Packers vs. Bills: 4 key matchups to watch in Week 8

The Green Bay Packers have been double-digit underdogs only twice since Aaron Rodgers took over as the starting quarterback in 2008. Rodgers missed both games due to injury but is expected to play this Sunday night when the Packers face the Buffalo Bills in primetime.

Rodgers is no stranger to having his back against the wall, and that is where he finds himself with Green Bay falling to 3-4 after three straight losses. But his next opponent is a legitimate Super Bowl contender, led by an MVP candidate at quarterback in Josh Allen.

Rodgers and Allen faced off only one other time in 2018, with the Packers coming out on top 22-0. Allen was in his rookie season and making his fourth career start for the Bills.

This Buffalo team is much better, with very few flaws. Meanwhile, Green Bay looks more like the rebuilding team the Bills were four years ago, and Sunday could be a season-defining game for them. If the Packers lay down and take a beating it could set the tone for a disastrous season. However, if they at least look competitive and put up a fight, it could help save their season.

Either way, winning is a long shot.

If Green Bay does hope to pull off an upset, they will need to win some of their key matchups. Let’s highlight four as we head into the weekend.

Packers CB Jaire Alexander vs Bills WR Stefon Diggs

Alexander will be looking to rebound after Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin got the best of him in Week 7. McLaurin caught four out of six targets for 67 yards against Alexander’s coverage, including a crucial 12-yard reception on 3rd-and-9 to help seal the win. During the offseason, the Packers handed Alexander a record-setting contract to shut down opposing receivers. He fell short of expectations last week, but he will soon have the chance to bounce back against one of the best receivers in the league. Diggs is second in the NFL in receiving yards, and that is with a bye week factored in. Green Bay would be wise to let Alexander follow Diggs on Sunday to try and slow down Buffalo’s high-powered offense.

Packers RB Aaron Jones vs Bills run defense

The Packers won’t have their top receiver in Allen Lazard and are still without Randall Cobb. That means Rodgers will be missing two of his most trusted targets against the Bills. If there was ever a game to take the wind out of the opponents’ sails and run the ball, this is it. However, it won’t be easy considering the Bills have the No. 1 rushing defense. However, the Packers still need to find ways to get the ball in the hands of their best offensive player. It doesn’t all have to be through carries, but Jones may need to total at least 20 touches this week if Green Bay has any chance of winning.

Packers third-down defense vs Bills third-down offense

I talked about this more in-depth on Thursday – you can check that out here. The Packers are currently third in the league in third-down defense, but the Bills’ offense is first in third-down conversion rate. Something will have to give on Sunday. Green Bay needs to have a plan for Allen, who has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks on third down this season. He is completing 66 percent of his passes and is second in the NFL in third-down passing yardage. The Packers also have to account for Allen’s legs, as he has also rushed for 60 yards on third down. Getting off the field is important for any defense, but it will be critical for Green Bay this week.

Packers Left Tackle vs Bills OLB Von Miller

Whoever lines up at left tackle for the Packers on Sunday will have a tough matchup. Hopefully, that will be David Bakhtiari, who missed last week’s meeting against Washington after experiencing discomfort in his surgically repaired knee the day before the game. Bakhtiari should have a chance to play this week, but if he can’t, rookie Zach Tom stepped in on short notice and did a solid job. According to Pro Football Focus, Tom did not allow a single pressure in 41 pass-blocking snaps. However, if thrown into the fire again, Tom will face a future Hall of Famer. Miller is up to 26 pressures in 2022 and has six sacks in six games. Even at age 33, Miller is still problematic for opposing offenses.

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire