COVID-19 strikes closer to home with Green Bay Packers affected

Steve Brownlee

Hurry up and play the game!

That must be what you Green Bay Packers fans are thinking today before any other players — or coaches — get knocked out of tonight’s game at Arizona due to a positive coronavirus test.

I actually think the Allen Lazard scratch from this game on Tuesday is more significant than the announcement of the same thing about Davante Adams on Monday.

Not because I think Lazard is a better player or that he fills more of a key role. It’s simply a matter of timing.

For a position like wide receiver, where teams need and always use more than one, taking away a single player — even someone of the value as Adams — certainly hurts, but teams usually can cover for it with their other receivers.

The biggest problem it creates for the Packers is with their depth. Lazard, when he was still available, and also those other receivers you hear about here and there should be able to take up the slack left by Adams.

But what really took a hit when Adams went out is the team’s depth at the position. So just what they don’t need — ANOTHER wide receiver being taken out of the mix.

Now there’s two holes to fill.

Of course, none of this applies to a position like quarterback, where many teams — hmm, like maybe Detroit? — would like to get just one good player there.

Nobody can afford to carry two Aaron Rodgers on their roster, of course, and that’s almost true of other unique player positions such as long snapper, kicker and punter. The saving grace with the non-QB positions is that there’s always somebody else who knows how to play those positions, at least somewhat.

Actually, lots of guys can also play QB — it’s just that their abilities can barely be compared to the Rodgers, Kyler Murrays and Lamar Jacksons of the world.

Now onto the picks, starting with …


Today, 8:20 p.m.

Green Bay at Arizona — I was on the fence even before Adams and Lazard were taken away. Now with the short week and being on the road, this is a real disadvantage for the Packers.

Yes, I know, I know, Green Bay is 6-0 over the past two or three seasons when Adams hasn’t played. But did they ever play a 7-0 team like Arizona without Adams? Cardinals, 33-29.


Sunday, 1 p.m.

Carolina at Atlanta — Egad! These are two of the teams that would make me pause if they were playing Lions. I’d be saying, “Is this the week I take Detroit?” Naw, who am I kidding. Although with the freefall Carolina’s in, I might be sorely tempted. Falcons, 27-20.


Miami at Buffalo — The Dolphins showed a little life last Sunday. Then again, it was against Atlanta. Just see the previous game to see how confident I am about the Falcons. Bills, 35-23.


San Francisco at Chicago — You can trot out a couple old tired phrases with this one. “When you have two quarterbacks, you really have none” is one. But is the opposite true? — “When you have no quarterback, you really have two”? Check that one about San Fran.

The other is “addition by subtraction,” applying that to Bears head coach Matt Nagy, who won’t be on the sidelines due to coronavirus protocols.

I’ll take the latter, especially after the way Chicago was humbled in Tampa Bay last week. Bears, 24-17.


Pittsburgh at Cleveland — The Steelers had the bye, while the Browns had the “half-bye” as they played on Thursday of the previous week. I just see Pittsburgh’s defense able to take advantage of Cleveland’s hapless offense. Steelers, 19-13.


Philadelphia at Detroit — I picked the Eagles last week not because of them, but because I thought the “bounce” the Raiders got with the change in coaches would only last a week before Las Vegas slammed back to earth.

Now, again, I’ll take Philly only because of who they’re playing. Eagles, 26-25.


Los Angeles Rams at Houston — Doesn’t it seem like good, or at least decent, teams start playing better when they face a piece of slag, this time known as the Texans? Rams, 30-16.


Tennessee at Indianapolis — The Titans are showing they can play defense, though it includes a major assist from the most dominating running back in the game, Derrick Henry. He keeps the Tennessee “D” from having to be out there too long. Titans, 24-14.


Cincinnati at New York Jets — In what world could you make a case for the Jets this week? Not in any world I live in. Bengals, 31-15.


Sunday, 4 p.m.

New England at Los Angeles Chargers — Last weekend seemed like the perfect time for the Chargers to have their bye after they stumbled around a bit. Cross country with a fairly young team, I don’t like that for the Patriots. Chargers, 27-23.


Jacksonville at Seattle — Though it’s a short week, Seattle was and will be at home on both ends of it. And they should be rather ticked off after letting Monday night’s game slip out of their slippery, wet fingertips.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville got its quota of wins for the first half of the season in London. Seahawks, 27-19.


Washington at Denver — If this game had been scheduled on Sunday night, I would hope NBC would have “flexed” out of it for something good — you know, like Carolina-Atlanta or Philly-Detroit. Football Team, 23-17.


Tampa Bay at New Orleans — Tampa will bother to have a defense, meaning a number of the out-of-control missiles that the Saints’ Jameis Winston likes to throw will be caught by somebody wearing pewter, orange and red. Gads, what a color combination — keeps them unique, anyway, since no one else wants to copy it. Buccaneers, 37-20.


Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

Dallas at Minnesota — This feels like a bit of a trap game for the Cowboys, except that the opportunistic defense Dallas likes to play could pay dividends if it gets Vikings QB Kirk Cousins to revert to his old turn-the-ball-over-often days. Cowboys, 28-20.


Monday, 8:15 p.m.

New York Giants at Kansas City — The knock on the Chiefs is that they’ve only beaten mediocre teams this season. Well, lookie here, it’s the epitome of mediocrity, the Giants, from that bastian of mediocrity, the NFC Least. How can you tell? This New York team is 2-5 — and tied for second place. Sheesh! Chiefs, 41-28.


Last week — 8-5 (speaking of mediocrity), 62 percent. Season — 71-36, 66 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.


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