Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2021 Week 18

The Packers head to Detroit to close out the regular season against the Lions. Green Bay has already locked up the No. 1 seed in the conference and the first-round playoff bye, so this game is more about keeping momentum going into the postseason. Here are six things to keep in mind as the regular season draws to a close: 

1. MVP! MVP! 

It’s possible that MVP voters already know where their vote is going heading into Week 18, but either way, Aaron Rodgers has made a pretty strong case to win his fourth honor. After winning the award in 2011, 2014, and 2020, Rodgers could make a bit of history with a fourth MVP award this year. 

Only one other player has won more than three MVPs, Peyton Manning, and he’s won it five times. The other three-time recipients include Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Jim Brown, and Johnny Unitas. Rodgers could also become just the fifth player to win back-to-back MVP honors, something that’s been done by Brown (1957, 1958), Joe Montana (1989, 1990), Favre who won MVP three years in a row (1995, 1996, 1997), and Manning who did it twice (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009). 

2. All Eyes On Offense 

This Packers offense has gotten rolling at the right time, and the unit had its best statistical output of the season last week against the Vikings with 481 total yards of offense. That said, Green Bay is still struggling to get rolling in the first quarter. In the four games since the bye week, the Packers have scored only 10 points in the first quarter, including a field goal against the Vikings and a touchdown against Cleveland. That might be an improvement in itself, though, since Green Bay was shut out in the opening quarter against the Bears and Ravens. 

Wide receiver Davante Adams is only 22 yards away from breaking the previous franchise yardage record set by Jordy Nelson (1,1519). While it’s not expected that the starting offense will play the entire game on Sunday, it does seem likely Adams will have the opportunity to break that record. 

Additionally, these last few weeks of the season Allen Lazard has emerged as one of Rodgers’ trusted targets. Per Packers.com, Green Bay is an incredible 12-0 (including playoffs) when Lazard has at least four receptions. Coincidence or not, knowing that, fans should keep an extra eye on his catch total during Sunday’s game. 

3. Steadied Special Teams

While it seems silly to be impressed with a “normal” special teams performance, it’s reassuring to see that many of the unit’s early blunders are starting to correct themselves. New addition David Moore had the longest punt return of the season last Sunday against the Vikings with a 21-yard return. He also endured a late hit out of bounds for an additional 15 yards, giving the Packers great starting field position that led to a touchdown. 

Kicker Mason Crosby has also been on a promising streak, having made every kick for four straight weeks (17 extra points and six field goals). That includes 13 extra points and five field goals at Lambeau Field which bodes well for a team that will soon be hosting a Divisional Round playoff game in the Frozen Tundra. 

4. A Look At Depth

Unless the starters play the entire game, Sunday should give the Packers a glimpse at some players that don’t normally see the field. I’m talking, of course, about quarterback Jordan Love. In garbage time against the Vikings, Love had two completions for 19 yards and picked up an additional first down with his legs. Excluding the kneel down to end the game, that was Love’s only drive. He should see more extended playing time against the Lions.

Running back Patrick Taylor is another example. Against the Vikings on Green Bay’s final drive to burn the clock, Taylor had six attempts for 18 yards with a long of 11. On defense, we could see more playing time from guys like rookie nose tackle TJ Slaton or cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles. 

5. Battle of the Brothers

In Week 2 on Monday Night Football when the Lions and Packers first met, the St. Brown brothers had quiet evenings. Amon-Ra finished the game with three receptions for 18 yards and Equanimeous had one catch for no gain. Since then, Amon-Ra has emerged as the Lions’ number one receiver, and it’s not particularly close. Amon-Ra has 82 receptions for 803 yards and four touchdowns, which leads the team.

While Rodgers has been vocal about his love for Equanimeous, that hasn’t translated to a ton of opportunities on the field. This season, the older St. Brown has only seven receptions for 76 yards, though five of those catches have gone for first downs. He did tell the media on Thursday that their parents would be in attendance at Ford Field on Sunday, just as they were at Lambeau earlier this season. 

6. The Bane of Detroit’s Existence

Rashan Gary is having a career year, starting all 15 games he’s played in this season. In his first two seasons with the Packers, Gary tallied seven sacks as a rotational rusher. This year he leads the team with 9.5 sacks. The Michigan Wolverine has tallied more sacks against the Lions than any other team so far in his career (2.5), so he’ll look to add to that total on Sunday, though interestingly, eight of Gary’s sacks this season have come at home. 

Per Pro Football Focus, he has 76 pressures, 51 hurries, 28 quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles this season. Those total pressures rank second in the entire NFL. What’s perhaps the most impressive is that, per Pro Football Reference, the Pro Bowl alternate has zero missed tackles this season. He’s the only starter on the team to have no missed tackles (De’Vondre Campbell is second on the team with only four missed tackles and an incredible 146 total tackles).

 

----------------------------

Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

12 points

Comments (25)

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

January 07, 2022 at 06:47 am

To be honest I'm not overly concerned with Rodgers winning another MVP or not. I ALWAYS want a Packer to win whatever award he's up for, but this year is about getting to and WINNING the SB. If he wins fine, if not maybe it will give him that extra mojo to win it all.

Interesting stat about Lazard BUT I've always felt when this team spreads the ball around to EVERYBODY, they become that much more difficult to beat. But I do like featured Lazard is being more involved in the offense. I'd love to see some of the stuff we used to do with Tyler Ervin done with Cobb or Rodgers. Get em ALL involved.

The goal for this weekend OTHER than getting out healthy should be the offense starting out FAST. If possible, take the ball first, don't defer to the 2nd half. Score two or three quick TD's and get the starters out of the game. IF Bakhtiari, Alexander, Turner, Cobb, or anyone else can go get them a few snaps. Let them get hit and hit someone then sit their ass down. Winning is really secondary this weekend.

Go Pack Go!

9 points
11
2
Spock's picture

January 07, 2022 at 08:17 am

Well said, Nick. I really can't add anything to your post other than the implied injury watch concerns. I think this team is ready and if we get reinforcements back from IR than the Packers HAVE to be the SB favorites this year! GPG!

3 points
4
1
davidhoff@mchsi.com's picture

January 07, 2022 at 01:41 pm

You're right on the money about getting out healthy. Give AR & DA their chance early in game and then get them out. Focus is on health, not interim records short of the Super Bowl.

1 points
1
0
stockholder's picture

January 07, 2022 at 08:25 am

1. Rodgers is on the practice Field. Which tells me he wants that MVP. And he is aware of the 1st quarter struggles. 2. Adams might only need 22 yards. But the schedule gave him an extra game. And while he's not responding to the possibility of the franchise tag. I wonder if he really wants to be a packer. Some very Deep thinking here. 3. Special Teams. - Keep the faster players on the field. And more Moore please. 4. Love and garbage time. Yes even a Trash man could have more respect after this game. 5. Battle of brothers. St.Brown won't be a packer next year. 6. I really hope we can keep Campbell.

2 points
5
3
dobber's picture

January 07, 2022 at 09:10 am

Lazarus St. Brown has been resurrected enough times in GB that you have to feel that the coaches must like him and he'll likely be back. There won't be much demand for his services on the open market, which means a cheap, vet contract for a guy who knows the O.

5 points
6
1
stockholder's picture

January 07, 2022 at 10:13 am

I believe that Moore has changed that outlook. Not to mention his brother's success.

2 points
3
1
jurp's picture

January 07, 2022 at 10:41 am

How, exactly, does Amon-Ra's success impact the Packers' outlook on his brother?

2 points
5
3
Leatherhead's picture

January 07, 2022 at 11:33 am

I've given thought to who we might have as our WR unit, and St. Brown is one of our 5 gameday guys next year, IMO. And Lazard. And Amari Rodgers. So that's three right there.

I'm assuming Adams and Cobb will be gone and will need to be replaced. At this point, I'd like to keep MVS around for another 4 years but not at the pricetag of a top receiver. We'll almost certainly sign a dependable vet FA and probably draft a WR. Without Adams, there is no straw that stirs the drink. and you need that one guy that makes the defense guard him for this offense to work.

I think the argument can be made that the TE unit should be a higher priority for upgrade because it improves the pass game AND the run game. But a premium guy like Jefferson or the rookie in Cincinnati as a replacement for Adams would be worth our #1 pick.

2 points
2
0
Coldworld's picture

January 07, 2022 at 12:46 pm

I suppose a light can go on at any stage if one has the physical talent, yet St Brown, who does, remains a player who never significantly impacts any game, despite how he looks when we do get the ball in his hands.

In my view, after this much time, he’s not a gamble worth taking. He could change that in the next month or so, but until it happens I can’t find evidence to suggest he will do. Perhaps I’m jaundiced by another preseason where he was again outplayed by depth players. This time Winfree and Taylor, quite clearly. Funchess too if you count him (and he’s on a PS I believe).

Next year I’d bring him back on the 90 on a minimum contract, no more. If another team grabs him, so be it. Time to move on and bring in new blood. I agree with Stockholder that Moore makes it interesting. He’s plausible proven depth and a returner who will be active. Another piece who, if we can resign him, allows us time to bring on others and who will be active.

0 points
1
1
wildbill's picture

January 07, 2022 at 03:19 pm

I would like to see Moore utilized in our offense. He is a veteran who has had some success in the NFL and could probably be brought back cheaply

1 points
1
0
13TimeChamps's picture

January 07, 2022 at 09:04 pm

"which means a cheap, vet contract for a guy who knows the O."

Knowing the O has resulted in 35 receptions and 1 TD in 4 years. Stats aren't everything, but really? Vet minimum at best, if that.

2 points
2
0
dobber's picture

January 07, 2022 at 09:08 am

1. MVP--I think the Packers come out throwing on Sunday. They'll try to put the Lions away early, get their numbers, and send many starters to the showers as early as possible. But the more starters are active, the more will have to play "extended" snaps.
2. Offense--I'll echo the sentiment that the slower starts--even though they haven't been hot out of the gate most of the season--coincides with ARod's reduced practice time. Just sayin'...
4. Depth--will all have to do with who's active and who they elevate from the PS. I think we'll see more defensive starters and OL playing later. I think Deguara needs to play, and if AmRod is active, he needs to see some time, but they have to have some reliable pass-catchers and route-runners out there and a credible OL to give Love a legit platform to be judged by (if/when he plays).

3 points
4
1
Packers0808's picture

January 07, 2022 at 09:55 am

Davante Adams could almost if not be in the picture for MVP. The guy is like a Pigskin Picasso!

1 points
2
1
Coldworld's picture

January 07, 2022 at 10:24 am

He suffers from being with Rodgers to some extent. Cup’s stats are as good if not better. It’s really tough for any non QB unless they visibly lift their team to success (Taylor being perhaps the closest to an example this year). That’s particularly tough for a receiver for whom success is intimately linked with his QB.

7 points
8
1
dobber's picture

January 07, 2022 at 12:39 pm

I should've read your post first. Obviously, I agree.

0 points
1
1
Coldworld's picture

January 07, 2022 at 12:48 pm

No worries Dobber.

1 points
2
1
dobber's picture

January 07, 2022 at 12:38 pm

I honestly don't think Adams has been the most valuable WR in the NFL this year (a separate argument from best WR, overall). Cooper Kupp has been a dynamo pretty much every week for a team with virtually no commitment to run the ball. He makes LA's offense go.

2 points
3
1
Leatherhead's picture

January 07, 2022 at 10:23 am

MVP. This is Aaron Rodgers last opportunity to state his case, and like dobber, I expect we're going to come out and go for the jugular early and often. If we're successful, we'll have 20 points or more on the board at the half and the talking TV heads can praise him. If not, he's probably still the MVP but I'd be concerned if we can't' just come out and execute against the fricking Lions.

The Offense's slow starts are a little concerning, but not greatly, because I remember that Secretariat wasn't always the first out of the gate but once he caught his stride, he just outran everybody. We're all familiar with our first quarter woes, but let's keep the big picture in sight: In quarters 2-3-4, this is one of the top offenses in the league.

Excluding the opener, where we didn't really show up, and the game against KC, which Rodgers didn't play in, we've only been held under 24 once, and that was our 17-0 shutout of Seattle. The League average is 22.8 ppg, so in other words.....we're always above average. And we're elite at protecting the ball, and we're elite at staying on the field. And excluding the two games I mentioned, we're 13-1 right now.

When you adjust for penalties and sacks , you come up with a measure called Adjusted Yards per Attempt. This is one of the true measures of your passing offense, and the Packers are #1 in the league. Nine of the top ten teams in this measure are playoff teams.

Another true measure of your passing attack in TDs, because that's what the game is all about. The Packers have 36, which is good for #3, behind Tampa and the Rams who have both lost big pieces of that passing attack.

And of course, turnovers, where we're elite. So don't look at our #10 ranking and get confused; this is one of the very best offenses in the league, and better than anybody we're likely to face, and it would be damn nice to come out of the locker room and just torch these guys.

6 points
6
0
wildbill's picture

January 07, 2022 at 03:22 pm

Very nice analysis, thanks

1 points
1
0
NickPerry's picture

January 08, 2022 at 04:43 am

" And excluding the two games I mentioned, we're 13-1 right now."

Loved the entire comment by Leatherhead. I think week one we can all agree that performance was from a team that went through TONS of drama all summer long, and a QB who didn't do much of anything leading up to the season. Obviously the game against the Chiefs counts as a loss but we all think it would have been a win had Rodgers played OR had the game plan been designed for Love and not Rodgers.

That one other loss was against the Vikings in a game where the defense pressured Cousins a smidge over 40% for the entire game and it looked like it. Cousins threw up 4 or 5 interceptions which were either dropped or a penalty negated them.

IF the Packers get a pressure rate of 40% on an opposing QB most weeks they'll win 99 out of a 100 games with our offense. Cousins played out of his mind and the Vikings were LUCKY. If the Packers duplicate that pressure rate throughout the playoffs, I'm reasonably sure the Lombardi Trophy is coming home.

1 points
1
0
Coldworld's picture

January 07, 2022 at 10:26 am

I’m just going to say that, in retrospect, Rodgers winning MVP last year seemed to trigger a number of things that I wish had not been. Not winning it might benefit us more than a repetition.

2 points
4
2
Coldworld's picture

January 07, 2022 at 12:50 pm

I’m just going to say that, in retrospect, Rodgers winning MVP last year seemed to trigger a number of things that I wish had not been. Not winning it might benefit us more than a repetition.

P.S.
Sorry for the double post. I will leave it for those who no voted.

-1 points
2
3
jurp's picture

January 07, 2022 at 10:46 am

Well, AR not winning the MVP this year will certainly put a big chip on his shoulder and, I think, rule out the possibility of his retiring even if we win the Super Bowl.

0 points
3
3
13TimeChamps's picture

January 07, 2022 at 08:45 pm

At what point can we put Rodgers and "a big chip on his shoulder" to bed? It seems to be a constant theme for 17 years now.

2 points
2
0
PatrickGB's picture

January 07, 2022 at 01:35 pm

I have an idea. How about we start our backups first and then later move to the starters? Love gets to start against their starters and a motivated defense. That way we can blame the slow start on the backups and Rodgers plays against a tired team. ~

1 points
1
0