Packers XLV

A House Divided: Can Pack Rise Once More With Flynn?

Posted December 20th, 2013 @ 09:12pm

Just guessing here, but if I'm Dr. Pat McKenzie, I'm not expecting a Holiday gift from Mike McCarthy...or Aaron Rodgers for that matter. When the head coach faced the media on Friday, moments after Rodgers was declared out for Sunday's game, he looked annoyed, irritated and disgusted. Not necessarily in that order. He was wearing the face he probably wore when a driver drove off without paying, back in his Pennsylvania Turnpike days.

Clearly the decision was a divisive one. One one side you have Rodgers and McCarthy. On the other, McKenzie and GM Ted Thompson. One side is most interested in the here and now, the other in the long-term. For us Packer fans, 2014 is a long way off and the possibility of a post season run is foremost in our thoughts (though the path through the NFC even with Rodgers looks like a perilous one).

For all we know, the good doctor has no intention of clearing Rodgers this season. But if the Packers take care of business on Sunday, setting up a likely clash for the NFC North next Sunday at Soldier Field, you have to think it would be virtually impossible keeping off the field for that one.

For now let's focus on the task at hand. In come the proud, physical Steelers who, for all intents and purpose,s are out of the playoff conversation at 6-8. A home loss to the Dolphins a couple weeks back took them out of the race. Here's how they qualify: win out and hope the Ravens and Dolphins lose twice, the Chargers lose once and the Jets win out. That simple. They're facing a roster purge, with serious salary cap problems beginning next year, so the group is set to be dismantled.

Despite their disappointing season, they'll likely come to Lambeau ready to battle. They're well coached and some of the guys may remember the last times these teams met, a little game we like to call the Super Bowl. Dashing the Pack's playoff hopes wouldn't erase that memory but it would make for a merry plane ride home.

Offensively, they'll be more than a handful for the Pack's overly generous defense. Big Ben is having one of his best seasons statistically, despite playing behind a patched up offensive line that has gone through six combinations this season and has allowed the sixth most sacks. Rookie back LeVeon Bell was injured for most of the first half of the season, but is healthy now and has fresh legs. Job number one is to contain him on Sunday. The passing attack hasn't missed Mike Wallace. Antonio Brown has emerged as a star and guys like Heath Miller, Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders make hit hard to pay Brown too much attention.

It's the Steelers defense that has changed the most since their Super Bowl season. They no longer have DT Casey Hampton and their line is not anywhere near as dominant as it used to be. LB LaMarr Woodley was placed on IR this week and James Harrison is plying his trade in Cincinnati these days. Their secondary remains intact from the Super Bowl year. It's very good, but aging. Troy Polamalu remains a vicious hitter but still gambles too much and it tends to cost him in big moments.

So Matt Flynn will need to grab hold of the confidence he gained after his big second half in Dallas and hope it carries over to Sunday. He'll need to be sharper than he was against the Falcons. It looks like Eddie Lacy will be able to go, after sitting out a couple of days of practice. With snow in the forecast and temperatures in the low 20s, the Pack will likely lean on the rookie to carry a good chunk of the offense. Andrew Quarless will also need to continue his emergence as a primary weapon. With Brandon Bostick out for the season, Quarless will be relied upon to move the chains and be a red zone target.

This one can go one of two ways: the Pack takes the early Christmas (or late Hanukkah) gifts from the Cowboys and Ravens and uses that momentum to clobber the Steelers and move one win away from the division title. Or they fall flat after the high of last Sunday night and can't muster the focus needed to take care of business.

A win like the one we saw in Dallas, followed by the 61 yarder that knocked off the Lions on Monday night, leads me to believe there's a wee bit of fairy dust sprinkled on this team right now. It may not be pretty and it may not be easy, but I say the Packers live for another week.

Packers 23  Steelers 20

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Comments (5):

Flynn leads us to a win on Sunday, and Aaron returns to the field against the team that injured him, stripping them of the division title. As my husband says, "Poetic Justice Bowl: ON!"

on December 20th, 2013 at 03:53pm

Oooh..."Poetic Justice Bowl"...I like that!!! As far as Rodgers being held out another week, we're kind of used to that by now, and since it's now the expectation, well, OK, so be it. And if I didn't admit it previously regarding bringing back Matt Flynn to be the season's "savior", yes, I was wrong on that one. But it is encouraging to see him gaining confidence with these last two games - sure, parts of them weren't pretty, but you all know what Al Davis used to say. But first things first - let's get past the Steelers to set up the "PJB". You can't make this stuff up, so one more time...are you diggin' the drama?

on December 20th, 2013 at 05:53pm

First off, I can't be upset at a doctor who puts the health of his patient ahead of winning a football game. It is hard as a fan (and hard as a 20-something year old player) but really, shouldn't a doctor be conservative about your health? That's just doc following his hippocratic oath. And I can't be upset at a gm that is looking long term, that values the health of his players (Ted being an ex-player himself) over his own career goals, and tells everybody inside the packer organization: I take the heat for this unpopular decision because I don't want doc mckenzie's house getting egged nor do I want Aaron's toughness questioned by over zealous packer fans. That's just Ted being a great leader. So I am disappointed for sure but nobody to really blame here. Just bad luck which happens to many teams and many players each and every year. Here's to hoping the pack's magic continues. After all, if somebody had asked us 2 weeks ago which was more likely with Flynn: beating Dallas at Dallas or beating Steelers at Lambeau, what would we have probably said? GO PACK!

on December 21st, 2013 at 08:01am

These ain't your father's Steelers but they are still a proud, aggressive team that showed last week against playoff bound Cincinnati (a team that beat the Packers with Aaron Rodgers) what they are capable of doing still. The Packers have won two great comeback games to stay in contention but I'm not sure how much those games say about who the Packers are or who the Falcons and Cowboys are this season. The injuries continue to mount. Johnny Jolly is done for the season and now so also is emerging te threat Brandon Bostick. After tangling with the physical Steelers who knows what kind of full complement the Pack will have for a possible NFC North title showdown in Chicago next week. The defense's ability to control the run and limit explosive downfield plays by Big Ben seem to me to be the most worrisome issues. The Packers had better now fall far behind in the first half in this one, though. Against this opponent another big comeback may not work out so well.

on December 21st, 2013 at 08:03am

see guys, maybe Davey does respect my posts a little. he went from mediocre Steelers, to respectful and a team on a mission to get back at us.. that is what I was thinking as soon as we had to play them also. Tomlin has to come up with a reason to get them up, so remember that super bowl loss boys?. if we don't get any pass rush on big Ben. he will throw for 400 and 4 again.. if the track is bad, it will be tough, I see him throwing it 50 times. and losing Jolly means a lot against the run. but they only run the ball 12-15 times a game. the Packers surprised me last week. but, this is not the cowboys D. Antonio Brown is the WR we have trouble stopping. if they put shields on him man to man, we have a chance, but if they play a lot of zone, were done. don't forget about him on punt returns too. I agree with a lot of what Packerlifer said and the trashman too.the 4 lovers out there and TT haters are going to say 12 isn't tough enough. 4 would be out there no matter what. It is not his call. if 12 was playing I would say we win by 4, but I see it 28-20 steelers. Again Pack, Please prove me wrong., but if we do win, 12 will still not play against the bears, just a feeling I'm getting.

on December 21st, 2013 at 09:35am

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