Packers XLV

Playoffs Begin Sunday Afternoon at Lambeau

Posted December 6th, 2013 @ 07:12pm

We learned on Friday what most of has surmised: that Aaron Rodgers would not return in week 14 against the Falcons. The Packers hope that seven more days will allow the broken collarbone to be sufficiently healed to allow for a return for a tough road test in Dallas.

Of course, if the Packers lose on Sunday and fall out of the playoff picture, they may decide to shelf him for the last three games. More on that later.

If the Packers, led by Matt Flynn, can't beat a 3-9 dome team at home on a cold, snowy day in December, then we shouldn't be concerned with the playoffs anyway. This was originally a Sunday night game, but the network goochies figured the rest of the nation wouldn't be waiting all day for Sunday night to watch these two struggling teams go at it.

What we expect to see is two teams that will lean heavily on the run game. Eddie Lacy should have a big game against Atlanta's 30th ranked run defense. But he's never even seen snow before, so we don't know how he'll react to the wintry conditions. The banged offensive line is also a concern. It sounds like center Evan Dietrich Smith will miss this game after injuring his ankle in practice (he was already dealing with the nee injury suffered on Thanksgiving Day). David Bakhtiari is dealing with the flu, so it remains to be seen how he'll rebound from his worst day as a pro.

The Falcons will provide a heavy dose of Steven Jackson, who's dealt with an injury-riddled season, but has looked healthy and fresh the last few weeks. Atlanta entered the season as a Super Bowl favorite, but injuries early to the offensive line and their stud wide receivers zapped them of their firepower and they're enduring a horrific season.

You never know the mindset of a 3-9 team in December, particularly one that believes it can be a Super Bowl contender again next year--where a few high draft picks could mean a world of difference to the roster. When they take the field and their snot starts to freeze, they may start fighting each other for space on the heated benches on the sideline.

The Pack on the other hand still has everything to play for. If they can win their last four, they have a realistic chance to win the North (assuming here that Rodgers returns for the last three. If he doesn't, they've got no shot, obviously). If they're going to catch the Lions though, they'll need some help from the Eagles on Sunday--the toughest game left on their schedule. If Detroit wins in Philly, they'll be a lot closer to the North title.

If the Packers lose this game, put me in the camp that Rodgers should finish the season holding a clipboard. Yes, next week's Dallas game will have playoff implications for the Cowboys, but the Packers will know their post-season hopes are gone and they'd be better served by letting that collarbone heal completely and start looking ahead to 2014. Same thing holds for Randall Cobb. There's no guarantee he'll be healthy enough to play anyway, but a loss on Sunday should shelve him for the year as well.

The Packers will have had ten days to think about the Thanksgiving Day massacre. Ten days to hear about what was the most embarrassing loss of the Mike McCarthy era. If they've got any pride at all, we'll see a focused effort from the team on both sides of the ball. Nothing we've seen in the last five weeks makes us feel really confident that that will happen. The Falcons can't sack the quarterback. That should give us hope. After all, sometimes, you just gotta believe.

Packers 20  Falcons 17


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Comments (12):

I really thought you guys would be better served going back to Tolzien for this one. The secret about Flynn's arm is out and D's now know he physically cannot throw down field. So all you do is take away the underneath stuff (like the Lions did, and the Vikings didn't)--and Flynn can't do anything. Falcons by 14 Sunday.

on December 6th, 2013 at 02:22pm

This may very well be an over-simplification, but to address Cane’s point directly, it can be summed up in one word – experience. That’s the reason Flynn is going and Tolzien isn’t. Granted, when applied to these two, it’s all relative, but these are trying times, and McCarthy is trying. Neither of these guys can handle a pass rush decently, so for the past 5 weeks, defenses have stacked the box against the run, and dared the Packers to throw, and so far that’s worked. Maybe Flynn’s arm is compromised some, but he chucked it pretty good against the Vikings when he had time – sure, it’s not a rocket, but all we’re asking for is just one stinkin’ win without #12 out there…that’s not too much to ask, is it? This is the season right here, if they have any hope of moving on. And with that, GO EAGLES!!!

on December 6th, 2013 at 03:46pm

I was thinking the Packers could move up into the teens in their draft order next spring. Now I'm thinking they could be top 10-12. Aaron Rodgers return this season is already a moot point. The defense will get torn up in every one of the Packers' remaining games. It's not that Rodgers should be shut down. There's just no reason to rush him back before he's completely healed. The release of Jerrion McMillian this week is the opening move of an offseason defensive unit purge coming. Not coaches but players. After using 4 of the last 7 first round picks on defense plus numerous other prime choices on that side of the ball and coming up with bupkus I think patience is finally coming to an end with all the injury prone and unachieving guys drawing paychecks for nothing. Getting high in the draft and getting involved in some free agency this offseason should put the Packers in good position to start building up their 14th world championship team. Like they did after the 6-10 slump in 2008.

on December 6th, 2013 at 08:16pm

Hey Voice, I respect you, but I think your wrong on this one. I said last week 16 should have come in for a spark. did we watch the giants game? flynn has no arm strength. he played against the vikes with emotion and guts, but, Tolzein is better. he was hyped up and high with all his passes against the vikes. 4 did that too. many years ago. he is not close to 4, but he is the choice here now. MM said , he made every throw over 20 yards against the giants, that is nuts. But, it makes no difference. the season is over as I said before, and THC. I am wrong, I thought 12 would be back by week 14. even if we win. it's over. again, I am writing with my head not my heart. You cannot lose all these players and with 12 out, keep in the race. Hopefully, TT, will learn from this and have good back up next year. we still lose 24-20 -, again, I hope I'm wrong.

on December 6th, 2013 at 08:26pm

Voice...I got to go with Packlifer and Larry on this one. I've been a Packer backer longer than maybe you and sometimes we express with our heart. But this isnt Valentines Day its a reality check. We need to realize even with Rodgers this defense is not of playoff caliber. So like I have said all along we need to dip into free agency. Voice...even though you love the system a reality check says it is time to purge after this season and reload with free agency and the draft while Rodgers is in his prime. It probably will start with Capers. You can say he does not have the players....but you have to adjust your scheme to the players....something he has not done. I believe we will bring in a D- Coordinator from the outside who will go back to a 4-3 utilizing Ragi and others. I am somewhat of a psuedo draft guru and I would like to see us get a top D back like Dennard from Michigan State or the linebacker CJ Mosely from Alabama. Both are playmakers which we sorely need and could be available when we might be picking per Packlifer. I still want us to win but Valentines Day is in February....and my mind still says.." Playoffs !! What Playoffs !! GO PACK GO !!

on December 6th, 2013 at 09:11pm

Larry and OSSG, you guys are terrific, and I love bantering with both of you. I'll admit that a couple weeks ago I tore up my membership in the "We don't need Matt Flynn" Club, and sure, he had the one good game against Minnesota, but as far as a long term solution to being the backup, the jury is still out on both him and Tolzien, IMHO. A full off season of OTA's and training camp will sort all of that out, and at this juncture, I'd say that Tolzien has more upside between them, but we shall see. I'm still in favor of Flynn over Tolzien for Sunday, but I'll bet Flynn has a short leash on him. I still don't think the Packers should call it a season yet, and I don't think they should blow the roster completely up this offseason, and I don't think a return to the 4-3 is the answer. For the 4-3 to work, you need big beefy guys on the ends who are fast, and there just aren't that many guys like that out there nowadays. You can find guys to fit the 3-4 much easier, because all the linemen have to do is hold the point, and the outside linebackers do the pass rushing, and those guys are easier to find (of course, provided they stay healthy, which has been an issue of late). But the reality of it is 4-3, 3-4, 5-2, 6-0, whatever...JUST GO OUT THERE AND MAKE IT WORK!!! I don't care about the defensive scheme, HIT YOUR GUY AND TAKE HIM DOWN!!!! If you have talented players, scheme doesn't matter, because the X's and O's don't move...players do! The defense started off terrific this season, but something happened along the way, and strangely enough it happened when Rodgers went down...go figure. They started giving up huge chunks of yards and couldn't get off the field to save their lives. So should Capers be held accountable? Of course. Should Capers be fired? No...for this reason. He's not the one out there missing tackles - there are 11 guys doing that for him. Too many players on this defense aren't doing their jobs, and a full evaluation will be made this offseason. Cutting McMillan should have sent a strong message to these guys that lousy play will put you on the street. It also sends a message to Thompson, where his drafting philosophy is well respected, it also shows he needs to do a better job of evaluating. Granted some of these issues are a direct result of draft positions farther down the board on average, but that's part of the price of success - drafting that far back eventually catches up with you. And yes, I'll bring up free agency as an option, so here goes. I've mentioned this before, and it bears mentioning again - in today's NFL, it's all about the salary cap, and free agency, especially in the first 2 weeks, can damage a salary cap bad enough it can cripple a franchise for years. There are no bargains in early free agency - you have to wait for the right guy at the right price (example: Charles Woodson, which was a stroke of incredible luck when you look at it closer). This team is not anywhere near needing a complete blowup, but yes, depth turned out to be a major problem this season, and that must be addressed.

on December 7th, 2013 at 05:31pm

I don't think the Packers will or should fire Capers and switch defensive scheme again,OSSG. Teams that panic and dismantle their organizational structure usually don't succeed. Capers showed what he could do when he and the current staff instituted the 3-4 in 2009 and defense was even a bigger factor than the offense in winning Super Bowl XXLV the next year. That defense, though, has lost Cullen Jenkins, Nick Collins, Desmond Bishop and Charles Woodson since the Super Bowl and players who were supposed to become those types of players haven't produced. I've heard no suggestions coming out of 1265 Lombardi Avenue that Capers is regarded as the problem in Green Bay. A.J Hawk recently said, "It's on us. On the players."

on December 7th, 2013 at 07:18am

After reading the comments this week (it is obvious there was a lot of thought behind them), the one that really hits home to me is from Lifer. He stated "patience is finally coming to an end with all the injury prone and un-achieving guys drawing paychecks for nothing". Realistically, it is not TT's style to use free agency, so the draft will have to address our aging D-line, as the backups obviously cannot atop the run.

on December 7th, 2013 at 09:35am are one of the most astute contributors on this site. But...I respectfully disagree with you that by removing Capers next season and changing defensive schemes is panic mode. I would agree if it was a one year mirage but our defensive shortcomings have been longer. Look what happened to Atlanta and Houston....stayed pat and look where they are now. Carolina and even Seattle have made changes and have improved. Change for change can be panic but standing pat can be worse. We need to take advantage while Rodgers is in his prime. Our drafting has not added many key contributors the last 2 years and some of that needs toimprove. I am not calling for TT or MM to leave but I believe Capers time has come. We all want the best for the Pack and I will admit if time proves me wrong. I believe in reloading not panic. GO PACK GO !!

on December 7th, 2013 at 10:39am

We got our win, and hopefully, the end of our Matt Flynn saga. I really don't want to talk about any QB but number 12 for the rest of the season/decade. Yeah, yeah we need a better back up. Right now I just want to see this team with Rodgers behind center, for this next game for Christmas and for season to come .

on December 8th, 2013 at 04:31pm

The thing everybody overlooks is the fact that Ted Thompson has been ill prepared for the last couple of years to supply a decent backup for Rodgers. The arrogance after Rodgers went down to waste a game on Seneca Wallace to see if he would work is laughable, bring back Jim Del Gazio or how about T.J. Rubley? What a major disappointment its been in the way the Packers have not handled losing Aaron Rodgers and it can be directly attributed to managment.

on December 8th, 2013 at 09:31am

minny backer, u must be new to this blog, we have all been saying that for 2 years now, Ialso have been screaming with OSSG to draft or better yet pick up a safety, TT doesn't read THC blog I guess.

on December 8th, 2013 at 10:50am

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