After 14 weeks the Packers sit atop the NFC in terms of playoff seeding. With only the one seed earning a bye, coupled with the home-field advantage of Lambeau Field, and it’s clear just how important it is for the Packers to secure the top spot. Of the current playoff teams in the NFC – Washington is the only team other than the Packers who doesn’t play in either a warm weather environment or dome. With 4 games to go, look for these three players to have a big role to ensure a deep Packers postseason run.
Partly due to an MCL sprain to Aaron Jones, but Dillon has come on strong of late. He has been impressive not only as a runner, but catching the ball as well. The Tennessee game last season was a prime example of what Dillon can be capable of come December and January – rushing 24 times for 124 yards and 2 TD. The Packers have began to utilize him in the closer role in the 4-minute offense, and he has thrived. He has averaged 20 touches a game in his last four, and his ability to wear down a defense will be vital in the postseason. Even after giving Jones the bye week to recover – Dillon still out-snapped Jones 35 to 29 last week against the Bears. Look for the Packers to maintain an even split as the playoffs approach.
He has had a very quiet season statistically speaking, though Matt LaFleur has been effusive in his praise of Lazard in the run game as a blocker – calling him an “enforcer” earlier this season. But Sunday was a prime example of what he can contribute in the passing game. Of his 6 catches against the Bears, 3 went for first downs, and a fourth for a TD. This was where he was able to be most impactful a season ago. In 2020, he had 33 total receptions, with 23 of those being for first downs and 3 TDs. He continued that trend into the postseason, where all 7 of his receptions went for first downs. He is a trusted target for Aaron Rodgers who has the ability to make contested catches. With Randall Cobb unlikely to return before the postseason, Lazard will be even more important.
There should be no need to explain how important the offensive line will be to the Packers postseason hopes. But the NFC championship game a season ago is example 1A on what can go wrong when losing the trenches. Matt LaFleur didn’t rule out a Billy Turner return at some point – but it appears unlikely he will be available anytime soon. Dennis Kelly was a player man expected to come into the fold when Elgton Jenkins first was injured early in the season. But the Packers clearly viewed him strictly as a right tackle. He has plenty of experience after starting 16 games for the Titans a season ago. He filled in admirably on Sunday – playing 42 snaps and per PFF he did not allow a single pressure. With David Bakhtiari likely returning soon, having Kelly play well would be a huge boon to the Packers offense.——————
Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.