Need some Xmas Cheer?

Review~ the Packers sorely missed DT Kenny Clark (just named to his 2nd Pro Bowl), and it led to the backup QB’d Ravens (which Huntley may be better than Lamar…he’s a better passer, lesser athlete) coming within a 2-point conversion of likely winning.  There wasn’t a ton of pressure put on as the Ravens didn’t have to account for Clark’s presence.  It allowed TE Mark Andrews to tear up the Packers’ secondary (mainly Savage) in man coverage. 

Throughout the game, Baltimore really moved the ball well.  Of their 8 possessions (9 if you include the 1-play kneel down before half), they scored on 5 of them (4 touchdowns and 1 FG).  Remember, on their 1st drive they decided to go for it on 4th and were denied.  So, the Packers did make 2 goal line stands (first drive & 2-point conversion) to ice the game.  True bend-but-don’t-break, scary but effective when it works.

                Offense—the offense hit its stride on the 2nd possession.  The first possession it was close to hitting a home run, when on 3rd down, Adams ran a beautiful sluggo and was wide open, but Rodgers just overthrew him.  After each team had a possession, the Ravens led in Time of Possession, 7:22 v 1:33.  And after Baltimore scored a TD on their second possession, they led in that category, 10:54 v 1:33.  The key is neither team had a turnover, but the Packers utilized the running backs in all facets of the game.  They mainly relied on Rodgers’ arm – as they should, he’s been on fire the last month +.  Aaron Jones & A.J. Dillon combined to produce 105 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 22 touches.  Green Bay finished the game with a 31:10 v 28:50 time of possession lead.  Again, not the best indicator of W’s vs. L’s, but it’s something that really helps the Defense and overall team.  Plus, when your offense has the ball, the other team can’t score (aside from a turnover). 

The one glaring issue, most will continue to focus on special teams, however Mason seems to have “taken some off” on his kicks and has nailed all of them since.  It could render an issue on 50+-yarders, but until then, he’s been closer to normal.  Hopefully that trend continues.  The issue I’m bringing up, is with 12:54 left in the 4th quarter, Baltimore went for it on 4th down from their own 29-yard line.  The Packers got the stop and hit Big Dog for a 23-yard gain on the ensuing play.  With 1st & goal from the 6, Green Bay failed to score a game-winning TD and settled for a FG.  While that proved to be enough, instead of 35-17 with 9:26 left, it was 31-17, a much more realistic score to mount a comeback…

Current Standing~ with Tampa and Arizona both losing, Green Bay finds themselves in great position to earn back-to-back 1 seeds, which is so important with there only being one BYE in each of the conference’s playoff tree.  Green Bay wins out and earns the 1, otherwise would need Dallas to drop one more (which could easily happen). 

Matchup~

 Cle O.(rank)vs.GB D.(rank)
Rush139.64107.913
Pass201.526217.99
Total341.118325.88
Pts20.919 21.610
 Cle D.GB O.
Rush105.69 106.821
Pass216.18253.69
Total321.76360.414
Pts21.814 25.613
 
T/O     
Takeaways1818th228th
Giveaways14T-4th101st
Diff.410th 12T-2nd

Cleveland presents 2 major challenges, one on each side of the ball.  First, the Browns feature one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and running backs, in #24 Nick Chubb.  He’s amassed over 1,000 yards rushing, at a 5.4 yards/carry clip, to go along with 9 TDs.  The key for the Packers’ DL (with the return of Clark) is to slow him down and not let him or their OL takeover.  Again, time of possession may be key.  The other key is turnover differential.  The Packers didn’t take it away vs. Baltimore (although got 2 turnovers on downs), and must not give it away.  The issue on Cleveland’s defensive side is #95 Myles Garrett.  He currently has 15 sacks and is a game-wrecker.  Bill Huber of si.com wrote about how 3rd string LT #73 Yosh Nijman has fared vs. the NFL’s top pass-rushers.  He’s done an incredible job in keeping Rodgers, not only upright, but given him a fairly clean pocket.  If Green Bay needs to shift help, that could spell trouble, but I trust the best coach in the NFL (Matt LaFleur) to run the ball and operate an efficient offense based off the run schemes.

Win the Turnover battle and/or time of possession and win the game, keeping the 1-seed.  Oh yeah, also GO COLTS in the night game tonight vs. Arizona.

Browns 27
Packers 31

Season: 10-4
Overall: 79-40

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