Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Packers (4-4) Lose At Home to the Struggling Colts, 31-26

The Green Bay Packers did feel like they played the first three quarters with low energy. The offense was moving well at times during the first half, but they kept leaving points on the field as six of their first nine offensive possession finished in Indianapolis territory with only had 13 points to show for it. The defense was playing great (at times) and forced the Colts into three-and-out on three of their eleven possessions, but they also allowed three long touchdown drives plus a long drive at the end of the game to run out the clock. And the special teams were a complete disaster. They came out with low energy on the opening kickoff and spent the next three quarters digging the hole deeper.
The Packers' special teams unit had been OK entering this game (it was ranked No. 17 overall) but then allowed two long kickoff returns (one for a touchdown, the other set up a field goal) and K Mason Crosby missed a 48 yard field goal. That's a big deficit to overcome from special teams alone, considering how the offense and defense were playing.

Over the past three games, it seems like the offense now knows how to use it's personnel. They'll go deep with WR Jordy Nelson or WR Jeff Janis (you can't drop that one Jeff!) while the rest of their receivers are better used on short passes or passes out of the backfield to Montgomery or Cobb. What's holding back the offense is the absence of a quality running back and I'm not pinning my hopes on RB James Starks. It is amazing how they can manage 116 yards rushing on 19 carries with scrambles by QB Aaron Rodgers and hand offs to Montgomery.

The defense seemed out-schemed in this game. The Packers played more zone than usual and it worked at times (2 early INTs) but then it gave up chunks of yards on all of the Colts's long touchdown drives. The front four wasn't generating enough pressure against a make-shirt Colts' offensive line which forced the Packers to blitz more with their DBs. That led to some big completions when the blitz didn't get there in time (or when FS Ha Ha Clinton Dix missed a huge sack opportunity on the Colts' last possession).

The only silver lining is that it seems to be a race to the bottom in the NFC North. The Vikings are in free fall, currently on a three game losing streak, and the Lions have moved ahead of the Packers with 5 wins. If the Packers win the rest of their NFC North head-to-head games, then they'll probably win the NFC North. The division winner might finish with only 9 or 10 wins. That's not pretty, but they just need to find any way into the playoffs and hope the team clicks at the right time.

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