Setting the Stage
The 4 -6 -1 Packers and 2 - 9 - 0 Cardinals have at least one thing in common - leadership on the bubble: Grand Master Mike McCarthy is said to "be in trouble"and relative newbie Steve Keim is "beyond/beyond" bubble status. Cards would be #38 if there were 38 NFL teams in the NFL. (It's one thing to be ranked last by USA Today, but to be singled out by them for liistless play" is hitting the lowest of the low. Packer season has been very disappointing, with some saying that this may be Aaron Rodgers' final year. (Others conclude that Rodgers is extremely ticked off and figures to take it out on the Cardinals). Cards, no doubt, are overjoyed that game will start 1 pm (ET) on the "frozen tundra' in Green Bay.
Packers' Last Game
Pack came out on the wrong side of a 24 - 17 loss. The two teams were tied 14 - 14 at halftime, but Vikes posted 10 unanswered points in the 3Q and then hung on wind up 24 - 17 winners.
Minn received. TB on KO. Minn goes 3 & out. Punt returned by T Davis to GB 16. GB goes 3 & out. Punt FC at Min 24. A 10 yd loss on the opening pass play causes Minn to go 3 & out. Punt FC by T Davis at GB 32. GB puts together an 8 play drive capped by a 15 yd TD pass from Rodgers to D Adams. Packers 7 - Vikes 0.
TB on KO. Vikes countered with a 6-play TD drive ending with a 26-yd Cousins-to-Cook TD pass. Packers 7 - Vikes 7
TB on KO. GB moved to the Minn 20 in 4 plays to end the quarter.
First Quarter Score: Packers 7 - Vikes 7
It took just 2 more plays for GB to score again on a 8-yd TD pass from Rodgers to A Jones, Packers 14 - Vikes 7
TB on KO. Cousins moved his team to the GB 40 in 7 plays and, on the 8th, hit Diggs for 30 yds and a TD to even the score. Packers 14 - Vikes 14
TB on KO. GB held to 3 & out. Punt downed at Minn 17. Minn moves to GB 30 in 6 plays but Bailey's 48-yd FG attempt is wide left.
4:35 left. After Rodgers hits St. Brown for +15 yds, GB goes 3 & out. Punt downed at Minn 10. Minn moved into FG position in 11 plays, but Bailey's FG attempt with 0:03 left was no good from 56 yds out.
Second Quarter Score: Packers 14 - Vikes 14
GB receives. KO returned to GB 25. They moved to the Minn 47 in 7 plays before punting. TB on punt. 3 & out. Punt returned to GB 35. GB fails to convert a 4th & 1 at the GB 44. 11 play drive (marked by a 9-yd sack by K Clark) ends in a 37 yd. Bailey FG.to give Vikes the lead for the first time. Vikes 17 - Packers 14.
TB on KO. Pack had a rough series (3 & out (featurning a 9-yd sack by S Richardson).Punt returned to GB 36. Four plays later, Cousins hit Theilen for a 14-yd TD. Vikes 24 - Packers 14.
TB on KO. Pack moves to their own 38 to end the quarter.
Third Quarter Score: Vikes 24 - Packers 14.
GB goes 3 & out. (Key play: 7-yd sack by Richardson). Punt downed st Minn 7. Vikes run Murray 3 straight times and pick up a 1st down. Vikes chew up considerable clock time before reaching the GB 29 where Cousins was sacked for minus-8 yds & out of sure FG range). Vikes punted - muffed but recovered by Vikes at GB 15. Vikes go 4 & out (couldn't convert on 4th down).
Griffen sacks Rodgers for minus-9 but Rodgers is able to take his offense on a 9-yd scoring drive ending in a 28-yd FG that brings GB to within 7-points of Minnesota. (Key play: Rodgers to Graham for 25-yds. Rodgers to D Adams for +36 yds). Vikes 24 - Packers 17.
2:25 left. Minn recovers the onside at the GB 41. A 10-yd pass from Cousins to Diggs converts a GB 3rd & 6 at the 2-min mark. Minn runs out the clock,
Final Score: Denver 23 - Chargers 22
Packer vs Vikes Game Stats -
Total Net Yards: Packers 254
Total Penalties: Packers 4 for 20
Time of Poss.Packers25:23
Passing - Rodgers 17 for 28 & 198 yds. 1 TD/No IntsSacked: 4. Rating 94.0
Rushing - A Jones 17 foe 72 yds & 1 TD.
Receiving - Adams 5 for 8 (13.8 ypc 1 Td. St. Brown 3 for 5 (17.7). A Jones 3 for 5 (7.0 ypc)
Tackles - Martinez (13), J Jackson (8), I Campbell (8), Alexander (7), Morrison (7)
Season Player Stats
(Rodgers ) - 255 for 413 (61.7%), 7.9 YPA, 20 TDs, 1 Ints, Sacked 34 times Rating 101.7
(A Jones) - 101 carries for 606 yds (6.0 YPC), 6 TDs
(J Williams)- 75 carries for 280 yrd (5.8 YPC) 1 TD's
(Adams) 77 for 1022 yds,13.3 YPC
(Graham) 36 for 486 yds, 13.5 YPC
(Martinez) - 97 Tackles
(Alexander) - 48Tackles
(T Williams) - 43 Tackles
(Clark) - 48 Tackles
3 (One interception by each of 3 players)(
Clark (6), Alexander (4)
Crosbv (21 for 27
Net Punting Yards
Scott - 40.5
Packers in a Nutshell
According to Mike McCarthy about the 4-6-1 Packers: . “They’re fighting, they’re playing hard. They’re giving us everything they’ve got." Pack squad is banged up, adding to its previous MASH unit: Offensive linemen David Bakhtiari (knee) and Lane Taylor (quad), returner Trevor Davis (hamstring), safety Kentrell Brice (ankle, concussion evaluation) and receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (forearm). St. Brown was the only one to finish the Viking game. TE Jimmy Graham apparently is going to try to continue playing with his injured thumb, but defensive lineman Mike Daniels would likely be out “a couple weeks” with his injured foot.
McCarthy was pleased with how the Packers ran the ball against a stout Vikings run defense, aside from the back-to-back failures on third- and fourth-and-1 in the third quarter that loomed large.
"Even including those two stops, Green Bay’s 4.3 yards per carry was the highest against Minnesota playing at home in two years. McCarthy also pointed out the Packers “won” on almost two-thirds of the run downs.
“You have to build off those things,” McCarthy said. “If our third down improves, we’re clearly a touchdown or so better a game. Our focus clearly for improving on offense is third down. We’re just not where we need to be there.”
As in AZ, there's an unusual degree of barking from the Packer fan base. Critics point to a predictable offense (According to Gregg Rosenthal: "Mike McCarthy masterpiece: Blow your timeouts so you don’t use your challenge but you do punt on fourth-and-2 when your D is getting steamrolled")
The relationship between Rodgers and McCarthy is said to be "testy." (There have been reports throughout the season that Rodgers has been unhappy with the way things re opersting under his his head coach).
And - summed up by one Green Bay blogger: "Mike McCarthy’s offense is bland. It’s boring, predictable, and worst of all, it doesn’t use Aaron Rodgers’ talent to the full extent. His offense has been passed up by new, exciting, vibrant and more creative offenses. "
QB ..12 Rodgers...09 Kiser...08 Boyle
RB....33 A Jones...30 J Williams...32 T Carson
WR....18 Cobb...19 St Brown...11 T Davis
WR ...17 D Adams...82 JM Moore...08 Boyle
WR ...83 V-Scantling...30 J Williams.
TE.....80 Graham....84 Kendricks...89 Lewis...85 Tonyan
LT.......69 Bakhtari..78 Spriggs...70 Light
LG ..65 Taylor...62 Patrick
OC .63 Linsley
RG....74 Bell...64 McCray
RT .75 Bulaga.
Defensive Interior Line
DE - 44 Golden, 91 Mayowa, 94 Malveaux
DT - 98 Peters, 90 Nkemdiche
DT - 95 Gunter, 72 Pierre
DE- 55 C Jones, 59 Zach Moore
SAM - 43 Reddick, 92 Gardeck, 59 J Walker
MLB - 51 Hodges, 47 Zeke Turner
WILL - 20 Bucannon,
LCB - 21 Peterson, 26 B Williams, 28 Dont Johnson
RCB - 38 Amerson, 27 L Johnson, 23 Q Rollins
SS - 36 Baker, 30 Ford
FS - 41 Bethea, 38 Boston, 40 Tillman*
Matchup: Chargers Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Rodgers is a miracle worker whose greatest threat is turning the final 10-seconds of a disasterous play into a breathtaking game-winner. He has a deep group of talented receivers to throw to, and they'll be going up against Cardinal secondary turned topsy turvy by recent moves at the bottom 50+ of the roster. Rodgers and McCarthy would be crazy not to test the Cardinal pass defense by matching up his receivers against a Cardinal secondary featuring as many as four new CBs (in Amerson, Dont Johnson, L Johnson and Rollins). Look for Wilks to counter with an aggressive pass rush designed to denying Aaron Rodgers time to throw.
Key Matchuups - C Jones, Nkemdiche and Golden vs GB offensive line. Adanms, St Brown and Cobb vs. Peterson, Amerson and the new CBs. Graham (if his thumb is healthy enough) vs. Buccannon
Matchup: Chargers Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
A workmanlike unit, who - according to Mike McCarthy showed improvement last week vs. Minnesota. A common Cardinal characteristic is to give up too many rushing yards in one outing and get much more stingy against the run the next. Which Cardinal run defense will show up in Green Bay Sunday?
Key Matchup: Jones, Peters and Nkemdiche vs. GB offensive line. Cardinal LBs (Hodges, Reddick, Buccanon) vs, A Jones.
03 Rosen, 07 Glennon 06 Kanoff
23 D Johnson, 29 Edmonds, 22 Logan, 32 Coleman
WR - 11 Fitzgerald, 13 Kirk, 16 Sherfield
WR - 16 C Williams, 14 Nelson
TE1 - 86 Seals-Jones, 84 Gresham, 82 J Phillips
LT- ..74 Humphries,
LG - 76 Iupati, 68 Vujnovich,
OC- 64 Cole, 62 Munyer
RG- 70 Aboushi, 78 Gossett
RT - 79 Cunningham, 75 Golditch
DE.....94 Lowry...90 M Adams
NT.....97 K Clark...95 Lancaster
DE....76 Daniels...99 Looney
OLB.....52 C Matthews...93Gilbert
ILB.......50 Martinez...42 Burks
ILB.......44 Morrison...56 Toomer
OLB....51 Fackrell...54 Crawford
CB....23 Alexander... 37 J Jackson...25 Redmond
CB....20 King...26 Breeland...28 T Brown
S ......38 T Williams...36 Greene...39 Campbell
S......29 Brice...27 J Jones
Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Chargers Pass Defense
Rosen's MO can be best likened to the proverbial roller coaster - will throw a really pretty pass on one play and throw a pick-ball into triple cover the next. (It's just part of the normal maturing process, but we do wish Josh was a bit further along the learning curve). Major problem is lack of WR depth and talent (i.e. once you get past Fitz and Kirk, there isn't much to fall back on). Cards have no choice than to keep dialing up the pass plays (& our opponents have no choice other than to pick off errant passes). One bright ray of hope: screen passes (Execution is not perfect by any means, but it's one weapon that hasn't been part of our arsenal for many a year). Cardinal offensive linemen are still learning one another's names. Protecting Rosen will remain a challenge.
Cardinal OL vs. Clark and Alexander. Rosen vs GB corners
Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Chargers Run Defense
Each week the Cardinal coaches promise that David Johnson will get more touches. And nearly every week, he seems to disappear. Memo to S Wilks - If your team is kind of...er...irrelevent, why not work on something unsexy but productive - like, say, making the running game go. You don't risk many turnovers and your going to need an effective ground attack sooner or later anyway,
Our OL vs. their DL .D Johnson vs Martinez
Packers Special Teams
K 02 Crosby
P 06 Scott
H 06 Scott
LS 43 Bradley
KR 11 Davis
PR 11 Davis
Cardinals Special Teams
P - ...02 Lee
K- ....xx Gonzalez
H - ...02 Lee
LS - .46 Brewer
KR - 22 Logan, 14 Nelson
PR - 13 Kirk, 22 Logan
Matchup: Chargers Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Grapevine says Dawson (inj) will be benched in favor of newcomer Zane Gonzalez. We think Lee is in the top quartile of NFL punters. Kirk and Logan seem poised to break off KRs and PRs.
Coaching / Intangibles
After a stellar career as head coach. McCarthy a possible casualty of the NFL (Not For Lonh League.
Steve Wilks is in a similar position (albeit without the stellar track record earned by McCarthy).
Both teams are banged up. Both teams have little or no chances of making the playoffs. Both teams have left their willingness to "play hard" open to question. It's not much, but fans of either team may find it entertaining to compare the effort and "wanna" of each team as it rides off into the sunset,
How to Beat the Packers
(Pray for snow)? Seriously - Play hard. Avoid mistakes. Be poised to cash in on any breaks that may fall our way. Surefire way of winning? Nope. But not being ready to seize the moment is a surefire way of losing,