Is any team in the NFC more prepared than Green Bay for a Super Bowl run?
To find the last season where Green Bay was the Super Bowl champion, you'd have to go back. Waaayy back. Back to a time before even Rebecca Black dreamed of Fridays. Feb. 6, 2011. (Friday was released to YouTube on Feb. 10, 2011. We are only left to wonder if the world would be a different place if the Packers didn't win the Super Bowl. Damn you, Green Bay!!!)
The Packers are just two years removed from a championship and one year removed from a 15-1 season. They are without a doubt the most adept, qualified, and experienced teams in the playoffs to not get a bye week. They also blew their chance at a bye week by losing to Minnesota in Week 17, so pobody's nerfect. But don't be mistaken; the Packers are really good and since stumbling to a 2-3 start (all three losses to playoff teams) they've been as good as anyone.
Green Bay didn't get a bye week when they won their championship two years ago and there's plenty of reason to think that they won't need one this season either. They're a good bet to make a return trip, let's just hope that it doesn't signal a new Rebecca Black single again.
Why the Packers Win the Super Bowl
Lately they've been Partyin' Partyin' (Yeah!)
The Packers run this season started out like Forrest Gump when he wore leg braces. An eight-point loss to the 49ers, a two-point loss to the Seahawks (that people still don't believe), and a three-point loss to the Colts in the first #Chuckstrong game of the season. Since then, they Ran, Forrest, Ran to a 9-2 record in eleven games and have only lost by a big margin once, a random, but lopsided, 38-10 loss to the Giants in New York.
Green Bay has the fourth-highest Weighted DVOA per Football Outsiders, which takes into account the latest eight games stronger than games prior to that. Makes sense. The Packers beat up the Texans in Houston, had a strong win over the Rams in St. Louis, beat the Vikings at Lambeau, and the Bears in Chicago. Their final loss coming to the Vikings on the road on a game-ending field goal by Blair Walsh in a contest that Minnesota absolutely had to win. They were similarly overlooked in 2010 when they finished 10-6, but were not very far from 16-0 that year; All six losses came by a combined 20 points. They didn't lose a game by more than four points. In fact, over their last three regular seasons, they have only lost one game by more than a touchdown, that loss to the Giants. That's 48 games, only one of them was out of hand.
Yes, the Packers are very good.
Aaron Rodgers gotta have his bowl, gotta have cereal
Why is Green Bay so darn-tootin' good? You don't have to look much farther that Rodgers.
Over the last four seasons, the team is 46-16 when he starts and in the postseason, he has 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions in six games. While the Packers have rotated receivers like Kenny Rogers (no relation, obviously) roasts chickens, Rodgers stays consistent, finishing with 4,295 yards, 39 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. If you're counting at home, that's 84 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions over the last two seasons. What?
Players as good as Rodgers, and there haven't been many of them, tend to win multiple rings. He could have his second before his 30th birthday.
Gotta make my mind up, how good is this defense?
People are so focused on Rodgers that they tend to forget that the defense plays a part, too. While they "only" rank 11th in total and scoring defense, there is plenty to like about that side of the ball in Green Bay. DVOA thinks they are better than average against the run and the pass, and especially good against the pass. But they have to do one thing (as most teams do) to really help their case for a Super Bowl run: Force a turnover.
The Packers were 1-4 this season when they forced zero turnovers. Their lone victory was a one-point win over the Saints. When they fell apart against the Giants last season after going 15-1, they forced just one turnover and gave away four. When they won the Super Bowl, they forced 11 turnovers in four games.
Randall Cobb (four fumbles) will need to take care of the football. Casey Hayward (6 interceptions) could play an integral role as well. Forcing turnovers is going to play a key part in any team winning it all, and this defense is good enough to keep Rodgers happy. But will they?
Why the Packers Won't Win the Super Bowl
Rebecca Black Road Block
The Packers really should have beaten the Vikings and secured the 2-seed because they had their struggles on the road this year and will need to win in San Francisco and possibly Atlanta before making it to New Orleans. Though the Vikings should be beatable at Lambeau, can they do better than their 4-4 road record?
Possibly. Green Bay was 3-5 on the road in 2010 and then 3-0 on the road in the playoffs. And it's not like they've struggled especially on the road, only the loss to the Giants wasn't close. However, they would be facing the Niners in San Francisco in round two and they already lost to the 49ers once this season (and that was in Green Bay.)
Can they get a win over San Francisco, where the Niners were 6-1-1 this year? That's the 4-1-1.
Mason Crosby can you kick it in the back seat?
Because you are turrible.
If there is one theme over the last three years when the Packers lose, it's that they lose by three points or less. If there is one theme with Crosby this year, it's that he stinks. Outside of 29 yards, Crosby was 16-of-28 and he was 2-of-9 beyond 50 yards.
Despite what Blair Walsh tells you, 50-plus yard field goal attempts are no gimme, but professional kickers should do better than 2-of-9. He actually nailed a 51-yarder against the Vikings on Sunday, but remember that was in a dome. Crosby attempted a field goal in 13 games this season, and he missed a field goal in nine games this season.
He's never been good from long distance, which is too bad because the Packers might have won even more than they already have over the last four seasons. He should stop kicking from the back seat and I'm sure the Packers will tell him that he can take no seats for Green Bay after the year is over.
Are any running backs lookin' forward to the weekend, weekend?
Green Bay is not known for running the football, which is fine and dandy when you've got Rodgers, but it doesn't mean that they don't have a need for a running game. When the Packers won it all in 2010, James Starks carried it 81 times in four games and was mostly effective, but definitely important. Especially in a 21-16 Wild Card win over the Eagles when he had 123 yards. 81 carries in four games, after 29 carries in the regular season.
Is that going to be Alex Green this year? The same Alex Green who carried it 64 times in a three-game stretch this season and gained a total of 154 yards? When the Seahawks sacked Rodgers eight times in the first half in Week 3, they turned to Cedric Benson in the second half on their way to scoring their only touchdown.
It's not like the Packers haven't been successful despite not having a running game, but when they face teams that DO run like the 49ers and the Seahawks, they can get worn down and lose the time of possession battle and find themselves on the short end. (They both beat the Vikings and lost to the Vikings this year when Adrian Peterson had 200-plus yards.)
Maybe I'm picking nits, but it's not a non-issue. If they actually do find a running game over the next month, they could be kickin' it on Super Bowl Sunday, Sunday.
Hopefully it doesn't spark another disaster that eventually leads to a future me referencing it throughout a football article. But it's possible!
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