The Truest Test

Review~ After carefully re-watching the Panthers’ game, there were a couple of items that stood out. 

  • Rashan Gary has either made great strides (he has improved a bit from last year) OR Preston Smith has regressed; or both.
  • LaFleur stuck with the ground game and it translated to an ugly win, which was all that was needed.
  • Red-Zone/Gold-Zone + Goal-Line Offense is outstanding in execution and efficiency.
  • Inside LBs are progressing, especially the rookies: Kamal Martin (#54); Krys Barnes (#51).
  • Darnell Savage is vastly improving, and he was already solid to begin with…
  • With Savage’s improvement, Pettine moved Adrian Amos inside on passing-situations to use his athleticism to cover quick crossers and tight ends; very effective.
  • Allen Lazard is very consistent and a solid 2nd WR in this offense.  He fits the scheme quite well.
  • Mason Crosby is as reliable as possibly expected- that could translate into a weapon in January in the cold.
  • The Panthers missed McCaffrey, there were quite a few holes that either weren’t hit on-time, or just missed altogether which could’ve swung this game into a much closer battle.

Current Standing~ again, as writing this (Sun morning), the Packers sit in the 1 seed and if (my math is correct) the Rams best Seattle this afternoon, the Packers could clinch home-field advantage with a win.  Meaning the Seahawks would have 5 losses, the Saints 4 losses, and the Packers 12 wins.  With Green Bay holding the H2H tiebreaker over New Orleans (wow, looking back that win was monumental) the NFC runs through Lambeau AND Green Bay earns the ONLY bye in this years’ updated playoff setup.

Preview~ enter, possibly, the toughest challenge yet: the Tennessee Titans.  Led by Head Coach, Mike Vrabel, Tennessee prides themselves on punching teams in the face.  A typical kryptonite for Packer teams over the last decade.  The Titans’ lead star is Derrick Henry.  The most aggressive/physical runner of the football since possibly Earl Campbell.  The Packers’ rush defense will get the toughest test possible, at the proper time.  If Green Bay can not only win this game, but “hold” Henry in check, that should solidify any concerns about whether Green Bay can win the Super Bowl…maybe (Mahomes). 

 Ten O v GB D   Ten D v GB O   
 PassRushTotalPointsPassRushTotalPoints
Ten19th2nd2ndT-1st27th15th27th21st
GB9th11th8th14th8th8th4th3rd

As you can see, each teams’ offense possesses a distinct advantage…After the 2nd half malfunction, the Packers slipped from the top-scoring offense allowing Tennessee and Kansas City to upgrade to a tie for 1st, and the Packers slipped to 3rd.  This could be a high-scoring affair, but I believe the best way to win is to own the line of scrimmage and commit to the ground game as LaFleur did last week vs. Carolina.  Henry is going to get going a bit, but him having 125-160 yards and 1-2 TDs doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t blow this team out of the water.  The thing that sticks in my mind is Tennessee getting absolutely blasted by a Baker Mayfield-led Browns team, where (while it’s not your typical Browns team) the Titans found themselves down 38-7 at halftime, at Nissan Stadium!  Rodgers should be able to conduct a similar symphony and get back to becoming the top-scoring team in the NFL.

Titans 28
Packers 41

Season: 11-3
Overall: 66-35

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