Monday, December 12, 2016

Packers (7-6) Clobber The Seahawks, 38-10, In Lambeau

I was optimistic about this game though the Green Bay Packers entered it as an underdog and the Seahawks have statistically been a much better team this season. But you can throw stats out the window when it comes down to one game, and one team showed up with their worst performance of the year.
One stat that defined this game; turnovers. Seattle had 6 turnover and the Packers had none.

Even if the turnover battle was even, the Packers might have had an edge. Their offensive line is the team's unsung MVP and they kept QB Aaron Rodgers clean for almost the entire game. He had plenty of time to wait for a receiver to get open as the pass rush wasn't a problem. CB Richard Sherman was his usual All-Pro self, but the Seahawks badly missed FS Earl Thomas. His replacement, FS Steven Terrell, didn't provide the same play making at all. That's a tough role to fill but Seattle's defense didn't have anyone to fill it.

TE Jimmy Graham, who I worried about coming into this game, didn't catch his first pass until midway through the 4th quarter. But he was a factor on the first INT, when Graham slipped and SS Morgan Burnett jumped in front of him for the interception. Though the morning's snow was all cleared away by game time, the Seahawks still seemed to have trouble with their footing. Burnett's INT was a great play by him, but the next 4 INTs were a series of missed balls and deflections that landed right into a Packer defender's hands. Each defender did a great job to keep their eye on the ball, but it just bounced their way all game long. Seattle had an opening drive for a field goal, and scored a late garbage time touchdown, but otherwise almost everything was working for the Packers' defense. It was a strange sight, considering how the defense fell apart during their recent four game losing streak.

The Packers had to keep winning, and they did it. Now they finish the season with the rematch stretch against the NFC North, three games they probably have to win. They can move ahead of the Vikings (7-6) in a must-win game in two weeks at Lambeau but they can't over look the Bears next week in Chicago, despite the fact they haven't lost in Chicago since 2010. The Bears did beat them last season and they're still playing hard for their coaches and fans.

The big problem remains the Lions, who sit 2 games ahead in the standings with only 3 remaining. However, the Packers finish their regular season on a must-win game in Detroit, so they can close the gap by one game then (and they have the tie-breaker due to the earlier win over the Lions in Lambeau). Meanwhile, the Lions other remaining two games are brutal (at Giants, at Cowboys).

And worst of all is the injury to QB Matthew Stafford's throwing hand. That is a major problem for them against any NFL team for the rest of the season. QB Derek Carr looked terrible last week trying to throw with an injured finger on his throwing hand. QB Carson Palmer would disagree but his finger injury last season held back the Cardinals' offense over the final few games. The Lions will try to remain positive but that is a major problem for them.

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