Friday, December 28, 2012

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

In the holiday spirit, the Packers dropped double-nickle on dem Titans! Mek We Dweet! Gon' straight up Pop Tarts on the Tennessee franchise. Beauty! Yes, 55 points! 55!

Here's some vibes from the game:

* Dom Capers mixing it up was a thing of beauty. The disguise was elite. Let's make that defense the defense that defines the Green Bay Packers. Stay away from the vanilla. Let's pursue the QB!

* Interesting to see Clay Matthews shadowing Jake Locker. Not the first time that we've seen Clay shadowing a QB, but it provided a glimpse of what we'd see if the Packers played the 49ers in a playoff game.

* The Claymaker was an absolute beast last Sunday. In all facets of the game. His intensity is unmatched.

* For only the 2nd time in his career, AJ Hawk had two sacks in a game. Might have been Hawk's best game as a Packer.

* Sammy Swagga is just as he did at the end of the XLV Season.

* Mike Neal. Yes, Mike Neal. He's been a difference maker and has been a key point in allowing Capers to mix things up.

* T-Mon continuing to play at a TRAMONDOUS level.

* Brad Jones has been steady. And improving weekly.

* Mike Daniels showing good ability against the run.

* BJ Raji was an complete stud against the Titans. Bullying folk. Against the run and the pass. He even batted down a pass! Get your hands up, BJ!

* Saw a lot of true 3-4 defense. With Pickett, Raji, Neal, CM3, Moses, Jones and Hawk. Liked what I saw. Might we see the same thing this week?

* Keep plugging holes, Ryan Pickett.

* The Walden/Moses rotation seemed to produce more consistent effort and fresher legs.

* I like the Moses, Neal, CM3, Daniels/Raji pass rush combination. A LOT!

* Casey Hayward showing slot blitzing skills. Kid is a playmaker.

* Sammy Swagga and Morgan Burnett - do a lil' dance, baby. Enjoy yourselves!

* The secondary is playing well right now. Having a pass rush helps. There's a lot of big play potential. Two interceptions last week and extremely close to an abundance of other turnovers. Big plays are coming from the defensive side of the ball.

* Aaron Rodgers won't win the MVP award this year, but when he's playing his best football, he's the best player in the NFL.

* Greg Jennings and Aaron Rodgers were inches away from 3 BIG plays. If they find there rhythm, this team could find that Super feeling.

* James Jones has really developed a nose for the end zone.

* Really wanted Double-D to haul in that last pass. Wanted him to get the standing ovation. So did McCarthy. Would have sealed the 55-0 shutout and Driver - who was playing his last regular season game at Lambeau Field - would have reveled in the applause.

* Hard to watch Cobb get injured. That said - he has to be our kick/punt returner. For this year any way. He's a weapon and a threat every time he touches the ball. When he went down, I immediately thought that I had to alter my mock draft for next year. It's my belief that the Packers will draft someone in the Cobb/Harvin mold who can return kicks and continue to add to that phase of the team. Tavon Austin in Green Bay next year?

* Great return, Jeremy Ross. Even with my previous comment regarding a draft pick, Ross will get a shot to be the return man next year.

* Ryan Grant in the end zone. Beauty! Grant ran hard. Looked like his '07 self.

* DuJuan Harris is fun. Great patience. Yet hits the hole with conviction. Plows forward. Great bounce to his step.

* Imagine this offense if Jordy Nelson and Rodgers can find their rhythm? A plethora of options.

* J-Mike is playing solid football right now. He's become the go-to guy for Rodgers in the 2-minute drill. Like what I'm seeing out of him.

* 8 players had receptions.

* Keep doing your thing, Don Barclay. On Harris' TD run, it was great stuff to watch Barclay clear out the lane. Sitton blowing his man up and getting to the second level. EDS showing the athleticism to slide and help. Harris showed the patience required for the hole to open up. Perfection.

* The Green Bay Packers have a running game. One that is good enough to feel Super about.

* Really like Robert Francois on special teams.

* Contrary to last year, the Green Bay Packers seem to be playing their best football at the right team of the year. Oh, and we're getting healthy.

This week - it's the Viqueens. In the dome. Prior to the 49ers loss to the Seahawks, a piece of me thought that I'd find schadenfreude in the thought of the Packers losing, which would prevent the Bears from making the playoffs. But, with the 49ers loss, the Packers are staring the #2 seed and a 1st round bye in the face. And, with parity in the NFC at an all-time high, a 1st round bye is extremely advantageous. Additionally, it'd give another week for Cobb and Woodson to heal and another week for Nelson and Jennings to seek cohesion with Rodgers.

AP should be this years NFL MVP. Without him, the 'queens would have little-to-no offense. Sure, Kyle Rudolph is a solid player. But, Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson aren't scaring anyone. Neither is Christian Ponder. With AP, the whole dynamics of the offense are changed. On any given play, there is a touchdown waiting to happen. He is THAT good.

The 'queens defense is rock solid. Jared Allen always gives the Packers issues. Kevin Williams is legit. Brian Robison is a fighter. But, the guy who is really coming on as of late is Everson Griffen. Griffen was USC's replacement for the Claymaker. He had a quiet start to his career, but he's been playing at an elite level over the last couple of weeks. The Packers are going to have to establish a running game in order to slow down the 'queens pass rush. And, when the Packers do throw, it'll be up to Rodgers to get rid of the ball quickly. If not, this could be a long day for the Packers offense.

Minnesota is quietly building some other really nice pieces to their defense. Harrison Smith looks like a future All-Pro at Safety. He's a sure tackler who is smart, aware and plays the ball well in the air. Chad Greenway is consistent. Antoine Winfield still has gas in the tank. Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson are serviceable.

Add it all up and add in the fact that the 'queens have a playoff berth on the line and Minnesota is a dangerous opponent. Plus, it's in the dome.

Since divisional play began in 1967, there's never been an NFL team to have back-to-back undefeated seasons within their division. With a win, the Packers would be the first to accomplish this feat. McCarthy has always been adamant about taking care of divisional opponents. It'd be a monumental feat if the Packers could beat the Viqueens on Sunday.

In order for Minnesota to win, they'll have to play mistake free football. AP will need to break the NFL's rushing record. Christian Ponder will have to consistently convert 3rd downs. Kyle Rudolph will have to be a consistent threat on the play-action roll-out passes. And, defensively, the 'queens will have to be able to apply significant pressure with just 4 rushers. It's possible. But, I don't see it happening.

This Packers team is headed in the right direction. Their best football is in front of them. While the Viqueens have been a cute story this year, I can't envision Minnesota stopping this Packers offense for 60 minutes. And, when push-comes-to-shove, I don't foresee Christian Ponder stepping up in the pocket, avoiding the rush and making the big 3rd-down throw. If Ponder doesn't turn the ball over on Sunday, Minnesota has a chance to milk the clock and keep it close down the stretch. But again, I don't see that happening. Expect the Packers defense to force a couple of turnovers.

Harris, Grant, and Rodgers combine for more than 100 yards. Rodgers throws 3 more TD's. We haven't seen many long TD's from our passing game this year, but Jennings gets deep for a big one. Minnesota hangs tough for 45 minutes, but the Packers pull away late.

Green Bay 27. Minnesota 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

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