After their victory over the Seattle Seahawks, the Green Bay Packers somehow continue to be disrespected by the most of the football community. Vegas has never had the point spread on a 13-3 team in a game on Championship Sunday of greater than a touchdown. Yet, the Packers line currently sits at +7.5. Talking heads all over television have written off this Packers team. One station has gone far enough to say that the 49ers are superior at each and every position. Aaron Rodgers and his band of merry men will certainly have their say on Sunday. But can the Packers actually win the game?
The Packers must take care of the football
Granted the 37-8 loss to the 49ers represents to lowest point this season. However, a closer look at the game script exhibits the Pack shot themselves in the foot on more than one occasion. On the first drive of the game, Aaron Rodgers held the ball far too long sacked, resulting in a turnover. San Francisco recovered the ball inside the Packers five yard line. Obviously Green Bay was behind the eight ball to start in this one.
Self inflicted wounds continued to haunt the Packers as the game progressed. Green Bay’s defense was set to get off the field, until a phantom call changed the game. A hands to the face on Kevin King, when no contact was made to the receiver’s face, prolonged the 49ers drive. Backup running back Jeff Wilson Jr. took the ball to the Packers 16 yard line on the very next play, leading to a Chase McLaughlin field goal.
At this point, the Packers offense was barely on the field, and already trailed by two possessions. Once San Francisco was able to build a lead, they released the hounds. With five first round draft picks along their line, rushing the passer with the lead is exactly what the 49ers want. Nick Bosa and Co. teed off and Aaron Rodgers, and the game spiraled out of control from there. The Green Bay Packers offense must have a better plan to match-up with 49ers dangerous defensive front this time around.
Niners defensive end Nick Bosa was a terror in the first match-up. My money says Matt Lafleur will have a far more diverse and direct plan of attack this time around. His good friend, 49ers defensive co-ordinator Robert Salah, managed to get pressure on multiple occasions by running twists and stunts on nearly every play. Arik Armstead, the team’s 2014 first rounder has benefited greatly from the presence of Bosa and wrapped up two sacks last time out. Make no mistake, this game will again be won and lost in the trenches.
Improvement from the O-Line
All-Pro tackle David Bakhtiari and a healthy Bryan Bulaga should be able to play the Niners’ ends to a draw. Green Bay simply needs their interior line to play better football. They were outmanned and outmatched, and eventually beaten down in November. The same cannot be allowed to happen on Sunday. Corey Linsley is back to full health and is one of the league’s most reliable centers, he will be vital in the success of this offense. Left guard Elgton Jenkins has been a revelation in his rookie year, springing huge holes for Aaron Jones time and time again. Along with free agent acquisition Billy Turner the interior offensive line will need to have the game of their lives in Santa Clara.
Victory on Championship Sunday is a tall task for any team. To beat the San Francisco 49ers, in front of their home crowd, with that defensive line, is an accomplishment. Green Bay first and foremost needs to protect Aaron Rodgers. Running back Aaron Jones will be relied on early and often in this one. If the offensive line can keep both Aaron’s clean, look out Miami! Here come the Cheeseheads!Nick is a lifelong Packers fan. 4th and 26 was on his 13th birthday, unlucky. Follow him @CANDRAFTGEEK647 on Twitter for all your Packers draft needs and questions.