If the first four games of the NFL season have told us anything, it’s that the Las Vegas Raiders are going to give Green Bay’s defense takeaway opportunities–the Packers are just going to have to make sure they capitalize on them.
The Raiders will enter Monday’s game ranked last in turnover differential at minus-nine. Their defense has forced just one turnover, while the Las Vegas offense has given the ball away 10 times, which is tied for the second-most in football.
Overall, the Packers rank 14th in turnover differential at plus-one, with the defense forcing four takeaways, which ranks in the bottom half of the NFL.
It is unknown right now who will be at quarterback for the Raiders, whether that’s Jimmy Garoppolo, who is in concussion protocol, or rookie Aidan O’Connell, who started in Week 3.
Garoppolo likes to attack the middle of the field and has been efficient on underneath routes and off of play-action. However, he currently is tied for the league lead in interceptions with six despite missing a game. O’Connell threw one interception in last week’s debut but was deemed by PFF to have three turnover-worthy throws. His turnover-worthy play rate of 6.1 percent is the third-highest in the NFL this season.
This is a Raiders’ offense that statistically has been the worst at running the ball this season. Similarly to what the Green Bay offense is experiencing, these struggles on the ground have put the Raiders in obvious passing situations, allowing the pass rush to really pin its ears back and the defense as a whole to get into favorable matchups, all of which have contributed to the team’s high turnover rate.
It’s now or never for the Packers’ run defense, but if they can find similar success against the Las Vegas run game as other opponents have, they should give themselves the opportunity to generate some takeaways. Being in a position to make plays on the ball may also require a more aggressive approach from the Green Bay defense so they can attack those underneath routes rather than trying to take away the big pass play as they usually do, leaving space over the middle and near the line of scrimmage for the offense to operate within.
Matt LaFleur says that the goal every week is to go 2-0 in the turnover battle. Obviously, doing so greatly increases the team’s chances of winning, but for a young Packers’ offense that has battled long, quiet stretches of football, this feels like a near must each week. Takeaways by the Green Bay defense will give the offense additional opportunities to score, it keeps points off the board, and oftentimes can lead to winning the field position battle.
Both Eric Stokes and Jaire Alexander were back at practice on Tuesday for the Packers. Stokes has been designated to return from the PUP list, opening up a three-week window for him to be added to the 53-man roster. My guess is that he does not play this week as the Packers ramp him up. Alexander, meanwhile, has missed the last two games with a back injury.
As we all know, in the Raiders’ passing game, Green Bay will have to contend with Davante Adams, who is playing at an extremely high level right now. Objective No. 1 for this Packers defense will be not letting Adams take the game over – a task that is much easier said than done – but outside of that, this is very much a Raiders’ offense that has struggled to put up points, ranking 25th in points per game scored this season.
The Packers’ defense is coming off an abysmal performance against the Detroit Lions, but they’ll have the opportunity to get back on track against a Raiders team that hasn’t done a lot of things well. Accomplishing this starts with taking advantage of the likely takeaway chances that come their way.
"“Well, I just hope that our pass rush has the best game of the season thus far, and the rest will handle itself out,” said Jaire Alexander on Thursday."