Should the Packers somehow win the Super Bowl, it can be argued…
Review – Pretty nerve-wracking of a game, but after consecutive 3 & out drives once the Bears completely seized momentum and eventually tied the game at 27 the Packers – most notably Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson – made a money play in money time to seal the victory. As stated before, the mission was to get out of Chicago with a W and as healthy as possible. It seems as though the mission was accomplished.
Chicago: HB Jordan Howard – 17 carries, 90 yards, 1 TD (13 yards was his longest carry). WR Alshon Jeffrey – 6 receptions, 89 yards, 1 TD (longest play, 27 yards). Last week I said Green Bay needed to keep Howard under 100 yards (accomplished) and Jeffrey out of the end zone (nope). Once Jeffrey got going, the Packers almost had no answer except to bench Damarious Randall and take Quinton Rollins off Jeffrey and put bracketed coverage (man and zone along with safeties over the top and linebackers shading inside for protection) and the Bears never completed another pass after the switch, to Jeffrey.
Green Bay: QB Aaron Rodgers – 19/31 (61.3%), 252 yards, 0TD, 0INT, 87.0RAT. Rodgers had a great game outside of a few throws (most notably the decision to dance in the pocket again, but only on the 2 drives that went 3 & out in the 4th. Made up for it by making a great toss to Jordy). WR/HB Ty Montgomery – 16 carries, 162 yards, 2 TD, 2 receptions, 1 yard. Monty had his best game of his short career. Time will tell if he can truly carry the load of an NFL running back, but then again he may not have to. Just the threat of him in the backfield, coupled with a red hot Rodgers could be enough to keep racking up wins.
Here’s a look at who Pro Football Focus rated as their top performing Packers from Week 15:
-LT Bakhtiari 87.8; SS Clinton-Dix 87.6; QB Rodgers 84.5; C Linsley 83.5; TE Cook 83.3; WR Nelson 82.5; RB Montgomery 80.0. Others were rated, but if it’s not an 80+ I won’t list them. However, it’s nice to see Bakhtiari continuously rank amongst the top O linemen.
Preview – Minnesota Vikings, 7-7. After beginning the season 5-0 have now found themselves in a position of a must-win AND getting help to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Vikes hold the 31st (2nd worst) offense in the NFL, but possess the 3rd overall defense. The showcase matchup will be Min’s 3rd ranked pass D v GB’s 10th rated pass offense.
Minnesota- WR Stefon Diggs. Let’s see if the Packers are up to the challenge of not allowing another career day to this young, talented receiver out of Maryland. That’s it. He’s the main player to watch. Adrian Peterson is a shell of himself, as most running backs are after the age of 30. If you’re a Packer fan, be thankful the Vikings didn’t trade him when his value was its highest…they could’ve gotten a very nice return. Instead they traded a 1st and 4th round pick for Sam Bradford…but I digress.
Green Bay- Randall Cobb. Yep, another receiver. Cobb I don’t believe was even targeted last week in Chicago, but who’s to say that the Bears didn’t decide to just take him out of the game?
Overall— the key matchup is Min’s pass D v GB’s pass O. The weather looks to be ideal (34 degrees with some overcast and minimal wind). Again, winner of the turnover battle will likely win this game, however keeping Vikings pro bowl return man, Cordarrelle Patterson, from breaking big returns will be paramount. Minnesota isn’t terrible, but it sure seems they’ve forgotten how to win and the Packers are in prime position to take full advantage.
Around the League— with Detroit losing last week to the Giants, Green Bay now controls their own destiny to win the division. Should Green Bay stumble and lose at home, they will be rooting heavily for the Dallas Cowboys to upend the Lions on Monday Night Football. However, with the Giants losing to the Eagles on Thursday Night Football, the Cowboys have nothing to play for because they now have clinched the 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Meaning they may rest players or remove players from the game since its outcome is meaningless for Dallas.
I’m now 19-13 in “predicting” Packer outcomes. Let’s hope this weird/crazy ride continues with a Christmas Eve W!