Packers Daily Links: Playoffs Start On Sunday At 3:30 p.m. CT

The Packers will visit the Eagles on Sunday Jan. 9 at 3:30 p.m. Central time. That and more in today's Daily Links...

Head coach Mike McCarthy was preparing for a Saturday football game in the playoffs just in case. "Instead, the coaches will have an extra day to prepare for the Eagles and their dangerous, reborn, MVP-candidate quarterback, Michael Vick, who’ll be under center from the start when the teams kick off next Sunday at 3:30 Central Time in their first-round playoff game," writes Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin. The Packers will also have an extra day to recover, which is very beneficial.

If the Packers happen to win at Philadelphia, they'll play at Atlanta on Saturday Jan. 15 at 7:00 p.m. CT according to Pro Football Weekly.

In order to qualify for the playoffs, the Packers had to get by the Chicago Bears on Sunday first. "They got there with the greatest of difficulty, because the Chicago Bears were hell bent on knocking their NFC North Division rivals from the playoffs. How else to explain coach Lovie Smith staying with his starters the full 60 minutes even though his team was locked into the No. 2 seeding in the NFC by the time his team kicked off Sunday afternoon at Lambeau Field?" The Packers earned their win on Sunday, no doubt about it. No luster was taken away from this game by the Bears laying down.

Defense was the key to getting by Chicago. "With the Packers’ playoff hopes on the line, [defensive coordinator Dom] Capers’ pass rush broke [Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler and the Bears," writes Rob Demovsky of the Press-Gazette. "Six sacks and two interceptions by the Packers helped preserve a 10-3 victory that gave them the final wild-card spot in the NFC." Sure, the Packers gave up a little bit on the ground to Matt Forte, but it's hard to ask for anything more from the defense. They held the Bears to three points, and that's what counts.

Erik Walden was the unheralded hero for the Packers. "It’s been a common sight on defense this season for the Packers, who have seen player after player go down with injuries," writes Mike Spofford of Packers.com. "Walden has only been with the Packers for two months, having signed on Oct. 27 before playing in his first Green Bay game four days later. On Sunday he was the latest of the many fill-ins to come through in standout fashion." He's young and made some mistakes in the run game on Sunday, but Walden flashed some good athleticism, the type that makes you wonder if he might be better than people think.

For as well as the defense played, special teams may have been just as important. "It had to be a tremendous moment for Shawn Slocum, the second-year coordinator of special teams whose units had been regarded as the Packers' weakest link. In fact, the steely Slocum acknowledged it probably was his finest hour in Green Bay." Shawn Slocum may have saved his job with that performance.

The biggest reason the special teams played so well was because of job Tim Masthay did in limiting Bears return ace Devin Hester. "Punter Tim Masthay did a masterful job of preventing the NFL’s all-time leader in kick/punt returns for touchdowns from doing any damage," according to the Press-Gazette. "Hester could return only two of Masthay’s eight punts, and though he had returns of 19 and 16 yards, he didn’t do any serious damage." Jason Wilde pens a similar article for ESPNWisconsin.

Greg Jennings made a difference on offense and helped atone for an early drop. "Jennings had four receptions for 97 yards Sunday and has, since Week 6, led the Packers receiving corps," writes Lori Nickel of the Journal Sentinel. "For the first time in franchise history, the Packers had three players with 50 catches in the same season: Jennings (76), James Jones (51) and Driver (50)." As Nickel also states, Jennings also helped get a pass interference call agains the Bears that was beneficial as well.

It wasn't all good on Sunday. Rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga had a poor performance. "He committed two holding and two false start penalties, all of which made things tough on an already struggling offense," writes Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel. "All four penalties came on drives in which the Packers were unable to get a first down after his infraction." He may have a bright future in this league, but Bulaga has had a lot of learning experiences this season.

In Dom Capers' corner is Michael Rodney of Packer Update. "Assuming Capers isn’t offered a head coaching job in the next few weeks (and that’s unlikely), Thompson must do whatever’s needed to keep him around," writes Rodney. "Whether it’s making him the highest-paid coordinator in the league, naming a street after him and/or giving him Mike McCarthy’s spacious office, the Packers absolutely can’t let this man get away." Agreed. If the Packers have to make him the highest-paid coordinator, they should do it.

The 2011 schedule has been determined, and it's slightly easier based upon opponent winning percentage. "The Packers' opponents for next season, which were determined by formula, had a composite record of 130-126, or a winning percentage of .508," writes Bob McGinn. Opponents had a .520 winning percentage this season

An early look at the playoffs is given by Tom Silverstein. "I went back and looked at all the NFC wild card games going back to 2000," writes Tom Silverstein. "There were 20 games and of those, only seven were won by the visiting team. Four of those victories took place in '04 and '05."

It's rare for the Packers to overcome a halftime defecit to the Bears.

Listen to a playoff podcast from Green Bay Packer Nation.

Packergeeks shares thoughts on the game.

Video: Kareem Copeland and Mike Vandermause of the Press-Gazette break down the game:

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Comments (3)

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hyperRevue's picture

January 03, 2011 at 09:36 am

During that last drive, I was wondering if the Bears were able to score, if they'd go for 2 or not. They had nothing to lose, so why not go for the win right away and knock the Packers out. The last thing they'd want is OT.

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davyjones's picture

January 03, 2011 at 10:26 am

My son and I had the exact same conversation the whole drive--i don't see why they wouldn't have...just kind of an "all in" call. Thank God it didn't come to that. And thank God for TED THOMPSON who brought us the likes of Eric Walden, Howard Green, Sam Sheilds and a buncha other no names cast offs for Dom Capers to mold like putty.

Dom Capers should be paid whatever it takes...higher than Greg Willams...higher than Jason Garret as OC in Dallas...he is worth every bit, if not more, to this team. When you look at the 10's of millions whipped around for 1st round draft choices, is Dom not worth a couple a year?

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Doug in Sandpoint's picture

January 03, 2011 at 10:12 am

They didn't but he would have. Lovie gained some respect from me yesterday, but our D wasn't giving up the TD.

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