We're back with another edition of 5 questions with the opposition. We chatted with Jason Hirschhorn of Acme Packing Company to get his thoughts on the Green Bay Packers as they arrive to face our San Francisco 49ers. I provided some thoughts of my own in response to his questions. You can read my answers over at APC.
Niners Nation: Tell us about this Aaron Rodgers fella that seems to be all the rage. Seriously, is there anything he does not actually do well at the quarterback position?
Acme Packing Company: I have never seen a quarterback with a skillset as complete as Aaron Rodgers'. He can execute any throw from nearly position, including those wildly accurate deep throws that he fires off while scrambling to his left without resetting his feet. I have never seen another signal caller do that on a regular basis, and Rodgers has made it routine.
There aren't many aspects of the position he hasn't mastered. I suppose he won't bowl over a defender like Cam Newton, but you wouldn't ask him to anyway. He's going to kill defenses with his arm and occasionally infuriate him with his legs when necessary.
NN: What happened late in the Chiefs game that allowed them back in the game? Did the Packers defense go into more of a soft cover look, or are there deficiencies in the defense that are worth noting?
APC: The Packers went into clock-killing mode during the second half, which is why they only scored once after establishing a 31-7 lead. The Kansas City Chiefs were never really in the game again, even though they managed to close the game to 10 points within the final two minutes.
That said, there are certainly deficiencies in the defense. Offenses with a quality tight end can abuse the Packers' over the middle, especially when Clay Matthews has shifted outside to rush the passer. The safety play has also been uneven this year with Morgan Burnett missing time with a calf strain. That could change once Burnett heals, but that won't happen until sometime down the line.
NN: It looks like the offensive line has had some issues at times, but Aaron Rodgers has only been sacked a couple times. What can you tell us about the group?
APC: Green Bay's line has struggled at the edges. Though he won't acknowledge it, left tackle David Bakhtiari is playing through some form of knee injury right now, and he has struggled against speed rushers as a result. On the other side, Bryan Bulaga remains out with a knee injury of his own, and Don Barclay has filled the void. Pass rushers can put Barclay on skates with regularity, but so far the backup lineman hasn't been beaten cold too many times. That has allowed Rodgers to elude the pressure and keep plays alive.
NN: How are Packers fans feeling at this point compared to when Jordy Nelson went down in the preseason?
APC: I don't think Packers fans are too worried about missing Jordy Nelson right now, but they probably should have some concerns. The Packers offense has looked great through three games, but it has operated more methodically than in past years. The explosive plays have been rarer, and Nelson's absence is a big reason for that. When Green Bay is forced to score quickly, that void could become apparent again.
NN: What deity do I have to pray to for a close game? But seriously, what is your prediction for this game? The spread is between 8- and 9.5-points. You can give a score prediction, or just go for a more general overview.
APC: The Packers have the better team and should win on Sunday. However, teams traveling that far West tend to play sluggishly, and Green Bay has struggled with the 49ers since Colin Kaepernick became the starter. For that reason, I think San Francisco covers.