The Packers have done just what Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy said they would do this year - win. And if you'll recall, I was on board early, predicting a 12-4 season before the opener. (OK, so that was my 'heart' prediction, but you get the idea) But none of it means anything if the Packers don't make it to the Super Bowl. (There are lots of places for you to read about how wonderful the Packers 2007 has been and what a great surprise this 13-3 season is. This blog is not one of them.)
Here are the three biggest issues facing the Packers heading into the playoffs.
The Guard Position.
Corey and I have gone on and on about this on the podcast, but I really don't think it can be overstated. Word is that we will enter the playoffs with the same tandem that began the season - Daryn Colledge at left guard and Jason Spitz at right guard. This is not a good thing. Of course, this is providing Spitz can make it back from injury. I don't even want to think about the possibility of the Packers facing the New York Giants and their excellent defensive line with Daryn Colledge and Tony Moll starting on the offensive line. Wait. I just thought of it. Yikes.
Surprised? You shouldn't be. The Packers will only go as far as Mr. Favre takes them and while he has had his best year ever statistically and set seemingly every important passing record, he has come up short against the Bears, Redskins and especially the Cowboys. He simply can not have even part of one of his 'mad bomber' games if the Packers expect to get to the Super Bowl. (The scary thing is, you know exactly what kind of game I mean. The kind of game where he's just chucking it up into triple coverage early and often for no apparent reason) McCarthy needs to break Favre back down the same way he did coming into the season. Favre needs to commit himself to playing clinical, mistake free football. The team simply can not overcome his mistakes against playoff caliber opponents.
Nick Barnett needs to stop crying about the Pro Bowl (not to mention stop hanging out in Appleton) and start focusing on playing the way he was before the Pro Bowl participants were announced. A. J. Hawk has actually been outplaying Barnett the last couple games which is a welcome development if only to see them pushing each other heading into the playoffs. And the Packers will need them to be sharp with a depleted defensive line in front of them. Ryan Pickett's return will no doubt help, but the defense has been porous against the run for the whole month of December (not counting the Lions game, since, well, they aren't a real team now are they?) Justin Harrell's performance has been encouraging and he should actually help coming off the bench to spell Pickett. The biggest question mark will be Bob Sanders. He simply can not call the defense as he did at the beginning of the year when his defensive line rotation was in full force. He needs to bring Bigby down in the box much more to help the front seven.
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