Wild (stress free) Card Weekend

road-to-sb-56-v1

The season has come and gone.  While it was the longest season in NFL history, when your team is winning, it sure seems to go by quickly.  While the game was about as meaningless as a preseason game – there’s still some things from it to draw. 

Review~ Week 18 @ Detroit

                Offense: 1st team offense obviously came into this week to work on timing and a few basic formations.  That first drive, it was apparent, they were going to incorporate Davante Adams as much as they could to get him the Packers single-season receiving yards record, which they should’ve done.  However, they didn’t really get into their true offense until the 4th possession.  A possession with a nice mix of 4 rushes and 3 passes, totaling 76 yards in 4:26, resulting in an Allen Lazard 29-yard TD.  While it was against the Lions, it should’ve been indicative to most that had Green Bay come into this game “having to win,” they may have put up 6 to 7 touchdowns. 

I also seem to be in the growing minority (oxymoron?) that I still need to see more of Jordan Love before I’m ready to move on from him.  However, that doesn’t mean to pass by a quarterback (whether in the draft or otherwise) should one be available you think could help.  Of the 2 interceptions, one was on him (the last one to seal the game) as he just let it fly, which was better than taking a sack in that situation – the 1st one (while tipped) hit disappointing rookie Amari Rodgers in the bread basket.  Those two turnovers, coupled with the lost fumble by Juwann Winfree on the Packers’ first possession of the 2nd half led to a 3-0 turnover advantage for Detroit.  Something not seen by a Packers offense since the Week 1 blasting at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.  Again, this game counts (technically) and should for the final statistics as every team has games like this, but it’s not telling of who the Packers are – at least let’s hope not.

                Defense:  while Adrian Amos stated they practiced all week in preparation for Detroit, and the gameplan was to come out to play well and win, what else was he going to say when asked?  It was also revealing that the defense came out and displayed a very vanilla game plan.  There were 2 goals and one was to “not get hurt.”  While I don’t like that mentality, as that’s a good way to actually get hurt, putting guys in positions to not make plays will result in less collisions and ultimately limit the chances of injury – hence almost no blitzing from the Packers defense. 

The Packers’ defense may not be top 2 in scoring (which has been my claim in order for Aaron Rodgers to hoist a Lombardi Trophy), but they certainly are good enough to win a Super Bowl.

The main stat for the defense, aside from scoring – Green Bay finished T-13th giving up 21.8 points per game.  That’ll be more than enough for the naysayers to claim “Green Bay’s defense is the issue, yet again.”  While maybe that’s a case, plenty of other teams with far inferior QB-play (allegedly) have won with worse defenses.  Green Bay did take the ball away 26 times to rank T-8th.  Couple that with them blitzing only 21.3% of the time (25th) however generating a hurry rate of 11.3% (9th) which seems to be a direct correlation to Opponent Passer Rating (86.9 to rank 10th), that’s the encouraging stat line.  While I love running the ball and stopping the run, to win playoff games and ultimately championships it comes down to quarterback play (hence why they’re judged on rings) and making clutch throws at clutch times – the Packers seem to be very efficient in that department, on both sides of the ball.

Wild Card Weekend~ what’s become a Matt LaFleur annual tradition, the Packers will be resting and watching the Wild Card games with no stress to the fans.  Green Bay will face one of 4 opponents: Philadelphia; San Francisco; Arizona; Los Angeles.  As noted in my other article for www.wisportsheroics.com the Packers may not be the strongest team in the NFC, however they do have the best record in the NFL vs. current playoff teams at 5-1, with the sole loss coming at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead with Jordan Love starting in place of Aaron Rodgers. 

To attempt to find the “strongest” team, I’ve alluded to point differential, turnover margin, scoring ranks, etc.  I figured combining all of those ranks and dividing them evenly – while maybe not being the best method – would give a bit more accurate of a depiction of a team other than their record.

Rush O.Rush D.Pass O.Pass D.Total O.Total D.Pts O.Pts D.T/OPt. Diff.Sched.Avg. Rank.
1GB181081010910133102211.2
2TB263121213256447.9
3Dal9162201191712319.9
4LAR256522917815136111.5
5Ari102010781111114929.4
6SF77126731310221259.5
7Phi1925111410121816133014.5

When re-ordering based on the “Avg. Rank,” it would re-seed the NFC like:

  1. Tampa Bay
  2. Arizona
  3. San Francisco
  4. Dallas
  5. Green Bay
  6. LA Rams
  7. Philadelphia

The one thing that’s tough to account for is each team’s true homefield advantage.  The Packers went 8-0 at Lambeau this year, mainly because they’re a good team.  They also beat San Francisco and Arizona on the road while besting Los Angeles and Pittsburgh at home.  There’s something to be said for “knowing how to win,” I’m just not so sure that’s measurable, aside from, well…record.

Until we find out Green Bay’s opponent, have fun watching Wild Card Weekend.

Season: 12-5
Overall: 81-41

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