Packers Ready to Make Their Run
Then the 2011 season seemed to confirm all these speculations. With 14 straight wins to open their post-Super Bowl campaign, it looked like no one would be able to stop another Packers Championship. Sure, their defense had been somewhat of a disappointment with the loss of Nick Collins – a huge contributor to the Super Bowl run in the 2010 season – after week two and they were letting up a lot more points than the previous season. But no one could stop Rodgers and the offense anyway, so it didn’t matter, right?
The team eventually lost steam and a streaking Giants squad got to them at the perfect time. Sometimes that opening round bye week backfires on you, and it surely did for the Packers last season.
Well maybe the Week 17 loss to the Vikings was something of a strategical move. The last two Super Bowl Champions have had to win three playoff games to get to the NFL’s biggest stage (Giants last year and Packers in 2010), so maybe there is something of a science to it. But forget about the maybes, I’ll tell you one thing for sure: This weekend’s Packers team looked a heck of a lot better than the team we saw in the 2011 playoffs.
Rodgers wasn’t spectacular on the score sheet, but his game management abilities were on full display. He closed the first half with a beautifully run two-minute drill that put the Vikings in a 17-3 hole going into the break and in the second half, he did everything he need to in order to ensure the Vikings weren’t able to get back into the game.
Then on the other side of the ball, the Packers defense played one of their best games of the year. Adrian Peterson was held to under 100 yards for only the second time since October 14th - okay, so 99 yards isn’t bad, but when you compare it to the 409 yards he totaled on the ground in his last two meetings with the Packers, it’s clear that a new defense took the field on Saturday.
Clay Matthews led a solid front seven with 2 sacks (yeah, one was pretty lucky) and a forced fumble. Even though the defensive effort was against a backup Quarterback, there was an energy out there that inspires a lot of confidence going forward.
Next up: The San Francisco 49ers.
In the first week of the season, the 49ers came out on top of the Packers 30-22 behind a strong game from Alex Smith (20-26, 211 yards, 2 TDs, 125.6 QB Rating). Now Colin Kaepernick will get his first opportunity against the Green Bay defense. The winner moves on to the final four, and after this weekend’s performance, the 49ers should be prepared to face a Packers team on the top of their game.