Monday, January 20, 2014

Comparing The Packers To The NFC's Elite

Now that the Seahawks have advanced to the Super Bowl, I was curious how the Packers compared to the other two teams that faced the 49ers during the playoffs. If CB Richard Sherman wasn't able to throw his hand up in just the right spot during the final minute of the NFC Championship game, the 49ers were probably on their way to a second straight Super Bowl appearance. That was arguably the best play of the season, so far, though his subsequent taunting of WR Michael Crabtree was arguably the number one dick move of it too. If the Packers had beaten the 49ers, could they have won in Seattle and found themselves in the Super Bowl?

Here are some of the game stats from the Packers playoff loss to the 49ers:
Team Total Yards Yards/Pass Yards/Run Turnovers
Packers 281 6.0 4.0 0
49ers 381 7.1 5.6 1

And here are the 49ers's game stats from their subsequent playoff games:
Team Total Yards Yards/Pass Yards/Run Turnovers
Seahawks 308 7.7 4.0 1
49ers 308 6.1 5.8 3

Team Total Yards Yards/Pass Yards/Run Turnovers
Panthers 325 9.3 3.9 2
49ers 315 6.3 3.7 0

Rodgers admitted he didn't play his best game against the 49ers, and based on the above game stats you can see what he was talking about. While there was no offensive explosion by any of these four teams, the Packers were the only one held under 300 yards of total offense. They were also the only team that didn't turn the ball over against the 49ers, which was a big reason why they scored 20 points. Obviously the incredibly frigid conditions at Lambeau played a part, but that didn't hold back the 49ers's offense.

Looking at these stats, the Packers were the weakest of these four teams. They were the lesser team on offense and defense, but the fact that they had zero turnovers helped keep the game close. Their 2013 record was deceiving because they were without Rodgers for several games, but the overall team effort still wasn't the best in the NFC after his return.

How can the Packers improve in 2014? Obviously they need better players on defense, and every position except cornerback could use some fresh blood. On offense, maybe they're a whole lot better if Rodgers and Cobb don't miss half a season, though the offensive line is due for some sort of a re-shuffle depending on the future of LT Bryan Bulaga and C Evan Dietrich-Smith. They're not that far away from another Super Bowl, so long as Rodgers is healthy, but they have more work to do than these other teams.

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