Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Bucky Five: The Packers Know They're in a Playoff Race, Don't They?

1. As If They Were Sleepwalking - Of the four remaining games that were left on the Packers schedule, this was without a doubt the one that I was the most worried about. Even if we do end up losing to either New England, Chicago, or the Giants, those three teams are at least playing for the playoffs. The Detroit Lions on the other hand, were 2-10 entering Sunday's game and this was the game that scared me the most. It's the proverbial trap game, and the Packers definitely overlooked their opponent this week. I'm a huge Mike McCarthy guy, I really am, but you have to hold him accountable for not having his team jacked up for this professional football game. The Packers knew they were the better team, but because of that knowledge it was as if they didn't really give it their all on the field. I got the feeling that Green Bay thought they could half-ass this one and still come away with the victory. You know, they'll work hard, but not too hard, and they'll still get the job done. That's a strategy that you and I could do on Friday afternoons at our shitty job, but it's not a strategy that should be adopted when you only have sixteen games to prove you belong in the playoffs of the National Football League.

Don't get me wrong, the Lions have talent, and they're a few bad breaks away from having a winning record this season. But they are not a better team than the Green Bay Packers, that we all know. The Packers have a way of playing down to their opponent - it's the same thing we did against the Redskins and Dolphins this season - and they did just that against Detroit. Again, I am a McCarthy guy (I think I stated he should be the Coach of the Year a few weeks ago... gulp) but he really should shoulder a lot of the blame for a) allowing his team to play like zombies and b) some questionable coaching decisions. McCarthy can be blamed for not challenging what appeared to be a Greg Jennings touchdown in the first half, as well as going for the home run on 4th-and-1 on the Packers final drive, but I want him to hold his players accountable as well. Jennings screwed up royally by giving the Lions a free turnover when he bobbled a catch, Andrew Quarless needs to learn how to hang on to the football, and Matt Flynn made a costly error in the red zone.

Wait a second, did I just say Matt Flynn?

2. No Majkowski/Favre Repeat - That's right, Aaron Rodgers went down with a concussion in the second quarter and had to leave the game, although at first it appeared to me as if he might have separated his shoulder. But it was just the concussion, yet he was forced to miss the remainder of the action and his status is in question for next week at New England. Matt Flynn came in, and while I thought he was serviceable, he did not appear ready to take on the responsibility of playing meaningful minutes. He made a lot of good plays I thought once he settled in, but it's the red zone interception of his that really turned this game in favor of Detroit. We score there and we're up 10-0, but instead all the Packers could muster was three points up against Detroit's seven. Aaron Rodgers better be ready for the game this weekend, because I'm heading to Boston for the festivities and I did not plan this trip and spend all of this money to watch Matt Flynn get destroyed in Gilette Stadium. And to think, all this could have been avoided if Rodgers would LEARN HOW TO SLIDE!!!

3. Guess Who the Packers Leading Rusher Was? - If you guessed Aaron Rodgers, you are sadly correct. Even though he is a quarterback and he didn't even make it to halftime, Rodgers still led the team in rushing with 25 yards. That's actually kind of disgusting. I credit my buddy Jake who said that Aaron Rodgers can hide the fact that the Packers don't have a running game, while Matt Flynn can not. One might think that with a backup quarterback in the game, the running attack would be used more heavily, but that's kind of hard when your team has no running attack. Last week's star James Starks had just eight yards on six carries, while Brandon Jackson and Dmitri Nance hardly did anything with their cameo appearances. The Starks line has to be a major disappointment as well for all of the people that rushed to pick him up for fantasy purposed this week, much like Brandon Jackson burned people earlier in the season. This backfield is a mess without Ryan Grant similar to how the passing game was a mess without Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have done a good job overcoming the injuries so far, but it looks like the health of the team is finally catching up with them.

4. The Defenders - So it's no secret that the offense was a mess on Sunday, but we should give credit to the defense for how well they played against Detroit. They did have major problems against the run, but in the passing game they were able to shut down Calvin Johnson and they did force Detroit into a lot of three-and-outs. The defense was beat on one drive, but when the offense doesn't show up that one drive turns out to be a lot more meaningful. In no way, shape, or form though is anyone blaming the defense for allowing a fourth-quarter touchdown, as the defense was really the only reason the Packers were still in this game at that point. Kudos to Charlie Peprah for his first career interception, Tramon Williams for his big interception in the end zone (what a year he is having), and Clay Matthews for notching sack number 12.5 this season.

5. Calm Down Facebook, There are Still Three Weeks Left - I don't know about you, but my Facebook page was littered with people crying that the season is over for the Green Bay Packers. Realistically, our chances got a hell of a lot more grim with this loss. But there are still three weeks left and as you saw this weekend, anything can happen. I'm going to try and stay optimistic. Yet, I do know that the Packers have a tough schedule coming up - at New England, vs. New York Giants, vs. Chicago - and I understand how difficult the road is going to be. Especially with the fact that one playoff spot in the NFC West is all but eliminated because of the inclusion of whoever "wins" the NFC West (St. Louis and Seattle lead the division right now, both at 6-7). Green Bay needs the Bears to lose not only to us but to either the Vikings or Jets as well, because after our divisional loss to Detroit, Chicago now would own any and all tiebreakers. As for the Wild Card, we're in contention against the Giants, Philly and Tampa Bay, and we have the hardest schedule the rest of the way by far. It's not going to be easy, and with a contest this weekend against what is undoubtedly the best team in football, there's really only one thing left to say about the Packers playoff chances:



Anonymous said...

I believe we still have an outside chance to win the tiebreaker over Chicago even if we lose to New England. We would have to beat New York and Chicago and Chicago would need to lose to Minnesota and to us. We would then have the same record in division, same record against similar opponents and we'd have the better conference record. If they beat Minnesota but lose to the Jets and the Pack, Chicago will have the tiebreaker due to the better divisional record.

Unknown said...

i see bear opened yer eyes to some sealab2021 finally!


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