Review~ the statement was made and verified in these last 2 games. The Packers’ defense is good; possibly great. While Rodgers was off upon his return, he did plenty of things that deserved the victory. He missed on 2 passes that didn’t come back to kill the team:
- The interception in the end zone to Jamal Adams on 3rd & 6 when it was only a 3-0 game, coming off the Kevin King interception.
- The pass to Aaron Jones 2 plays prior that could’ve gone for a touchdown.
Nitpicky, but one decision and another throw that Rodgers has in muscle-memory, it seems.
LaFleur stuck with the ground game, and it paid off, again. Aaron Jones had 11 touches for 86 yards. A.J. Dillon had his 2nd best pro game with 23 touches, 128 yards, and 2 TDs. Patrick Taylor chipped in with 2 rushes for 7 yards in mop up time/elevation from the Jones injury.
The HBs touched it 51.4% of the snaps accounting for 221 yards (56.2%) and 2 TDs. That’s some great balance and only opens up the pass game.
One looming issue is the O-line. The Packers could really benefit from getting Bakhtiari and rookie Center, Josh Myers back from injury. However, the issue with Bakhtiari is he tore his ACL on New Year’s Day, and while that’s typically a 12-month injury, it takes an additional season for a player to return to (or flirt with) 100%. The rumor is 69 suffered a “setback” in practice this week. He’s too good of a player, in the latter portion of his prime years to be messing around with that – yes I know the Packers have as good a shot at winning as ever, it doesn’t mean you rush a player of this caliber back, especially when 69’s window could be open for another 4 years.
All in all, a very solid W…one that should have you excited as we trend towards the best part of the football season.
Preview~ should Green Bay prevail, the division race (not the goal, but a decent check mark) is all but over. The Packers would hold a 5.5+ (the “+” is due to the tiebreaker) game lead over Minnesota with 6 to play. While many say “This Vikings team is better than their record,” I’m a fairly big believer in the Bill Parcells motto “You are what your record says you are.” Do the Vikes have talent? Sure. Are they good? They can be, sometimes. Is this their Super Bowl since they can’t win one? Yes.
Green Bay will take Minnesota’s best shot come Noon Sunday. In addition to the divisional race (it’s over), the Vikings are sitting in the 8th spot (remember the NFL now takes 7 teams from each conference), so they’re fighting like hell for that last spot.
Keep in mind, last week Seattle entered 1st in giveaways, with 4. Green Bay took it away twice, ultimately should’ve been thrice (Amos’ dropped 2nd INT). I believe that’s a testament to Joe Barry. The coaching staff is essentially the same, the personnel is very similar with the one major exception being De’Vondre Campbell (ILB #59). He’s not only had an outstanding season, the team has tackled, covered, and been in position far better than any year since 2010. I believe the major factor is Joe Barry’s ability to deliver the message and the defense (especially the secondary of Amos & Savage) to relay it to the rest of the D.
^^As you can see, Minnesota has a top-10 offense, in yards, but struggles converting it to points. Their defense is average across the board, except they can’t stop the run, so “Hello A.J. Dillon.”
Also, what’s not listed in the matchup stats is Green Bay ranks 4th in Time of Possession, averaging 32:07 minutes (not including any OT time). That’s a monstrous help to the defense…they’re not on the field!
Also, we’re getting to the point in the season where Point-Differential matters. It’s indicative of a team’s True Strength. The Packers currently sit 10th in the NFL with a +36, while Minnesota (under .500 mind you) is 17th at +10. You may want to “throw out” week 1 as this Packers team isn’t that team. While true, it’s incorporated for a reason, mainly because even good teams have No Shows from time to time.
|Year||Champ||Pt. Diff. Rank|
So, essentially outside of the random 2011 Giants team, the Super Bowl champ averages 5th – 6th (including that Giants ranking) in this category. Remove them, and its 4th. My belief is by season’s end, the Packers will be in that top-4 ranking again (last season finished 3rd).
The playmakers are well-known: #18 Justin Jefferson; #19 Adam Thielen; #33 Dalvin Cook. Stopping Cook is key – he tore apart Green Bay last year in Lambeau (226 yards, 4 TDs, on 32 touches) and that was the difference. I believe it’ll be a bit of a lower scoring game again…