Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#259 Green Bay Packers vs.
#260 Oakland Raiders
Thursday, August 22, 2019 at 8:00pm EDT
Oakland Coliseum, Oakland
Written by Chris Altruda

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Green Bay Packers vs Oakland Raiders

When and Where: Thursday, Aug. 22, IG Field, Winnipeg, Man., 8 p.m. EDT.

There will not be any rogues Thursday night in Winnipeg when the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders play the all-important third game of the preseason schedule, but there will be plenty of scrutiny of Aaron Rodgers and Antonio Brown as both are expected to make their preseason debuts for their respective teams.

First test to see how well LaFleur, Rodgers mesh offensively

Given the swirl of controversy in the offseason once the details of the deteriorated relationship between Rodgers and since-fired coach Mike McCarthy went public, many have been waiting to see if the veteran quarterback and first-year coach Matt LaFleur — who is only four years older than Rodgers — will be on the same wavelength when it comes to play-calling and other aspects of the offense.

Rodgers has said all the right things throughout training camp and the preseason while maintaining a degree of the stubbornness that has been a trademark throughout his storied career, but the anticipation only grew after the seven-time Pro Bowler was a late scratch from last Thursday’s 26-13 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens due to a tight back.

He would not have played all that much — likely only one or two series — and his status could be a game-time decision Thursday night considering the team is sending representatives to Winnipeg ahead of its arrival to make sure the field is in proper playing condition.

“Just just to try and get into a flow of the game,” LaFleur said at his Saturday press conference about the benefit of having Rodgers take live snaps. “Having him hear the play calls when he’s actually the guy out there, get in and out of the huddle. I thought he’s definitely helped stress that urgency to the other 10 in the huddle and I thought last week was better.”

So even if Rodgers doesn’t play in preseason, he’s getting a lot of reps in practice.

The looks we see on a day like today are invaluable reps,” Rodgers said. “It’s an attacking defense. It’s different fronts, it’s different pressures.

“The best reps I’m going to see all summer are in practice. If Matt wants us to play, we’ll play and go out and compete. If not, I feel pretty good about where we’re at.”

Despite going 12 for 21 for 107 yards and a touchdown, third-string quarterback Tim Boyle did little to assert himself as a challenger to DeShone Kizer for the backup job. Kizer completed 5 of 10 passes for 70 yards working behind the first-string offensive line, but Green Bay struggled to create running lanes all game against a stout Ravens defense and totaled only 55 yards on 18 carries.

While there is only so much to glean off Green Bay’s offense without Rodgers, missed tackles have been an early point of concern for LaFleur. It happened again versus Baltimore as the staff counted 19 misses — a barely noticeable improvement on the 24 from the Packers’ preseason-opening loss to Houston.

“We really have to concentrate and have a more concerted effort on thudding up and trying to stop the runners’ feet,” LaFleur said as he tries to balance the struggles with the fact his team is not bringing players to the ground during practice. “I still don’t believe in taking to the ground. The risk-reward is not worth it to me and I think that’s true with a lot of coaches throughout the league.”

One positive point on the defensive side has been the emergence of rookie Curtis Bolton, who is getting first-team reps with Oren Burks sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle. An undrafted linebacker from Oklahoma, Bolton had six tackles in the opener and an interception Thursday night as he continues to impress defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

“He’s a guy we were very pleased to sign as an undrafted free agent. It’s not a surprise to us he’s done some of the things he’s done,” Pettine said. “He’s done it on a big stage. Just not having the measurable you can see why he fell and didn’t get drafted, but this kid is a football player. He’s very instinctive. He’s done a really nice job of soaking in what we’re doing and applying it on the field. Obviously we’re looking forward to get O.B. back, but so far, Curtis has done a nice job in his spot.”

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Brown said for long-awaited debut with Raiders

First, there was the trade. Then there were the first complains about the helmet. Then there was the frostbite. Then there were the threats of retirement while continuing to complain about the helmet.

It has been an adventuresome first training camp since Antonio Brown joined the Raiders after being dealt by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that does not even include the additional scrutiny that comes with being the NFL’s designated team for HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series.

Finally, though, it appears that everything is as close to normal as can be with Brown, and the expectation is he will make his long-awaited Raiders debut in this game to see what his chemistry is with quarterback David Carr. For his part, Carr seems unfazed by all of the outside noise after being with the receiver during the team’s weekend walk-through.

“He did everything with us just now,” Carr said Saturday to the team’s official website. “The man’s recall is unbelievable. He came in and no mental errors, and in this offense that’s not easy to do, especially whenever you have a day off, even just as a player, you come back and you have to stay on Coach Gruden’s offense all the time, and you can tell Antonio’s been studying because he came out and didn’t miss a beat.”

“He took all the reps today in our walk-thru, showed great retention, and we’ll see what happens here this afternoon,” coach Jon Gruden added. “We’re going to have a walk-thru today as well. We have a lot guys that can’t practice, so we’ll pick it up tomorrow.”

Carr played only the initial series of Oakland’s 33-26 victory over Arizona last Thursday and directed a six-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 13-yard touchdown pass to free agent signee Ryan Grant. Carr completed his other pass on the drive, a 27-yarder to another free agent acquisition, Tyrell Williams.

First-round pick and running back Josh Jacobs also saw his first action of the preseason and had four carries for 21 yards. The battle to be Carr’s backup also heated up as Mike Glennon completed 11 of 14 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, while Nathan Peterman went 8 for 8 for 41 yards.

Glennon is the favorite to win the job, but a strong game by Peterman on Thursday could keep the battle alive. Either way, the backup spot at quarterback seems to be in pretty good shape.

“We’ve have been happy,” Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Sunday. “Things have been really clean in terms of mechanics getting in and out of the huddle and runs things at the line of scrimmage.

“They’ve done what they’ve been asked to do. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there have been different game plans between Glennon and Peterman, and they’ve both handled their responsibilities really well. They have produced and prepared well. We have been happy with their development.”

The first-string defense logged four series worth of plays and gave No. 1 overall pick and Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray plenty of problems, sacking him twice and holding him to 12 yards on 3-of-8 passing. Oakland yielded just 22 yards in Arizona’s first three possessions, with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther mixing coverages and blitzes against the Cardinals’ spread offense.

“We’re going to blitz, Guenther’s going to blitz. Sometimes he shows blitz and doesn’t blitz, but when you’re playing spread teams, and they’re spreading you out and running the quarterback you have to take some gaps away,” Gruden explained. “You have to try and present some different looks otherwise they’ll dice you. I think we did a good job mixing it up and we did have some timely blitzes.”

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

One game of poor tackling can be written off, but two games is a concern, and that is where the Packers appear to be on the defensive side of the ball. Carr looked sharp in his cameo versus the Cardinals, and the expectation Oakland will have its full receiving corps available makes them the lean.

Additionally, with the Packers running game yet to find traction, expecting a lot out of Rodgers regardless of how much he plays may be too big an ask.

Prediction: Raiders +2.5

Full-Game Total Pick

Insiders Status:

Rating:

The under is the early lean with the expectation the Packers will not do all that much offensively, especially as Rodgers works off the rust in his first live action against an opponent. Oakland’s first-team defense likely will be stretched out to the first half in this game, which gives it the chance to build on the positives of the win over Arizona.

Prediction: UNDER 39 points
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Written By Chris Altruda

A 1994 graduate of Marquette University when they were known as the Warriors and Brooklyn native, Chris Altruda is a freelance sportswriter based in Chicago. He has worked at three major U.S. wire services and also has prior experience in sports handicapping and daily fantasy roster building. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, he holds out hope the Jets will win a Super Bowl before he dies. Can be followed on Twitter at @AlTruda73.