Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 15 Recap
In this issue:
The Vikings win on the road
The Lions don’t
The Packers win the NFC North
We knew Adrian Peterson would get his yards (212). We knew Christian Ponder wouldn’t throw for many (131 and just 109 net). But a five yard Ponder run, an 82 yard Peterson run, a 29 yard pick six and 5 field goals gave the Vikings a 36-22 win over the Rams in St. Louis. The Rams outgained the Vikings 432 to 322 net yards. But the Rams turned it over twice to none for Minnesota and the Vikings got just their second road win of the season in seven tries to improve to 8-6, which as of now has them in the playoffs. They close with Houston on the road and the Packers at home.
The Lions went to Arizona in a battle of 4-9 teams. Most likely, somebody had to win, although there was a tie this season. Somebody did win and it was the Cardinals, 38-10. In something you don’t see every game, Arizona had 196 net yards of offense and 186 interception return yards on 3 picks, including two for touchdowns (102 yards and 53 yards). Matthew Stafford was 24 of 50 for 228 net yards, but no touchdowns and the three interceptions. Detroit hosts Atlanta on Saturday night and finishes the season against the Bears. While they can’t make the playoffs, they can impact playoff seeding and even who makes the playoffs (the Bears need help).
A few weeks ago, the Bears were leading the NFC North. As of yesterday, they lost the Division title to the Packers and aren’t one of the six playoff teams as the Packers beat the Bears again, this time 21-13. In the first meeting, the Packers sacked Jay Cutler 7 times, intercepted him 4 times, and held him to 11 of 27 for 126 yards in a 23-10 Green Bay win at Lambeau. This time, the numbers were 4 sacks, 1 pick, and 12 of 21 for 135 yards and 1 TD.
Clay Matthews’ return was big as he came up with 2 sacks, 5 solo tackles and 6 total tackles. James Jones was the receiving star, coming up with 5 catches for 60 yards and 3 TDs. Randall Cobb had 6 catches for 115 yards, but no TDs. Aaron Rodgers was 23 of 36 for 291 yards, the 3 TDs and no picks. The Packers were over 100 yards rushing again, this time 32 carries for 113 yards.
The only mystery to many Green Bay fans is why Mason Crosby hasn’t been replaced. He still has plenty of leg strength as shown on his second missed field goal, a 42 yarder than hit the left upright well above the crossbar. He just has no confidence. By the 2013 training camp he will probably be fine and anxious to prove he’s back. But now? The Packers went for it on 4th and 6 in an obvious field goal situation, and that wasn’t the first time in recent weeks. If the Packers look at their 4th down options as offensive play or punt, and field goal isn’t even considered when in field goal range, it’s time for a change. I think Crosby will be a good kicker in the NFL again, but does anyone expect it to be this week? You can’t afford to lose a playoff game because your kicker misses a routine field goal.
But if you want to make a move, there has to be someone coming in that you have confidence in. So far the Packers have maintained that Crosby is their kicker and no change is coming. But if he struggles this week against Tennessee, the “vote of confidence” will mean what it usually does—a change will be made.
While the Green Bay locker room was a happy one, the Bears locker room was described as “somber” after the game. The Bears, who were once 7-1 are now 8-6. Brandon Marshall was frustrated after the game and walked out of his interview. The offense is a mess, and there were more offensive pass interference calls than normal. Alshon Jeffrey was flagged repeatedly, and while the Bears weren’t happy at a Sam Shields no call they felt was interference, they appeared to get away with some obvious holding calls. Games aren’t decided by one play or call. This one was decided by the Bears offensive line. When first and goal from the 6 ends up as a field goal, and first and 10 from the Green Bay 16 after a questionable (it’s the Christmas season, I’m being kind) special teams fumble on a lateral nets just a field goal, the Bears aren’t good enough to play with the good teams. They haven’t beat many this year, other than Indy in week 1.
The Packers still have something to play for. They can get a first round bye if they end up as one of the top two seeds (currently Atlanta and San Francisco). They need some help to get there, but have to keep winning to have any chance of that happening. Keeping Atlanta the top seed, getting the second seed and keeping the Giants out of the playoffs is probably as close to a best case scenario as the Packers can hope for.