Though it didn’t feel like it, the Packers’ Week 11 victory over the Lions was a great one. The team overcame a significant number of key absences to squeak past another banged up NFC North squad. Green Bay’s 24-20 win in Motown put the Packers in legitimate position to challenge the Bears for the NFC North title. As for the Lions, winning out is almost a requirement to make the playoffs.
After a 3-3 start to the season, Packers fans have to be happy with the way their team has responded, even if the victories haven’t been pretty. Injuries have hindered, but not yet decimated, one of the deepest squads in the league. With a significantly tougher schedule ahead of them, the Packers must get healthy if they are to challenge the Bears for the NFC North crown.
Jordy Nelson means more to the Green Bay receiving corps than we thought. Last week I praised the wide receivers for their production without Greg Jennings. Evidently, the group isn’t nearly as spectacular when you take away both Jennings and Nelson. In such a situation, it’s good to have Donald Driver on the roster, adding production where he can.
In the Packers’ 30-20 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, the team’s leading tackler was a player many fans didn’t want to see on this year’s roster: outside linebacker Erik Walden. Back in August after starting inside linebacker Desmond Bishop got injured, I suggested that Walden would make a good candidate to replace Bishop on the inside.
I remember many some not liking that idea. And without D.J. Smith now, I still think it’s a good idea for Dom Capers to get all three of his best outside linebackers on the field in passing situations. Before injury, Smith struggled downfield in coverage on running backs and tight ends and we’ve all seen A.J. Hawk’s struggles when he’s exposed in the middle of the field. Continue reading
Casey Hayward has earned increased playing time. And Hayward will get that playing time with fellow defensive back Charles Woodson out for six weeks. The Packers’ youth in the secondary has impressed as a group. Hayward’s four interceptions are tied for best in the NFL.
Aaron Rodgers can return to MVP form on any given week. That’s right – any week. The Houston defense under Wade Phillips is no joke and Rodgers flat out torched them on Sunday night. The former MVP flashed brilliance on more than one occasion as his offensive line provided adequate yet not perfect protection. His six touchdowns may be just the spark the Packers needed to get the offense rolling.
A young secondary is also an inconsistent secondary. Amidst the early season struggles have been flashes of greatness out of the Green Bay secondary. However, Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck brought out the worst in the group in the second half of Sunday’s loss. Reggie Wayne had his way against an overall talented set of players.
The Packers have faced all sorts of unfamiliarity since kicking off the 2012 regular season, from starting 1-2 to struggling offensively. Green Bay will get more of that in Indianapolis as they line up against Andrew Luck and the new look Colts. What shouldn’t be different is the Packers’ path to victory, which starts with consistency on the O-line and pressure from the pass rush.
The Bears and Packers kicked off the 2012 season on very different notes, Chicago showcasing some offensive firepower with Green Bay failing to establish any sort of rhythm on either side of the ball. Most would argue that there is no such thing as a “must-win” game in Week 2 of the regular season. However, the Packers would put themselves in a very undesirable hole with a loss against the Bears in the league’s Thursday night opener.
The Packers picked up where they left off in January, looking exceptionally sluggish on both sides of the ball before the offense tried to rally late in the fourth quarter. The season-opening loss was just Mike McCarthy’s second as head coach of the Packers. Green Bay has a short week ahead, hosting the impressive Chicago Bears on Thursday.