So the Packers play a little sloppy, but they get the 21-14 victory in Chicago and improve to 9-4 on the season. This makes five straight victories for a team that looked to be lost after that embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay. You know, after that loss I tried to look at the schedule and see if the Packers still had a chance to make the playoffs, and I made the assertion that the Packers could play mediocre and still back into a 10-6 record. We've been blessed this season with a favorable schedule, and the teams that were supposed to be halfway decent - Dallas, Pittsburgh, etc... - have been struggling mightily. With three weeks to go, Green Bay is holding down the five seed and their odds at making the playoffs are very, very good. Not bad for a season I may or may not have declared to be over after that Tampa loss.
2. Damn You Ryan Grant - This is more of a personal thing, and as much as I hate when people bring up their fantasy teams in settings like this, Ryan Grant really knows how to play with my heartstrings. All season long I've been complaining (for fantasy reasons) that there's two things that Grant doesn't do. The first is that he doesn't catch a lot of passes, but that's a duty more reserved for Brandon Jackson and Ahman Green, so whatever. The other thing he doesn't do though is bust loose for that long run, as he's not really a home run hitter. Grant is more of a "run straight into the offensive line" kind of runner, for whatever reason. But on the Packers first play of scrimmage, Grant broke open a 62 yard touchdown run, and he went on to finish with 137 yards on two touchdowns. Personally, my fantasy team missed the playoffs so his big day did nothing for me. But from a Packers fan standpoint, it's good to see Grant running like he should be, and if he keeps that up it can only be a good thing.
3. Discipline - Week in and week out, one thing that always makes the Bucky Five is how brutal the Packers are with penalties. Especially after that Ravens game last Monday. But it seems that McCarthy has been able to instill a little more discipline into this team, as they only had four penalties for 30 yards. Granted, I think the refs did let the Packers get away with a few things in the secondary, but what goes around comes around I guess. But hey, this has been a major problem for us this season, it's good to see things getting taken care of in this regard.
4. Just Give Woodson the Defensive MVP Already - Of all the things that Charles Woodson does, I think it's his shoestring tackles in the backfield that impress me the most. In Sunday's contest, Woodson added another interception and three deflected passes to his stat total, confirming that not only should he be a front runner for the Defensive Player of the Year award, but the league MVP award as well. There was one drive where he was beat a few times, but let's just forget about that for the time being. It was another great day by the Packers defense, and Woodson is definitely the leader of this unit that continues to redefine this football team.
5. Kicking Woes - It wasn't the best game that the Packers ever played, and certainly not the highlight of their season, but it was a victory nonetheless. Still, there was one major problem in the Packers victory against Chicago, and it was that of the kicking game. Mason Crosby missed a fourth quarter field that would have sealed the victory instead of giving the Bears a second life, and Jeremy Kapinos was subpar at best in the punting department. Both Crosby and Kapinos are two guys I've given props to in this space before, but right now they are doing more harm than good. This team is playing too well right now to have special teams be the downfall, so hopefully the feet specialists can improve over the coming weeks. All in all though, a victory is a victory, and next up is