Packers XLV

Pack at Bills: Let the Nail Biting Begin

Posted December 12th, 2014 @ 04:12pm

Gang, I'm worried about this one. To me, the game that stands between the Pack and home field advantage throughout the playoffs is Sunday's game against the Bills.

OK, so the Packers have never won in western NY, they're 0-5. Granted, the last visit was in '06 and virtually no one remains on either team from that one. But Buffalo is always a tough place to play; they're the AFC's version of the Packers: a small, blue collar community that lives and dies with its team. Of course their Super Bowl record is much more Viking-like than Packer-like.

Consider: they're 7-6 and clinging to life in the wide open AFC playoff race, despite benching their supposed franchise QB early in favor of journeyman Kyle Orton (more on the Packer killer in a moment). They lost last year's defensive rookie of the year Kiko Alonzo for the season during training camp, yet their defense hasn't missed a beat, ranked fourth in points and fifth overall.

They opened our eyes early, by winning their season opener in Chicago, which seemed a lot more impressive a couple of months ago. They also won in Detroit, something the Packers weren't able to accomplish. Their loss in Denver last week has them on the outside looking in at the postseason. They'll likely look at this one like a playoff game.

They get the Pack on a short week, coming off a sobering win, if you can call it that. The 31-7 halftime lead got lost in the second half defensive collapse; a half that looks like it cost them corner Davon House for the long haul and possibly Eddie Lacy in the short term.

Lacy's hip injury is concerning, because it sounds like a muscle strain which takes time to heal. Look for hometown hero James Starks to get the lion's share of the duties in the running game. The former University of Buffalo star grew up in nearby Niagra Falls, NY. Coming home with a chance to start could be looked at both ways: he's ultra motivated to play in front of family and friends or he tries to hard and fails miserably.

The running game is essential in this matchup, to keep the NFL's leading sackers away from Aaron Rodgers. Look for Mike McCarthy to move Rodgers out of the pocket quite a bit and for a lot of quick throws. The Bills' defense is strongest up front and gets weaker as you move to the back end. They have two guys picked in the top three on the line: Mario Williams on the outside and Marcell Dareus on the inside--both are playing at Pro Bowl levels. Throw in the  extremely loud environment and the offensive line will be tested like it was in Seattle and Detroit.

So I don't expect the Pack to sniff 30 points, unless the defense and special teams helps out. Where the Pack should have an edge is when the Bills have the ball. Rookie Sammy Watkins is special and will be a perennial Pro Bowler, but has slowed down since the first six weeks of the season and is the only real threat in the passing game. Robert Woods is a solid #2 and dangerous on third downs and in the red zone; tight end Scott Chandler has become a favorite target for Orton and the Pack will need to keep an eye on him.

Back to Orton: he knows how to beat the Packers. He's 5-2 overall, including a 4-1 record as the Bears QB. We all can remember him making unlikely plays in the past that had you skating your head saying, 'I can't believe Kyle Orton just beat us.' He was signed on August 30th and within a month he was the starter as the team realized they had a playoff caliber team, but a young QB who wasn't ready for the job at that level.

So Orton has steered them to a winning record but if you look at their results at home something stands out. They beat the Dolphins, Vikings, Jets and Browns and have lost to the Chargers, Patriots and Chiefs. Do you see it? They've handled the lousy teams at home (save Miami) and got beat by playoff caliber teams. And here come the Packers.

This one is going to be a struggle. You hope the defense got a kick in the pants after the way Monday's game ended and will bring a focused effort like we had seen in the weeks before that fateful second half. The Bills, with a pedestrian running game and a lackluster passing game (to go along with an average offensive line) shouldn't be able to move the ball with ease. In their three home losses they scored 10, 22 and 13. Green Bay should be able to keep them in the teens.

I expect a slugfest, with points at a premium. If Lacy doesn't play, it gets even tougher. Starks gave us hope on Monday that he's ready, if needed. The weather should be very familiar, with temperatures in the mid-30s and no snow in the forecast (they've had enough to last them till the end of the decade).

We may not see the typical fast start in this one, but hopefully Rodgers and company will do enough by the time it's finished.

Pack 20  Bills 17

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Comments (7):

I agree that this game could be the difference between the #1 seed and #2 seed. Could also be the difference between week #17 being a huge game or just being an extra Packer bye week. But as I watched the Cardinals (with their 3rd string QB?) somehow beat the Rams last night, I began to wonder if I had it all wrong. All game long I was cheering for the Rams so Arizona would get a loss and provide a better chance for GB to get #1 seed. But then I began to think a bit more. If Arizona doesn't win the NFC west, then Seattle will. And the more games Seattle gets at home in the playoffs, the better chance of them moving forward and eventually facing the Packers (in Seattle or in GB). Obviously, I would much rather meet them in GB but even better would be for somebody else to knock them off before we even have to play them becuase to be honest, Seattle is the only team in the NFC that I fear the Pack may still not be ready to beat. So my new #1 goal is that Seattle face as many road games as possible in the playoffs so they have a better chnace of getting knocked out. I'm not afraid of ending up with #2 seed and having to go play that Arizona team I saw last night!

on December 12th, 2014 at 05:52pm

That historical stat is just that, a stat. It has no bearing on this game. I hope to see the Pack run off center in this one and not try to string it out around the edge. I like Lacy's punishing style, but think Stark's ability to shoot thru the hole might have the big play capability. Defensively, I'm looking for coverage sacks. Orton wants to get the ball out quick on dumps and screens. We need to make him hold that ball. This ain't no trap game. Its attitude vs. talent. If we can show up with more of both, then the game is ours for the taking. Let's win this game! Go Pack!

on December 12th, 2014 at 09:18pm

Davy...I totally agree with you. I do not like to be negative but this one has all the trappings of a loss. This is the best defensive line the Pack will face since Detroit. Kyle Orton is a Packer voodo doll. Lacy could be out and Sammy Watkins could pull a Julio Jones. Also...the Big Boys have moved the line from 51/2 to 5 and now to 41/2 so the smart money is on the Bill's. So...we will take the smart money winning and if Davy is right a 3 point win for the Pack is a winner for all. GO PACK GO !!

on December 12th, 2014 at 12:18pm

If there's a trap on the Packers' schedule in this final quarter of the season this game is probably the one. (Although there is a history of unpleasant surprises at Tampa, too.) If there's a game that might compare this season it could be Miami. The Packers went to the last seconds to edge out a win in that one. I would like to see the Packers work DuJuan Harris into their scheme more. With Eddie Lacy hampered it would be better to be able to work on that Buffalo defense with 3 or 4 backs rather than just one or two. The Packers can't cancel out big plays deep into opponent's territory by penalties; as they did 3 times in the second Minnesota game. The defense can't lapse into old bad habits on their fundamentals. Missed tackles, blown assignments and miscommunications will spell U-P-S-E-T. And no more blocked kicks. I think the Packers can score 24-27 and hold the Bills to 17-20 to win. But I'm not ready to R-E-L-A-X till these next two are in the bag.

on December 13th, 2014 at 06:35am

Talk about Packer Killer HC, you forgot about the game that we could have been perfect. he came in and KC had just fired there coach and I said we were going to lose. he threw for 299 yds that game and no picks. he just threw 55 times last week I think and and 350 yds. come on Shields , u need to play better this week. this will be starks in front of his family and Fred jackson, u say who? he is older then dirt but he still gets it done. receiver and runner.he is just like Forte. but this all comes down to Ol and not turning it over. if they play well, we win 33-23

on December 13th, 2014 at 11:24am

Ouch. A couple weeks ago and even last week before halftime my friends were sending emails worried about us "peaking too early" Well...I don't think we need to worry about that anymore. I'm expecting a much better effort/ performance from the offense next week, but this one was tough. Too many drops and too many penalties.

on December 14th, 2014 at 05:40pm

So let's look at this loss. The Packers are now 3-4 on the road, 7-0 at home. Obviously you can't beat the Packers at home, but a terrible Atlanta team last week proved that you can pass all over them. All that is standing in any teams way to beat the Packers? A great defense. Let's look at the Packers Road losses/wins. Seattle, great defense. Buffalo, New Orleans, Detroit were teams that beat the Packers away from Lambeau, why? Because they know how to defend Rogers. Those teams have proven, you get into the guys face and he turns into looking like Christian Ponder. Honestly he may have lost his mvp title after such a terrible game. Packers wins on the road, Minnesota, Chicago, Miami....woo hoo, three non playoff contending teams. And honestly their 7 home games are not even impressive, except for maybe the Patriots, who thankfully play in the AFC. Jets, Vikings, Bears, Atlanta, Carolina, Philly, New England, Now look at this list?! I'll give them New England, even though Brady was a completion away from bringing that team back and Philly just a bit, it looks as though they will possibly miss the playoffs. My point? The Packers have only a few respectable wins under their hat against respectable teams, honestly? Only 2 Philly and NE, and they were at HOME! Where you are expected to win. The respectable teams they have played on the road they have been beaten. I laugh when I see GB as a #1 on power rankings, it's a joke. This defense has problems, and you get a hand in Rodgers face and he gets flustered. GB wins at home, good for them, as you should, remember the SB is being played away from Arizona! Get this team away from lambeau against a defense that understands what it means to play defense, and this team is honestly not that good. The only thing the Pack can hope for is a shady playoff roster such as when they won the SB a few years ago. A 7-9 Seattle team? Bears 3rd stringer! Talk about getting it handed to you. But wait! Let's look at the remaining teams in the playoff hunt. Arizona, probably the best D in the league right now. Seattle, extremely tough and I do believe they are one team I think who can beat the Pack in Lambeau, Detroit, strong D. Two wrap this up so I can shut this down, Packers have problems, and it's funny that the fan base is so blind to it. And it's great seeing someone like Rogers who is a pompous asshole really show his true stripes once again. Good night Packer land.

on December 15th, 2014 at 01:20am

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