Wrong again! Well Brett Hundley may not be good, but he’s certainly clutch. Even though it’s against bad teams he kept the Packers in the playoff race. With the return of Aaron Rodgers, the Packers find themselves needing to win their remaining 3 games (5 total including Tampa Bay and Cleveland) to go 10-6 to just give them a chance to make the postseason. Let’s recap and move on!
Review—the coaching staff was out-schemed coming out of the half, but made up for that by outplaying/planning Cleveland in the 4th quarter and overtime. Mike Daniels continued to his consistent play, but with the return of fellow interior lineman Kenny Clark, the defensive line should’ve produced better v Cle’s rush game. The Packers surrendered 136 yards on the ground, giving up 5 yards/rush, which is horrible. The Packers secondary, highlighted by Josh Jones’ OT interception, played improved in the 4th quarter and OT after making DeShone Kizer look like Tom Brady in the 1st half. All in all, it was a team win that needed extra time to beat the worst team in the NFL. Moving on…
Preview—ahh the fun part of crunching #s. This might get a little geeky or allow a peak into my true interest of looking at, what many may think is, worthless stats. So here we go…
As you can see, the Panthers have a better offense and a top 10 defense. I’ve also looked into their 4 losses on the season. Carolina has lost to the Saints twice, Eagles, and the Bears…yep, Chicago. The common theme for these losses is Carolina gained 300 total yards of offense once in those losses (305 v Phi in week 6). Since all of my arguments with my close group of texting friends comes to points (as for defensive ranks), that’s what I’ll use.
- Week 3 v New Orleans (11th ranked D): 288 yards and -3 t/o differential
- Week 6 v Philadelphia (5th ranked D): 305 yards and -2 t/o differential
- Week 7 @ Chicago (14th ranked D): 293 yards, -3 t/o differential
- Week 13 @ New Orleans (11th D): 279 yards, 0 t/o differential
As you can see, aside from their last loss 2 weeks ago in New Orleans, the Panthers turned the ball over 2+ times more than their opponent. A pretty good indicator for the Packers in order to win today. The Packers (as you can see on the chart above) hold the 19th ranked defense, giving up 23.2 points/game. Meanwhile the Panthers are ranked 14th in offensive points, scoring an average of 23.1 points/game. If the Packers can win the turnover margin by 2 and hold Carolina to 23 points or less, one would have to think that should be enough to give an Aaron Rodgers-led offense (with a newfound rushing attack) to score 24+.
Let’s look at this way, the Packers were scoring an average of 27.4 points/game with Rodgers as quarterback v defenses that averaged 12.2 in ranking. With just basic numbers the Packers with Rodgers should score 26+ v Carolina who possesses the 10th ranked defense. Adversely, the Panthers are putting up 23.1 points/game v an averaged ranked D of 14.9 (opponents played so far). The basic numbers show that the Panthers likely will score a tad more than their avg. So apparently the Packers should win 26 to 24…then again, if it were that easy, wouldn’t everyone look at it this way?
As for ProFootballFocus ratings, I looked at all the starters for each team and their respective rankings on the season. Carolina brings 8 players with an 80 rating or better on the season compared to the Packers who have 10. The major difference? The Panthers have two players ranking in the 90’s: DT Kaiwan Short (90.2); Luke Kuechly (94.6). Both are premier players in the NFL and is the reason I believe the Packers need to establish the run game and KEEP WITH IT! Even with Rodgers back, he could be devastating with a great ground game and the play-action pass, almost impossible to stop.
Matchup Nightmare? – my cousin brought up a good point earlier this week…”Who will cover McCaffery?” He brings up a good point, for those that don’t know, Christian McCaffery is the very talented rookie HB from Stanford, son of Ed McCaffery (one of Elway’s favorite targets from the 90’s Broncos) and little brother of Packers wide receiver, Max. Christian McCaffery (82.1 pff rating) has amassed 838 total yards and 6 TDs this season, while not being the premier back (splits time with Jonathan Stewart). #22 could pose major problems for the Packers’ defense…just think when McCarthy would bring Cobb, Adams, and Monty out of the backfield. It poses such a matchup problem because their usually more athletic and faster than a linebacker and bigger/stronger than a defensive back, however I think the Packers have the perfect weapon to shadow him: Josh Jones (my man!). Jones is bigger, faster, and stronger than McCaffery…but McCaffery is a bright young player that knows how to use leverage and produce. I’ll be keeping my eye on him and how Capers defends him, as well as the Packers’ DL (Clark and Daniels) v Carolina’s OL.
In a weird year for the NFL, the Packers may actually have a shot, but they need to win this game (just like all the rest).
30-19: Hopefully I get on the correct-predicting trend here!