One, perhaps overlooked, thing to watch for in each phase of the game as the Green Bay Packers prepare to take on the New York Giants in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs…
- Offense: How will Bryan Bulaga perform after layoff? There’s been a ton of attention on Chad Clifton and how he’ll fare after missing past three or so months of the season. But equally important will be the play of Bulaga who exited in the Week 15 against Kansas City after spraining his knee and missing each of the final two regular season games. He’s has been a full participant in practice all week and is probable for today’s game, but he draws a tough opponent. Bulaga will be lined up primarily across from Justin Tuck and, perhaps occasionally, Jason Pierre-Paul. The Packers offense will need Bulaga on top of his game despite the layoff.
- Defense: Getting creative on defense. One season ago, defensive coordinator Dom Capers was lauded for his creative blitz schemes. This year, the Packers defense has been comparatively vanilla. Now that it’s the playoffs, and everything is on the line, will the creativity return? Last week the Packers figured out a way to get D.J. Smith more involved on defense by making him part of the rarely used “Psycho” package. Maybe the Packers will make more extensive use of that on Sunday, or perhaps the type of zone blitzes that put B.J. Raji in coverage and made him a star in the NFC Championship game last season.
- Special teams: Erik Walden on special teams. In Week 17, the Packers started Brad Jones and Frank Zombo at outside linebacker. And with a smaller role on defense, former starter Walden got a bigger role on special teams than he had all season. The move paid off when he forced a fumble on Detroit Lions return specialist Stefan Logan. The Packers could use big plays like that, and it stands to reason that Walden will continue to play a bigger role on special teams.
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