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Sunday, November 29, 2020

3 Takeaways from Packers’ Week 9 Win

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers manhandled the San Francisco 49ers in all facets of the game on Thursday night to come away from Levi’s Stadium with a 34-17 victory. 

    The victory was the fourth double-digit win of the season for the Packers, who took control of the contest on the first drive. 

    Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams hooked up for the first scoring play and continued to do damage against the 49ers secondary all night. 

    The more important aspect of the passing game was Marquez Valdes-Scantling getting involved to give Rodgers a secondary target behind Adams. 

    If Valdes-Scantling takes the confidence gained from Thursday’s performance and uses it to make more plays in the second half of the season, the Packers could have some type of dynamic duo in the passing game. 

    Defensively, Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith came up with a few big plays that the Packers were waiting anxiously to see them make. 

    If those two playmakers use Thursday as a catalyst for the rest of the season, the Packers could be one of the most dangerous teams in the postseason.

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    Rodgers and Adams have been performing at a high level that few quarterback-wide receiver combinations in the NFL will be able to match this season. 

    Adams brought in 10 of his 12 targets for 173 yards and a touchdown. He has three 150-yard performances in six appearances. 

    In the last three weeks, Rodgers and Adams combined for 422 yards and six scoring plays. Adams has 30 receptions on 39 targets in that span.

    On Thursday, Adams produced 52 more receiving yards than the rest of his teammates and was one of two wide receivers with more than one reception. 

    A 150-yard clip may not be attainable for each of the final eight games, but as long as Adams gets a high rate of targets, he will be in position to threaten the top defensive backs on any team. 

    If Valdes-Scantling and others provide support beneath Adams on the depth chart, it may force opponents to focus more on those players and open up one-on-one matchups in certain situations for Green Bay’s top wide out. 

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Green Bay will not be able to win the championship by relying on a single receiver. 

    At some point, an opposing defense will come up with the perfect game plan to limit Adams’ production, or he will run into a one-on-one matchup that he can’t shake. 

    Valdes-Scantling threw his hat in the ring to be the reliable No. 2 target behind Adams on the depth chart on Thursday. 

    Valdes-Scantling hauled in two touchdowns. The first was a 52-yard connection with Rodgers in which he burned a defensive back down field. The second came off a perfectly run route into the right corner of the end zone. 

    His production was needed with Allen Lazard unable to play and the tight end group not doing much outside of Marcedes Lewis’ second-quarter touchdown grab. 

    In the two games prior to Thursday, Valdes-Scantling had one reception on five targets for 19 yards. He has not had four receptions in a single game since Week 4. 

    Valdes-Scantling still needs to put in work to become a threat in the middle of drives, and not just a big-play or red-zone target, but Thursday’s performance should give him a needed boost of confidence. 

    If Rodgers displays more trust in Valdes-Scantling moving forward, it could turn around the poor results he produced in the second half of the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He has a single 50-yard game after Week 9 in the last two seasons. 

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith took advantage of Trent Williams’ absence on the San Francisco offensive line and pressured Nick Mullens the most out of any Green Bay defenders. 

    The Smiths were the only Green Bay players to have multiple quarterback hits and they were each responsible for creating a turnover. 

    Preston Smith made a massive hit on Mullens off the left edge in the second quarter that allowed Raven Greene to intercept a floating pass that the San Francisco quarterback launched as he was going down.

    Za’Darius Smith thrived off the same edge to force a strip sack and recover a fumble in the third quarter. 

    The pressure caused by the Smiths produced the first multi-turnover game of the season for the Green Bay defense. The Packers forced four takeaways in their opening seven contests. 

    If the defensive duo uses Thursday’s performance as a springboard to get more pressure on opposing signal-callers and force turnovers, Green Bay could be even more of a threat in the NFC. 

    A year ago, the Packers forced three or more turnovers in five games and finished the regular-season with a five-game takeaway streak. 

    Green Bay could be in a great position to start a turnover streak since it faces Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Chicago and Philadelphia in the next four games. Carson Wentz, Nick Foles and Philip Rivers all rank in the top 10 in interceptions and the Jaguars could be using a backup in Week 10. 

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference

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