Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 17 Recap
In this issue
Chicago wins, then loses
Packers blow the two seed, but they do knock out the Bears
The Chicago Bears needed to beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday, then get some help from the Packers. They did their part beating the Detroit Lions 26-24. It shouldn’t have been close, but missed opportunities let Detroit back in. The Bears dropped passes, missed a field goal, and blew coverages. Take the Lions first touchdown. The Bears decided to drop into coverage rather than put pressure on Matthew Stafford. Normally giving quarterbacks time in the NFL is a bad idea, but coverage can work. The key is to cover ALL eligible receivers. Chicago apparently decided to cover most receivers, but leave Durham wide open for a 25 yard touchdown. That score just before halftime cut the lead to 20-10 and kept the Lions in it.
They almost completely blew the 17 point lead after not connecting in the red zone. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall seemed off all game. Actually, Cutler played well, it was Marshall that found a way to drop the ball, or not come up with tough catches, including in the end zone. And while they settled for 5 field goal attempts, making four (and missing one from 43 in a dome) left a lot of points on the field it looks even worse when the distances are considered. The distance (and line of scrimmage) are 33 (16), 40 (23), 28 (11), 20 (3) and 43 (26). They scored TDs from 60 and 1 yard out. Red zone efficiency was not good. Offensive futility and failure to make the playoffs in recent years cost coach Lovie Smith his job.
The Green Bay Packers could have had a bye on Wild Card Weekend by beating the Minnesota Vikings, but couldn’t get the job done, losing to the Vikings 37-34 in Minnesota. Adrian Peterson needed 208 yards to set the NFL single season rushing record, but Eric Dickerson got his wish and kept it at 2105 as the Packers held Dickerson to “only” 199 yards on the ground. But the defense looked bad with blown coverages, penalties and especially missed tackles. While Peterson had a few carries for no gain or a loss, there were numerous other chances the Packers didn’t cash in. Tramon Williams is a very good cornerback, but made little to no effort to try to tackle Peterson near the line of scrimmage. The Vikings had 217 yards rushing, 227 net passing yards, and no turnovers. The Packers had 72 yards rushing, 333 net yards passing and an Aaron Rodgers fumble at midfield.
There were mistakes by the officials (a pass that should have been ruled incomplete but the Packers didn’t have a timeout left so they couldn’t challenge). There was a mistake on a challenge (Mike McCarthy challenged a turnover which is automatically reviewed and became a Green Bay touchdown but the Packers were penalized on the kickoff). Jordy Nelson did his best to pick it up before the officials saw it but it was too late. There were three and outs in the first quarter and the Packers fell behind 13-0. Green Bay played catchup throughout the game, and while they could tie the Vikings they couldn’t take the lead.
Give Minnesota credit, they played harder and wanted it more. Especially Peterson. And because of that the Packers have to play on Wild Card weekend instead of getting a week off and home field in the Divisional round. Now they have to beat the Vikings on Wild Card weekend, and then go to San Francisco for the Divisional Round if they get past Minnesota. And if they win those games, they still have to win in the NFC Championship game, either on the road or against Seattle, to get to the Super Bowl.
The blown calls in the Seattle game (one call doesn’t decide the game, there were multiple blown calls in the 4th quarter) did impact the playoffs. The Packers would have been the 2 seed if they win in Seattle even if they lost to Minnesota, but the Packers could have got the two seed if they do their job in week 17. They could have been a hot team that nobody wanted to play. After losing week 1 against San Francisco and week 3 against Seattle, they could have been 12-1 in the last 13 games other than a week 12 loss against the Giants. They lost momentum. They lost home field in the Divisional Round. They lost the bye. And now they play a running team with an improved defense in the cold. There’s a pretty good chance that by losing to the Vikings they lost the season.