Packers XLV

Oh, Henry!

Posted December 24th, 2020 @ 07:12pm

What an interesting matchup we have on tap Sunday night. A true barometer game against a playoff team whose strength is the Packers' biggest perceived weakness. On top of that, we'll find out about an hour before kickoff whether the Pack can secure the #1 seed with a win or whether the game has no playoff ramifications whatsoever.

Either way, Green Bay will approach this game as if it means everything, because they'll get a chance to match up with an offense even a bit more explosive than its own. There is not another offense they will face in the conference playoffs that will provide a tougher test.

It starts, of course with Derrick Henry, the best, most complete back in the league. He has a shot at 2,000 rushing yards and is physical, tough and built for December games at Lambeau. The Titans run more than 60% of the time and that will continue Sunday night, no matter what the score is. It would surprise most people to learn that the Pack's run defense is ranked 11th in the league in yards/game. The group is improving, but those stats can be skewed by the teams the Packers have played and game scripts (big Packer leads cause teams to throw more than they want to).

We'll find out if the Pack's ascending young inside linebackers, Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin are ready for the physicality that Henry will bring on every play. Even his backup, rookie Darrynton Evans, showed last week that he can be a handful as well. Adrian Amos will need to follow up on maybe his best all around performance as a Packer, passing his first test as the dime linebacker (in place of Raven Greene) with flying colors. The trickle down effect means that, with Will Redmond out with a concussion, a rookie safety will have to help hold up the back end in dime--either Henry Black or Vernon Scott.

Which brings us to the Titans' passing game. Ryan Tannehill has a pair of big time receivers in AJ Brown and Corey Davis; the latter is finally living up to his college promise, just as he's set to hit free agency. Jaire Alexander can only cover one of them, so look for Tannehill to pick on Kevin King and fall back on tight end Jonnu Smith, who's getting healthier. Those three guys got 70% of Tannehill's targets in last week's three touchdown win over the Lions. The offense is humming and coordinator Arthur Smith will likely follow his predecessor Matt LaFleur and grab a head coaching job in the offseason.

Yes, the Titans will move the ball and score points. The question is, how much will they enjoy the wintry evening Green Bay has in store. Temperatures are likely to be in the mid-20s at kickoff and there's snow in the forecast.

The Packers' offense won't have issues with the weather, nor will they have issues with the Titans defense, which doesn't really get after the passer (just 14 sacks, led by Harold Landry), doesn't cover particularly well (28th against the pass) and can't get off the field on third downs (dead last in the NFL at 53%, the Pack's D ranks tenth).

The game will likely come down to which team is able to stop the other from scoring in the red zone. The two offenses are the best in the league inside the 20 (Pack #1, Titans #2), but while Green Bay's red zone defense is middle of the Pack (15th), Tennessee's ranks 30th and now it's facing the top red zone QB in the league this season.

I like the fact that the Packers' win over the Panthers left a bad taste in the mouths of Rodgers and all of the offensive players and coaches. I expect them to be razor sharp and productive all night. I just hope that if the Seahawks beat the Rams and take away the Pack's chances of claiming the #1 seed with a win, that they don't take their foot off the pedal knowing that a loss wouldn't damage their chances at all.

It's very simple: if the Rams beat the Seahawks on Sunday afternoon, the Packers are the #1 seed with a win on Sunday night. If Seattle wins, the Pack can only be the #1 seed with a win over the Bears in Week 17. So, not that we need any reason to root against the Seahawks at any time, but this week we'd love to see LA take out their frustration and humiliation from last week's loss to the Jets on Pete Carroll and company. How fun would it be to take the field Sunday night knowing they're just one win away from the coveted top seed in the NFC.

Packers 31  Titans 27

For those of you who are "Packer Preview" listeners, a heads up that starting this week, the show returns to the 8am time slot on KFAN. We'll stay there as long as the Packers are still alive in the playoffs. As always, you can also listen whenever it's convenient, in its podcast form on iHeart radio.

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Comments (7):

Merry Christmas!! Go Pack !!

on December 25th, 2020 at 03:15pm

This game will be a preview of our upcoming playoff games....the Packer game plan should be..." Our best Defense is our Offense. GO PACK GO !!

on December 26th, 2020 at 03:51pm

I'm Note sure Dave how you can see The Packers wont have any problems with the weather. When they haven't even had a cold weather game yet. They don't like the cold anymore then they do. We can say we love it. They don't. Rodgers always plays better in domes and warm weather then in cold weather also. It depends on what team you have. We won a lot of games with 12 in Dec, . Cause they had Lacey to run the ball then and others.. We will see tomorrow. I am not sure how you can be so matter of fact on that statement. I hope you're right. Will need turnovers , cause there going to move the ball on us. In one game versus the Colts. they dominated them, and lost the next as far as common opponents go. Barely beat the vikes, but that was along time ago. They just put up 46 on Detroit. Henry has to be kept around 150 and no long runs. he will get his. I am more worried about Tannyhill and those wr's. I'm guessing 23 will take Davis, so King will get Brown. that is the one I am worried about. Time will tell. I see it as up and down game, one team will break out in front. Probably Pack again, and Titans will come back and win it late. 34-30

on December 26th, 2020 at 08:58am

In the year of Covid football there is no advantage to being the number one seed other than a week off which could hurt you the following week in bad weather, the only thing that could help is if Dillon could be like Henry in the playoffs (run to set up pass) we will see, Go Pack Go!!

on December 26th, 2020 at 12:52pm

Sorry to come in so late, but I was trying to reconcile a contrary point of view. This game in many ways isn't important. At least not as important as next week. It means very little for playoff seating. And perhaps, we would be better off not playing the NFC championship game at home anyway, but instead in some warmer location. I tend to agree with Larry, This team is built and has the mind set to win indoors more than outside in the elements. Yes, we would all feel better about the Packers if they win this game. If they loose, they probably won't see the Titan's again this season. The same is true if the win though. Maybe I'm putting less stock in this game because I don't expect them to win. I do expect them to compete. That's what we are looking for. That, and growth. I hope that growth shows up in LaFluer's second half play calling. Still, I hope the score is 31 27 Packers. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year. I'm so grateful to be a Packers' Fan.

on December 27th, 2020 at 07:04pm

We should have a lot more information on just how Super Bowl ready this year's team is after this game. The caliber of opponent, the stakes in this match and the setting at Lambeau all offer the perfect opportunity for the Packers to show whether they can go the distance next month or are going to frustrate again in the postseason. The Pack is what their record says they are but within that there is the worrying record of 1-2 in games against other clubs going to the playoffs. All 3 of those this season have been on the road, though. The pressure is on the offense to play a complete, balanced game against a defense they should dominate. The Packers have a pattern of starting well working the game plan and following their script. But as games have progressed that start has too often petered out as the opposition catches on. The Pack seems to have a problem picking up their pace after the half. Don't expect any shutdown performance by the D but they do have to make some crucial stops to keep Tennessee from keeping pace or pulling ahead in a shoot-out. Depending on the weather conditions a combined 60-70 pts. is going to be scored. If the Pack wins it'll be by 38-34 on the high end or 30-27 on the low.

on December 27th, 2020 at 07:59am

I hit the nail right on the head,run Dillon at them in snowy cold weather then home field makes a difference for the Packers,Do the same thing in Chicago next Sunday also only more of it!!

on December 28th, 2020 at 08:45am

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