Doing your Job = Enough to Win

Review – Obviously that was an incredible game!  I’m writing this a full 7 days later, so I could allow all emotions to settle to give as good a perspective as possible.  The Packers came out with a bang on the 3rd play of the game and hit Adams for their longest play of the season (a 66-yard TD pass).  The initial design on the 3rd and 2 was to hit Randall Cobb on a 3 yard quick slant and Aaron Rodgers decided to extend the play and look for something better, lucky he found #17 and made a brilliant throw.

The major factor in the outcome of the game was the defense and the 6, yep six, takeaways.  Sure Russell Wilson was “off,” however, credit the Packers’ defense for enticing him to make some bad decisions.  It didn’t hurt that Wilson just flat out isn’t an accurate passer.  He missed two easy touchdowns which would’ve swung this game in a much different direction.  Just like defending Cam Newton, keeping Wilson in the pocket and forcing him to make an accurate throw v man coverage is the way to give yourself an opportunity to halt their offense.  They’re a much different team without Marshawn Lynch setting the tone and punching teams in the mouth.

Speaking of tough, it was evident the Packers were the tougher team.  Richard Sherman took a cheap shot on Davante Adams and Adams responded by pushing him back and not backing down.  I believe that set the tone for the entire game, and hopefully the remainder of the season.

There weren’t any specific players I highlighted to watch v Seattle, however moving forward I will 🙂

Here’s the listing from Pro Football Focus on the 10 highest-graded Packers from last week:

DE Mike Daniels 88.8
SS Morgan Burnett 88.3
CB Damarious Randall 87.4
CB Quinten Rollins 87.1
QB Aaron Rodgers 85.8
WR Davante Adams 81.4
DE/OLB Datone Jones 80.2
RT Bryan Bulaga 77.9
RG TJ Lang 74.1
WR Jordy Nelson 72.9

Once again the defensive backfield has vastly improved and again the Packers are a much better team from it!  If Randall and Rollins continue to improve and keep up this play, and the offense holds up their end of the bargain, this team has a chance to actually accomplish something (I think I said that last week).

Preview – After the Packers choked away a chance to tie the all-time series record against Chicago last year, they now have their chance again.  The Chicago Bears boast one of the worst records in the NFL: 3-10.  Based on rankings of total offense and defense (rankings by total yards), the Bears have the 17th overall offense and 8th overall defense.  Their strongest piece of all is their pass defense, which is a good matchup v Green Bay’s 10th rated pass offense (also its best).

Players to Watch (Chi) – RB Jordan Howard (#24). He’s the Bears leading rusher with 969 yards on 194 carries (5.0 yards/carry).  Keeping him under 100 rush yards will be crucial in this cold-weather game.  Another is WR Alshon Jeffrey (#17).  He’s been out the past four games due to suspension from PEDs, but he’s an extremely talented, big bodied, wideout that can make plays and be a thorn in the side of any defense.  It’s paramount to keep him out of the end zone as it’s my guess the Packers will continue to play a lot of man coverage and try to force backup quarterback, Matt Barkley, to make consistent accurate passes in this frigid cold.

Players to Watch (GB)—Aside from the obvious, Aaron Rodgers, I think because his calf and hamstring are limiting  his movement it’s forcing him to make the quick read and keeps the offense in rhythm.  An interesting perspective and player to keep an eye on is running back (now official) Ty Montgomery (#88).  He has sickle cell anemia and it’s effected by high altitudes and cold weather.  If he’s unable to go, the Packers will essentially be down to Christine Michael – you’ll remember he gaffed on a few plays and was benched for it – and Aaron Ripkowski, a fullback.  Both can be effective however, there’s not much depth and neither are as dependable, for multiple reasons, as Monty.

Overall— The weather will likely really affect this game in the sense it’ll be tough to throw and catch the ball on schedule and with the Bears likely focused on running the ball and shortening this game…it could set up for a close, low-scoring affair.  Ultimately the Packers are the better team, with the better coach, and better quarterback.  The only advantage Chicago has is this is their Super Bowl and they’ll be doing everything in their power to win.

Around the League—the main game Packer fans need to keep their eyes on is Detroit @ New York (Giants).  Each team is 9-4 and the Packers need a loss by Detroit prior to week 17 if they want a chance to win the division.  So root for the Giants to up-end Detroit and pull the Packers to within a game of the Lions.

The only other key game in the NFC is Sunday Night Football, where the somewhat surprising 8-5 Buccaneers head to Dallas to take on the 11-2 Cowboys.  In case Detroit beats New York, Green Bay fans should want Dallas to beat Tampa, bringing the Bucs’ record to 8-6, ultimately tying them with the Packers in the wild card standings.

Packers 21
Bears 13

*After last week’s victory, and correct prediction, my record has improved to 18-13*

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