The Green Bay Packers delivered one of the more convincing victories in Week 10 by shockingly blanking Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks to the tune of 17-0. It marked the first time Wilson has been shutout in his illustrious career and the Packers’ defense deserves to be showered with praise for their dominant performance. The victory paired with Arizona’s loss catapulted the Packers to the No. 1 seed in the NFC, as both results had a profound impact on the current playoff picture.
The Packers didn’t exit the contest completely unscathed despite their impressive showing. According to multiple reports, superstar running back Aaron Jones suffered an MCL sprain and will be out of action for approximately 1-2 weeks. The news actually represents a somewhat best-case scenario, as knee injuries can deliver the dreaded season-ending designation. That, fortunately, isn’t the case here, and Jones will be back in action sooner rather than later.
Jones’ absence will lead to a feature role for A.J. Dillon, and the former Boston College standout has the skill set necessary to make the most of his newfound opportunity.
Dillon handled the majority of the workload in Sunday’s victory over the Seahawks, finding the end zone twice while totaling 66 yards on 21 carries. A 250-pound runner that instills fear in the opposition, Dillon is an absolute nightmare to tackle in the open field. He's also a legitimate weapon inside the 5-yard line, where his punishing and bruising style leads to a difficult goal-line assignment.
Prior to Sunday, Dillon had only handled 15 or more carries twice in a game this season. It last occurred in Green Bay’s impressive Thursday night defeat over the at-the-time 7-0 Cardinals. Head coach Matt LaFleur opted to lean on Green Bay’s two-headed rushing attack in that contest, given the absence of three wide receivers due to COVID-related protocols. Dillon rushed for 78 yards on 16 carries then, which equates to an exciting average of 4.9 yards per carry. Dillon also saw an even 50-50 split alongside Jones back in Green Bay's Week 5 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers and rushed for a healthy 81 yards on 15 carries, while adding a 16-yard reception. In search of more data points, Dillon handled the ball 20 times in last season's December drubbing over the Tennessee Titans, punishing an unprepared unit to the tune of 124 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 21 touches.
Should Dillon carry the load against Minnesota and the Los Angeles Rams in Weeks 11 and 12, and we currently have every reason to believe he will based on Jones' reported 1-2 week timeline, there is more than enough evidence to suggest he’ll put forth impressive showings. Sunday’s battle with the Vikings could be particularly kind to Dillon, as he'll encounter a bottom-five run defense that is allowing opposing rushing attacks to total an astounding 130.6 yards per contest via the ground game. It represents an excellent matchup for a player that has proven plenty capable of taking advantage of a big opportunity.
A ton of carries just freed up in Green Bay's offense. Look for Dillon to explode over the next few weeks.