Packers XLV

Packers' Margin for Error Shrinking Quickly

Posted November 15th, 2013 @ 02:11pm

Six teams from the NFC will punch tickets to the playoffs and as it stands now the Packers are on the outside looking in. The rise of the Lions and Panthers, and the injury to Aaron Rodgers, has created added urgency as the Pack gets set to take on the Giants.

There is no guarantee that ten wins will get you in. In fact, if the Packers finish 10-6 and in second place in the North, it's likely they'll miss the playoffs, because the Niners and Panthers look like wildcard teams, if they don't win their divisions.

All of that raises the importance of this road game in New York, with Scott Tolzien steering the ship. After an 0-6 start, the Giants have won three straight and are still in the NFC East mix--just a game out in the loss column. Yet they're a shell of their former selves, in large part because Eli is playing more like big brother Cooper than big brother Peyton. His offensive line can be blamed in part--he has no confidence that he can take his time and look for receivers.

After a wretched start, he's slowed down on the interceptions of late, but the G-men still lead the league in takeaways with 28. If the Packers have any hope of stealing this one, they'll need at least a pair of turnovers to help out the beleaguered offense. Eli's passer rating is a career low 68.5 this season and he'll throw a couple jump balls. With a league low (and inexplicable) three interceptions all year, the Packers defense must win a couple of those battles and finally take the ball away.

Much has been made about the Pack's run defense the last couple of weeks and in particular how ineffective they've been in the fourth quarter. While we won't see the likes of Matt Forte or LeSean McCoy this Sunday, bruiser Andre Brown returned from a broken leg last week and banged around for 115 yards on 30 carries. He won't beat the Pack around the edge, but he'll gash them up the middle if they're not careful. Let's hope the defense has watched the film and listened to the coaches and will revert to the unit we saw last month.

Offensively, we all hope this will be Tolzien's one and only start (and I don't mean they'll hand off to a fourth different starter, Matt Flynn, next week). Aaron Rodgers is hinting that he might be ready for the Vikings next week--we all hope that happens, but it may be a bit ambitious. For now, Tolzien gets his first career start and I get the feeling he'll do all right.

The Giants' defense has improved of late: they've allowed only one touchdown in the last 14 quarters and that came on a short five yard drive following a fumble on the opening kickoff last week. Pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul may miss the game with a shoulder injury, which would help--and also give us a larger dose of former Packer Cullen Jenkins and rookie DaMontre Moore. What's really helped the unit was the early season trade with the Panthers for middle linebacker Jon Beason, who's settled them down and taken on the signal calling.

Tolzien needs to show poise, composure and an ability to look off his first option and find open guys. If Eddie Lacy is going to find some holes, Tolzien will need to move the ball through the air and make those safeties honor the passing game. Hopefully a week of practice and game planning will put him in a position to give the offense a spark. He showed a nice touch on the deep ball and made good decisions (for the most part) last week.

The Giants have been better on the road than at home in recent seasons and still seem to struggle at their place. They barely dispatched the Raiders last week and have really only looked good once, and that was against Josh Freeman and the Vikings.

If Aaron Rodgers were healthy the Packers would likely be a touchdown favorite. Instead, the Giants are 6.5 point favorites. Everyone has to pick up their game for the Packers to win this one. No special teams mistakes, no turnovers and a big improvement by the defense. Hopefully the modified cast Clay Matthews wears will help him play at the level we're accustomed to. If Eli faces pressure this season, he wilts like a piece of lettuce on a Juicy Lucy. The Packers must rattle him. And they must stop their pedestrian running game.

I'd like to say that's all going to happen. With the season starting to get a way from us, this is the week the team rises up and beats a team having a historically bad season. But they have to show me before I believe.

Giants 23  Packers 20

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Comments (4):

Throughout the "without Rodgers era", which can't end soon enough, the one thing that would have helped this team get through this is the defense. They were showing signs of improvement, but as it's been pointed out several times, the personnel hasn't come through. As OSSG pointed out, the D draft year was supposed to address these needs, and for a variety of reasons, many of these guys haven't worked out, be it either injury, talent, or whatever. Many have thought the defense had turned a corner, but it appears they're just not as good as previously advertised. Rodgers has the ability to mask many of this team's shortcomings, and strangely enough, this exposure of problems may help this club in the long run; time will tell. But we all know you can't change tires on a car doing 60 MPH, so these problems need to be dealt with on the run - a difficult task to say the least. One thing that hurt the Packers' chances was having Detroit sweep their series with Chicago; now it's most likely there will be only one playoff team from this division. But if they can go to Detroit being down no more than one game, they still have a chance. Either way, it's an uphill climb no matter what, and they're going to need some help. So for this weekend, Go Ravens, Go Steelers, Go Seahawks (just for the principle, not that it matters much), and of course, GO PACK!

on November 15th, 2013 at 07:17pm

This game looks to me like Philadelphia again, just with a different location and colors. An NFC East team with a losing record but still alive in a weak division and starting to show signs of getting its act together. I'll be glad, win or lose, just to see the Packers show some semblance of being a playoff caliber team even without their star quarterback leader. With a full week of prep Scott Tolzein could do well but the Giants will now have a full game film on him to study in their prep. It seems much to expect that the defense is going to suddenly learn to tackle, cover, communicate,rush the passer, maintain their gaps, and know what the hell they're supposed to be doing out there all in one week. Don't expect Aaron Rodgers to be back before December. He shouldn't be risked before then even if he could give it a try. IF the Pack can dig down and win these next two we could concede Thanksgiving to Detroit and still be 7-5 going into the final month. That could mean a "best case scenario" 11-5 for the seasonand in for January. Split these next two, lose at Detroit and the Packers are 6-6 and in enough position to keep the final month interesting but probably at the end in vain because of tiebreaker disadvantages at 10-6. Lose these next 3 and it'll be time to talk about next year's draft.

on November 15th, 2013 at 07:22pm

I never thought I would say this, but you are selling your team a little short To use your in the Zone bit Not Today Davey. While it pains me to say, as the resident rational Minnesota sports fan, the Green Bay Vikings will be back to being the Green Bay Packers no later than the calendar flipping to December. With Rodgers the Pack go 4-0 in December even with the Sieve Defense they have. The Falcons are almost as bad and my Vikings, the Steelers lost to my Vikings and the Cowboys and Bears darn near lost to my Vikings. Barring re-injury or setbacks to Rodgers, heads should roll if the Pack are anything by 4-0. So that puts them at 9 wins. If Rodgers is back for Turkey day it is a 50/50 game but I still bet the pack. W/O him forget about it. They will lose to the Giants this Sunday some how some way. That said, Vikings East will beat Vikings West next Sunday (I will be high with taking back the AXE from the Badgers it will only hurt 1/2 as much to see the Purple get swept. Yes Dave I know you are an IU guy). 10-6 might not be enough that is very very true Davey but don't be so ready to give that 2nd Wild Card to Carolina. They have the Pats Monday night and still have 2 vs the saints who will a) want to hold them off for the south and b) keep hope of top seen in NFC (they play in Seattle first Monday in December which will give the winner the driver seat). The other elephant in the room even if the Packers go 0-3 in the non-Rodgers games and end at 9-7, they still are chasing the Lions. They are fully capable of the obligatory Lions meltdown. As Denny said, if you want to crown em then crown em. I still feel it will be they are who we thought they were. Don't get me wrong, I won't be unhappy if the lions prove me wrong and we will do our part and loose to them week 17 last game ever at HHH Metrodome. They also go to PIT and Philly so even a loss this week for the pack and this is nowhere near Over. Now I am going to find out who spiked my coffee to get me to type this somewhat positive packer post. Oh and while the Packers, are of course, our biggest and most bitter rival; the bears do indeed still suck.

on November 15th, 2013 at 10:22am

For the Pack to survive non Rodgers games a lot obviously depends on the defense. Also we need to see Packer QB's throw some longer passess to loosten up the defense. Since Rodgers went down we've seen Kevin Love throw longer and more accurate passess to Corey Brewer in non steroid ball than any Packer QB to any Pack receiver. Yes Tolzien had 280 yards but most were after the catch. As to the defense a lot of fans want Dom Capers head for their performance. But you cant expect him to perform miracles if he does not have the talent. While schemes and execution are important you have to have the personnel. We did not show that in the 4 losing games. A troubling pattern has surfaced in the Packers’ four losses, when the defense has failed miserably trying to get off the field in the fourth quarter. The 49ers chewed up nearly 10 minutes of the final quarter on scoring drives of 76, 80 and 50 yards in the season opener. The Bengals marched 95 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown, the Bears sealed the Packers’ fate with an 18-play, 80-yard field goal drive that consumed 8 minutes 58 seconds, and the Eagles used up the final 9:32 on a 15-play drive. So instead of calling for Capers head look at TT's 2012 draft. He used the first 6 picks of that draft on defense. Let's look at those 6 and you judge their contributions. 1- Nick Perry- Since arriving has missed more games than he has played. 2- Jerel Worthy- Lost last year to a broken leg....could be gone long 3- Casey Hayward- holder of that Packer injury the hamstring in and out 4- Jeron McMillan..has not covered anyone deep or made a tackle since his college days. 5- Terrell Manning- LB not on squad anymore, 6- Mike Daniels..A pleasant suprise...leads team in sacks. So...a 1 for 6 average on this class for this year is a big contributor to lack of success on defense. I never predict scores...I leave that to the other sages on this site but trends can sure help predict outcomes. GO PACK GO !!

on November 15th, 2013 at 12:17pm

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