Alive and almost well

The Green Bay Packers kept their playoff hopes alive in exciting fashion by ripping the New York Giants 45-17. In quite possibly their most balanced performance of the season the Packers are on the doorstep of the playoffs, only the Monsters of the Midway stand in their way now.

The Bears are playing for the No. 2 seed so they won’t be resting anybody for that reason, but the Packers will always get the Bears’ best no matter what the circumstances, we all remember Lovie Smith’s comments the day he took the job in Chicago. The Packers lost to the Bears in Chicago in week three which kicked off a stretch where the Packers lost three-of-four games. The Packers are coming off another such stretch but the win over the Giants brings hope they have turned it around once and for all.

Aaron Rodgers was absolutely on fire against the Giants in his best regular season performance to date. Rodgers quick release and uncanny accuracy kept the ferocious Giants’ pass rush from making plays and with even a slight running game the Packers’ offense can literally be unstoppable on some days. Yesterday was one of those days.

The Packers’ defense did exactly what it had to – shut down the run and make Eli Manning beat you. Manning threw 4 picks. That game plan won’t work this week though, as Jay Cutler is having a career year in Mike Martz’ pass-first offense. The Packers will have to come after Cutler without being gashed by Matt Forte in the process. If you can knock Cutler around he’ll give you some opportunities to make a play.

If the Packers bring the same effort and execution next week beating the Bears won’t be a problem. My main concern is just putting two good performances together against good teams, which hasn’t happened much under head coach Mike McCarthy. The Packers could still back in to the playoffs with a loss but I’m not even going to think about that, if we lose I don’t want to go anyway.

Even though I predicted the Packers would win the division this year, a win Sunday and a playoff berth would be quite an accomplishment considering all the injures they have sustained. Special teams have done much more harm to this team than the injuries have. I mean how can Dom Capers take guys off the street and oversee the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense but Sean Slocum can’t devise a simple scheme to cover a kickoff return?

Anyway, it is going to be a fun week in Packer land and an electric atmosphere at Lambeau next Sunday. Like McCarthy said, it can’t get here fast enough.

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  • AATP

    Wife played a funny on my today – telling me a friend of hers has two extra Club Level tickets she’d sell us for the game. She then followed that up with, kinda sucks though cause I work – kinda like saying, nah nah nah nah nah, you could go if I didn’t have to work. Of any game this season to be a part of, this is the game I would want to go see. Talk about a play-off game against a division rival – this game is gonna rock. Guess I’ll be watching it from the warmth and comfort of my own livingroom here in Texas. This is the one time I will say that it really sucks.

  • Dan

    Good post Al.

    You nailed the difference between a good coach (Capers) and a lousy one (Slocum).

    Unlike last time, the Packers aren’t going to be called for 18 penalties. Additionally, Packers will take care of the ball. Unlike last time when Packers were driving for the winning score and Jones fumbled, giving the Bears the ball at GB’s 46 with 2:18 to play.

    Packers will take care of the ball and this time the refs will be made aware of the Bears o-line repeatedly getting beat and then grabbing the rusher around the head. Bears would average 10 more penalties a game if the refs start calling this. With this being a playoff game, the spotlight will be on the Bears o-line’s poor technique.

  • Off the subject, maybe, but when I see these one-handed, finger tip, and jugling acrobatics catches of today I wonder what the career numbers would be like for Hutson, Lavelli, Berry, Hirsch, and the Marx Bros etc. if they had those sticky gloves.

  • Jeff

    The Bears are not a good team , they are a hard working team that creates luck.
    If you do not turn the ball over on this team , they will not hold a team under 28 points.
    Jay Cutler having a career year ? That says right there that his career has not been much because he has not had to do much of anything to better himself from last year. Against good pass rushing teams this year he still had trouble.
    Packers crushed Dallas , Dallas lost to the Bears by only 4 points,
    New England Crushed the Bears , we dominated the Pats but did not finsh the job,
    The Packers crushed the Giants , the Ginats beat the Bears to a pulp.
    The Bears have given up 400 years to Dallas , Philly , New England and just under 400 to a Sanchez Jets’ offense that can not score against anyone.
    The Packers with all of the injuries are still superior to the Bears.
    Since 1992 , the Packers are something like 40-8 in Lambeau games played after December 1st.
    I told everyone that the Packers who were here in 2007 were going to be fired up to give it to the Giants for that NFC title game loss and it was clear that guys like Driver , Jennings , Hawk, Woodson, Pickett were jacked up , the same thing will be on display Sunday , the Packers are going to want to show who the best team in the North really is.

    • By jove, I think you’ve got it!

    • Nice post. Love it.

  • Kevin

    Holy shit things are looking up for once! Maybe we can get over the hump.

    • dave76

      Kevin says,” Sorry guys, Packers lose on Sunday” (Giants) We are over the hump, stay positive and have faith in our team. We are led by, IMO,by one of the top 3 QBs in the NFL. Rodgers stays on fire, nobody can stop us!!! Into playoffs, we get hot at the right time. Hmmm? GO PACKERS!!!! Destroy the Bears and the revenge will be all so sweet!!!

  • Reid

    Is it a coincidence that we have had arguably our 2 best offensive performances of the year and we have mixed the run and the pass the last 2 games?

    • Jeff

      Not at all , I have been saying all year that if this team commits to running the ball even if it is not working it opens up play action and there is not a defense out there that can stop us when they have to respect the run because that opens up our wuick rhythm passing game that is unstopable when it is clicking.
      McCarthy also needs to call for more screen passes because they work , everytime he has called for them this year they get 15 yards and that has been the case since Clifton and Wells have been here because they are good at screen blocking.

  • Pierre

    GB runners, returners, and receivers have gotta watch out for fumbles against the Bears. Lovie emphasizes his defenders to practice stripping the ball from receivers after the catch probably more than any other team. (ie…James Jones last game against Chicago, costing GB the game).

    Use Nance and Kuhn running against the Bears to start off the game with BJax on screens. Running game showing some progress towards greater respect by opponents. Rodgers’s passing and diverse play calling to sustain drives is keeping defenses guessing and under pressure to stop Packer scores. Ability of AR to hit so many receivers is big. Nice to see Tom Crabtree get a big reception for all the premium blocking he provides. Getting into the endzone has improved greatly compared to settling for field goals last two games. If they perform this well next week they should be able to outscore the Bears (and any other NFL team).

  • Three Lakes Terry

    We want another blowout as that keeps MM on the bench at the end of the game.

  • Larry

    If we use the first game as a barometer then its obvious what’s needed. A minimum of penalties is first. Without help moving the sticks the Bears won’t sustain many drives. Get on the ground/protect the ball. The Bears are very good at ripping the ball out…we’ve got to cover up. This means you JJ. Chip on Peppers/look for the screen. In a cover 2 the MLB tries to get 15 yards deep on pass plays/ send a TE down the seem and dump off to BJax underneath.

    DON’T KICK TO HESTER, nothing changes the MO of the game like a big return!

    I’d also like to see if MM practices with the receivers and DB’s in the cold this week…just to get them use to a hard ball. Any GB native got the scoop on this?

  • Dan

    If I’m seeing Sunday’s schedule correctly, looks like Atlanta game should already be over before Packers game starts. Atlanta will not let up against Carolina, so they lockup #1 seed.

    That means Bears playing for #2 or #3 seed. When they put it all on the line and Packers beat them, it’s going to make the first round playoff game of Packers at Chicago all the better.

    First round…
    Packers will go to Chicago and beat the Bears to advance to Atlanta.
    No stupid penalties, no stupid turnovers, and don’t let special teams give up big play.

    Second round…
    Tough game.
    No stupid penalties, no stupid turnovers, and don’t let special teams give up big play.
    Packers can advance to NFC Championship game at Eagles or Saints.

    It would be all the more salt in some wounds if Packers go to NO and beat the Saints to advance to the SB in Dallas.

    • Jeff

      The way I see it , Atlanta is very good and they played as good as they cam play against us a few weeks ago and still the Packers should have won.
      The Packers fumbled on the goal line , had a bad call on that 4th down catch by Tony Gonzalez, and the Packers refused to run the ball.
      There is romm for the Packers to improve from that game while the Falcons played as well as they can play.

      • Dan

        Just read that Atlanta lost a safety for the season. First transaction they have made since Sept 21.

        I don’t know who’s living a more charmed life, the Falcons (no injuries) or the Bears (facing 3rd string QBs and having an offensive line that tackles guys from behind without being flagged).

        • Rick

          Miami went from zero to hero in 2007 by having the same injury free year. It really does change the make up of a team if you are playing healthy versus opponenets playing hurt or their back ups.

    • Isn’t it ironic, ATL lost last night on a fumble in the red zone!

  • jonnyfootballhero

    Does anyone know why Starks was a healthy scratch last weedend? I thought he played pretty well in the Lions game.

    • McCarthy didn’t think so, from what I read.

  • Rick

    He is still hit or miss on special teams and Nance is not going away quietly as a RB.
    With Kuhn and Nance as a one two punch and B Jax as 3rd down screen plus decoy/blitz pick up; Starks lack of ST contirbution makes him a likely scratch on game day.

  • mel e mel

    MM says Starks doesnt practice well.

    • Thompson may have to draft another RB in April.

  • Skyler

    Packers are in the playoffs. Chicago being the second seed, they will not play hard. Atlanta will stay number one seed playing Panthers. Thank, Viqueens

  • Hmmm. Vikes are about to knock off the Eagles. That locks up the #2 at least for the Bears. If Atlanta beats the Panthers by the time our game against the Bears starts, wouldn’t it be wise for Lovie to rest his starters? What’s the sense in getting Cutler hurt for nothing? Right now, it’s starting to look like the Pack will be heading to Philly now if they beat the Bears on Sunday.

  • iccyfan

    Stupid Vikings. I really wanted the Packer / Bear game on Sunday to be meaningful for both teams…

  • Larry

    With the bears already a #2 we may see a little more conservative game plan for Chicago…They’re not going to risk showing anything new to another team and an injured player probably won’t come back in. I’m not sure if they’ll use Hester on KO’s, saving him for the playoff’s.

    More than the packers, injuries are the enemy.

    • Rick

      True. Depth has been something we have been pretty good at finding this year and preventing a fall like the Vikes had.

      In Packers reloading the roster news. We had a practice squad WR go down for the year in practice. With Alex Joseph(ILB) snagged away from us and sitting on the Panther’s Panthers Squad we took advantage of offering a UDFA ILB that the Bills were looking at – Cardia Jackson. Joseph is the better guy in my opinion but both are solid developmental guys. This Camp next year assuming no lock out will be filled with quality and depth.

      If they (Goodell and the NFLPA) negotiate a 60 man roster and bigger practice squads the Packers are sitting pretty with the talent on the team and coming back healthy.

    • Rick

      Talk about injuires.

      I got a tweet that Shields banged up his knee about Noon.

  • Getting by the Bears will be tough since they know they have a bye and will go all out to beat us. Our best chance is an early lead with some hard hits on Cutler, Forte or their receivers to make them think twice. It looks like we play in Philly if we beat the Bears. And, pretty short rest for the Eagles, who look almost as beat up as we are.

    • Rick

      Agree. An early lead will probably make the Bears pull people or rest critical players.