What was lost in the “magic” of last week’s comeback was the reason the Packers fell down 20-0 in the 3rd quarter. Calling the gameplan “suspect,” would be doing a disservice to OJ’s status in the murder trial in 1994 (too soon?). McCarthy opened the game with a couple of runs with some good gains, then completely bailed on any formation that would offer deception (5-wide) and subsequently shot his team in the foot. Momentum, gone. The Packers over the past few years have shown to start games off strong. Mac’s gameplan tested the Bears to see if and how they’d use Khalil Mack—which was (without hindsight) dumb.
As for Mike Pettine’s newfound defense…the first series seemed all too familiar from the Dom Capers’-led defenses of the last 9 years. However, upon seeing Nagy’s offense (Chicago’s new head coach, former OC from Kansas City), the defense tightened up. So much that the packers gave up 294 yards total. After getting dominated on the first two possessions, the newly led defense progressively improved ultimately saving their best for last…overcoming the ultimate bonehead play by 10-year vet, Clay Matthews, and turning the ball over on downs. Should Green Bay avg. 294 yards given up/game, that’d land them 4th in yards last year. Based on math alone, Rodgers converts top 5 defenses into a Super Bowl victory 50% of the time…
Currently on the season, Rodgers ranks 17th with a rating of 64.2 from ProFootballFocus.com. Many (if not all) would argue the value of ranking/grading, however over the course of the season it’s pretty objective and consistent among all players. What it doesn’t take into account is the fact that QBs (Rodgers for this example) throws to his WRs with the idea they can make a play, it’s how the offense is designed. So technically he gets “dinged” on those grades sometimes. Either way, there’s zero chance the Packers win without him, or that throw to Allison…yeah buddy!
Let’s move on to the next opponent: Minnesota. Since 1992 (Favre’s first season playing) the Vikings have been the main rival to Green Bay. The defending NFC North champions (as if that’s an accomplishment, oh wait, it is for 3 teams…) bring the 2nd and 3rd ranked DTs to the Packers’ woeful OL Sunday. Mike Zimmer (Min’s head coach) loves to jam the middle of the opposition’s OL, and that’s the Packers’ weakness on offense: Taylor (66.6); Linsley (59.8); McCray (68.4). Minnesota hold the strong advantage vs the Packers and that could stymie the ground attack that McCarthy desperately needs to establish if he wants to come out victorious. The rest of the Vikings defense didn’t’ score all that well (source: PFF), Linval Joseph (89.9) and Sheldon Richardson (89.8) pose a serious problem, but if the Packers can mimic the gameplan from the 2nd half of the Bears game, there’s a real chance they could control the entire game, and score more points than their opponent (yay! 🙂 ).
Kirk Cousins, nicknames Captain Kirk from the great William Shatner, otherwise I call him “Captain Average,” was just that, 71.4 (11th) vs. a bad 49er defense. If the Packers can create a little pressure or disguise coverage, there’s a chance they could create a couple interceptions, and if one could go for 6 that might be the difference needed to win the game.
Overall—there’s part of me that thinks Rodgers + McCarthy have enough “winning” experience to pull through >50% in a close game, however, I just can’t bring myself to pick the Packers to win this game. I’ll be there to lose my voice and cheer them on, doing my part, but hopefully I’m wrong.
33-20: win this and 2-0 with a bunch of tiebreakers would set the best tone for a season to build on!!!!!!!!!!