Let's Get Down To Business.Posted:Jan 10th, 2022 8:30 am
OK, we got that one out of the way and it’s on to the playoffs. The Packers accomplished most of their goals in the season finale in Detroit:
They escaped any major injuries to key players. Only MVS (back) and Chandon Sullivan (knee) left the game banged up and at this point we don’t know if they stayed out for precautionary reasons or if they may miss some time.
They got 27 plays out of David Bakhtiari, who gave us a brief scare when he ran off the field in a middle of a drive. Turns out he was just wiped out and didn’t have any issues with his knee. Observers saw him smiling and fist bumping with team medical officials, so we could all breathe a sigh of relief.
They got center Josh Myers back—he played the entire first half and it looks like the offensive line is nearly set for the playoffs, with Lucas Patrick sliding over to right guard, replacing rookie Royce Newman. The only question left is whether Billy Turner will be back at right tackle. We should have clarity on that by mid-week.
They got Davante Adams his record, eclipsing Jordy Nelson for the most yards receiving in a single season. I’ve never been happier to see a guy head to the sideline and remove his helmet than when I saw #17 call it a day.
What they didn’t get was a win, which I expected, knowing that Dan Campbell would do everything in his power to try to end the season on a high note—including emptying the playbook with gadget plays and fake punts. It would’ve been nice to see the defense handle those plays better and accomplish things like not make rookie Amon St. Brown look like Megatron. But it’s hard to get too worked up: there was little motivation to win and much more motivation to stay healthy. Resting guys like De’Vondre Campbell, Kingsley Keke and Aaron Jones was the prudent thing to do.
The only thing that didn’t go the Pack’s way was the Rams’ inability to prevent Jimmy Garoppolo from guiding his team on a 90 yard drive in the final minute to force overtime and an eventual win. LA couldn’t hold a 17-0 lead and now the dangerous 49ers are lurking and are just a win in Dallas away from a likely visit to Lambeau. For me, outside of Tom Brady and the Bucs, they’re the last team I want to face, because they can and will run it down your throat and their pass rush and front seven is dangerous. I’ll be rooting for the Cowboys on Sunday.
If the two Sunday games go to form with the Bucs and Cowboys winning, the Pack will learn who their opponent is late on Monday night, with the winner of the Rams-Cardinals game earning a trip to Lambeau. That would ensure a Sunday time slot, with the Pack’s opponent working on a short week.
We got a jolt of good news on Monday morning, with the Ian Rapaport report that Za’Darius Smith cleared to return to practice and expected to be ready for the playoffs. He was the one guy I thought might not make it back this season. He will likely be on a snap count and may only see 15-20 snaps, but what a shot in the arm for the Pack’s pass rush to get him back. Add in the likely returns of Jaire Alexander, Randall Cobb and Billy Turner and the Packers are the rare playoff team actually getting healthier for the postseason.
We all know the recent playoff history at Lambeau: just 6-6 since Michael Vick shocked the world and dealt the Pack its first home loss ever. There are no guarantees. But this Packer team has a different vibe and is the only team to go unbeaten at home this season. With weather the way they like it and a jam packed stadium, to go along with a healthy, talented roster, the stars are aligned. Green Bay has a 21% chance (according to the Football Power Index) to win the Super Bowl, best among all teams and is the favorite in Vegas to bring home the Lombardi.
If not now, when?