There is never a dull moment in the NFL, even in the preseason. A reminder of that was provided to NFL fans when the Green Bay Packers made their trip to Canada to take on the Oakland Raiders in Winnipeg for the third preseason game for each team this campaign. With field conditions forcing the teams to play on a shortened field, the Packers held out their most important players, something that could turn out to be a great decision later in the year.
Short Field Means Short Handed Pack
In something that has become something of a tradition for the Packers, a preseason game in a non-typical location was impacted by field conditions. Unlike the 2016 Hall of Fame Game, which was canceled due to unsafe field conditions, their third preseason game of 2019 went on as scheduled. It did so in spite of issues with the safety of turf that was used to cover up where the goalposts on a Canadian Football League field normally go.
As a result of that safety concern, the Packers held out 33 players for the game. This made the news as fans were expecting the starters, but the match ended up being a strange arrangement as it was held on an 80-yard field that saw the 10-yard lines serve as the goal lines. This may have been a difficult pill for Packer backers to swallow given that the game was supposed to be a first look at Aaron Rodgers in a new offense, however, it was ultimately the right decision given that the franchise is at a crossroads and has admirably put its focus into winning once the season starts.
It makes sense that the Packers would make a move focused on the season given that the team is a plausible contender to win the Super Bowl this year. As of August 23, Super Bowl LIV sports betting odds had the Packers at +2000 to win the Super Bowl, putting them just inside of the top-10 on the list of favorites to lift the Lombardi Trophy. To jeopardize that over an exhibition would have been foolish, and the Packers deserve credit for realizing that.
The extra reps for backup quarterbacks were a positive as well, as the team got to watch Tim Boyle move the ball effectively on the shortened field. While the Pack hope not to need to go to a backup quarterback again this season, seeing play like they did from Boyle is encouraging during a week considered to be a dress rehearsal for many teams heading into the upcoming season. By holding Rodgers out of this game, the team made sure that he stayed healthy through another week and got a better look at a potentially promising quarterback, a true win-win situation.
Packers Outlook Positive In 2019
Last season, the Green Bay Packers had the 14th-best scoring offense in the NFL. They put up 23.5 points per game for the season, as the team lacked the consistency to live up to the offensive potential that they are known to have. Fortunately, the Packers appear poised to improve on offense with a healthy Aaron Rodgers combined with a new head coach in Matt LaFleur and a receiving corps that will come into this season far more experienced than they were last season.
The Pack will need to be at their best offensively to take on the defenses that the rest of the NFC North has to offer. The division race is expected to come down to the Bears and Packers, but the Minnesota Vikings could have something to say about it as well. Both the Vikings and Bears have strong defenses that get after the quarterback with regularity. They both finished in the top-10 in points allowed per game last season, with Chicago leading the league in that category with 17.7 points per game against. Both will require a fresh Rodgers for the Packers to beat them to the division crown. For that reason, keeping Rodgers off the field in Winnipeg was a great choice once again.
While the anticipation of seeing Aaron Rodgers take the field in a new offense is becoming too much to bear, the Packers made the right decision in holding off for safer field conditions. If the team can continue to protect their star during the regular season, they could find themselves back atop the league once and for all.