It was going to take a win over the Seattle Seahawks for the Green Bay Packers to convince their fans and the rest of the NFL that they were truly back in the race after wins over the middling Philadelphia Eagles and the Houston Texans kept the season alive the previous two weeks.
The Packers did all of that and more in a 38-10 drubbing of Seattle at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon. They not only announced that they are truly in the playoff race, but that they are a force to be reckoned with if they get there.
It was the most complete game the Packers have played since a 26-21 victory on Nov. 30, 2014 against the New England Patriots. The Seahawks don’t get blown out of games ever. Russell Wilson has never lost this close to this badly in his entire career. Aaron Rodgers continued his December Lambeau dominance, where he has only lost once in his career at home in the regular season’s final month.
Rodgers was on fire from the opening series when he made a perfect pass rolling to his right for a 66-yard touchdown to Davante Adams, who was consistently winning off the line of scrimmage all night long. He picked apart a defense without star safety Earl Thomas, but still had plenty of other studs out there. If his play continues at this level and the Packers win out, he has put himself in the MVP conversation.
For seemingly the first time since Eddie Lacy went down, the Packers actually had legitimate threats at running back to concerns the defense with. The overall numbers for Ty Montgomery and Chrristine Michael might look modest, but watching them run was a different story.
There is zero question Montgomery’s position is running back at this point. He has had no issues finding the proper holes or running inside. His power to run through tackles is just not something you would expect when you first look at him.
The Packers have not had a running back as explosive as Michael in a long time either. He’s just a different type of athlete than they’ve had at the position. He’s not super fast, but you cans see his physical gifts when he runs. What you love about both Montgomey and Michael is that they both always fall forward to go along with their athletic traits. Mike McCarthy finally appears to see what everybody else has seen with James Starks.
Defensively, the Packers still seem to have Wilson’s number and they turned in an outstanding performance. Getting Micah Hyde off the field in the slot and getting Damarious Randall back on it has made a huge difference. Randall is the only player on the defense with the recovery speed to make the interception that he did at the end of the first half, which saved what would have been a disastrous touchdown.
The pass rush was after Wilson all day with Datone Jones and Jayrone Elliot leading the way. The defense is still hard to trust though, especially if Nick Perry and Clay Matthews never get back fully healthy — or even if they do. There were still opportunities for Seattle to make plays they botched. Doug Baldwin was wide open on the aforementioned interception, Wilson overthrew Jimmy Graham and Baldwin for touchdowns and three of the interceptions came off deflections.
While the Packers played close to a perfect game on the field two things kept it from being a perfect day — the injury to Rodgers’ calf and the Lions, Vikings, Bucs and Redskins somehow all pulling out close victoies I wouldn’t worry too much about the other wild card and division contenders– none of them are particularly good teams — and will they likely stumble eventually over the final three weeks.
It would be unlikely that if the Packers finished 10-6 they would be left out, so just go out and get the job done. What those teams winning today means the Packers will almost have to win out. Nine wins does not look like it will be enough.
As for Rodgers, that is definitely more of a concern. The hamstring did not look like that much of an issue against Houston. He didn’t run, but was still able to extend plays outside of the pocket. That showed up on the third play of the game on the touchdown to Adams, but we did not see much of it afterwards.
The Packers have shown they can still be effective with a hobbled Rodgers. He just shredded the NFL’s best defense in that state. However, it requires near perfect pass protection –which the Packers have often given him — but is asking a lot for it to happen every game.
It will still require a lot of work for the Packers to reach the playoffs since they’re only half way there on their quest to run the table after losing four games in a row. However, if they complete the job anything seems possible in a wide open NFC.——————