem of T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory unless Jacksonville has the lead late in the 3rd quarter and beyond.

Key Offensive Player

Robinson will be the Packers’ biggest threat on Sunday, a good test for a secondary expected to do big things this season in Green Bay.

Last year Robinson tied for the NFL lead in receiving touchdowns (14) and finished sixth in yards with exactly 1,400 on 80 receptions.

Jaguars’ Defense

Jacksonville did its best to dramatically improve defensively after giving up the second-most points per game a year ago, averaging 28 points allowed.

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Four of the team’s main additions could make an impact on the game, including top draft picks in Myles Jack (linebacker) and Jalen Ramsey (cornerback).

They also brought in safety Tashaun Gipson, corner Prince Amukamara, and defensive lineman Malik Jackson.

The Jaguars’ defense has a lot of size overall, including most of the guys in their secondary.

Key Defensive Player

Jackson will be the guy to focus your attention on in Week 1. The former Denver Broncos stud signed a six-year, $90 million contract as a free agent before the season.

He could end up being a nightmare for the Packers’ offensive line, especially if he continues to attack the interior portion where sudden starter Lane Taylor has replaced Josh Sitton.

In 2015, Jackson had 56 hurries, 12 hits on the QB and seven sacks as he disrupted offenses on a weekly basis. Giving Aaron Rodgers happy feet could be an X-factor in an upset win.

Packers’ Offense

Everyone knows about the struggles last season, in large part due to Nelson’s absence. Rodgers ranked 17th in passing yards (3,821) and 10th in touchdowns passes (31) a year ago. The passing yardage was the lowest full-season total of his career.

Aaron Rodgers Eddie Lacy
Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy. Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /

Meanwhile, the running game finished 12th in yards per game (112.6) as most people focused on Eddie Lacy’s weight, nagging injuries, and lack of explosiveness.

With a number of weapons to choose from in Week 1, Rodgers should be able to show off his MVP form against a defense that has yet to play a game with all their new parts.

The threats in the air should also open up some holes for Lacy and James Starks to run through, while also finding space in the flats.

Key Offensive Player

With the defense paying attention to Nelson and the concern of quick pressure up front, look for Cobb to find a lot of success underneath as he slides back into a more comfortable role.

He couldn’t handle the duties of a top receiver, but he thrives with quick hits and drag routes that play off of Nelson’s vertical speed. Cook should help open things up even further.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Cobb rack up close to 10 catches for 100+ yards.

Packers’ Defense

This unit was sneaky good last season, helping the club win a few games when the offense sputtered.

Blake Martinez Green Bay Packers
Packers’ Blake Martinez makes his first NFL start Sunday. Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Clay Matthews moves back to the outside where his skill set will benefit the defensive scheme better, and rookie Blake Martinez has received a lot of positive reviews throughout the preseason.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett will need to support the corners in handling the Jags’ receivers, but they also need to help control the middle of the field where Julius Thomas comes into play.

As noted above, the Jacksonville offensive line can have trouble protecting their QB, so again keep your eye on what happens in the trenches.

Key Defensive Player

Mike Daniels has started to get some much-deserved national recognition over the last year or so, and he has a chance to make a statement in game number one.

Facing a line that has problems pass protecting, the Jaguars moved Luke Joeckel from tackle to left guard to see if the 2013 draft pick performs better in that spot.

Daniels is a fearsome competitor who can present major headaches for the interior line, particularly a player lacking the technique and confidence inside.

According to reports, Joeckel often looked overwhelmed and intimidated during the preseason. Daniels could very well eat him alive and introduce himself to Bortles a few times in Week 1.

Final Prediction

This isn’t a trap game in the traditional sense of the term, but it’s definitely a dangerous one that some people are overlooking.

Week 1 contests are always tough to predict, Green Bay has some of their own uncertainties on offense, and Jacksonville is out to prove its ready to take the next step.

In the end, the Packers defense will bend, but not break. This group could be a force as the year goes on and they will show flashes in the opener.

Rodgers and Nelson will have to knock off a bit of the rust and Lacy will take a while to get going. However, the Packers are the more talented team overall.

It will be relatively close at halftime with Green Bay getting some breathing room in the third quarter, before the Jaguars fight back to make it close in the end.

Final:  Packers 27, Jaguars 23