The Packers’ chances in NFC North race may have been more impacted by what happened away from Lambeau Field on Sunday as the Bears and Lions both dropped very winnable games. Though their playoff hopes remain very much intact, the Packers will need to repair fundamental flaws on defense that could still plague the team as a whole even with Aaron Rodgers back.
An in-game swap of quarterbacks put pressure on the running game – and Eddie Lacy in particular – to power the offense against a tough Minnesota front seven. The rookie did just that, amassing 110 yards on 25 carries and a score before briefly exiting the game during overtime. Lacy has put the offense on his back in the nine games where he saw the field and can be considered one of the team’s most valuable players this season.
Flynn was about as good as anyone could expect in his sudden return to live action at Lambeau, throwing for 218 yards and a touchdown against a respectable Vikings defense. Despite being mostly a game manager, Flynn gives the Packers the best chance of winning until Rodgers returns. With a week of practice as the starter, Flynn has the potential to keep Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day meeting with the Lions competitive.
Allowing big games to Adrian Peterson has become the standard under Mike McCarthy and the second of two 2013 meetings was no different. The run defense let Peterson rumble for 146 yards and almost saw Toby Gerhart surpass the century mark in an all-around abysmal performance on defense. B.J. Raji continued to be outplayed by lower profile defensive linemen, a sign that he may not be back in Green Bay next season.
Both Packers quarterbacks were under constant pressure due to a makeshift offensive line that is missing both starting tackles. The unit’s struggles made Lacy’s performance all the more impressive, evidenced by a handful of runs where the rookie was hit behind the line of scrimmage but still managed positive yardage. With back-to-back poor performances out of Marshall Newhouse, I expect the coaching staff to consider Derek Sherrod at right tackle if Don Barclay misses more time.