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A Few Clouds
Packers: 'Experts' Concerned Heading into Playoffs
This time last year the Green Bay Packers were coming off a convincing, must win game against the New York Giants in week 16. They housed the Giants 45 - 17. Their defense was never the question mark it is this year and they were looked at as the team no one wanted to face IF they made the playoffs. It took them a week 17 win against their biggest rivals, the Chicago Bears, to finally clinch a wildcard spot in the 2010 post season.
This year, the Packers will indeed make the playoffs. In fact, they clinched the NFC North title and a playoff spot in week 13. The only question surrounding the Pack last year was whether or not they could sneak into the playoffs.
According to experts there are many more questions concerning the defending Super Bowl Champs; the defense being the main one. Merril Hoge, a football analyst for ESPN said, "I'd be very concerned if I were a Green Bay Packer fan." Their defense, "gets pushed all over the football field."
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote of the Packers' defensive line after the Bears' game, "The Packers will be hard-pressed to get passed the first round of the playoffs with a unit playing this poorly."
In last week's match up against the Bears, the Packers defense yielded 441 yards overall and 199 yards on the ground. The D-line had no pass rush whatsoever; zero sacks and two QB knockdowns. All of this against a Bears' offense that had third stringers at QB and RB. Bears' QB Josh McCown was in street clothes a week ago and he threw for 242 yards on a beleaguered secondary and a defense as a whole that is giving up the second most yards/game.
For the Packers to make another Super Bowl run their defense has to step it up and squelch the questions surrounding them. There is no doubt the offense can carry the team when necessary, but what if they run into a buzz-saw in the post season like they did against the lowly Kansas City Chiefs? Every team in the NFL knows it only takes one bad week and any team, no matter how well they are playing, can be beat.
The question on my mind is the Packers' seemingly 'advantageous' home field throughout the playoffs. The Packers play fast; stretching the field and opponents' defenses with their plethora of receiving weapons. No one can tell me that the Packers did not catch a break when they faced the Falcons last year in Atlanta's dome. If the Packers had had home field in that game it would have been very different facing Micheal Turner and company in the freezing cold setting of Lambeau Field.
I know it will be difficult for any opponent to come into Green Bay and defeat them on their home turf, but all it takes is one bad passing game by QB Aaron Rodgers for a team like New Orleans or San Francisco to take full advantage.
Lambeau Field in January isn't the most conducive place for a high powered passing attack. Having an effective ground game and a stingy defense in the cold is and that is where the Packers weaknesses could be exposed. If the Packers host a playoff game with below zero temperatures and it has any sort of ill effect on Rodgers' ability to throw the ball, Packer fans could have reasons to worry.