Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Playoff Bound......

It's official!!

The Packers are in the playoffs!

Based on the outcome of their game week 17 (and a couple other games if they lose), it will be decided if they will hold the No.5 or No.6 seed in the NFC. The Packers were able to clinch their playoff spot, after they annihilated the Seahawks at home and thanks to the Panthers for destroying the Giants. In retrospect, if the Packers had managed to hold on to a win against the Steelers (where Big Ben made a clutch last second throw for a TD), added to the Viking's loss to the Bears on MNF, the Packers could have been in contention for the Division and the #2 seed in week 17. The caveat being, they would have needed a lot of help from other teams, including another Vikings loss. Anyways, all of those scenarios are moot at the moment.

In all likelihood, the Packers will end up playing the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs. Which would also be a re-match of their week 16 match up. There are a few other possibilities for the Packers too. Here are all the possible scenarios:

1. Vikings bt. Giants, Eagles bt. Cowboys and GB win (or loss): GB plays at ARI in the first round (most likely outcome)
2. Vikings bt. Giants, Cowboys bt. Eagles and GB win (or loss): GB plays at ARI in the first round
3. Giants bt. Vikings, Cowboys bt. Eagles and GB win: GB plays at ARI in the first round
4. Giants bt. Vikings, Cowboys bt. Eagles and GB loss: GB plays at DAL in the first round
5. Giants bt. Vikings, Eagles bt. Cowboys and GB win: GB plays at ARI in the first round
6. Giants bt. Vikings, Eagles bt. Cowboys and GB loss: GB plays at MIN in the first round (most intriguing)


Now that the Packers have their playoff spot clinched, how much do they have to play for week 17? In reality, not a whole lot!! Even though a win would guarantee the No.5 seed for the Packers, there may not be a much of a reward to try earn it. The Packers know that the Cardinals are anyways going to be their most likely opponent either way. The only difference to them between a 5 seed and 6 seed is that the 5 seed will give the Packers a chance to host the NFC Championship game if both the 5 seed and 6 seed make it that far, which rarely happens, if it all it happens.

As a part of their preparation for the playoff push, the Packers have been trying to fix and shore up various parts of their plays. Over the last few weeks, they have been able to protect Aaron Rodgers and suddenly their O line is no more their main liability as it was in the beginning of the season. Also, they are run-blocking really well at the moment, encouraging more run play calls, in the process, giving the offense a good balance. The defense has been steady for the most part of the second half of the season, but some questions popped up after the Steelers game where Big Ben threw for over 500 yards. So they needed to prove to themselves, more than anything, against Seattle that the Steelers game was an aberration. Another area needed fixing was their special team, especially the kicking game.

Play to "win"...... or wait, is it "rest"??

The Colts have been taking a lot of heat for resting their starters against the Jets last week. While it might have been a sensible decision with regard to the health of the team overall, it was a badly conceived decision by the organization in this case just because, the Colts were in pursuit of perfection. If they had lost the first game of the season and had been 13-1 instead of 14-0, even with a 13-0 run at stake, the Colts would not be facing so much of backlash.

In the case of the Packers, they would like to use the first couple quarters of their week 17 game against the Cardinals to tighten up a few loose ends. Against the Seahawks last week, the Packers, even if not by design, managed to let Mason Crosby attempt a 52 yard FG. The successful kick must have been a big confidence booster for the youngster after all his struggles through past weeks. Also, after distancing themselves late in the 3rd quarter, they managed to get their reserve players in to give them some playing time. Look for the Packers to do the same against the Cardinals. This is especially important since the Packers 2nd and 3rd tier players are all young and with very little experience if at all any. Bottom line, the Packers' aim would be to not show too much to the Cardinals (who they will probably play again the next week), and come out of the game healthy so that they can begin an effective playoff push.

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