The Packers didn’t come away with the victory they needed on Sunday to clinch a first-round bye and, as a result, will host the surging Vikings in the wild card round of the playoffs. Multiple changes need to be made on both sides of the ball before the Packers take the field against the Vikings for a second week in a row. To no one’s surprise, those changes start on defense.
Typically, when the Packers meet the Vikings things are pretty straight-forward. Beat Adrian Peterson and you win the game. The Vikings are such a one-dimensional team that you don’t really have to go beyond that as a key to winning the game. This was also the case when we met the Vikings in week 13.
But week 17 will be different…
An ankle injury to Randall Cobb in the Packers’ blowout of the Titans put a bad taste in fans’ mouths and has many calling for Cobb’s removal as a return specialist. Cobb’s expanding role on offense means that the Packers can afford to lose him less. However, special teams remain a sizable portion of Cobb’s total threat to opponents and a major reason for his drafting by Ted Thompson.
Packers fans received an early Christmas gift on Sunday when the Titans visited Lambeau for the first time since 2004. A 12.5-point spread proved far too narrow as the Packers hung 55 on the Titans and moved to 11-4 on the season. The win was arguably the most impressive since Green Bay’s Week 6 romp over the Texans. After starting the season 2-3, Mike McCarthy’s club has won nine of their last ten games.
The key to the game every time the Packers meet the Vikings is stop Adrian Peterson. When the Packers met the Texans, the key to the game was stopping Arian Foster. This week, against the Titans, the story will be much the same. Stop Chris Johnson and you stop the main threat the Titans have.
What may surprise Packer fans is that the Titans will also need to stop the Packer run game.
It’s still too early for the Packers to be looking past the regular season and planning for the playoffs but the picture is looking much better than it did a couple of weeks ago. Still it looks like the Pack will be in the playoffs this post-season.
This week I started wondering about which teams are hot in the NFL right now and how the Pack might fare against them if we met them in the playoffs.
First of all, I don’t think season-long record gives an accurate indication of who’s hot right now. Case-in-point, Indianapolis began the season like they ended last season, losing two of their first three games. However, since then they’ve gone on a tear and have won seven of their last eight games.
The chart below shows the teams that have really turned it on in the most recent eight games of the 2012 season. Look it over and then we’ll talk about each of them. Continue reading
Three weeks ago, the Packers eeked out a crucial win in Detroit that should have crushed the lowly Lions’ playoff hopes. Despite two hard-fought games against Houston and Indianapolis, the Lions have two more losses under their belts and are most certainly out of the NFC North conversation. Yet, in a prime time Lambeau Field environment with division rivals in town, anything can happen. The Packers haven’t lost a division game yet this season and love to move to 4-0 with a win over Detroit.
A healthy Clay Matthews is essential for generating pressure on good quarterbacks. The undrafted free agent combo at outside linebacker was enough to get by Matthew Stafford and the Lions but couldn’t disrupt Eli Manning. Without Matthews, the Packers are forced to rely on turnovers, which aren’t exactly plentiful against smart quarterbacks like Manning, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.
Ball security is always important, but it gets even more important in games that are more evenly matched. In close games the win often comes down to who is plus one in the turnover column. As the Packers meet the Giants the importance of ball security will be amplified, and there are three very good reasons why. Continue reading
Mason Crosby is not in a slump. What Mason is in, is so much deeper than that. The question on everyone’s mind is what do the Packers do about it.
Under different circumstances I would say the Packers should just bring in some competition. Competition can work wonders for a player who’s resting on their laurels. But, resting on your laurels is not what Mason’s problem is. Bringing in competition would do nothing for Mason aside from amplify the psychological factors that are challenging him. Bring in another kicker and the message Mason gets is ” We don’t have confidence in you,” and he’s already struggling with his confidence. Continue reading