The Green Bay Packers sit at 5-3 at the halfway point of their season, which is a very reasonable record with the kind of schedule they faced. This included trips to the two hardest places to win in the NFL.
The second half of the season is a much easier schedule with five of their eight games at Lambeau Field. Everything the Packers want is still right there in front of them. Here are some thoughts heading into the second half of the season:
– Lots of players will have their futures in Green Bay impacted by their play over these final eight games. Randall Cobb has already proved he is a must to re-sign. Davon House did not step up when given the chance starting against a top offense. He likely cost himself money, even though Tramon Williams did not play well either. Bryan Bulaga has a lot to prove when facing top speed rushers as well. The problem with not bringing Bulaga back is they have nobody on the roster to replace him on the roster. Also, David Bakhtiari’s continued poor performance run blocking may cause him not to be the left tackle of the future.
– Eddie Lacy is gonna eat in the second half. The Packers only face three opponents in the top half of the NFL in run defense and trying to take on Lacy in the cold weather is a scary proposition. Lacy is just now starting to find his groove and will not be slowing down any time soon. They should continue to get Lacy involved in the passing game like they did in New Orleans, as that gives defenses just another thing to worry about. He is a true three down back now that he proved he can be a good receiver and his pass blocking is terrific.
– A.J. Hawk has the most snaps on the Packers’ defense and the worst PFF grade on the team. He has zero forced turnovers and a half a sack on the season. Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington have not really looked like answers either on a consistent basis. That about sums up the inside linebacker position. It’s extremely hard to play defense with such poor play from this position. Somehow Green Bay will have to find two starters there next offseason.
– As long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy and playing the way he did in October the Packers can still beat anybody.
– Davante Adams will have at least one game in the second half with over 100 receiving yards. Maybe more.
– The Packers being true Super Bowl contenders depend on them stopping the run. It just does not seem like they have the personnel to do it. Of course it does not help that Dom Capers continually goes nickel even against heavy offensive formations. Then again he is covering up the egregious inside linebacker play by always having a nickel back in the game for coverage.
– Sacks don’t tell the whole story, but Green Bay only ranks 16th in the NFL with 18. Their pass rush should be a big strength and must be better. That starts with Clay Matthews, who was much better against Carolina and New Orleans. Julius Peppers and Mike Daniels have both gotten the job done. Nick Perry should be getting more snaps than Mike Neal in the second half of the season. The opposite was true in the first half.
– Green Bay has not beaten a really good team since Houston in 2012. They have three chances against Philadelphia, New England and Detroit and they’re all at home. They must get it done.
– Winning the division is essential since it looks very likely the #5 seed will earn a trip to New Orleans. The Packers really do not want that to be their destiny.
– The Packers will finish the season 11-5 and make a return trip to the postseason.——————