Sunday, December 25, 2011

MMQB: Packers wrap up home field advantage but questions still remain about the defense...

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and goodwill towards men. And women. And any assorted girls and boys trolling along underfoot this holiday weekend!
I have been admonished by all the after-Christmas party-goers at my house tonight to not go into my normal “glass half empty” rants tonight. The fact that my team has won just about everything they can in the regular season, with only a nothing-left-to-play-for game against the Lions remaining, should put me in the bestest of holiday moods, right? I mean, I’ve got a four day weekend to spend with Mrs. MMQB, I’ve been surrounded by friends and family, I’ve received some excellent gifts, spent some quality time with my parents and kids (even long-distance holiday time with #2 Son and his gal via Skype), and the Packers beat the Bears! What’s not to love, right?
Darn, this is hard. OK, I’m pressing REAL hard on the keyboard, trying not to rain all kind of derision upon the Packer defense. If you watched this game, you know what I’m talking about, making a third string QB look like Johnny F*****g Unitas and a third string running back look like Barry F*****g Sanders. Whoa. That was very negative. Slap my wrist and take away my pumpkin pie! (HEY! I meant that figuratively. I was eating that!)
No, I think I have to be on by best behavior (I still think that pie-forfeiture was uncalled for) since it’s Christmas. Soooo here is my best imitation of a glass WAY more than half full writer:
  • Wow, that Aaron Rodgers is good. Five TD’s, no picks and 283 yards. Plus, the dude rushed for some vital yardage as well. Sure, he was off target on a few throws but he more than made up for them with more great plays. His play has eclipsed that of old whatshisname Bent Somebody in every category. Except for interceptions and game-crushing plays.  
  • James Jones and Jordy Nelson stepped into the void left by Jennings tonight. As much as they were absent in the loss to KC last week, these two guys were vital to the Packer efforts tonight. And don’t forget the contributions of Driver (2 for 29), Grant (2 for 34) and Cobb (2 for 22). Those were some tough yards and big plays.
  • Jermicheal Finley (sigh) is really trying my patience. I don’t mean this to sound negative but in the last two games after Jennings went down, he has had to step into the role of playmaker and has not measured up. Yes, he did have that very nice TD catch but he had two outright drops and two more balls thrown that he should have caught. I’m happy he’s on the team, he’s out best receiving TE but he is not the man he needs to be in terms of taking over a game. Early this year (and last year before he was injured) J-Mike could not be covered. Now, it’s 50-50 if he does get open that he’ll catch the ball.
  • I’m loving what I’m seeing from Clay Matthews. The sack totals are way off but his impact in the running game and in coverage (two picks in the last three games) is 112% over and above where he was a year ago when he was racking up those massive QB sack numbers.
So now the Packers have secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They’ve set franchise records for victories, consecutive victories and just about every passing mark there is. Tons and tons of records are being set by Rodgers and if he’s not the league MVP this year, the voting is rigged. So what can they possibly be playing for against the Lions next week? The Lions are in the playoffs for the first time since Boy George was popular. The Packers are in and have everything a regular season can give. What to play for on either side? Pride and momentum, that’s all. Will McCarthy sit his starters? Will we see Matt Flynn in the second quarter? Will this look like a preseason game? Quite possibly. But I sincerely believe that MM and the Packers want to go into the post-season on a roll and with a 14-1 record. They have not looked great the last two weeks against, quite frankly, teams that are just coasting along on fumes. What will happen against a powerful offensive team like New Orleans or a defense like San Francisco? Nothing good. They can treat this game against Detroit as a great way to warm up, get some momentum going into the bye and work out some of ugly kinks (you know I’m looking at you, Defense) that have reared up lately.

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