Hello Wisconsin: Packers’ Matchup With Titans a Christmas Gift for Skeptics

The matchup against Derrick Henry (and Ryan Tannehill), Christmas traditions, Beer of the Week and more!

We’re starting to hear the same sorts of narratives forming about the 2020 Packers team that we heard throughout the 2019 season.

“They’re a paper tiger.”

“Overrated.”

“Worst 11-3 team ever.”

“Fraudulent.”

“Can’t beat good teams.”

“Never blow out bad teams.”

Now most, if not all, of these narratives are flat-out wrong. But this weekend, the big bad Tennessee Titans come into town, sitting at 10-4 with the freight train that is Derrick Henry paving the way for one of the league’s most efficient offenses. And Packer fans online are scared.

All season long, people have been pointing to this game as a disaster in the making for the Packers’ defense. It’s been a forgone conclusion that Henry will put up massive numbers against the Packers. And he very well could; this is an MVP caliber player in a career year racking up some incredible statistics. While the Packers are borderline top 10 in terms of total yards allowed, the per-carry average allowed is below average.

What we’re seeing this weekend is a Christmas gift for skeptics. 

Either they’ll be proven right, and Henry and the Titans will out-physical and stomp all over the Packers, or they’ll be proven wrong, the Packers will defeat a true contender in primetime and potentially lock up a #1 seed. 

All this being said, I’m not entirely sure it’s Henry the Packers’ defense needs to be most concerned about.

Don’t get me wrong; Henry is an absolute beast, and is far and away the Titans’ most potent offensive weapon. 

But there’s only so much you can do to stop a player who could end up having one of the all-time great rushing seasons when all’s said and done. And if you sell out too much on stopping the inevitable, you make matters much easier on quarterback Ryan Tannehill and this passing offense.

Yes, it’s still hard to believe that Ryan Tannehill has become one of the game’s most reliable and efficient quarterbacks. He doesn’t get the hype of other players due to his late-blooming status after a slow start to his career in Miami, but in Tennessee he’s finally blossomed and reached his full potential. 

The philosophy for many teams over the last year and a half has been to try to shut down Henry and make Tannehill beat you through the air. But the statistics show that’s probably not your best play.

The Titans know teams are going to sell out to stop Henry, and they take full advantage of opposing defenses’ would-be aggression in the running game. They run play action more than any other team in football, and according to PFF, Tannehill leads the league in passing yards and yards per attempt when throwing out of play action. 

This approach has helped Tannehill become a legitimate top-tier starter in his two years in Tennessee. Since taking his first snaps as a Titan, Tannehill has earned a 113.3 cumulative passer rating, a massive increase from his 87.0 rating in six years as a Dolphin. This year he has 31 touchdowns to five interceptions, with solid marks in completion percentage (66.5) and average yards per attempt (8.1).

Tannehill is helped out on the back end by having a budding star wideout in pro bowler AJ Brown, an impressive physical specimen in the mold of Calvin Johnson and D.K. Metcalf. 

Henry is going to get the headlines and command the most attention, because he is one of the league’s premier offensive players. But it would be a mistake for the Packers to try to fully sell out on the run, because that’s exactly what the Titans want you to do. Too many teams have underestimated Tannehill and this passing attack, and it continually haunts them.

Henry is good enough where you can stack the box and he can still get his yards. I would posit that rather than loading up the box, the Packers should focus on eliminating the passing game, and concede some game on the ground. 

The philosophy here is simple--Henry is going to get yards. But at least in staying disciplined in play action and taking away the passing game, the Packers avoid the potential for fast scores and force the Titans into a more one-dimensional style of game. 

Match up Jaire Alexander on AJ Brown and you can essentially erase him. Let the rest of the Packers’ secondary handle Corey Davis and the other contributors in the passing game, and you have to like what you’ve got going on defense there.

Meanwhile, make greater use of your thumping rookies Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes so that you at least have bodies capable of bringing down Henry on the field.

I’m no football professional, I’m just a guy on the internet with a column that a few people read. But if you ask me, teams get so concerned about shutting down Henry that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the Titans end up scoring a ton of points. The Packers need to be smart about choosing their battles and be patient. 

If they do, I think they win this football game.

If not, the negative contingent of the fanbase will have a late Christmas present.

Packers get well-deserved pro bowl honors

By now most of you will have seen all the (justified) complaints about Robert Tonyan getting shut out of the Pro Bowl for Evan Engram of all people. I won’t bore you with all the statistics again, but safe to say it’s an absolute joke that Tonyan was left out for a guy who has been a weak link on a mediocre offense and a generally bad team all season.

But with that out of the way, the Packers’ seven selections were all extremely deserving, and it was great to see them get the recognition, especially after a couple high-profile snubs last year.

It’s never a surprise to see guys like Aaron Rodgers, David Bakhtiari or Davante Adams get pro bowl nods.

But two guys who were major snubs last year, Aaron Jones and Za’Darius Smith, were rightfully honored this year, and it was great to see them get the recognition they should have had last year as well.

It was also awesome to see Jaire Alexander get some recognition as a pro bowl starter. Alexander is a true lockdown corner, meaning he doesn’t get some of the gaudy interception stats of other players, which can harm his ability to get recognized like he should. But it appears as though people truly recognize the player he’s become--perhaps the finest at his position right now.

But my favorite was Elgton Jenkins, who was highly deserving but who I felt certain would be overlooked. The man has already become an absolute stud at basically every position on the offensive line, and will be for years to come. For offensive linemen, this recognition often comes a couple years after it should have first happened, so to see Jenkins get it right away was really great.

Wisconsin Beer of the Week

I’ve mentioned Eagle Park Brewing Company several times in this column but have only featured one of their beers so far. Around Christmas time I tend to bust out the imperial stouts as they’re perfect sipping beers when you’ve got a fire crackling in the fireplace, and so it was the other night when I poured one of these brand new Wrong Way imperial stouts, just released at Eagle Park’s tap rooms in Milwaukee and Muskego.

This one comes out thick like motor oil, which is exactly what you love out of a good wintertime stout (or what I love, anyway). It’s inspired by peanut butter cups, and thus features flavors of peanut butter, cocoa and vanilla, with some added sweetness and thickness from the milk sugar it uses.

It’s worth noting, though, that while this one might sound like a sugar bomb, it’s not as sweet as other so-called pastry stouts. There’s still a good boozy finish that gives it a slight edge, and the peanut butter flavor isn’t overpowering (something that tends to happen with peanut butter stouts and porters, which is why I frequently avoid them). I find it very well-balanced, and if you like milk stouts or stouts that have a bit of cocoa flavor in addition to their standard roastiness, I think this one would go over quite well with you. 

Of course, as an imperial stout it’s higher in alcohol, so the 11 percent ABV should come as no surprise. But it’s already earned a fantastic 4.25 rating on Untappd, and for good reason. This is the kind of beer you purchase for the holidays intending to share with others, but end up hiding away to keep for yourself because it’s so damn good.

Clinching scenarios for Week 16

Just in case you haven’t already had it drilled into your skull…

There is a possibility for the Packers to clinch the #1 seed in the NFC this week. 

If the Packers beat the Titans and the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Seattle Seahawks, the #1 seed officially belongs to the Packers, and then they get to decide what they’ll do about their week 17 contest in Chicago.

It’s also worth noting that the Titans game is, in essence, irrelevant. If the Packers lose to Tennessee but beat Chicago next week, nothing else that happens this week or next matters and the Packers clinch homefield anyway.

So pay attention to what’s happening in the Rams/Seahawks game, and maybe Sunday Night will have a little extra heat to it!

Around the NFC North

Once again it’s time for us to take a look around the NFC North.

The CHICAGO BEARS took down the Vikings, essentially ending their playoff hopes, and I loved it. In fact, I hope the Bears win again this week, too--it sets up an opportunity for the Packers to be the ones to officially eliminate them in week 17. Meanwhile, Mitch Trubisky keeps playing well enough that it could trick the Bears into keeping both him and Matt Nagy. Honestly, I was starting to get concerned that the Bears were being a little too obvious about how much they suck, so this is a great turn of events for Packer fans who would love to see the Bears’ continued suckage ensured for years to come.

The DETROIT LIONS were victims of a massive beatdown by the Titans on Sunday. It was cool to see Matthew Stafford take the field despite the concerns over his ribs; the man is an absolute warrior. But really, it was just one more sign that the team needs to basically start from scratch, except for a few key pieces. They’ve already interviewed current MNF commentator and former scout Louis Riddick for their GM position, and it’s only a matter of time before we start getting rumors about who they’re going to target for their head coaching opening. One thing’s for sure--they’ve learned their lesson about hiring former Patriots employees.

The MINNESOTA VIKINGS are essentially out of it now, which means Packer fans don’t have to feel too conflicted about cheering for them to take down the New Orleans Saints tomorrow evening to give the Packers a bit more breathing room for a #1 seed. This team drastically underachieved this year even despite its deficiencies on the defense and on the offensive line. With the team still tied to Kirk Cousins for the foreseeable future, it’s hard to know what to project out of them for 2021 without some significant improvement from the current young players they have on their roster or a big influx of veteran talent, which would be hard to swing in a lower cap year.

“This Week in the Packer Blogosphere!”

Pardon me for ripping off That Venerable Series, but I’ve gotta give some love to some hilarity that’s been happening on the ol’ Tweeter over the last week or so.

Some of you may be familiar with Underage Packers, the podcast featuring Big B (who has been battling cancer) and Joey the Jaguar, both of whom are teenage superfans. Joey’s been putting out some hilarious content recently that deserves some extra attention. 

The first was a video that was referenced in actual press conferences by both Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur:

 

The next came out yesterday, and was a riff on some prominent Packer podcasters, including a pair of certain CHTV founders.

 

 

Love this stuff. It’s the kind of thing only a kid can pull off, because if it were an adult they’d almost certainly launch some flame wars. 

The Wes Hodkiewicz impression in the second video is especially choice.

Props to my man Joey.

What are your Christmas traditions?

First and foremost, a very merry Christmas to all of those reading who celebrate the holiday. 

As a kid, I always loved Christmas, because what kid doesn’t. As an adult in my 20s, I sort of began to get “over” it, especially once my wife and I first started dating and we were going to multiple gatherings each year and not really getting any time to ourselves. It sort of became more of a hassle than a holiday I looked forward to.

However, now that I’m in my 30s, have a few kids and have had my own home for several years, I’m starting to warm up to Christmas again, largely because we’ve been able to start setting our own traditions without feeling like we have to abide by everyone else’s. 

Our Christmas celebrations have grown more intimate over the last several years, and will be especially so this year due to the pandemic. But we’ll still be able to enjoy some of the traditions we’ve built up in recent years, including:

  • Chinese food for dinner on Christmas Eve

  • Opening a few presents (from my parents and siblings to my kids)

  • Put the kids to bed then have some drinks and watch A Christmas Story

  • Sleeping in on Christmas day (as much as the babies will allow this year, anyway) 

  • Make some mimosas, get a fire going in the fireplace and open up stockings/remaining presents

  • Make Christmas Day brunch, which for us is polish sausage and monkey bread

  • Do whatever the hell we want for the rest of the day

It’s the low-key sort of Christmas I missed having throughout the latter half of my 20s, and I’m genuinely looking forward to enjoying it.

What sort of Christmas traditions do you have? 

Week 16 quick forecast

I already covered a lot of what you can expect from the Titans/Packers game in the opening segment of the column, but now’s the time where I need to stick my neck out and make a prediction.

Derrick Henry is going to get his yards, and there’s not really any way around that. The key to the game is simple: the Packers need to take advantage of a weak defense and pass rush and score frequently. They cannot let a possession go by without some kind of score, and cannot settle for field goals more than once or twice.

If it’s an “on” day for the offense, as it has been for the majority of the year, the Packers will win the ball game. If they come out looking listless and have to deal with a struggling defense, this one could get ugly.

I have faith in the Packers’ offense turning it around after a disastrous second half against Carolina, and the defense doing just enough to give the Packers room for victory. We’ll see what happens with Seattle and Los Angeles, but I’ve got the Packers edging out a hard-fought victory and potentially clinching the #1 seed. 

Packers 38, Titans 30

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Thank You!

With it being Christmas Eve, I just wanted to add one extra section to the tail end of this column to wish you all a very happy holiday, and to thank you for reading this piece every week. 

I’ve received a lot of wonderful comments about the column over the course of the season, and I’m so appreciative. I started this for the season to try something new, jamming in all the Packers-related thoughts I tend to have while also spreading my enthusiasm for all things Wisconsin. The positive feedback has made me look forward to writing this every week, even when it turns out to be 2500-3000 words or more on days when I have a particularly large amount of stuff to say.

I’m grateful to Jersey Al for giving me the green light on this weekly venture, and to Aaron and Corey for allowing me to be a part of the CHTV team. I expect the column to continue into the offseason (in a slightly altered/abbreviated form).

So, in the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to share my gratitude to you, dear reader, and to CheeseheadTV for giving me the gift of being a part of this team. Even that one dude who called me a “bozo” and an “ambulance chaser” in the comments that one time in 2019.

Merry Christmas to all, and Hello Wisconsin!

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (44)

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fansince1959's picture

December 24, 2020 at 07:27 am

Enjoy your columns---spot on---let's beat a team with a winning record----GPG

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Razer's picture

December 24, 2020 at 08:47 am

As I read the comments in these last CHTV articles, the repeating theme of "beating a playoff caliber" is prevalent. This is a money-where-your-mouth is kind of game. Hope Rodgers is in a giving mood this Christmas :o)

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Handsback's picture

December 24, 2020 at 08:24 am

The Titans are a throwback team to the 70s-80s where you run the ball to set up the pass. They have shown you can do this if you have the right RB, blockers, and mindset. For the few that remember the 60s Packer teams, Tannehill reminds me of Roman Gabriel of the Rams. Very effective, can do damage by running the ball, and with talented receivers will burn defenses if they stack the LOS for a run. The difference is the Titans aren't a big pass rush team like the Rams were in the day, but their run defense is very good. So they will try to cover the Packer's wideouts verses applying pressure on Rodgers.
This game will be a benchmark on where the Packers are as a team. I suspect that the Titans could be the team capable of beating the Chiefs and reach the SB.

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dobber's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:27 am

The Titans score a ton of points...they have to because their defense is a turnstile, and it's beat up. They're a good match for KC -- or the Packers -- because they can score with either team.

"The Titans are a throwback team to the 70s-80s where you run the ball to set up the pass. "

The thing about Henry is that he's never irrelevant, so a defense never gets to breathe. When you see big backs, they usually rotate out in obvious passing and catch-up situations. But Henry is a big guy capable of playing just about any role, so he's always threatening a defense.

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stockholder's picture

December 24, 2020 at 08:28 am

Henry put up 22 reps on the 225-pound bench press and ran a 4.54 40-yard dash at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds at the NFL combine. His Stats in 2020 Rush 321 -yds -1679 avg. 5,2 TDs 15 Career - Rush 1125 YDS. 5512 avg. 4.9 Tds. 53. No shortage of talent Here. And Tanahill, 2020 Comp.% 66.5 yds. 3482 Y/A 8.1 TDs31 INT.5 Career Comp% 63.9 Yds. 26658 Y/A 7.3 TDs 176 INT 86. More to Deal with. IF were Real, and Pettine's Defense isn't all paper. We Win. End of fear!

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Guam's picture

December 24, 2020 at 08:35 am

Well done column and it has become one of my favorites. Thank you Tim!

With that said, I am nor sure I agree with your advice about stopping the Titans. The Packers tried the "balanced approach" of stopping the pass and conceding some yardage on the ground in the second game against the Vikings and Dalvin Cook killed us (200+ yards on the ground I believe). Derrick Henry is just as good if not better than Cook and the Tennessee O-line is better than their Viking counterparts. I think I would rather commit to stopping Henry, put Jaire on Brown and take our chances in the passing game.

BTW, Anthony Rush did not practice yesterday due to illness. If there was ever a game we needed a big body DT, this one is it. Get well soon Anthony.

Merry Christmas to all and Go Pack Go!

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dobber's picture

December 24, 2020 at 09:48 am

I wouldn't put much stock in Rush. The guy has been active a couple weeks and only played one snap. You might be right on this being his opportunity, but based on how the Packers used Winn in the past, I wouldn't bank on this being a coming-out party. I'd expect to see the Packers planning to play a lot more base this week, though, and trying to get by on a rotation of Lancaster, Lowry and Keke next to Clark. That's been their M.O. and I don't think it wiill change.

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Guam's picture

December 24, 2020 at 09:52 am

Probably wishful thinking on my part Dobber, but I am not sure Lowery, Keke, Lancaster and Clark are going to be enough rotation to stop Henry. The Tennessee O-line is pretty good and we are going to need fresh defensive linemen for this battle.

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dobber's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:27 am

We'll see what happens. Rush has been active...

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Razer's picture

December 24, 2020 at 08:39 am

Not sure I deserve to be rolled up into a negative fan grouping for recognizing the under performance and inconsistency of this team, particularly against lesser teams. If my child carried an 80+ average through Christmas then proceeded to coast to a 60 final, I wouldn't be inclined to summarize it as 'good effort'. Glad that we are facing a legitimate playoff team in the Titans. It will be power against finesse and we will get a good measure of our playoff readiness.

Detroit Lions: I am not in the get rid of Stafford camp. He is a stud, a solid guy and a heck of a QB. Why would a franchise (other than the Bears) hit reset on the position where they actual have the "man". The Lions have made very poor coaching/GM/front office decisions. The team plays above its talent, in a large part, due to Stafford.

The Vikings: In rebuild mode, where they fundamentally retooled their defense, they exceeded my expectations. Despite the loss of a very good OC, they eventually got on track offensively. While I don't like the Vikings, they present the biggest challenge in the NFC North. Their victory at Lambeau was no fluke.

Thanks Tim for giving us a lot to chew on - particularly the stout - which sounds like a meal. Cheers.

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DePack's picture

December 24, 2020 at 08:47 am

I believe being critical of a team that hasn't proven to be able to overcome the same hurdles for years is warranted. Columnists like this are homers that should be doing their jobs and asking the tough questions instead of toeing the company line. It's not negative, it's being a realist. Expecting a team to suddenly be something they haven't shown to be isn't realistic. I would love to eat some crow tho!!

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TimBackes's picture

December 24, 2020 at 09:00 am

My "job," if you can call it that, isn't asking tough questions. I'm not a journalist, and I'm not asking anyone questions. I would also draw a distinction between being critical and being negative. It's one thing to realistically say the Packers have had problems against teams like the Titans. It's another to spend the entire season with this game circled on your calendar for the sole purpose of saying "Derrick Henry is gonna murder us and we don't stand a chance." In the latter case, what's even the point of watching or being a fan?

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dobber's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:39 am

I tend to agree with you on Stafford: the QB position is so hard to fill with quality (see: Bears, Chicago) that when you have a guy who can play that position, it's risky to let him go. I would argue that they have a talent problem: mostly that they've signed a bunch of stopgap guys (Patriot castoffs and others) and are talent poor (as you say, they punch above their weight). They need to hire a GM and they need to formulate a plan, and it's very possible they need Stafford's trade value to fuel a rebuild.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 25, 2020 at 11:48 am

I largely concur. I don't fully concur only because there is a part of the equation that I don't know and am unsure about.

Stafford will turn 33 in February. One issue for an incoming GM is whether the GM can upgrade the talent (and coaching) sufficiently before Stafford starts his decline due to age (and he's had some injuries).

OTOH, Stafford has cap hits of just $20M and $23M for 2021 and 2022 to an acquiring team (Detroit should be able to absorb the cap hit since they'd be in a full rebuild if they trade Stafford). He's tremendously valuable to the right teams. 4 teams could easily afford Stafford, inc. NE and Indy if Rivers is too old/not the guy. 4 to maybe 8 more could afford Stafford if they extended him immediately to cut his 2021 cap number to handle Covid Cap issues.

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DePack's picture

December 24, 2020 at 08:42 am

Concede the run and stop the pass? that's all that needs to be said about this article....WOW....that's horrible, hopefully they're not asking this guy for game plan ideas. yikes.

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TimBackes's picture

December 24, 2020 at 08:56 am

I'm not saying fully concede the run, I'm saying fully selling out against the run is a bad idea when you're facing a running back who still piles up big yards against a stacked box.

When I said you concede some yards in the run game, it means you have to accept and be patient with the idea that Henry is going to get yards no matter what. Developing a laser point focus on that one aspect of the Titans offense will get the Packers burned, as has happened with many other defenses this year.

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Guam's picture

December 24, 2020 at 09:42 am

Tim: I think the concern is if you "concede some yards in the run game", you risk having a game like last year against the 49ers where they only needed to throw 8 passes and ran the ball all game. Great defensive coaches like Lombardi, Belichek and Parcells all preferred to take away what the other team does best and make them play in a less comfortable mode. Taking away Henry (as much as possible) would force the Titans into a less comfortable game plan. Easy to say and hard to do, but the best defensive coaches I have ever watched all followed that philosophy.

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dobber's picture

December 24, 2020 at 09:50 am

Henry's a tough call. He can do just about anything; inside, outside, pitch him out. He's a capable receiver to go with his running. The key to stopping backs like him is penetration and gap discipline: you've got to stop him before he can get started, but not be overzealous and create run lanes on your own (ahem: Z!). This fits somewhat with what the Packers like to do, defensively, but they're going to have to send extra rushers a little more often (more run-blitz than anything else). Tennessee has a big-play offense. If you watch them, they get chunk yardage off play action. Brown and Davis are really good...and Smith is a solid pass catcher. The key is to make that offense earn every yard and sustain drives.

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TimBackes's picture

December 24, 2020 at 09:50 am

100% agreed with this, Dobber.

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TimBackes's picture

December 24, 2020 at 09:49 am

I think there's definitely merit to that, but like I said in the article, I think focusing solely on the run plays right into the Titans' hands. Look at how much play action they run -- more than anyone else in the league. They WANT to sucker teams into giving everything they've got on defense to the run game.

You have to find the balance here. Stacking the box all game long against the Titans is going to get you beat. This isn't a 2012 Minnesota Vikings team with zero passing game. The Titans are a great offense because they have a highly underrated and efficient passing game to go along with a monster running back. They're desperate for teams to make stopping the run their sole focus, because it will allow them to score even more points.

The Packers need to play a larger personnel package than they might usually do, but they also can't devote 6/7/8 guys to the box every single play, because they *will* get beat through the air if they go that route. They're going to need to be tough in their base defense but still play with the flexibility to drop guys into coverage and prevent the big play.

It'll likely be a frustrating game, but I think it's much more likely to be a winning recipe than devoting all your resources to stopping one guy.

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Guam's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:01 am

I think this is 7 guys in the box except on obvious passing downs. Yes the Titans want you to commit to stopping Henry, but if you don't they will bury you with him and their O-line. I think I would rather trust our secondary to play man and cover with four than lighten the box and see a steady diet of Henry gaining 4-6 yards every play.

We can agree to disagree, but it will be interesting to see what Pettine chooses to do.

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4thand10's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:41 am

I think our secondary is good enough to play man all game long. And IF Pettine puts 3 DL in the middle ( Clark, rush, Keke) or Clark , Lowry/ Lancaster, Rush/Keke...any combination as long as there are 3 on the line plus 2 edge rushers. 2 inside LBs. I would feel confident with Jaire on Brown. I never wat to see a dime package in a game like this otherwise it will be SF all over again.

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 24, 2020 at 02:16 pm

Amos has to shade Henry all day. Barnes and Martin can be given basic gap responsibility, hopefully, Kirksey plays Sp Teams. Scott can be given some packages to blitz to the run/QB. Vrable will use his TE and screens outside given the Pack's poor tackling technique. Weather in the teens should motivate LaFleur to use all three RBs in the game plan . Sternberger is questionable. Can Dafney bring it for the lead blocking?

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4thand10's picture

December 27, 2020 at 10:12 pm

Looks like I got my Christmas wish...Pettine made the adjustments I requested. :-) And letting AJ Dillion pound the ball was an added bonus. Nothing like sticking it to Vrabel.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:12 am

Last year against the 49ers I believe the problem was more that Packers had trouble with turnovers and scoring and so the 49ers could just run and pound the Packers into submission.

This year is different. Packers have to get in front, and then Tim's plan will totally make the most sense. And this year's Packers team is capable of that.

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Guam's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:18 am

Fair point. If our offense can get us a a decent lead AND keeps the pressure on the whole game, the Tim's game plan makes sense. Let Tennessee burn the clock.

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NitschkeFan's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:24 am

Guam has it nailed. Unless the Pack does something to stop Henry, the Titans will not need any passing attack. They can rack up 250 yards rushing and then only need to throw the ball 10-12 times and score over 30 points. Currently the Packers D ranks about 21st in yards per carry allowed rushing, and also around 20th in yards allowed per pass attempt.

I don't think the Packers defense has much chance of keeping the Titans under 30 points. Green Bay can win this game by outscoring them as the Titans defense is below average too.

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dobber's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:46 am

First team to punt, loses!

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GregC's picture

December 24, 2020 at 08:52 am

Considering what Dalvin Cook did to the Packers not so long ago, they have something to prove against Derick Henry. But I will not make that judgement based on how many yards Henry gains. I will make it based mostly on whether the Packers win the game as well as how effective the defense is overall. I basically agree with the idea of letting Henry get his yards as long as you can limit the passing game. It's been said that rushing teams score field goals and passing teams score touchdowns. I believe in Pettine's philosophy of focusing mostly on stopping the pass, but only if you are not so completely inept against the run that the other team doesn't even have to do much in the passing game. That's what happened against the 49ers last year and against the Vikings this year.

I am hoping for an improved performance this time with the two young ILBs getting more playing time and the defensive line playing better lately. I hope all that progress does not go out the window on Sunday.

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Guam's picture

December 24, 2020 at 09:49 am

Tim,

Interesting that your family does Chinese food for Christmas Eve. My family has always done Italian food (we aren't Italian ancestry) on Christmas Eve and then the traditional dinner (turkey or ham) on Christmas day. Is having ethnic eats on Christmas Eve a thing? I wonder what others do....?

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TimBackes's picture

December 24, 2020 at 09:54 am

It began as a tradition in my wife's family when she was growing up. They didn't want to have to spend a ton of time cooking a main meal, so they'd get Chinese takeout. We brought that tradition to our home, because who doesn't love Chinese food? And it's one less thing to worry about over the holiday.

My family growing up also didn't usually have a big fancy Christmas dinner. There were a few times my mom made a beef stroganoff, but most of the time the focus was on brunch, and then we'd all just do whatever for the rest of the day. As kids in the 90s, that usually meant building Legos!

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Guam's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:09 am

I inherited the Italian thing from my parents. Many Italian dishes can be prepared early so you don't spend too much time in the kitchen on Christmas Eve. And you get to drink Chianti with dinner!

Christmas dinner was always a big deal in my family and after we were (to quote my British buddy) "suitably well fed up and agreeably imbibed" we would play games. Lots of fun!

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dobber's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:43 am

Pot o' chili on Christmas Eve is always a winner!

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Hematite's picture

December 24, 2020 at 12:06 pm

Sadly, my wife doesn't like chill or I'd be all over that idea!

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GregC's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:12 am

That's exactly what my family has always done: Italian on Christmas Eve and traditional on Christmas Day. And we aren't Italian at all. It used to be my great grandma's fabulous ravioli, and now it's my sister's stuffed shells with Italian sausage and meatballs. My wife is going to make the stuffed shells for just the two of us this year because we can't visit my family. She's using a modification of my sister's recipe. I'm sure they will be delicious.

A coworker recently mentioned that her family has Italian on Christmas Eve too. I think it works because everyone likes Italian, and it is unlike the usual holiday food. (Chinese sounds like a great idea for the same reason.)

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Lphill's picture

December 24, 2020 at 09:58 am

Thank you Tim , but it goes without saying if Henry runs wild on the Packers then its no secret that the upcoming playoff teams will do the same , if the Packers run defense ends their season two years in a row who then is to blame ?

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Since91's picture

December 24, 2020 at 05:07 pm

Which NFC playoff team is going to run all over us???

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PatrickGB's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:37 am

Damn, it’s been over five minutes since I read/watched this post. I am still smiling!
Good Job!!!

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dobber's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:14 am

I want that week 17 game against the Bears to be completely meaningless. I want to see the #1 seed wrapped up, and I want the Bears to be eliminated (which means they lose at Jax this week and AZ wins v. SF). The last thing I want to see is the Packers still fighting for the #1 seed and the Bears playing for their playoff lives. I want the Packers to be able to limit snaps for their key players and not expose them to injury against an overzealous Bears team.

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:24 am

The Packers can lose this game and I wouldn't or couldn't care less. What I will care about is how they look losing or winning. The DL needs to at least slow down the run enough so the 2nd level guys aren't getting hammered 5* yards past the LOS. I want to see the fear of hitting and tackling eliminated. I want to see the edge set against a RB that eats the edge like candy and take that candy away. The run defense is on the microscope slide in this game because it reveals something GB will need to know with certainty, sooner than later, whether there's 'hope' to find the cure or whether one is needed to secure a ride to the end in February.

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13TimeChamps's picture

December 24, 2020 at 10:41 am

I view this as kind of a glass-half-full vs a glass-half-empty kind of game.

At this point in the season it's obvious that the Packers will face 4 legitimate playoff teams in 2020 during the regular season. New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Indy and Tennessee. They are currently 1-2 against the first 3.

Glass-half-empty: They lose and they'll be 1-3 against the only playoff teams they'll face and 10-1 against non-playoff teams. Not the most confidant resume heading into the playoffs.

Glass-half-full: They win and they'll be 2-2 against those teams, and a field goal away (Indy) from being 3-1. A much more confidant outlook in regards to holding their own against the elite teams they'll face in the playoffs.

Here's hoping for a complete (as in all 4 quarters) game against Tennessee on Sunday, as that's what it'll probably take to pull out the 'W'.

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Since'61's picture

December 24, 2020 at 02:57 pm

The best defense for the Packers in this game will be their offense. They need to play with a lead and keep Henry off the field for as long as possible. Yes, that means the defense needs to make stops but if we can get a 2+ score lead it will help to take Henry out of the game especially in the 2nd half.

We need good, time consuming drives with some stops by the defense, maybe via a turnover or 2. I’d love to turn the script in this game and have our ground game become the highlight after hearing all about Henry all season.

Even with a strong performance by our offense the defense still needs to play probably their best game of the season. If they can play solidly for 60 minutes the Packers can take this game. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ‘61

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jannes bjornson's picture

December 24, 2020 at 02:31 pm

Get the ball out fast and into the hands of as many receiving threats as possible. Use a fullback lead to the gaps and enforce the edges. If Pettine keeps the talent on the bench and plays his guys then the outcome make not be pretty.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

December 24, 2020 at 04:27 pm

This is a big test for LaFleur both offensively and defensively. He's a great play-caller starting games, the Packers have been almost automatic scoring the first few times they have the ball, but when the score gets competitive, he doesn't seem to be able to sustain his offensive magic. Hard to know why.. Is it because he can game plan but not adust?.... Not great under pressure?... Plays too safe with a lead?... who knows? But it's been a pattern he has to overcome. On defense he's been better lately, I believe, forcing Pettine to change philosophy, scheme, and personnel but there's more to do, some of it seemingly obvious to we know-nothings. Will Kirksey get more snaps than Martin?... King be benched if Tanneville, like other QBs, picks on him and wins?... Will LaFleur force Pettine to put a big body in the middle of the line, or continue to let Lowry get flattened? Go into prevent defense when ahead and let the Titans sustain 10-minute drives keeping Rodgers off the field? All questions waiting to be answered on Sunday. Should be a hell of a game.

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