5-5-1. The record couldn't indicate a more average team. I'm here to give you good news. In 2007, the Giants looked like they weren't playoff bound in early December. Well, they won the Super Bowl. In 2008, the Steelers had to fight their way into the playoffs. They, too, won the Super Bowl. In 2010, it looked like the Packers season ended in early December. Yeah, they also won the Super Bowl. In 2011, the Giants appeared to be on their way to elimination in mid-December. They found fortune and found themselves in the playoffs. Eventually, they won the Super Bowl. Last year, the Ravens were so desperate late in the year that they fired their Offensive Coordinator. Yeah, you guessed it, they eventually won the Super Bowl as well.
Parity doesn't define this era of the NFL. Mediocrity does. It's a battle of survival. Get yourself into the playoffs and anything can happen. Literally.
Luckily for the 2013 version of the Green Bay Packers, no one seems to want to win the NFC North. The Packers, Bears and Lions are all struggling to grab the Division by the neck. And, thus, the Packers have life.
This was supposed to be an easy part of the schedule. Instead, the Packers have gone 0-3-1 in their last four games. 3, of which, were at Lambeau. Still, the Packers control their destiny. Win and we're in.
Here are some vibes from the tie to the 'queens:
* Mike McCarthy went to Matt Flynn at the right time. It wasn't too early. It wasn't too late. Tolzien had earned the chance to start. Tolzien earned the chance to redeem himself after Halftime. When he failed, he needed to be pulled.
* How does McCarthy not hand the ball off to Eddie Lacy on 3rd & Goal from the 3. I have to assume that he knew that the Lions and the Bears had already lost. At that stage, don't you play for the win? Hand it to Lacy twice. And, if you fail to get in, you line up and play defense. Hope that the defense holds. Much like they did in the 4th Quarter. Try to get a 3 and out and play the field position game. As I wrote last week, a conservative Mike McCarthy is never a good Mike McCarthy. At that stage, the Packers had nothing to lose. Lacy should have been given the ball.
* I don't blame McCarthy for going for two. At that point, the defense had looked lifeless. It didn't appear as though the defense could get two stops in a row, much less one. It was the right decision.
* Dear Matt Flynn, I'm sorry if I've ever doubted you. Well played, man. An impressive performance, to say the least. You provided the spark that our season needed.
* Eddie Lacy was absolutely phenomenal. EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE!
* Clay Matthews showed signs of being himself again. He was active in his pass rush. He was inspiring. For the most point, he held the point of attack. His led by example.
* I'm unable to comprehend this defense. I can't tell if it's the personnel or Dom Capers. Or both. But, one thing I'm certain about is that this defense is heartless.
* How does Davon House drop that pick-6? Had he caught it, it'd have been 14-3 and the outcome would have likely been completely different.
* Mike Neal confuses me. He shows flashes of All-Pro ability and then follows it up with below average play. No consistency.
* I really want to like Brad Jones. He seems like a really nice guy. But, man, he grabs at everything. Lacks physicality. He annoys.
* Mike Daniels is our best DL. By far.
* Someone needs to remind BJ Raji, CJ Wilson and Ryan Pickett that you're supposed to play your best football in a contract year.
* Morgan Burnett seems to whiff as much as he makes the tackle.
* Nelson, Boykin, and JJ make me believe that if we can get the ship righted, anything is possible. Unless, of course, Donny Barclay cannot get healthy. Marshall Newhouse can't play in this league.
* Lacy has brought a dimension to the Packers that we haven't seen in my lifetime.
* David Bakhtiari played a great game.
* Sitton and Lang were rock solid.
* Catch the ball, Brandon Bostick.
* It was nice to see J-Bush making an appearance as a gunner on special teams.
* Tim Masthay was a star.
* What an awesome touchdown run by Scott Tolzien. Followed by an extremely disappointing performance.
* Micah Hyde has to learn to jam WR's at the line. He needs to use his strength at the line of scrimmage. He's reacting too much. He should be the one forcing the issue.
* I'm ready to see Sean Richardson at Safety. It can't be worse that what's presently happening. And, one thing is for sure, he'll hit you!
* Sure it was Jerel Worthy's first game of the year, but that dude looked like a wimp. He was pushed around. A sieve.
* Eddie Lacy damn near willed the Packers to victory. What a stallion!
* That was big false start penalty on EDS in OT. Felt like the Packers were driving for the win. Spoiled all momentum.
* Andy Mulumba did a good job at the point of attack.
* Hurry back, Sammy Swagga!
* Datone Jones shows burst, but he has to finish the play.
* While the 3rd down OT defensive holding call on Minnesota was highly questionable, the refs missed a 1st down defensive holding call that appeared blatant. Nelson was grabbed. Badly.
* After the FG, the defense had the 'queens pinned on 3rd & 9. How do you not plan to stop AP? I knew it was happening from my living room. Capers clearly assumed pass. I'd have tried to make Ponder beat me.
* Jordy Nelson, you are the definition of a Green Bay Packer.
* Big props to the crowd in the 3rd Quarter. It appeared as though the game was slipping away. And, the crowd never lost hope. Felt like some of the old Lambeau Magic was trying to find it's way back onto the Field.
* An interesting note: the Packers continuously run the same play in which they drag a post route behind the slant near the goal line. We saw it on the 4th down play against the Eagles. We saw it on the crucial 3rd down play in OT. Both times, the pass went to Nelson in the corner. Both times, Jones was open on the slant. We also saw a similar play on the 2 point conversion with Quarless running to the corner and Boykin running the slant. Boykin was open on the slant. The ball went to Quarless, who was well covered. We saw the same play on the 3rd down TD pass to Boykin. Boykin ran the slant. He was open. He scored a TD. 4 times, they ran a similar play. 4 times the slant was open. 3 times the play went to the corner and it was incomplete. Once it went to the slant and it was a TD. I wonder if the QB's are being to throw it to the outside? If so, that seems like a tough, slow developing pass where the slant is a fairly easy throw, if you have a window available.
This week - it's the Lions. In Detroit. On Thanksgiving. A win and it'll be a day of grand celebration. A loss and we can start looking towards next years NFL Draft. The Packers need this one. Desperately.
We know the Lions. They know us. If the Packers plan on winning the game, they have to win the line of scrimmage. The Lions OL is soft. Their DL is dominant. There is no reason that the Packers front 7 doesn't get pressure on Stafford. Clay Matthews should dominate Riley Rieff. Mike Neal should beat up Jason Fox. Inside blitzes should find success against the interior of the Lions OL, especially attacking LG, Rob Sims.
We all know about Calvin Johnson. But, Detroit's other weapons can cause problems. Nate Burleson is healthy, once again. Burleson is a solid possession receiver. He's feisty and finds ways to get open. Joseph Fauria is an elite Red Zone target. Pettigrew is average, but he's good enough to move the chains. Reggie Bush has been lethal when he holds onto the ball. Joique Bell is a physical, underrated back who could be in line for a big game on Thanksgiving. Bell is the type of back that gives the Packers problems. He's tough to bring down and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. Further, he's deceptively fast.
If Barclay can't go, I'm concerned that Willie Young might have a monster game with his speed rush against Marshall Newhouse. We know what Suh and Fairley can do. Ziggy Ansah has been impressive in his rookie year. DeAndre Levy has been an interception machine. He jumps routes well. He's instinctive and sees the field well. Stephen Tulloch is a tough guy with a witty style. The Lions secondary can be beat. While Delmas is rock solid against the run, who can throw it over the top of him. Delmas is a fierce hitter, but he isn't the most fleet of foot. Look for the Packers to attack Chris Houston, Darius Slay and Bill Bentley. Slay has been a weak link when he's been on the field. Detroit has to be pleased with Rashean Mathis' play. Mathis has seen it all. He jumps routes well and uses his hands effectively. Look for Jones to run a double move on Mathis to see if he can't get over the top of him.
Early in the game, Flynn comes out throwing. Attacking the outside of the field. He finds Boykin on a comeback route. The same to Jones. Then, it's Jordy on a crossing route. Instead of trying to slow down the pass rush with Lacy, McCarthy chooses to open up the run game by throwing the football. The Packers grab an early lead.
But, true to form, Detroit fights back. Calvin Johnson wins a jump ball over T-Mon. Then, Burleson gets free from Sammy Swagga. Bush slashes through the middle of our defense.
Lacy responds. The Packers spread Detroit out. With room in the box, Lacy hits the hole with a vengeance. Emphatically punishing defenders. Throughout the game, Flynn consistently dumps it off to Lacy. In fact, Lacy ends the game with 5 catches. He's lethal in space.
Detroit responds with a physical run game of their own as Bell bunches the Packers ILB's in the mouth. Fighting for extra yardage and moving the sticks.
Trailing by 4 late, Flynn takes over. He finds Nelson down the seam for a big gain. Then, it's Boykin in the corner of the end zone for a Thanksgiving victory!
Enjoy your Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that you follow along.
Go Pack Go!