Secure the 1.

A confidence-builder, and possibly a crow serving to the entire Packer nation (yours truly included). 

Review~ the Packers’ offense did what many expected them to do, but the defense pleasantly surprised many.  While the game was essentially meaningless (entering both weeks 16 and 17, Green Bay still needs to beat Chicago to secure the 1 seed- or needing Seattle to lose). 

Defensive Coordinator, Mike Pettine, has been outspoken about his focus on getting to the passer even if it’s to disregard stopping the run.  This past week showed he’s willing/capable of committing to stopping the run, and the Packers showed how effective it can be when you take away your opponents’ strength.  Keep in mind, Tennessee entered the game with the highest scoring offense in the league (tied with KC).  They’re a balanced offense with a solid TE (Smith), 2 solid WRs (Davis and Brown), the NFL’s best HB (Henry), and a very solid QB (Tannehill).  14 points.  If the Packers hold their opponents to 14 points, I’ll guarantee a victory every time.

From my statement above, Crow-Server.  There were a select-few who thought the A.J. Dillon pick was awesome.  Goes without saying, he proved why.  However, I admit that Rashan Gary has seemed to arrive, and I whiffed there.  While I wasn’t sure if he was going to be downright awful, I’ve always graded him vs. Christian Wilkins (DT from Clemson, drafted by Miami 1 pick after Gary).  It seems that Gary is now a legit pass-rusher, getting constant push, which disrupts the passing game in the best way.  He had, possibly, his best game as a pro vs. Tennessee.  While the Titans’ OL isn’t meant for pass-blocking, Gary did what he was supposed to do and got after the QB, and created havoc in the backfield to not allow Henry to keep in rhythm. 

All in all, a great confidence-booster, but other than that, a meaningless game as week 17 is still a must-win.

Preview~ Bear week!  Chicago enters the game with their season on the line.  If they win, they’re in (7th seed).  If they lose, they’ll need Arizona to lose to Los Angeles.  Expect Chicago, and Nagy, to pull out all the stops.  When it comes to that, Nagy usually gets way too cute and completely bites him in the ass.  Also, while Mitch has played well since “earning” his starting job back (3-2, with a 99.3 passer rating), the one game where he wasn’t so great was vs. Green Bay.  This is typical, as for some reason (not a surprise to me or many of you), if you keep a QB like Mitch in the pocket and force him to throw, consistently over the course of a game the odds are vastly in your favor.  He’s not consistently accurate and will not always make the obvious-right decision which leads to awful turnovers or a lack of 3rd down conversions.  Where Mitch is effective is when he’s running/scrambling AND has a clean pocket – however, he needs wide-open targets to do damage and the Packers have been far better with coverage than in years passed…

 GB O v Chi D   GB D v Chi O   

By now you’ve heard the earth-shattering news about all-world LT David Bakhtiari suffering a season-ending knee injury.  While this is an epic blow, the Packers have gone 3 games without #69 this year and fared OK.  They were weeks 7-9 (@ SF, v Min, @ Hou), and while the competition is none in the playoffs, the Packers won 2 of those games, and would’ve won all 3 if not for Dalvin Cook going bonkers.  In those games, the Packers gave up sacks: 1 for no loss; the other for a loss of 11 (which might’ve been on Rodgers).  The Packers also were without C Corey Linsley for 3 games and fared very well.  With the return of Linsley last week, really boosting the OL, it mitigates the blow of the loss of Bakhtiari.  There are options of what Green Bay can do, but Pro Bowl Guard (2nd year man) #74 Elgton Jenkins, is so versatile and special that he can fill-in quite nicely at LT if that’s what’s asked of him.  Packers OL coach, Adam Stenavich, has done a remarkable job since joining the staff.  Everyone should have the utmost confidence in him that he’ll get the Packers’ strength (yes, the OL) in top form.

The other news was Green Bay adding Snacks (Damon Harrison #98).  He’s a huge body that can only add depth in the DL rotation.  Listed at 6’3” 339lbs, and with quite a bit of experience playing at a high-level, his production will be called upon and likely have a positive effect come January.  Running the ball is essential to win in cold weather, and stopping the run (see week 16 vs. Derrick Henry) is the best way for the defense to dominate. 

The major difference between this match-up and last is the Bears will have their stud DL, Akiem Hicks #96, back.  He’s a major force in the middle and dictates what the offense is able to do.  He’s such a disruptive force that just pounding away up the middle may not be the best method. 

Sticking with the Bears’ defense, they’ll be without 2 of their top-3 cornerbacks.  Buster Skrine and solid standout rookie, Jaylon Johnson are set to miss week 17, thus opening up MVS for some major action…  I doubt the Packers will be able to hang 41 again, mainly due to Hicks playing and Bakhtiari missing, but the Packers offense should be able to move the ball and control the game.  Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but win the turnover battle and win the game.  It’s that simple. 

Expect to get the Bears’ best shot.

Packers 27
Bears 21

Season: 12-3
Overall: 67-35

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