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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Playoff Preview: Green Bay Packers

Offensive MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers has shown in his 3rd year starting that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The Packers’ running game is almost non-existent, and there have been a couple games where Rodgers has actually been the leading rusher. He lost one of his favorite targets in Jermichael Finley earlier this year, but he is so good at spreading the ball around that it hasn’t fazed him in the least. He came up a little bit shy of becoming the first quarterback to throw for 4000 yards in his first three seasons, and would have the record if it weren’t for the concussion that knocked him out of one game and kept him out of another. The Packers have persevered through a lot of injuries this year, but one man who is truly indispensible for the Packers is Rodgers.

Defensive MVP: LB Clay Matthews III

Perhaps the DPOY, Matthews is every bit as indispensible as Rodgers. Matthews never takes a play off, and plays with the level of intensity of Troy Polamalu. He’s a nightmare for opposing QB’s, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers always makes sure that offenses will have no idea where Matthews is coming from. In just his 2nd year, Clay Matthews looks to be an absolute force in the league for years to come.

Best Win: Week 16 - Against the Giants

While Green Bay’s first official playoff game is against the Eagles on Sunday, the Packers essentially have been playing playoff football the last two weeks as both games were must wins in order to get into the playoffs. The Packers absolutely dominated this game on both sides of the ball, defeating a very talented Giants team. Green Bay was great at creating turnovers on defense, and Aaron Rodgers and company took care of the rest on offense. When Green Bay is clicking on all cylinders they are extremely tough to beat, which they showed in this game.

Rookie Grade: B

With all the injuries to the Packers, it would have been impossible for them to get into the playoffs without significant contributions from their rookies. Their 1st round pick Bryan Bulaga has not been outstanding, but has done his part to solidify a line that was absolutely terrible at protecting Rodgers last year. He will continue to improve, but the jury is still out on whether he can be the LT of the Packers in the future, or if he is better suited at RT. SS Morgan Burnett showed promise when he won the starting job in preseason, but a midseason injury cut his rookie year short. TE Andrew Quarless has been inconsistent at best, but has stepped up at times as he tries to fill the void left by the injury to Finley. RB James Starks didn’t get off the injury list until midseason, and while he looks like the Packers best running back, injuries continue to keep him from getting carries. Where the Packers did their best work was late in the draft. 7th rounder defensive end CJ Wilson, and undrafted CB Sam Shields and LB Frank Zombo have all played significant parts in the Packer defense and have played better than could have been expected. Overall this looks like a promising draft for the Packers, but injuries have made it tough to tell just how good this group really is.

How Can They Make It To The Super Bowl: Rodgers and Dom Capers

Mike McCarthy tends to outthink himself at times with the offense, but the best game plan is just to lean on Rodgers ability. Completely abandoning the running game is usually not the smartest game plan, but if it’s not working early, it is better to just let Aaron Rodgers do his thing like in the playoffs last year against the Cardinals. Rodgers has enough scrambling ability to make up for a lack of running game. On the defensive side, Dom Capers is the key for the Packers. He is great at designing game plans around the Packers’ defensive stars, Clay Matthews and Sir Charles Woodson. It will be up to him to get creative on defense as he has been doing all year, forcing teams to go away from their original game plans. The Packers have been great against the pass this year, considering how awful they were at times last year. Green Bay is so good at forcing fumbles that they need to make opposing teams try to beat them on the ground, and focus on preventing big plays through the air. With Rodgers and Capers, the Packers have a decent shot at making it to the Super Bowl.


  1. Tramon Williams has been a huge factor in the Packer D's resurgence. CMIII is awesome, don't get me wrong, but Williams had a bigger impact in the improvement of the D from last year. Last year our secondary struggled (said Cardinals game, for instance), but Williams' improvement this season has been the difference.

  2. Very true. Tramon Williams has been a probowler caliber corner, and has probably been a bigger impact than Charles Woodson, but I would still say Clay Matthews is more important to this team.