Monday, December 15, 2014

Packers Upset By Bills in Buffalo: 21-13

It was surprising that they only lost by 8 points considering all the turnovers (2 INTs plus you have to consider the recovered fumble that went for a safety a turnover), bad special teams (Buffalo's punt return for a touchdown) and penalties (9 for 70 yards).
For me, all hope of a come from behind win vanished when WR Jordy Nelson dropped that likely 90+ yard touchdown pass pictured above. They had an amazing amount of dropped passes (every targeted receiver except RB Eddie Lacy had a drop) and it was the most drops in any game by any team since 2008. The offensive line did a very good job in pass protection against a potent Bills pass rush, but QB Aaron Rodgers didn't get enough help from his receivers.

I wasn't expecting the Packers to run the ball well against the Bills's defense, but instead they did a fantastic job. Lacy had multiple 10+ yard carries and average 6.5 ypc overall. He's a load to bring down and showed great vision, but he had some huge rushing lanes thanks to his offensive line.

On the other side of the ball, it was quietly a fantastic game for the defense. They did miss some tackles and left receivers uncovered at times, but the Bills didn't take advantage of it. The Bills ran for under 4 yards per carry and QB Kyle Orton's stats (ESPN QBR of 17.2) was just as bad as Rodgers. The defense only allowed four drives that led to field goals which would have been enough to win almost any other game this season.

The special teams were awful. They have always been OK to bad under Mike McCarthy and Shawn Slocum, and this season they're starting to slip into the bad territory. It was ironic that they fell apart during the game after they promoted special teams ace S Chris Banjo from the practice squad. There's nothing to do at this point except work on cleaning up their mistakes from this game.

The last time Aaron Rodgers had a game this bad was in November 2012 against the Giants when the entire team fell apart and they lost 38-10 on the road. Back then, the defense wasn't playing well and the offense couldn't run the ball (RB Alex Green was the starter). Even against a lesser opponent, it's tough to win on the road late in the season (the 2011 loss at Kansas City, which ended their unbeaten season, also comes to mind). This loss isn't a big concern unless you believe Rodgers and Jordy Nelson are going to play this poorly for the rest of the season.

They are still the No. 6 seed and it's still possible for them to win the No. 1 seed, but I've written off any chance of winning home field advantage throughout the playoffs because of this loss. Maybe that's just as well; the Packers have lost two of their last three home playoff games.

However, the road to the NFC North championship and the No. 2 seed is pretty straight forward; just win their final two games (at Tampa, Detroit in Lambeau). If they win out, they'll beat the Cowboys on tiebreakers and we won't even talk about how far behind the NFC South winner will be from the No. 2 seed. They just have to forget about this week and focus on winning their next two games.

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