Packers vs Raiders Game Preview
The Packers take, what could be their final trip, to Oakland to visit Jordy Nelson and the Raiders. Aaron Rodgers’ ex-receiver was unceremoniously cut by Green Bay following a subpar 2017 campaign that saw Nelson record his worst season as a Packer.
Nelson has seemingly found a home with the Raiders who have yet to defeat Green Bay in nearly 30 seasons. With an imminent move to Las Vegas, this may be the Raiders’ last chance to give the Oakland fans a taste of victory over the NFL’s most storied franchise.
Green Bay Packers
They are the sexy picks to win the Super Bowl in 2018 following what should be a passionate comeback from Rodgers. The two-time MVP was injured in the middle of 2017 and Green Bay couldn’t buy a win without him.
Not only is Rodgers returning, but the Packers reshuffled the coaching team and added reinforcements to the defence. Green Bay will be favourites to win the NFC North and make another playoff run.
No team regressed more than Oakland in 2017. Following a breakout year in 2016, the Raiders were hampered by injuries and underwhelming performances. They struggled and lost their final four games prompting a coaching change.
Jon Gruden returns to his old stomping grounds ready to right the ship. He hasn’t coached in a decade and the NFL has changed greatly since his departure but he has in his hands, one of the most talented rosters in the league.
The Raiders and Packers are both still adapting to the new coaches so the game can get sloppy especially with their defensive improvements. This might boil down to which team’s quarterbacks can get it done and the Packers get the edge here.
Packers vs Raiders Head-to-Head Records
The Packers and Raiders are two of the NFL’s most successful franchises. Between the two of them are seven Super Bowl titles, 13 conference championships, and 33 division crowns. They’ve only met 13 times due to playing in different conferences and the Packers hold an 8-5 lead.
Their initial meeting came in Super Bowl II, where Bart Starr’s Packers overcame the Raiders 33-14. Their first regular season meeting came five seasons later in 1972. This rivalry is defined by two eras: the Raiders dominated the ’70s and ’80s winning five consecutive versus the hapless Packers.
But starting 1990, the Packers would go unbeaten versus the Raiders winning seven straight with their most recent coming late in 2015. The two teams’ prime years never coincided with each other. The Raiders were winning Super Bowls in the early ’80s but became pedestrian right when the Brett Favre era began in Green Bay and again struggled as Rodgers took over.
With a new resurgent team, however, the Raiders are finally good enough to properly challenge Green Bay and snapping the losing streak could finally happen. But it probably won’t happen in Oakland.
Green Bay Packers Recent History
The Packers are the third-oldest franchise in the NFL and the most successful. With nine NFL Championships and four Super Bowls (two from the AFL-NFL series and two from the modern era), the franchise has won the most combined championships by any team.
They endured long periods of darkness like the ’40s to ’50s and ’70s to ’80s but became perennial championship contenders any time else. From the ’90s to the present, the Packers were led by two of the all-time great quarterbacks in Favre and Rodgers. Although they only have two Lombardi trophies to show for it, they have consistently won division titles and made deep playoff runs.
Rodgers gives the Packers a shot to win the Super Bowl every season but the team needs to do a better job building a better around him. They made a more concerted effort this season and the Packers will enter 2018 with their best team since 2010.
Oakland Raiders Recent History
They may not have looked like it recently, but the Raiders are one of the NFL’s most winningest franchises. Their 53.2 winning percentage is 11th all-time. It only took the franchise eight seasons before they made their first trop to the Super Bowl and only 16 to win their first one.
Several NFL icons like John Madden, Bo Jackson, and Fred Biletnikoff were part of the franchise through the ’70s and ’80s. They would win three Super Bowls between 1976 and 1983 despite turbulence with Al Davis, the team’s owner. He would relocate the team twice: the first to Los Angeles in 1982 then back to Oakland in 1995.
Following the second relocation, the Raiders quickly turned into one of the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchises. Save for a brief period in the Gruden era in the early 2000’s, the Raiders were a laughing stock in the league. But Gruden has recently returned and the Raiders are once again expected to be a top team.
Green Bay Packers Outlook
It starts and ends with Rodgers. Many pundits would even consider him the greatest quarterback today despite only having one Super Bowl to show for his efforts. It’s not his fault as the Packers have fielded mediocre teams around him, especially on defence.
Management finally cleaned house during the offseason bringing in Joe Philbin and Mike Pettine to run the offence and defence, respectively. They also used most of their picks to upgrade the defence. Jaire Alexander and Joshua Jackson will be significant additions to the secondary.
The Packers also added depth on offence using their late picks to acquire wide receivers. But they still need someone outside Rodgers to step up. Whether it’s new tight end Jimmy Graham, one of the receivers, or a running back to emerge, Super Bowls are won as a team.
Oakland Raiders Outlook
The Raiders are a wild card in the league. On one hand, they have a talented roster: Derek Carr is a legitimate franchise quarterback. Their receivers and running backs can be prolific. Their defence is solid in most areas.
But on the other hand, Gruden hasn’t coached in a decade and ownership hasn’t shown much patience with coaches as evidenced by the eight coaches they’ve had in the last 13 seasons. The Raiders also need to stay healthy. They lost wideout Amari Cooper and tackle Donald Penn in 2017.
If they stay relatively and play up to expectations, the Raiders are Super Bowl threat. But if Gruden can’t get the pieces to fit, they could likely be fighting to stay out of the division’s basement. The AFC West is the hardest division in the NFL and there is little room for error for this team.
It could be a shootout in Oakland. Despite each team’s upgrades on defence, Rodgers and Carr will have a field day. They are both adapting to the new coaches’ but their natural talent alone will yield some big plays.
They should play for at least a half. Maybe more. DeShone Kizer or Brett Hundley will back up Rodgers and although Hundley is listed as the QB2, there’s more of a chance they keep Kizer as he has more upside. Connor Cook will replace Carr. He was dismantled in the 2016 playoffs but he’s a solid backup.
It boils down to which team’s lines will dictate the game. That edge goes to the Packers whose defensive line is the greatest unit in this game. Muhammad Wilkerson was signed to a one-year deal, which could see him return to his Pro Bowl form while Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels are also Pro Bowl-calibre talents.
Packers should win by gaining the advantage in the trenches. Extend that winning streak to eight.