If the season ended today, the Green Bay Packers would be a no. 6 seed in the NFC playoff pecking order. “The Packers and Bears are deadlocked atop the NFC North with 7-3 records, but Chicago currently holds the tiebreaker based on their victory over the Packers earlier this season,” writes Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “The two teams meet again in the season finale Jan. 2 at Lambeau Field.” The Packers are making progress after a win against the Vikings. A week ago they were on the outside looking in.
Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson lead respective positions in Pro Bowl voting. “With 343,177 votes, [Aaron] Rodgers is the fifth top vote getter overall (AFC and NFC combined) behind Peyton Manning, [Mike] Vick, Adrian Peterson and Tom Brady, ” writes Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. So even though Rodgers is fifth overall, he’s behind Vick in becoming the NFC’s starting quarterback.
The kickoff unit had success against the Vikings’ Percy Harvin on their pop-up, pooch kicks last week, which begs the question, why don’t they do that all the time? Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum explains. “I think what would happen is their initial drops would be shorter, so they would contact our guys,” Slocum told the Press-Gazette. “They would change their plan. They’re set up for a deep ball kick, and if we kicked them all short like that they would run and jump on us sooner, block us let’s say at about the 40-yard line and we wouldn’t have the penetration down the field. Now that guy catches the ball , takes 4 or 5 steps and he’s got it to the 40. That’s what you have to be careful with.” While they can’t do it all the time, the Packers would be wise to mix these types of pooch kicks once a game on average.
The improvement by Greg Jennings of late is documented by Lori Nickel. “He has 32 receptions and 520 receiving yards in the last five games, four of which the Packers have won – two of them on a national stage,” writes Nickel. “If Jennings could somehow maintain that pace in the final six games of the year – and this is asking a lot – he would leapfrog over other receivers in the NFC and could even have his best year statistically.” It’s good to see everyone from Mike McCarthy to Joe Philbin to Aaron Rodgers realizing that they need to get the ball in the hands of Jennings more often.
Lori Nickel also relates a story that’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. It’s about running back Ryan Grant paying a visit to an 11-year-old Packer fan with leukemia. “Even though there’s always a winner every day in the sports pages, there are still unconscionable facts of life that bring us – even star athletes — back to reality,” writes Nickel. Highly suggested reading.
The effects of momentum heading into the playoffs are looked at by Pete Dougherty of the Press-Gazette. “One game proves nothing, but the playoffs over the last five years similarly show that a team’s record in the stretch run isn’t a particularly good predictor for postseason success,” writes Dougherty. “There are multiple examples of teams that finished hot but were knocked out in the first two rounds, and that closed lukewarm but played in the Super Bowl.” That’s called sports. Not everything can be quantified into tidy statistics.
The Packers are quietly assembling a playoff-caliber team says Gary Mihoces of USA Today. “The Vikings are 3-7 and all but finished,” writes Mihoces. “The Packers and the revitalized Bears are tied for first in the division. The route the Packers have taken to get where they are has been anything but smooth.”
The impact Brandon Jackson has had on the passing game is touched upon by Mike Spofford of the Packers official website. “[Sunday] marked the fifth time in the last six games that Jackson has caught at least three passes and gained at least 25 receiving yards,” writes Spofford at Packers.com. “In that time, he has already established a new career high for receiving yards in a season with 231, and he’s one reception short of his career high of 30 set in 2008.” Jackson deserves recognition for his contributions, which have set up several touchdowns this season.
Mike McCarthy is one of the few to succeed from the 2006 NFL head coaching class. “Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints and Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers have been the shining stars of that coaching class,” writes Mike Vandermause. “Houston’s Gary Kubiak is the only other survivor and likely will lose his job if the Texans don’t make the playoffs this season.” The evidence of building of just how good of a job McCarthy is doing in Green Bay. Is he perfect? No. But it’s hard to argue with the results.
Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac was asked to share what he knows about Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, because Trgovac faced Ryan several times when he was the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. “The thing that impressed me the most about him was you can tell he’s a guy that’s so good at all the little details of the game,” Trgovac told Rob Demovsky of the Press-Gazette. “The first time we played them was in Carolina, and he was a rookie that year. We always had packages set up for (playing against) the no huddle, but they were doing it mainly at home. But we told our guys, this is a mature kid so let’s make sure we’ve got our no-huddle calls down.”
Getting the perspective from the opposition, the Atlanta Journal Constitution previews the Packers-Falcons game.
Aaron Rodgers is nominated as the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week.
In Thanksgiving fashion, Chris Lempesis of Ol’ Bag of Donuts tells us for what he’s thankful.
The demise of the Vikings should benefit the Packers. Thomas Hobbes of Jersey Al’s Packers blog says the dominoes are falling.
Catharsis is the word being used for what happened in Minnesota says Colleen at PocketDoppler.
F.G. Union says Ted Thompson was right.
Listen to the newest edition of Packershow.
Happy Thanksgiving from Jayme at the Packers Lounge.