Posted by Mike Wendt on January 4, 2011 Jump To Comments
Let me be the first person to thank Green Bay for preventing what would have been one of the worst sports weekends in the history of Wisconsin. The Badger football team lost by two to TCU, and the basketball team got trashed by Demetri McCamey in Illinois. But the Packers’ defense stepped up and got it done for 60 minutes, and earned a date with Mike Vick in Philly this weekend.
As soon as Nick Collins picked off Cutler, I turned to my buddy Kevin and said, “I’m glad we’ll be underdogs throughout the playoffs. Sure I’d love a home game at Lambeau, but there’s so much pressure on Atlanta to not screw up the top seed.” So I watched SportsCenter later in the night and was surprised by what I saw. EVERYBODY, not just one or two analysts, but every analyst that picked a winner for the Eagles game picked the Packers. Now, I like that people think the Packers are peaking at the right time, but the Packers have the toughest road to the Superbowl. This week, they face a rested Eagles team who sat their starters against the Cowboys. A win in Philly then takes the Packers to Atlanta, who will also have an extra week to rest up. After that, a road game in New Orleans or Chicago looms (sorry Seattle, I don’t see it happening).
But before we look too far down the road, the Packers need to take care of business in Philly. Here’s what they need to do to get the win.
#1 Stop Mike Vick.
Duh. We saw how explosive Mike Vick can be when he nearly brought Philly back from 17 points down in Week 1, but the Packers we’re only expecting to see Vick in Wildcat formations, no doubt they’ll be game-planning for him all week. Also, we’re starting to see a formula to keeping Vick in check. Pressure + Keep Hitting Him = Ineffective Vick. A partial thank you to the Vikings for exposing that formula during Tuesday night football. Now, not only do the Packers need to bring pressure, but they need to contain Vick inside the pocket. He’s a huge threat with both his arms and his feet outside of the pocket, but when the pocket collapses on him, he takes his eyes off his receivers and doesn’t secure the ball well. By keeping Vick in the pocket with pressure, the Packers should be able to neutralize some of his explosiveness.
#2 Force Turnovers
As I said above, Vick doesn’t secure the ball well, which greatly favors the Packers. The Packers’ defense boasts two of the best ballhawks in the game, and they both excel in stripping the football. Of course, I’m talking about Clay Matthews and Chuck Woodson. Both these players forced a key fumble during the win over the Giants, and I think they will make the difference on Sunday.
#3 Don’t Get Conservative
I was listening to the Mike Heller show yesterday, and they were saying how they’d like to see Green Bay run the ball on 2nd and long sets to set up our play action and establish a ground game. In a perfect world, the Packers could gain 4 or 5 yards with runs during those sets, but our ground game has been rather ineffective this year. Now, I don’t mind running the ball on 2nd and 6 or closer, but the Packers have shown that they win games through the air and we need to play to our strengths, not to what Philly might not expect. Who cares if Philly is expecting a pass on 2nd down, they have a banged up secondary and we have four great wide receivers who are all capable of making a big play. That was my pet peeve about the Rose Bowl loss. The Badgers were running all over TCU during the final drive, why in the world wold you spread the field and go out of the shotgun during the two-point conversion. Give the ball to your preseason All American running back, run behind your award winning offensive line, and prove you deserved those accolades. Back to Green Bay, utilize Aaron Rodgers as much as you can. The combination of A-Rod and all our receivers creates huge mismatches for defenses. Jordy Nelson on a linebacker? Please.
So, if the Packers can do these three keys, we’ll be talking about their matchup against Atlanta a week from now. Every team works for a chance at the Superbowl, don’t get caught up in the analysts’ hype. Focus on what needs to get done and do it, don’t take the playoffs for granted. Let’s hope this crazy season doesn’t end in Philly.
Think Green Bay will win? Other keys to the game? Drop me a line at email@example.com