The Green Bay Packers seem to be the team in the NFC nobody wants to face in the playoffs. With a win next Sunday, the Packers will enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league, but do they have the ability to win the Super Bowl?
The offense has lead the team on it’s late season surge. Aaron Rodgers is playing some of the best football of his career, and has propelled himself into the MVP conversation. With his legs getting healthier the Packers offense might be the best in the league. Jared Cook’s return has give Rodgers a legitimate 3rd down weapon, and a target to control the middle of the field. Jordy Nelson has seen a return to being one of the best receivers in the league, and Ty Montgomery is a matchup nightmare for opponents. Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Geronimo Allison, and Richard Rodgers have all been inconsistent, but each can provide big plays in spurts. And they happen to be playing with one of the best offensive lines in all of football.
Do the Packers also have a championship caliber Special Teams? Mason Crosby is as reliable as Kickers come. Jacob Schum has played well in the second half of the season, but he does not have any playoff experience. The punt coverage unit is typically good with Jeff Janis being one of the best gunners in the league. The kickoff coverage unit has been exposed at times, but Crosby should be able to offset that by kicking it out of the end zone in good weather conditions. They also possess a huge factor on field goal blocks with Julius Peppers. I’d grade their Special Teams as good enough.
So, if the offense is elite and the Special Teams is adequate, the Packers playoffs hopes will likely hinge on the defense’s ability to slow other teams down and get turnovers. The run defense has continued to be a strength, but the Packers have been getting exposed in the secondary. Damarious Randall’s return has helped, but there are too many miscommunications deep and over the middle of the field. Morgan Burnett and HaHa Clinton-Dix have to take better angles and control the deep passing game. The pass rush is going to have to return to form to cover for the Cornerback deficiencies. Clay Matthews getting healthy has been a boost, and it would be a great help to have Nick Perry back with two fully functioning hands. If the Packers run up against the Giants, Falcons, or Cowboys their pass defense is going to be a huge factor in their ability to advance.
So, the Packers have a legitimate shot at winning it all in the right circumstances. First, they need to take care of business against a feigning Detroit Lions team on Sunday. As 2010 proved, being hot going into the playoffs is just as important as being good.Andrew Mertig is a a lifelong Packers fan and draft enthusiast. He has covered the NFL draft for radio and television stations in Green Bay. He is currently a host of the Pack-A-Day podcast and a writer for PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewmertig