Green Bay Packers: 13 wins – 4 losses, first in the NFC
The ambitions are legitimate and Green Bay has serious hopes. Offensively, the squad remains a well-oiled mechanism, which impresses more in its regularity than by its outbursts. The groups of receivers or runners are solid, but not among the flashiest in the league. The difference is made by the man who directs all this little world. At 38, Aaron Rodgers still amazes with the cleanliness of his game and the efficiency of his passes. As he heads for another MVP title, the chance to land a 2and ring has never been bigger. The team continued to rack up the wins despite numerous absences due to injury. Above all, she can finally rely on a good defense, capable of creating the loss of the ball at the right time.
How did they get there?
If the preseason exists, it is to allow players to slowly pick up the pace of competition. The Packers don’t share that view. Virtually no incumbent took part in the games in August, contenting themselves with only training to get back in shape. Bad pick, the awakening was brutal. The first week ended in a crushing defeat against the Saints.
38-3, two interceptions launched by Aaron Rodgers, a good slap that put the spirits in place and the egos aside. With a complicated calendar, where the teams of AFC North and NFC West were on the program, many predicted a complicated campaign for them. Nay! The machine gradually started to chain 7 consecutive successes. The key, important victories, snatched at the end of the game on the lands of the 49ers, Bengals and Cardinals.
With an alternation of away defeat and home victory, the month of November was more complicated in accounting terms (2-2). Injuries and players absent due to COVID have started to weigh on the performance of the workforce. Touched, Aaron Rodgers had to give up the shock against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, all against the backdrop of the vaccine controversy. Result, a setback with a somewhat tender Jordan Love for his first.
The late rest week (week 13) came at just the right time and allowed the batteries to be recharged. The absentees have gradually made their return and Green Bay has left on a positive streak. Thanks to 4 straight victories, they pocketed the division, then the first place in the conference with one week to go, benefiting from the lesser blows of their opponents. Exempt from the Wild Card round, Matt LaFleur offered himself the luxury of rotating part of his workforce during the loss to Detroit at the close.
Key players: Aaron Rodgers – Davante Adams
When we try to determine the suitors, we must look at the certainties. In Green Bay, the Aaron Rodgers-Davante Adams duo arguably forms the most trusted quarterback-receiver connection in the league.
On the line of last season, Adams flew over the debates. Able to run any type of layout, reliable hands, a rare ability to stand out, number 17 has yet again earned a spot on the All-Pro first team. 1553 yards in 123 receptions (two franchise records), his statistics speak for him. His attitude on the pitch too. Priority target of his team (1040 yards more than the 2and, Allen Lazard), he tormented all the cornerbacks lined up against him.
All this could not have been done without a passer of the caliber of Aaron Rodgers. Behind a complicated character hides a player of extreme intelligence. But above all, efficiency and cleanliness. With a constant turnover, forced by injuries, his offensive line struggled to protect him for most of the year. But that didn’t stop him from performing. 4115 yards, 68.9% of passes completed, 37 touchdowns for only 4 interceptions, the 30-year-old is close to getting a 4and MVP title.
Why are they going to go all the way?
Despite a busy infirmary, Green Bay has won the victories, winning the best record in the NFC but also in the league. The negative spiral seems to have reversed at the right time, many regular holders are announced on the return and not the least. In perpetual adjustment, the offensive line can count on the return of David Bakhtiari (LT), Josh Myers (C) and possibly Billy Turner (RT) to recover a stable base and effectively protect their master to play. The offensive squad should also recover Randall Cobb, always very useful in the slot. In defence, Za’Darius Smith (DE), Jaire Alexander (CB) and Whitney Mercilius (DE) have reappeared on the training grounds and claim a place in the workforce. Enough to give a life-saving boost in the home straight.
The defenses win the championships, and with these additional elements on the pitch, the group coached by Joe Barry can hope to raise their level of play.and in the standings, the group especially shone in the recovery of possessions (18 interceptions, 18 fumbles covered). And since the offense is cautious with the leather, the Packers finished the regular season with a ratio of +13.3and best team in NFL. The arrival of the 50-year-old has transformed this unit, much more solid than last year and able to adjust according to the difficulties encountered. The additions of veterans Rasul Douglas (CB) and De’Vondre Campbell (LB) were good moves by Brian Gutekunst (GM). Central point of the device and author of a monstrous season, the linebacker even managed to win a selection in the first All-Pro team.
Aerial play, with the Rodgers-Adams connection and boss Allen Lazard’s (WR) darling, remains the foundation of the Packers’ offensive success. But we must not forget the doublet of running backs, which in the cold, will be important to master the clock. Luckily, Green Bay has two complementary runners, capable of evolving in different styles. Aaron Jones, formidable on overrun runs or as a passing safety valve. AJ Dillon, much more massive, real bulldozer on the races full center. The two friends have also finished more than 1000 cumulative yards and 7 touchdowns each. Danger can therefore come from anywhere with a brain like Aaron Rodgers at the helm.
Finally, the road to the Super Bowl will pass through Lambeau Field and its icy climate. An important factor when you know that Green Bay remained undefeated on their land in 2021, and that they will have to face teams all from states where the temperature is not a problem (California, Florida). Even if it is true that since the beginning of the 21st century, the results have been more mixed in the final stages (8 wins, 6 losses).
Why won’t they go?
Since February 6, 2011, the date of the last Super Bowl, success has rarely been there. The playoffs have only been missed twice (2017, 2018) but Aaron Rodgers has never managed to hoist his team beyond the conference final (4 losses), failing at this stage for the past two years . We can also wonder about the adaptability of Matt LaFleur. Since taking office, he has always struggled to change his patterns mid-match when the situation was not in his favor and lacked creativity in his patterns in 2021.
Knockout matches are played on details. At this stage of the competition, the Packers could pay dearly for their lack of efficiency and creativity in the red zone. According to Pro Football Reference, 58.60% of passes in this area ended in a touchdown (19and of the league), compared to 76.81% in 2020 (number 1 NFL). But it was mainly in defense that they failed to make the difference where 67.30% of opposing attempts resulted in a touchdown (30and of the league).
The start of the match was also a major problem. Often in the reaction, Green Bay struggled to get the machine started. Only one inaugural series has ended with a touchdown, and that was against Detroit in the final week. The finding is even more striking when we look at the average points scored per quarter. 3.0 points in the first (25and NFL) against 10.1 in the 2and (1er NFL) according to teamrankings.com.
An often overlooked but potentially important area in a tight game, special teams have been a disaster of apocalyptic proportions. The only ray of sunshine in this field of ruin, Corey Bojorquez and his average 50.8 yards per clearance (number 1 in NFL), capable of pushing the opponent very far in his camp. Apart from the punter, the encephalogram is flat. No clean returner could emerge, and Mason Crosby, yet so reliable in recent years, had a nightmare. With 73.5% success on field goals, the kicker had his 2and worst career season in terms of skill. A big thorn in the side when the meetings which arrive can be decided on a kick.
The least we can say is that the Wisconsin franchise had a complicated season medically. David Bakhtiari, Za’Darius Smith, Jaire Alexander, Robert Tonyan, Whitney Mercilius, Elgton Jenkins, Randall Cobb, Billy Turner, Aaron Jones, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Josh Myers… Hardly a week has gone by without a holder does not go through the infirmary box.
At the time of attacking the home stretch, only Tonyan and Jenkins are already out of the competition. Bakhtiari and Myers made their return to competition in the final game. Smith and Cobb have returned to training and should be able to hold their place. A doubt remains on the participation of Mercilius (torn left biceps on November 14) whose rapid recovery surprised everyone, Alexander (shoulder) and Turner (knee), who missed the last 4 games. Even if not all of them are at 100%, they remain significant additions of experience for the last games of the season.
It’s the year or never and Rodgers has only one thing in mind: the title. He hasn’t won a Super Bowl for a decade and remains on two consecutive failures in the conference finals. With the advantage of the field, the return of the injured and a new defense, he has never been better placed to win a new ring.
Of all the contenders, the Packers have perhaps the fewest salient flaws. It is not the most explosive team in attack, nor the most impermeable defensively, but the collective is difficult to take in default. Beware all the same of overconfidence, the month of January will be paved with pitfalls.
A premature exit from the track is not at all to be excluded, especially with an opponent in Divisional like San Francisco. Green Bay is better, but is not cured of all its ailments. They still have a lot of difficulties against teams that are particularly fond of the ground game, pre-snap movements and the liveliness of their skill players. But no choice if they want to go all the way. A victory would allow them to garner the confidence necessary to possibly afford a revenge against Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. See more.