The Packers roll into St. Louis surfing a high wave of confidence. All of a sudden - the Offense, Defense, and Special Teams are all showing signs of clicking. Moreover, the magic number for a first round bye is down to 2.
If my memory serves me correctly - Favre is 1-2 at the Edward Jones Dome. However, this Dome is host to one of Favre's most dismal performances ever. No worries! Favre and the Packers will be ready to battle the Rams this weekend.
I must admit - I have not seen a lot of the Rams this year. I watched the last 3 minutes of their home loss against the Seahawks and in order to scout St. Louis, I watched the replay of their game last week against Cincinnati. You gotta love the privileges of DirecTV.
Though the Rams are 3-10, they are still playing with fight. They are still playing with fight and they are competing until the last snap. The Rams will not lay down this weekend. They remain the type of team that could sneak up on the Packers, if we are not prepared.
It appears as though Marc Bulger will be the starter. He took all of the snaps from center during Wednesday's practice. Bulger has a unique relationship with his receivers, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Clearly, more often than not, they are all on the same page. Bruce and Holt present a tremendous challenge for our secondary. Moreover, Drew Bennett scares me. Bennett has had a less than average season. In fact, I imagine that he is mightily disappointed with his performance thus far this season. But, against our 3rd CB (whomever that may be), he does hold an advantage. Bennett is a veteran, seasoned receiver who is known for crisp route running and an ability to make plays in traffic. Randy McMichael is not going to fly by anyone, but he is fast and strong enough to make a difference and create an obstacle for the Packers defense. We must pay attention to McMichael.
It took Steven Jackson 10 weeks, but he's running in the right direction these days. He's run for at least 90 yards in each of the last 4 weeks. He, too, offers a clear and present danger. He's a threat via the air and on the ground. He's averaged 4 catches a game over the last 5 weeks and he must be contained. If Jackson gets rolling, this game could throw a curve ball.
While scouting the Rams, I viewed a defense that needed to be attacked. Expect Ryan Grant to run right at the Rams defense. La'Roi Glover is still impressive, but he is only an image of the way he used to perform. At times, Adam Carriker showed potential, but for the most part, I thought that he was slow off the ball and that you could run right at him. Carriker can be pushed backwards. James Hall has always been a speed rusher, but he, too, is the kind of guy that you can run towards. Victor Adeyanju does not appear to be a play-maker.
At the LB position, the Rams also looked weak on defense. Will Witherspoon is solid in pass defense, but he is not a solid run stuffer. He has active hands as he tackles...loves to go after the football and will blitz the QB. He has 7 sacks this year and the Rams love to have him blitz on early downs. Against the Bengals, he seemed to be attacking the line of scrimmage on nearly every down. To my eye, Brandon Chillar and Chris Draft are liabilities. The Packers will take advantage of their presence.
Surprisingly, after watching the Rams-Bengals game, I was very impressed with the Rams secondary. In fact, immediately after watching the game, I logged onto the internet to learn more about #21 Oshiomogho Atogwe. Atogwe is a play-making safety. I found out that he has 5 interceptions. He did not intercept any passes last week, but he made certain that Chad Johnson was quiet over the top and every time Carson Palmer looked Chad Johnson's way, Atogwe was in the vicinity. Johnson did make one play, but he was held to 2 catches for 60 yards. It should be noted that last week ended a 4 game streak in which Atogwe had an interception. Atogwe's partner at safety is Corey Chavous. Chavous knows the Packers well as he is a former Viking. At one time, Chavous was on the brink of becoming a premier safety in football.
In my opinion, the Rams have two overly aggressive CB's in Fakhir Brown and Ron Bartell. Bartell also gets his hands on balls and he has a nose for finding the football. He'll put his shoulder in a receiver's chest. He picked off one pass last weekend and should have had two more, but he did not hang onto the football. Bartell seems to put himself in position to make plays. He'll attempt to jump routes. Fakhir Brown has 4 interceptions including one that he returned for a TD last week. He, too, looked like a guy that wanted to jump routes and make the big play. But, both players looked like guys that should be attacked.
This game will be won at the line of scrimmage. Thankfully, will should not have to watch Coston attempt to throw a block in the open field. The Packers should simply line up and pound away. Look for Grant to have a field day - especially right up the gut. You can pound away against the Rams front 4. Ball control. Ball control. Ball control. Early in the game - we pound away. Grant for 6. Grant for 7. Grant for 4. Grant for 3. Grant for 13. We can pound away at the interior of the Rams defense.
Slowly - we can open up the Rams defense. They have no depth at CB. Either late in the first half or late in the 2nd half, we hand the ball to the "Sportsman of the Year." Favre. 5 wide. Magic to a football fan's eyes. Dissecting the defense. Threading the needle. Finally, once again, Driver finds the end zone.
Defensively, we must contain Jackson. We should apply pressure nearly every down via the tackles. To me, Alex Barron and Brandon Gorin looked like they could be beaten almost every down. Look for the Packers to blitz a safety this week. I would like to see the Packers rush Kampman against Gorin. Kampman comes on the bull rush. The safety comes to the outside of Gorin. The Rams will not have a response.
On the other side of the line, I'd like to see KGB come with the outside pass rush against Barron. He can beat Barron to the corner. I'd send either Hawk or Barnett between the guard and the tackle. Their will be a large gap and the Rams will not be able to double team. However, we must watch the screen. So, for example, if Barnett is blitzing, it is Hawk's responsibility to watch Jackson. And vice versa if Hawk is rushing Bulger. We cannot let Bulger find his rhythm. Pressure on the QB will disrupt his form. Plus, he's coming back from a concussion and you have to consider the fear factor.
On Special Teams, Willie B. is once again unleashed! Crosby's kicking woes won't continue as he'll be in the dome.
In football, good teams have the ability to consistently come up with what I call the "Championship Drive." The "Championship Drive" normally occurs in the middle of the 3rd Quarter. In most instances, it's a two score game. The "Championship Drive" makes it a three score game essentially puts the game out of reach. The "Championship Drive" can also occur in the middle of the 4th Quarter when it's a one score game and you finish off the opposition with a punch-you-in-the-mouth-TD. Wayne Larivee calls it "The Dagger." At this point, mentally, the dagger has been inserted into the heart of the opposition. A prime example of the "Championship Drive" came last week. The Packers were up 17-7. Just over 9 minutes left in the game. The Raiders were hanging around. One play later, it was Favre to Jennings for 80 yards and the Raiders had lost hope.
Earlier in the year, we saw this drive against the Vikings - the second time we played them. We opened up the 2nd half with a 13-0 lead. We came out with a 5:30 drive and pounded it down their throats. Championship Style. The next thing you knew - it was 20-0 Green Bay and Minnesota was defeated.
In my mind, we are learning what it takes to become a Champion. We are building towards something special...and possibly even Super.
This week - the Rams hang tight for a half. The Packers hold the lead at halftime, but mid way through the 3rd Quarter...the Packers come out with 4-wide. Spread 'em out. Let Brett go to work. Favre to Driver gets us started. Grant on the draw. Favre to K-Rob for a first down. Jennings gets involved. The Packers find the end zone. The Packers take that commanding three score lead. Once again, it's evidence! Evidence that we have the killer instinct. Evidence of the "Championship Drive."
Green Bay 37. St. Louis 23.
The Edward Jones Dome becomes Lambeau Field this weekend. I'd be surprised if at least 25% of the stadium is not Packer fans. PatRad, Mark, Jason, enjoy the game! Bring the G-Force! Bring us a victory! Make a difference. Leave hoarse! Let the good times roll...
In Championship Form,