Hello Wisconsin: Stop Fearing Other Contenders; It’s Time for Them to Fear the Green Bay Packers

Stop waiting for the Packers to get bullied, and get ready for the Packers to be the bully.

The Green Bay Packers are the #1 seed in the NFC. They are the best team in the conference, and arguably the most well-rounded team in football heading into the postseason.

And yet it still feels as though many in the fanbase still expect disappointment.

I guess I can understand it. Those of us who are fans of Wisconsin sports (beyond just the Packers) have been conditioned over the last decade to expect heartbreak. 

The Packers have had plenty of playoff meltdowns of their own, more than enough to give even the most positive Packer fan flashbacks. Then there’s Badger football and basketball, the Bucks, the Brewers, all of whom have come so close only to find new ways of traumatizing their fans.

But it’s worth reminding ourselves that previous years have no impact on what’s to happen this year. And the undeniable truth is that the Packers are the top dog in the NFC.

All season long, fans pointed to the Tennessee game with expectations that the Packers would be exposed by a strong running game and offense, and that the defense would get shredded.

That didn’t happen.

Even in the week following that game, there was a shocking number of fans on this very website, on Twitter and who I talk to in my everyday life who thought the Packers were due for a letdown against the Bears. “Divisional games are tough! The Bears have looked good lately! Trap game!”

The Packers won 35-16.

Now, heading into the postseason, I’m seeing so many of the same conversations about other teams. “The Saints are a different team than the last time the Packers played them! The Bucs are the new 49ers for the Packers! Russell Wilson is scary!”

Guys, I get it, but relax.

It’s time to get over this mentality that the Packers need to be scared of the big, bad playoff obstacle lurking around the corner. Instead, it’s time for other teams to fear the Green Bay Packers.

For once, it’s the Packers that stand in everyone else’s way. It’s the Packers that every team should be afraid of running into.

There’s not a single team in the conference that should be favored to beat the Packers. There’s not a single team in the league the Packers aren’t capable of beating.

This is the best, most well-rounded team the Packers have had in nearly a decade. For the first time in years, there’s no team ahead of them that’s going to have to serve as a stepping stone.

It’s time for the Packers to be the postseason bullies, and for the lesser competition that surrounds them to fear having to play them.

Reviewing my preseason predictions

In the very first “Hello Wisconsin” column, I offered a few thoughts and predictions for the 2020 season before it officially kicked off. Let’s take a look back and see how I did.

CLAIM: “The Packers are going to be a better ball club in 2020 than they were in 2019 in just about every phase of the game, except they will finish with a worse record.”

VERDICT: I was half right. The Packers are a significantly improved team in 2020 over 2019. But it turns out I shortchanged the Packers in the win column. I had them going 11-5, but they repeated the 13-3 record in 2019, earning way more style points in the process.

CLAIM: “I like what the Packers are building on the defensive side of the ball, and have to think that another season of all these weapons gelling together (plus what are hopefully upgrades at ILB, assuming a Kamal Martin midseason return alongside Christian Kirksey) will help the team sneak into the top 10 defenses this year.”

VERDICT: Mostly right. The Packers’ defense got off to a slow start, but it did finish as a top 10 unit and was largely improved over 2019 by the end of the 2020 season, despite giving up more points overall. The ILB position did see some upgrades, but it wasn’t Christian Kirksey who was the driving factor there--it was UDFA Krys Barnes, along with some relief from Martin and Kirksey, who has played better in a supporting role.

CLAIM: “In addition, another year under the new Matt LaFleur offense will do wonders for all involved”

VERDICT: Uhh, yeah, this was nail on head, and I couldn’t have predicted just how big of a jump this offense would see in year two, including for Aaron Rodgers. While Allen Lazard didn’t see the major jump in stats I expected due to injury, he was extremely reliable in the time he was on the field. 

CLAIM: Rashan Gary will be the breakout player on the defense. “Gary will still be a rotational player in 2020, but he’ll have plenty of opportunity to make an impact.”

VERDICT: True. While “THE” breakout player on defense was probably Darnell Savage, Gary put together an excellent year, and showed exactly why he was taken with the Packers’ first pick in the 2019 draft.

CLAIM: “On the offensive side of the ball, most people will be looking for a pass catcher to be a breakout candidate. Allen Lazard is a clear choice, but don’t be surprised if a tight end (probably Jace Sternberger or Robert Tonyan) really takes a big step forward, and provides the Packers with a more reliable option than Jimmy Graham did over the last couple years.”

VERDICT: True, though I did sort of hedge my bet a bit by saying it would be either Sternberger or Tonyan. But this was the best year for a Packers tight end in quite a long time, and Tonyan looks like a real star in the making. Should have been a Pro Bowler.

CLAIM: “Give me the Packers finishing 11-5, but both sides of the ball improving their rankings over 2019 and the team at least repeating a visit to the NFC Championship Game.”

VERDICT: Reality has been better than my predictions so far. Let’s see if that holds true.

Defense gelling at exactly the right time

December and January saw the Packers playing their finest football of the year, and it was the defense in particular that made its presence felt.

Throughout the Packers’ last five games, the defense allowed more than 20 points just once, in an away game at Detroit. It gave up 16 to the Eagles, 24 to the Lions, 16 to the Panthers, 14 to the previously top-scoring Titans, and 16 to a Bears team that had been scoring at will in previous weeks (granted, over inferior competition). 

A second-half surge on the defensive side of the ball resulted in the Packers finishing inside the top 10 for total defense for the first time since the 2010 season.

Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage graded out as PFF’s best safety tandem in the league, with Amos being named a first-team PFF All Pro. Jaire Alexander graded out as PFF’s best cornerback in the league, and he was named a PFF first-eam All Pro.

A major factor in the improved play of the defense, beyond the huge upgrade in safety play afte a rough September, had to have been the demotion of Christian Kirksey to a rotational player and the promotion of Krys Barnes to the Mike linebacker. Barnes’ tenacity has been on full display throughout the season, and he has a promising career ahead of him if his growth continues at the same trajectory. As an undrafted free agent, he’s costing the Packers peanuts.

There has also been significant improvement in the play of Kenny Clark, who had a down year by his standards until December hit. Over the last month, Clark has looked every bit the part of an all pro defensive tackle, disrupting play after play at the line of scrimmage.

One can also not overlook the reported discussion defensive captains had with Mike Pettine near the middle of the season about his philosophy on defense. While we’re still seeing too many times where defensive backs are playing absurdly far off the ball, overall there’s no doubt that this defense as it exists now bears little resemblance to the one we saw in the first two or three months of the season. 

Finally, don’t overlook the contributions of key rotational players. Rashan Gary has become a larger and larger part of the team’s defensive game plan throughout the season. He’s more than shown himself to have been worthy of a first round pick, and he will likely be counted on as a full-time starter in 2021, assuming Preston Smith becomes a cap casualty. Chandon Sullivan continues to serve the team well as a nickel corner, and Kamal Martin has brought explosiveness to the run defense.

This is the first time since 2014 where the Packers can enter the playoffs without major concerns about the defense being a likely liability. While a stinker can always appear out of nowhere, the trend for the Packers in the second half of the season has been nearly uninterrupted improvement. 

The offense has always had what it takes, but now the defense can make this team a champion.

Wisconsin Beer of the Week

I swung by my favorite Milwaukee brewery, 1840 Brewing Company, to grab some new beverages over the weekend, as I was intrigued by this one in particular: a new peanut butter porter they’re calling Sloopy Hang On.

There are a lot of breweries doing peanut butter porters, but a lot of them tend to go way too heavy on the peanut butter for my tastes. I was interested to see what 1840 would do with the style, given they were saying it was inspired by buckeye candies.

The result is very impressive. You get the peanut flavor, but it’s well balanced with smokiness and a bit of chocolate that makes this a really, really enjoyable drink. It was brewed with peanuts, cacao and vanilla, and comes in at just a 5.5 percent ABV, so you don’t have to worry about it packing too much of a punch.

Really impressed with this one, as I pretty much always am with 1840 beers. Another big-time hit. 

They still have plenty available, so if you’re in the Milwaukee area, swing by when they’re open on Friday and Saturday and pick some up for yourself!

Super Bowl Prediction

This is short and sweet, but I’m putting it out there.

The Green Bay Packers will meet the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl LV.

Odds are I’m either slightly wrong or very wrong, but I feel good about this pick.

Go pack go.

Around the NFC North

For the final time this season, let’s take a look around the NFC North.

As a great Reddit comment said the other day, they literally had to make up a new playoff spot for the CHICAGO BEARS to be able to get in. While most Packer fans were hoping for the Cardinals to win so Green Bay would have the sweet sensation of eliminating the Bears, it’s still going to be hilarious to watch the Bears stumble in with an 8-8 record, get walloped by the Saints and still find a justification to bring back Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky.

The DETROIT LIONS enter another offseason of upheaval, looking for a new coach and general manager and with real questions about whether Matthew Stafford will be back next year or if the Lions set him free. While I think the odds are Stafford stays in Detroit, it is more crucial than ever that the Lions get their coaching and GM selection right if they want to take advantage of the limited time he has left with the team. He’s the best quarterback they’ve had in more than 60 years, and they have nothing to show for it. The Lions have likely learned their lesson about going with Belichick disciples, having been burned like so many other teams over the last couple decades. Now the question is, do they go the route of the young offensive up-and-comer or the hard-nosed defensive guru?

For the MINNESOTA VIKINGS, I’ll leave you with what I said about them in my season preview article. “Finally, in Minnesota, the Vikings added more strength to their defensive line, but still have highly suspect cornerback and offensive line position groups. Their weaknesses are generally the same as last year, and even the most ardent Vikings fan would be hard-pressed to find any reasonable argument that the team actually got better in the offseason. I’d be quite surprised to see them make a return to the postseason this year, but stranger things have happened.”

The snow is finally here

We finally received our first couple snowfalls of the year over the last week here in Milwaukee, the latest this city has ever received measurable snowfall in the winter. We nearly made it until 2021 without snow--crazy.

When I was a kid, the first big snowfall of the year was also an excuse to make our first sledding trip of the year to a big hill known in the community as “suicide hill.”

Now, I’m convinced that basically every small town has a “suicide hill” somewhere near it. Ours was called this because, back in my day anyway, there was a patch of bushes and trees near one section of the bottom, and a chain link fence running along the entire stretch a certain distance away from the bottom. So you had to aim correctly, and also make sure you slowed yourself down before hitting the fence. There were also some very steep sections, and some not-so-steep sections, so it was normally separated pretty well by age group.

As you got older, there would be all kinds of games of chicken--who could get the closest to the fence? Who could get to the fence the fastest without smashing themselves? Who could build up a sick jump to take their sled off? Who would actually use that sick jump?

The trees and bushes have since been removed, eliminating at least *some* of the “suicide” aspect, but the name remains. It continues to be the go-to sledding spot in my town, and I was pleased to walk by the other day after the snowfall to see the hill was already packed down with sled tracks.

LeRoy Butler for Hall of Fame!

A pair of Packers are finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021. One is Charles Woodson, who is in his first year of eligibility and is a veritable lock to be inducted. The other is LeRoy Butler, who also was a finalist last year and should have been inducted years ago.

Look, by now all of you know the statistics. It’s a joke he’s not in. He’s the only member of the 1990s all-decade team not to be inducted. He’s got the stats, he’s got the All Pros, he’s got the Pro Bowls, he’s got the inspirational story, he’s got the ring, he’s got the Lambeau Leap.

Butler should have been inducted before Steve Atwater. He should ABSOLUTELY be inducted before John Lynch, who is also a finalist. 

As Packer fans, let’s keep making the LeRoy love known. Don’t underestimate how much of a difference that can make; Jerry Kramer stayed in the public consciousness because of the movement surrounding him for so many years!

Butler deserves to be in the Hall. And then, we go to work on Sterling Sharpe.

Wildcard Weekend Quick Forecast

The Packers may not be playing, but I’m looking forward to catching as much football as I can, with six playoff games to take in over the weekend!

I’m mostly going with chalk in these matchups (I know, I’m boring).

I like Buffalo to beat Indy, and honestly, I’ll be picking them to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Give me Tampa over Washington, Tennessee over Baltimore, New Orleans over Chicago, Seattle over Los Angeles (won’t be close unless Goff plays), and Pittsburgh over the COVID-infested Browns.

My most likely upset is Washington over Tampa. This might come as a bit of a surprise, but the Bucs have been quite inconsistent throughout this season. Washington is 4-1 when quarterbacked by Alex Smith. It doesn’t have the potent offense the Bucs have, but it has an outstanding pass rush and underrated defense overall. A solid four-man rush has always been the recipe to rattling Tom Brady. I like that game to be close either way, and I’m taking Tampa to win, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Washington pull it off.

As I mentioned, give me Buffalo to come out of the AFC, taking on the Packers in Super Bowl LV.

 

__________________________

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 (42)

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 07, 2021 at 07:24 am

"Stop Fearing Other Contenders; It’s Time for Them to Fear the Green Bay Packers"

DAMN RIGHT!!!! Hell yeah!!! Love that line! I love it because its the truth. How many other fan bases are going to feel good about coming into GB in January to Face Rodgers, Jones, Adams and our defense which just shut down the top scoring offense a week and a half ago. Henry the rushing champ was held to 98 yards on 23 attempts (4.3 ypc). He had a long of 10 yards. Montgomery who had been averaging 105 rushing yards per game the previous 5 games, was held to 69 rushing yards on 22 attempts (3.1 ypc).
And its not even just shutting down those RB's.
Allen Robinson was averaging 91 yards per game. He had 37.
AJ Brown in his last 5 games has been averaging 98 yards per game. They held him to 43.
Corey Davis averaged 87 yards per game in his last 5. GB held him to 0.

The Packers defense is playing its best right now. The offense is not easy to stop. Teams do need to Fear GB.

Focusing on the defense though, it is gelling at the right time. While it takes everyone I think 5 players are the reason why it has started to gel at the right time.
Clark - He is healthy and is making a huge difference on the front
King - He is also healthy which is allowing Pettine to play a different style on defense. He has been more aggressive.
Amos - Since King has come back and Greene has gotten hurt Amos's play has really improved. He has become maybe our top defender.
Savage - His year 2 leap has really taken off the 2nd half of the season. He has made perhaps the greatest year 2 leap.
Barnes - Since taking over the role as the Mike LB he has flourished and the defense has as well. His ability to shut down screens and go sideline to sideline has been extremely impressive especially out of an UDFA rookie.

Another player that could be mentioned is Preston Smith. His play has significantly improved from the early part of the season.

"CLAIM: “The Packers are going to be a better ball club in 2020 than they were in 2019 in just about every phase of the game, except they will finish with a worse record.”

I also had this same claim. I said that they would be a better team but likely would have a worse record. I was thinking 12-4 or possibly 11-5. There were so many thinking 6-10 to 10-6. I just didn't see it. The 2nd year in a new system. The play of 2nd year players improving. I just thought that they were going to improve, but maybe not have as good of a record. I was somewhat right.

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murf7777's picture

January 07, 2021 at 07:51 am

Good write up Tim.....RC I would add that “Snacks” will be the X-Factor in helping the packers get to the SB. Based on watching his limited snaps SundayI believe he is an serious upgrade to Lowry or Lancaster in their base D thus I list him as an X-Factor. One other might be Dillon on short yardage situations.

There is no doubt in my mind that other teams and their fans have more fear about coming to Lambeau then our team having fear about playing them.

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PearlyBakerBest's picture

January 07, 2021 at 09:35 am

I like the addition of Snacks as well. However, since this team is built to win with offense, I'd argue the X factor to get to the Super Bowl is MVS in my opinion.

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murf7777's picture

January 07, 2021 at 09:45 am

Defense normally wins championships and Snacks helps us with our run D which is the primary reason we didn’t go to the SB last year. If you want an Offense X factor I’d point to the two D’s Dafney and Dillon.

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PearlyBakerBest's picture

January 07, 2021 at 10:15 am

I'd argue the offense was the primary reason we didn't win last year. Name one defense last year that beats the 49ers at home with their offense putting up 0 points in the first half. You can say defense wins championships. Is that what you're going to lay a bet down on with this team? You know as well as I do what happened the last five games of the season doesn't matter. The playoffs are an entirely different animal. If this team is going to go all the way, it can't just be Davante.

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PearlyBakerBest's picture

January 07, 2021 at 11:03 am

Also, after getting 21 carries against what is arguably one of the worst defenses, they gave Dillon just one for 3 yards against the Bears just one week later in another cold-weather game. Wouldnt that be the game to really see what he could do against a better Bears D? I could be wrong but that just doesn't feel like they are going to try to make him a factor in the postseason.

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Packers2020's picture

January 07, 2021 at 12:29 pm

That's because they love Williams. Williams is a slightly above RB yet the Packers treat him like he is a Pro Bowler. Dillion is a better runner already in his rookie year, he just needs to work on his pass protection.

I hope they do not leave Dillion out in the cold in the playoffs.

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13TimeChamps's picture

January 07, 2021 at 02:53 pm

For about the 50th time now...it's Dillon, not Dillion.

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PeteK's picture

January 07, 2021 at 05:00 pm

You can call me.......I like it, Dillion will rush for a Million. Hahahaha

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PearlyBakerBest's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:02 pm

You’re on fire!!!

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PearlyBakerBest's picture

January 07, 2021 at 03:35 pm

Is the playoffs where we want Dillon working on his pass protection?

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PeteK's picture

January 07, 2021 at 05:03 pm

No , unless we want Rogers to go to the Pearly gates.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2021 at 07:21 pm

No, just getting about 20 touches for the beat down on the opposition. Run the ball on 2nd and ONE. Hold the Edge on the base 3-4/5-2. I would make sure Gary gets more reps than P Smith. Three bigs all day long, all through the playoffs. If they go finesse, the boat will be shot out of the water.

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PeteK's picture

January 07, 2021 at 12:53 pm

That might be only partially correct in this day of over powering offenses.

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Bearmeat's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:12 am

I am not known as the HomerSparklePony (RC COUGH COUGH) around these parts, and I agree with you, Tim. This is the best GB team since late 2014 at least, and possibly since 2010. It is certainly the most balanced team since 2010.

We should be a big favorite throughout the NFC playoffs. With a possible hat tip to Buffalo, we are the most balanced team in the league overall and I like our chances against anyone.

That said, the team I least want to see in the playoffs, in any round, including the Super Bowl, is the Bucs. That is the worst matchup for us. They have an aggressive and fast front 7 (ARod's kryptonite), they can cover on the back end, and they can score points. We would be the favorite against them, but I'd be nervous: More nervous than against the Saints, Rams, Bears or Hawks for sure. So... Go Bears (puke) and Go Rams!

GO PACK GO!

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Bearmeat's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:13 am

Oh, and I thought we'd have a better point differential, go 9-7, and flame out in the divisional round... so I'm certainly glad I was wrong there.

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murf7777's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:59 am

I understand your concern about the front seven being aggressive but that can also work against them with a great offense and Rodgers at the helm. Devin white is their speed guy and a very good blitzer. But, he can be a liability according to PFf who grade him only 79th out of 90 LB’s. They have a very good run D but without Vea their middle is suspect. In the last 5 games Vikings and Atalanta put up good rushing numbers. We have a very balanced offense so that will give them trouble.

More importantly, is their offense plays to our strength because they don’t run the ball well so they can become one dimensional easily. Their last 4 games they have averaged only 69 ypg rushing. That won’t get it done against the Packers D. They can play a 2DL without fear of them killing us with the run. That allows us to play 5 DB,s in our base defense.

Quite frankly, I can see them struggling with Washington due to their strong front 4. Although, I think they win but don’t beat the spread of Smith plays Healthy.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2021 at 09:47 am

Who's smarter, Brady or the Packer secondary?

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PeteK's picture

January 07, 2021 at 10:53 am

Who's better( their Ts ) Smith and Wirfs or Smiths x 2 and Gary? Touche' LOL

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PeteK's picture

January 07, 2021 at 05:43 pm

Howdy

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NickPerry's picture

January 08, 2021 at 06:51 am

Hmmm...I'm taking Lambeau, Savage, Amos, Alexander Island, and the rest of the Packers D this time.

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RCPackerFan's picture

January 07, 2021 at 11:26 am

Correct. You are not named that. But you do still wear you aluminum foil hat daily... :)

I sort of agree with you about the Bucs. They may present the most difficulties vs any of the NFC teams. The Rams are a team that could be scary too. The Saints could present challenges as well. I would say out of that group the Bucs maybe the toughest to face.

But with the Bucs, I just feel our team overall is so much better then it was the last time we played them. By the time we will have played them again it will be 3 months later. And in that game the back to back interceptions just changed Rodgers. The game was completely swung by those 2 interceptions. They got momentum and never let go of it.
Since that game, our offense is better. We have Lazard back, Dillon has emerged. Austin is now incorporated into the offense.
Our defense is MUCH improved since then as well.

I honestly am not fearing any team. Can we lose to anyone. Sure. But i'm not going into any of them thinking we can't win any of them.

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Bearmeat's picture

January 08, 2021 at 07:24 am

Agreed. :)

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Hematite's picture

January 08, 2021 at 02:14 pm

"Austin is now incorporated into the offense."

I'm sorry but I just don't see it!
As for the rest of your post, thumbs up!

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NickPerry's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:13 am

THIS Packers team isn't the same team the Saints OR the Bucs faced. Everybody talks about the Saints not having Michael Thomas. SO WHAT! The Packers didn't have Davante Adams who IMO is the best WR in the NFL this year and should be part of the conversation of OPOY. Combine that with the Saints were at home, and that was an advantage for the Saints, especially considering how Adams has played this season so just STFU with all that nonsense!

I'm thoroughly convinced the first games vs the Bucs was more of a FLUKE than anything else. Just one of those games and hey, it happens. But this time the Bucs, if they win this weekend, have to come to Lambeau and Rodgers will be ready. I'd also hope that someone on the Packers staff find that comment by Devon White. He said after the game "The Packers didn't belong on the same field with us". Perhaps his HC should have told Devon to watch what he wished for, just like he did to Chase Young of the Washington Football Team when he said he "Wanted Brady".

NOTE... I heard something interesting on a Podcast called "Locked On Packers". It was either in this past Mondays or Tuesday edition but near the beginning they talked about what MLF said in a news conference about Kevin King playing 8 yards off on 3rd and 3. Apparently the CB's have the ability to play closer or off, it's THEIR call, not always Pettines. The host of the podcast thought maybe MLF was talking directly to Kevin King which I thought was actually a good possibility. King has been beat over the top quite often and I think is scared to death of this. No matter I thought it was pretty interesting.

The Bucs, the Rams, or the Bears...I don't give a damn. This team is focused as hell and playing really good defense. Yards don't matter, points do. And the Packers defense has been much better recently at allowing less of both.

#12 Quarters!

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Coldworld's picture

January 07, 2021 at 09:24 am

I give LaFleur more credit than to call out a player in public for doing what a coaches scheme supposedly permits. If there is any basis of truth in that podcast as reported, it would seem to raise questions about LaFleur.

If the team doesn’t like what a player is doing the coach changes the call or parameters. If he doesn't, that’s on Pettine and not on the player. That’s called coaching. I don’t know that podcast, but it sounds to me like uninformed twaddle. At least I hope so because it would make me much more concerned about coaches than King.

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NickPerry's picture

January 08, 2021 at 06:47 am

He didn't call him out in public, he was speaking in GENERAL terms, not just about King himself. He said the Players themselves on many play calls have the ability to play close or back.

I probably did a crappy job of explaining what I heard. You should take a listen to the podcast, it's pretty good.

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Lphill's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:52 am

Nobody should be saying I hope we get to play the Packers in Green Bay no less, Gary can play the run better than Preston Smith , he needs to be in on running downs, I for one want Tampa and want to issue a beat down , pressure Brady and he folds up quickly also what's interesting is Brady on the road in the playoffs is not as dangerous as when he was playing at home in new England , so bring it !

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fastmoving's picture

January 07, 2021 at 01:42 pm

I said it all the time, you should watch some NFL sometimes. Bradys home is Tampa, just like the oranges home is the jail. What its way too good for him, of course. And all his looosers should go with him

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Coldworld's picture

January 07, 2021 at 09:11 am

Personally, I am not and have not been afraid of any team. I was afraid that we would make ourselves worse than we should be i. Terms of talent. That remains the case. I still think Pettine fights the roster and his own system too much and makes them swim against their strengths. ST has been terrible. If anyone is not frightened of what they can do I don’t know what to say. The only other concern: can LaFleur learn to adjust in game and avoid melting when he is outstrategized?

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 07, 2021 at 08:00 pm

He has to get Special teams under control. They have this week to scheme and bring in more starters to stop the leaks and try to create some plays. Field position is a key to maintaining a scoring edge.

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wildbill's picture

January 07, 2021 at 10:41 am

There have been many excellent comments about why our defense has been playing better, Barnes inserted into lineup, Clark fully healthy, swarming to the ball, better tackling, etc. is it just me that in addition to those, and others, mentioned am I seeing an upgrade in physicality from the defense?

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PeteK's picture

January 07, 2021 at 10:57 am

Agree, Bill. They are firing to the ball in mass.

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PeteK's picture

January 07, 2021 at 11:05 am

Savage has greatly improved to the tune of 20 TKLs, 7 PDs over last year. Tonyan, what a great year, did not see it coming, thought it would be Sternberger. We also handled injuries to some key players better than in previous years. Kudos to coaching and GM.

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Starrbrite's picture

January 07, 2021 at 03:02 pm

Great article. I’m in complete agreement with your comments concerning Butler for the HOF; should have been in before Atwater.
Moreover, we Packer fans are always so worried about what might be—-let’s enjoy the ride—I think we win it all. No fear!!!

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ReaganRulz's picture

January 07, 2021 at 05:17 pm

Great article. I also just love that we have secret weapons who are not even part of the conversation right now. Ie. AJ Dillon, etc. This will make it very difficult for teams to prepare. And the element of surprise is in our favor!!

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Swisch's picture

January 07, 2021 at 05:56 pm

I like the tenor of this essay, because the Packers really can beat anyone, and should be the favorites against any team but the Chiefs.
The problem is that on any given Sunday we could lose to the Jaguars. Although that's pretty much the case with any other team, I am still wary of our defense with coordinator Mike Pettine. I'm excited about the improvement of late, but not fully convinced we'll employ the right strategy from game to game, or even within a game according to a given situation.
I'm quite hopeful about the Packers in this postseason, and give them decent odds -- about 25% -- to win it all.
I'm okay with opening with the Bucs or not opening with them. They're scary good, but not as scary good as the Packers.
It would be good to have a second opportunity at beating the Bucs.
I don't want it to be too wintry, either, just a little out of their element -- because I don't want the Bucs to have any significant excuses when we send them packing into the offseason.

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porupack's picture

January 08, 2021 at 09:34 am

I agree. The packers are scary good, but for much of the year the Pack struggled to play all 4 quarters, and put weak teams away....so thus, our lack of total confidence. Teams have figured out how to beat the packers. That is actually a good place to be if the team understands the letdowns seemingly every game up until Titans game; not ever get confident no matter what the lead, and know they have to play their best game all game long.

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TXCHEESE's picture

January 07, 2021 at 07:59 pm

Against the Bucs, cold with a little wind. GB has the better run game and the better QB. Brady will not threaten the defense downfield in those conditions. Same for Brees, but I think NO has a more dynamic run game, that wouldn’t be as hindered in the weather. We’ll find out soon enough who the foe is, and I’m sure we will witness much worry and consternation on this site.

I do believe if GB plays their game, they should be able to get to the promise land.

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Since91's picture

January 07, 2021 at 10:22 pm

Great article Tim!

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PatrickGB's picture

January 07, 2021 at 10:40 pm

Tim, have you ever considered going on the motivational speaker circuit?

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raedwallaceee's picture

January 09, 2021 at 02:00 pm

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