Packers XLV

The Top 5 M.I.P.'s (Most Important Packers) This Sunday

Posted January 20th, 2011 @ 03:01pm

For me, it comes down to the play of five guys that will determine whether the Packers claim the Halas Trophy and move on to the Super Bowl.

You'll notice that none of them are defensive players. I feel pretty good about this unit. They contained Cutler very well over the past two seasons, holding him to a passer rating of 55.8, with four TDs and nine picks and are playing better than they have all season.

No, it's offensively and on special teams where the Pack needs to make plays and these are the five guys that will hold the keys to victory:

1. Aaron Rodgers: no shocker here. His play last Saturday opened up everyones' eyes and launched him officially into elite status. He's played at an unbelievably high level since returning from the concussion. Despite the talent on the Bears defensively, there's no reason to believe he won't shine on Sunday. He played well in the first game there and is solid in cold weather: 7-3 in games 30 degrees or colder, 303 yards/game, 25 TDs, 5 interceptions and a passer rating of 109.4.

2. Chad Clifton: After Ted Thompson rolled the dice and paid him handsomely to keep him from the clutches of Dan Snyder, Clifton's delivered with a Pro Bowl season. But he will have his hands full with Julius Peppers, who lives for moments like these and is playing at an All Pro level. The lousy playing surface may make it tougher for Rodgers to use his feet to his advantage, so he may have to do more work from the pocket. Clifton needs to keep Peppers away from Rodgers--much easier said than done.

3. James Starks: Once again, the surface is a concern here. He's never played on a field like this and it may take a few carries for him to get used to it. There was no way he was going to follow up the Eagles performance with another huge game, but I like the way he ran against the Falcons. He has a burst that no one else on the team has, and he has the ability, like Ahman Green did, of gaining a couple of yards when he's tackled. He will need at least 20 touches in this game if the Packers are moving the ball the way they want. It's tough to run on the Bears, but even three yards per carry should be enough to complement the passing attack. Ball security is an absolute must.

4. Mason Crosby: Chicago gets a big checkmark next to them in this matchup. Who would you rather have lining up a big field goal in the fourth quarter, Crosby or Robbie Gould? Crosby scares the daylights out of me on a field like this, in conditions like these. He will no doubt be called upon at some point to make a big kick Sunday. In the previous game at Soldier Field, Peppers blocked a field goal. Crosby needs to deliver in this game or the Pack may look elsewhere in 2011.

5. Tim Masthay: Yep, a guy who never put on his helmet in the last playoff game is one of the most crucial Packers this Sunday. The Packers will have to punt the ball a number of times this week and we all know who will be awaiting those punts. There's reason for hope that the Pack has improved since Devin Hester took one to the house against them in Week 3. And after a big special teams letdown in Atlanta, the units should be on guard. That's all well and good. The truth is, we will all be holding our breath every time Masthay punts one away. How he handles punting directionally and dealing with the wind might very well be the difference in the game.

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Comments (37):

Just tried it. I couldn't do much (I guess I'm quite out of shape) but I can feel the siratn on my stomach, chest and arms. It feels like it could work very well plus it doesn't take much time.

on August 1st, 2012 at 04:11am

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on February 9th, 2012 at 08:59pm

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on January 12th, 2012 at 02:23am

Davy....Agree with you completely on the top 5 most important guys. Only thing I may add is that James Starks playing for Buffalo U and coming from northern NY must have played on fields worst than Soldiers Field. Here are my 5 most MIP's for the Bears: (1) Jay Cutler: The human enigma: will we see the interception throwing machine or the big game QB ? (2) Devon Hestor: Not only keep him from quality touches on kicks but defend him in the passing game from big plays (3) Julius Peppers: He could be peppering Chilton on a bad field and throwing off the passing game. (4) Robbie Gould: If it comes down to winning this game by a field goal this guy is solid (5) Greg Olson: This guy always is a matchup problem for our linebackers with multiple catch games especially in the red zone. From my view we need to contain and control these five. GO PACK GO !!!

on January 20th, 2011 at 01:01pm

Amazing that PA found time to post during his show...hi NOT PA! At number 6 is the collective punt coverage team. Masthay did a great job of directional punting last time they played and seems to have figured some things out. If he punts like that and the coverage team can pinch Hester to the sideline, the Packers are in business. Neutralize Hester, contain Forte (which I think is not the hardest thing in the world), limit Peppers (chip him if you have to) and get to Cutler early and the Packers have this one.

on January 20th, 2011 at 01:05pm

Daveeey, Nice breakdown. I like it. I think that there are a few more indicators we can look at to predict the outcome of the game: 1. If Hester doesn't break a long one, I believe the Pack will win. I don't believe the Bears have enough offense to go up and down on us. 2. If we win the time of posession battle by more than 2 minutes, the Pack will win. That stat will illustrate whether or not we have been successful on 3rd down. If we are, we win. -- I think Starks and ball security will be a big factor. If he carries it loosely, the Bears will knock it out. -- I think (hope) we have been using the wishbone formation and always handing to Kuhn to set up some playaction for just such an occasion. Our short-yardage packages have got to be successful. The bears don't give up big plays often and we need to be able to sustain drives. Hitting on 3rd and 2/3rd and 1 is going to be critical. With all the talk about our wideouts, I think Quarless will have a big game. (Of course I said that last week and it didn't pan out). Against a Cover 2, the deep middle is open and he just needs to hang on when it comes his way. Go Pack!

on January 20th, 2011 at 01:07pm

I like all of the keys to the game you guys have listed. It's funny to see that Special Teams players are at the top of concerns for the Bears and Pack. My three keys to the game are as follows: 1. Keep Forte from getting a 100 yards. If they can keep him in check, both as a reciever and runner, then Cutler will crack under pressure, as it will all be on his skinny little shoulders. 2. Don't lose the turnover battle. I don't even think they need to win it, just can't be minus two. 3. Offensive line does a solid job. They don't have to be the Wisconsin Badgers, but they do need to provide Rodgers with enough time to get in rhythm, especially early. Once he's in the groove - it's over. Hasselbeck put up 250 and 3 td's last week with a ton of drops and an awful set of WR's. I know a lot of that was late, but the drops throughout the game were absurd. Flight leaves for Chicago in 40 hours and I'm having a hard time thinking of anything but the game. Go Pack!

on January 20th, 2011 at 04:37pm

Special Teams has been a weakness all year and could get exposed against Chicago, agree it may determine the game. However, rattling Culter from the first snap is more important - Raji putting on the pressure and blitzing Woodson and Mathews will again allow for T Williams (PROBOWLER) and the solid secondary to win the turnover game and ultimately the trip to the Super Bowl. GO PACK.

on January 20th, 2011 at 07:18pm

The Vikings will be back soon enough and take back the NFC North Title. Don't think only the Packers or Bears will be the only ones who can win it for years to come. I have much trust in Leslie Fraizer for what he can do for this Vikings Franchise.

on January 20th, 2011 at 10:08pm

I've massaged my great football mind.

on January 20th, 2011 at 10:48am

Someone please tell "Danny" that "Common's - Preposterous statement tournament" is full and trolling for late admittance won't get him anywhere. ---Sorry Danny but we're here to talk Packers v cubs for the NFC championship. Chip Scoggins has a Viqueen 2011 Draft blog on another line. Please go away.

on January 21st, 2011 at 05:32am

On another note, great JSonline article this morning on Starks. Really glad to see that the first quote from Edgar Bennett was that "ball security is the single most important thing". I love Edgar Bennett.

on January 21st, 2011 at 05:34am

Schenyschen, I think danny is p.a. that is a move he would make right? not have the guts to come on with the packer fans. what does his message even mean? great football mind, the self anointed one. We don't turn it over we win, real simple. GO PACK!!!!

on January 21st, 2011 at 10:49pm

Schenyschen, I think danny is p.a. that is a move he would make right? not have the guts to come on with the packer fans. what does his message even mean? great football mind, the self anointed one. We don't turn it over we win, real simple. GO PACK!!!!

on January 21st, 2011 at 10:50pm

Schenyschen, I think danny is p.a. that is a move he would make right? not have the guts to come on with the packer fans. what does his message even mean? great football mind, the self anointed one. We don't turn it over we win, real simple. GO PACK!!!!

on January 21st, 2011 at 10:50pm

Daveey, Loved the back and forth with Lavelle. Calling him out on him not even believing what he was saying was beautiful. That smell in the radio booth was FEAR. Pure, stanky, chi-town fear! Go Pack!

on January 21st, 2011 at 11:44am

I have really thought a lot about this all week and in the end I do feel confident the Packers win this game. I am still very nervous since I was all but certain we would beat the Giants 3 years ago and that went awry. Ball security to me is vital in this game. Starks is running on a huge stage here and as much as I like the fact he can move a pile he will have to walk that fine line tomorrow of trying to move the pile but being mindful of just how good the Bears are at being ball hawks which James Jones can certainly attest to. I am interested to see if the Bears try to find Sam Shields. He is playing better each week but I can see the Bears trying to get some big plays out of the matchups with him since you can feel pretty confident that the big plays are not going to be against #21 and #38. Lastly, composure is absolutely crucial for this team. It cost them in many of their losses this season but it was no more apparent than the first game with the Care Bears in Sepetember. I do not care at all that the same referee is doing the game on Sunday. I do not think that has any impact at all as long as this team controls their emotions and plays they way they have played the last month. Packers 24 - Bears 13 Lastly, if Ditka truly believe the Bears are a much better team than the Packers ESPN should fire him now. I know he is a Bears homer but that is a preposterous statement.

on January 22nd, 2011 at 08:12am

Consistency is important for the Pack: Same things I have preached all season: Win third downs on both offense and defense and force and win the turnover ratio. MM must be on top of play calling.....stay aggresive especially if the Pack gets up early and manage the challenges and timeouts wisely. Do not take steps back into earlier play calling that cost games. Davy.....will be looking for you and wife in your end zone seats where touchdown Packer players will be jumping. GO PACK GO !!

on January 22nd, 2011 at 08:42am

While Masthay never punted in the last playoff game, I believe he put his helmet on several times to serve as the holder on Mason Crosby's field goals and extra points. Other than that, I agree with your analysis.

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