2019 Week 17 - That's What Cheese Said

The Packers clinched the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and a first-round bye. The players know what's at stake moving forward. 

The Packers came back from a 14-point deficit against the Lions to win 23-20, sweep the NFC North for the first time since 2011, and clinch the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, giving them a first-round bye. 

“I know there’s a lot to clean up, but those guys keep, they battled for four quarters and left everything out there,” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur at his post-game press conference. “And did a great job when we needed them to, they made the plays.”

While the team’s performance as a whole wasn’t the prettiest from start to finish, aspects of it were. For starters, Aaron Jones put up a cool 100 yards rushing on 25 carries, giving him his first career 1,000-yard season. 

Allen Lazard is also carving out a role for himself on offense, and that role will be even more important as this team looks to make a deep playoff push. Lazard is clearly the team’s number two receiver at this point, and he had four receptions for 69 yards and one touchdown on the day. 

Lazard was one of multiple players that mentioned the offense looking “flat” in the first half, but the team fully understands the importance of the first-round bye they secured and what that means for them moving forward. 

“We are one game closer already to the Super Bowl,” Lazard said after the game. “We get extra rest, and you know for the most part, as of now, they’re going to have to come through Lambeau, so I think that’s huge for us.”

While the Packers couldn’t get any help from the Seahawks when it came to the No. 1 seed, the second seed still gives them a much-needed bye to get healthy. Green Bay lost two of its starters along the offensive line, with Bryan Bulaga currently in the concussion protocol and Corey Linsley exiting the game with back pain. In their places, newly-acquired Jared Veldheer and newly-extended Lucas Patrick played admirably. 

Running back Jamaal Williams was also inactive with a shoulder injury, so this bye week provides the Packers with a great opportunity to heal up for what the team is hoping is a long postseason stretch. 

“It’s a 0-0 season and we’re onto the playoffs,” said LaFleur. “It’s single elimination from here on out. I’m just really proud of our guys. What we have in front of us.”

“I’m thankful that we have a chance to take a week to evaluate and just look at everything we’ve done, get healthy, and then we’ll find out in a week who we’re playing.”

The Packers have three potential opponents that could be making the trip to Lambeau in the No. 3 seed Saints, No. 4 seed Eagles, and the No. 5 Seahawks. Regardless of which team it is, the Packers like their chances at home. 

“This team I think is balanced as opposed to some of the earlier teams. I think we do a good job of winning the one-score games,” said Aaron Rodgers. “I think when we have to make plays, we get stops, turnovers, and then we make it happen on offense.” 

“That’s kind of the identity of this football team. It hasn’t been pretty at times, but when we have to make plays we make plays. And, you know, now we have the opportunity to host a second-round game at home. Hopefully it’s below 30, but I think we’re going to be a tough team to deal with in the playoffs.”

Rodgers has mentioned multiple times this season that the Packers are winning games in multiple ways. Against the Lions, Rodgers completed 27-of-55 attempts for 323 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for a rating of 72.0. When he’s not having his best performance, Aaron Jones is able to carry the load for the offense. Or when the offense comes out “flat” in the first half, the defense is able to keep Green Bay in a position to win games. This week’s standout on defense was Blake Martinez who made a huge interception to give the Packers another opportunity to tie the game against the Lions. 

“I think we’re hot, but obviously you gotta kinda start all over again in the playoffs,” Rodgers said. “It’s all great football teams now so the margin for error is even smaller, but I like our chances. I like our football team. I like even more that we get a week off.”

Resiliency and finding ways to win has been a common theme amongst coaches and players all season long, with veteran Tramon Williams echoing similar statements at his locker. 

“We’ve been winning a lot of different ways which is perfect for us. We’ve been resilient all year long,” he said, before adding that while some pundits might not think what they’re doing is pretty, it’s working for them. 

LaFleur agreed. “We’ve just gotta find a way, and that’s what our calling card has been all season long. I know it doesn’t always look pretty, but our guys are resilient, and we find a way. I can’t explain it, but I’m just thankful for every guy in that locker room. Those guys care about each other, and they battle. You don’t find that in every team that you’re on.”

Two of the team’s newest additions, Preston and Za’Darius Smith, have yet to be a part of a Divisional Round playoff game. When asked how they would define the locker room, Preston answered first with the word “brotherhood” and acknowledged how this team is winning together and for one another. 

Za’Darius was asked if this was what the two free agents expected when arriving in Green Bay facing an offseason of uncertainty under a first-year head coach. 

“When we first got here, we didn’t know what we was coming into, but we know we had an offense, and we knew we had some young guys that really love football,” he said. “So to come in and do what we have done, we just going to continue to do it and get ready for this playoff run.”

LaFleur deserves a lot of credit for this team’s 13-3 record, at least if you ask the players. 

“He deserves it all,” Za’Darius said. “I’ll say one thing about Coach. He’s a young coach but he understands his players. You know when it’s something that we’re not seeing eye-to-eye on, we can go talk to him about it and help make his adjustment. So I think that little thing, those little things right there, help the team a whole lot.” 

“And I felt like that’s one reason why he deserves coach of the Year,” Za’Darius added smiling. 

The Packers have plenty to work on before their next game on Jan. 12 against an unknown opponent, but for now they’re going to enjoy a bye week to get healthy and get back to work for what could be a special season in Green Bay. 

“I think the NFC is wide open. There’s six really good football teams that are in, and I think home field advantage can be very important,” said Rodgers. “Green Bay is a tough place to come and play.”

“I feel like this team can utilize the cold better than some of those other teams that relied on heavy passing games, where we’re a little more balanced this year,” he added of some of the previous teams he’s been a part of. 

Winning in a less-than-pretty fashion got this team all the way to a 13-3 record and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Now the Packers are hoping they can build off of these wins and make a real run at something special, starting in two weeks at Lambeau Field.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV, podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said, and hosts a weekly live show called Happy Hour through Game On Wisconsin. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (35)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Lare's picture

December 31, 2019 at 03:20 pm

As always, it's a matter of controlling the LOS and not beating yourselves. Do that (and get a couple of turnovers) and you'll win more often than you lose.

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Packer_Fan's picture

December 31, 2019 at 04:00 pm

What I like about this team is how they do the kick after a turnover or touchdown. Adds to the Lambeau leap

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SterlingSharpe's picture

December 31, 2019 at 04:12 pm

We have a chance to beat the Saints in Green Bay, fortunately. Is Jaire tall enough to handle the big beast Michael Thomas? King as the height but gosh that's a 15-catch, 200-yard game waiting to happen.
And then there's Kamara. And Jared Cook.

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Philarod's picture

December 31, 2019 at 05:12 pm

Let's trade them back Jimmy G for Jared C - for old=time's sake?
If so, we would win that match-up by at least 7 points.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 31, 2019 at 05:34 pm

Thanks for screwing the pooch on that one (and many others), Russ.

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HankScorpio's picture

January 01, 2020 at 08:05 am

Brees in the cold is not nearly as fearsome as Brees in a Dome. I think the Saints are a better team overall but home field is massive in the match-up

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albert999's picture

December 31, 2019 at 04:44 pm

Yeah New Orleans is scary good and coached extremely well

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porupack's picture

December 31, 2019 at 05:09 pm

Yes, all quality guys. Yes, good team with lots of grit and battle. Yes, good young coach who understands his players. Yes, they win multiple ways now. Yes, they are more balanced. Yes, its obvious its not pretty, but GB is 13-3. Yes it feels good and they're having lots of fun. Yes, they made just enough plays to get 13 wins. Yes, Lambeau field is tough place to play. Yes, a week of rest is big.

No, GB isn't executing good football, and the 13 wins no longer mean anything from now on. Now, its about being able to execute good football.
Most of us aren't expecting peanuts to grow out of a stick. Maybe it does happen and surprises us.

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albert999's picture

December 31, 2019 at 05:38 pm

I would be a little more optimistic than that but I get it as a Rodgers is playing not close to his younger self pre collar bone and his release has changed if you watch old tapes his release used to be high and straight over his head with a straight down follow through and now it’s more sideways and less follow through and has purely affected his accuracy. If we put 4 quarters together in LAMBEAU on the 12th were winners for sure and if we don’t we’re one and done.

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carlos's picture

January 01, 2020 at 08:02 am

You are right Albert999. I noticed that also.

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murf7777's picture

January 01, 2020 at 09:53 am

Albert, interesting take on Arod throwing motion. I haven’t noticed that but certainly I think mechanics are part of his issues this year.

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 31, 2019 at 05:56 pm

I think we've all been disappointed expecting peanuts to grow out of a stick.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

January 01, 2020 at 04:25 am

"Peanuts to grow out of a stick" never heard that but love it.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

December 31, 2019 at 05:51 pm

Drew Brees is the QB I wish Rodgers could be. He is setting records in his 40's for completion percentage, each year getting better. He no longer has the arm strength but he is accurate and throws quickly avoiding sacks. While he throws to Thomas often, he distributes the ball all over the field to any open player, even to our former preseason QB Taysom Hill. Maybe 12 can watch how Brees picks apart the Vikings defense in a 30 point blowout next week.

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Philarod's picture

December 31, 2019 at 07:31 pm

Brees is great, and you know what, for 10 of the last 12 years, Rodgers has been (in my opinion) considerably better.

And give him Sean Payton, a dome and a good TE, and it would not even be close.

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Adorabelle's picture

December 31, 2019 at 09:37 pm

In 2017 brees had 4300 yards and 23 tds. Then he had less than 4000 yards the next year. They all said he was done. Turned out the saints were just running the ball and passing less.

The saints number 2 receiver has 30 catches. But Kamara has 80. And 40 to the tight end. And 30 more to the 2nd running back. The Packers two backs have 88 catches and the tight end 38. So somewhat similar and this is still a packer offense evolving and changing to a run first philosophy.

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Lphill's picture

December 31, 2019 at 06:16 pm

We didn’t expect to be here this season , let’s hope for some magic , you never know what can happen, just like no way the Dolphins could beat the Patriots.

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PackersWinning's picture

December 31, 2019 at 08:16 pm

OMG stop. The weaknesses will sow themselves. Our coach is an average play caller and a horrible in game thinker. Less Taylor we were the healthiest team in the league. That made the difference. The plain truth-
Rodgers has fallen off a cliff and is on an occasional Good player
Jimmy Grahm is about the worst $12M investment in the NFL and won’t play next year
Is Gary really the 2018 Nick Perry with better hair? Perry was pretty beat up, Gary is just worthless

They are likely to get blown out in a couple weeks

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canadapacker's picture

December 31, 2019 at 08:32 pm

I think that somebody once said that your record is what it says that you are. 13-3 is still 13-3 and if it takes bad coaching to be 13-3 I will take it. If you want to find the warts you can but it gets boring to discuss the fact that the D has played poorly at times and AR has missed so many easy throws and too many receivers have dropped too many passes. OMG stop

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Adorabelle's picture

December 31, 2019 at 08:50 pm

Way off. The packers changed to a defensive team that runs the ball. The defense went from cringeworthy to top 10 in points allowed. They were at the top of the league in fewest penalties, turnovers and were near the top in red zone efficiency both o and d. They have a thousand yard rusher and another 500 yard rusher besides. They are not a finished product but they are also far from a disaster. I think people misread how the team changed from high powered to a conservative team that doesn't make mistakes and instead people think its regression. The d is way improved the running game went from nonexistent to impressive and mistakes are way down. That's a lot of progress in a year.

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Adorabelle's picture

December 31, 2019 at 08:39 pm

I am a nerd. Like a giant nerd. Like other people who say they are nerds make me go "child please". I was looking at my end of the year fantasy stuff and noticed that when Kenyan Drake, Davante Parker and Ryan Tanneyhill all played for Adam Gase they were all busts and now that he is gone they are all stars.

Besides showing how awful Gase is as a coach (see what happened to the jets this year) it made me wonder about the impact of coaches on the perception of a player. How much of Rodgers 2019 is on the change in coach and offense philosophy and how much is on Rodgers himself? Thoughts. I am riding in an uber right now but will check later to see if anyone responded.

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mrj007's picture

December 31, 2019 at 09:59 pm

Change = different. So yeah there may be something to that

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Timeout's picture

January 01, 2020 at 04:41 am

I think the change in coach benefited Aaron Jones more than Rodgers.

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NickPerry's picture

January 01, 2020 at 05:51 am

I read something a few weeks ago that I thought was interesting Adorabelle… I had read it took Matt Ryan until his 2nd season in the offense before that offense really produced and took off. Matter of fact in Ryan's 2nd season he won the NFL MVP award and the Falcons went to the SB.

With that said I think being in a new system is part of the reason, maybe the biggest reason for the struggles on offense. But I also think a huge part of the struggles are a lack of offensive skill players. Perhaps this year and maybe even next the Packers can actually use some draft capital (1st or 2nd round at least) on a WR AND add one or two in FA.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 03, 2020 at 08:27 pm

An RB like Taylor or Etienne wouldn't hurt either. Get a bigger FB and get some power run options into the game plan.

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ironman3169's picture

January 01, 2020 at 06:01 am

What I see in games this year are open receivers on pass plays. They are open early and open late. They are not thrown to because they are underneath or check down options. They are either not seen by Rodgers or ignored for the long ball, which brings up the glaring drop in his numbers. His long ball accuracy has gone to pasture this year, and unfortunately, in his own words, the throws felt good to him. That is hard as hell to fix.

My answer to your query is that it's a Rodgers problem. His long ball is off this year. MVS was underthrown all year except against the bears (shame on him alligator arms). Most other receivers were overthrown. This is not a scheme thing, it's a player thing.

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LayingTheLawe's picture

January 01, 2020 at 01:38 pm

Good call on the Uber, and Happy New Year.

I have been staying away from the comments section as the Packers have gone from a mess that fired its coach before the season was even over to an energized group with a bye in the playoffs and the fan base just seems to bitch about why they aren't better.

Anyway I liked NickPerrys comments and have been thinking that for a while. The test will be how he looks next year with time under this offense under his belt. My feeling is Rodgers isn't losing it, he's tentative and not throwing it on time. The new offense, poor targets to throw to or a combination of both has him hesitating just enough to be off. He will flash with the insane moments, a 4th down pass while falling over, a flip to the back of the end zone against the Chiefs that show the skills are there but the misses are due to not trusting it yet (in my opinion).

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Adorabelle's picture

January 01, 2020 at 05:13 pm

Happy New Year to all. The highlight of the night was when the ball drops in NYC it is still only 10 pm in Arizona of course. So after we watched that I commandeered the big screen and put on a video of Gogol Bordello live at 4he Trianon and tried to get a mosh pit going. A woman starting a slam dance doesn't run as much risk of getting punched as a guy does.

Thanks for the input. I feel that Rodgers still makes me go wow at times and hopefully more consistency is coming.

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mrj007's picture

December 31, 2019 at 10:01 pm

I personally thought pad-level in 2019 was outstanding. Clearly,definitely obvious....

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Rak47's picture

January 01, 2020 at 12:56 am

On a side note the Browns fired John Dorsey in Cleveland. So far Gute is having much more success. I wonder if there any fans who still prefer Dorsey to Gute.

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Demon's picture

January 01, 2020 at 02:09 pm

What was dash's buddys name? The one rhat left ro be a browns fan? Was it John kirk? Remember how the browns were going to dominate and the Packers were going to suck? Where are all those people now? HA HA

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Timeout's picture

January 01, 2020 at 04:58 am

This season reminds me of the 15-1 and done season. Doing enough to win games but not really having an identity. Are they considered a strong offensive team? Are they considered a strong defensive team? Special teams is solid now that the have a returner and maybe being good but not great in all 3 phases will prevent an outcome like the 15-1 and done.

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LayingTheLawe's picture

January 01, 2020 at 01:48 pm

The 15 -1 season was one of the most powerful offenses in the history of the NFL. They scored 560 points, in contrast the 2019 Ravens scores 531. That is certainly an identity. They had weaknesses but the strength of the team was clear.

This team is much more a defensive team. They have given up less than 15 points per game the last 4 weeks. They have the 2nd fewest penalties in the NFL, are high in red zone efficiency on both offense and defense and have very few turnovers. They have an identity it is just a boring one so no one likes it. They are a don't make a mistake and give yourself a chance to win team.

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Packers0808's picture

January 01, 2020 at 08:04 am

Would be great to see a real decisive first game at home, with some really nice knock out plays by the Packers and it would really help upm their confidence!

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wildbill's picture

January 01, 2020 at 10:45 am

Having been a Packer fan since the early 60s, I have watched a lot of Packer games. That being said, I cannot remember a more stressful year! Yea the down years were bad but low expectations kept the stress down. I’m super happy and much surprised with our 13-3 season but isn’t it about time to put a whole game together?

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