Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers: Super Bowl XLV Post-Game Analysis

This is one crazy battle of defenses with their stars Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews and Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Palomalu and their balanced offenses with their star wide receivers Green Bay Packers Greg Jennings and Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Wallace for the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers is fighting for his Super Bowl ring, and Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger is fighting for his third ring.  It is also the time of millions of dollars spent on a few minutes of commercial time for Super Bowl sponsors.  And lastly, it is the time for Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers and football fans all around the world to enjoy lots of food, soda and alcoholic beverages. (And one final note, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones won’t be presenting the Vince Lombardi Trophy to his team in his stadium unfortunately.  For us Eagles fans and others around the nation, that is something to relish.)

Now to the post-game analysis of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas:

  • The fumble on the kickoff by Tramon Williams was a close one early first quarter for the Green Bay Packers.  Luckily, the Green Bay Packers recovered the ball.  Otherwise, this would have been a completely different ball game.
  • Donald Driver‘s 24-yard catch from Aaron Rodgers on their first drive in the first quarter was beautiful although the offense sputtered soon afterwards that drive.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers defense harassed Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers early and often.  James Harrison ultimately caught up with Aaron Rodgers in the third quarter with a sack.
  • Jordy Nelson‘s 29-yard reception from Aaron Rodgers gave the Green Bay Packers at the close of the first quarter their first score of the game 7-0.
  • Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins interception of Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger returned for 37 yards and their second score in late first quarter to 14-0.  Wow.
  • Steelers Ben Roethlisberger’s late first quarter 18-yard rush was impressive.
  • Green Bay Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush’s interception in the last few minutes of the second quarter led to Greg Jenning’s 21-yard touchdown to bring the Green Bay Packers 21-3.
  • Ben Roethlisberger targeted Hines Ward for much of the last series of the second half and completed an 8-yard touchdown to bring the score to 21-10 Packers.
  • This was the half of injuries to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. Green Bay Packers Sam Shields and Charles Woodson left for the locker room for examination before the half.  Unfortunately, Charles Woodson suffered a collarbone injury and would not return.  On the opposite side of the ball, Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders would not return as well.
  • Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was more effective into the half with a 134.6 quarterback rating on 2 touchdowns and 137 yards.  Meanwhile, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was less effective at 58.3 quarterback rating on 2 interceptions, a touchdown and 143 yards passing.
  • Interestingly enough, Green Bay Packers running back James Starks was more effective at 37 yards and 5.3 yards per carry into the half.  On the other hand, Steelers Rashard Mendenhall had 3o yards and 3.8 yards per carry.
  • Black Eyed Peas midnight rave halftime was interesting to say the least. Where’s a clothing malfunction when you need one?  On the bright side, Slash’s awesome guitar shredding  redeemed the show — a little bit. Remind me to gouge my eyes out next time — and not to watch any scheduled halftime shows on the NFL Network with the Black Eyed Peas anytime soon.
  • Early third quarter, the Pittsburgh Steelers relied on the run with the combination of Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman with Mendenhall rushing for a 8-yard touchdown for a 21-17 score.
  • Late third quarter, Steelers Shaun Suisham’s 52-yard field goal miss would have brought the score to within 1 point and was costly for this Super Bowl game.
  • After the recovered fumble of Rashard Mendenhall by linebacker Desmond Bishop on the 36-yard line of the Packers, Aaron Rodgers focused on Jordy Nelson again, but Greg Jennings got an 8-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to bring the score to 28-17 early fourth quarter.
  • Middle of the fourth quarter, Ben Roethlisberger floated a 25-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace which was beautiful, and the score was brought closer to 28-25 via a successful 2-point conversion from Ben Roethlisberger’s lateral to Antwan Randle El.
  • Steelers coach Mike Tomlin‘s (with Ben Roethlisberger) burning of timeouts in the second half of the game is still about as bad as Andy Reid’s mishandling of challenges (and sometimes timeouts).
  • The 31-yard seam pass to Greg Jennings from Aaron Rodgers was fantastic late in the fourth quarter.  Unfortunately, Rodgers dipped in the pot once too much for Jordy Nelson, and the Packers had to settle for a field goal by Mason Crosby.
  • Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers had a stunning 111.5 quarterback rating for the Super Bowl on 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and 304 yards passing.
  • Running backs of both teams were both limited in the Super Bowl. Steelers Rashard Mendenhall had only 63 yards rushing, and Packers James Starks only had 52 yards rushing.
  • The receiving corps of both teams were the stars of the Super Bowl.  The Pittsburgh Steelers duo of Mike Wallace and Hines Ward had 89 yards receiving and 78 yards receiving respectively, and both had a touchdown in this game.  The Green Bay Packers tandem of Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings had 140 yards receiving and 64 yards receiving respectively.  Nelson had a touchdown, but Jennings had two.

This was a game of turnovers recovered by both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay packers defenses and continuously shifting momentum. Green Bay Packers moved the ball well in the first half, but the Pittsburgh Steelers moved the ball better in the second half. In the closing minutes of the game, Ben Roethlisberger attempted a two-minute drill, but he rushed his passes with the Green Bay defense closing upon his receivers. The Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV with the score of 31-25 over the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The Vince Lombardi Trophy is returning to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, and Aaron Rodgers has earned his first Super Bowl ring and a well-deserved Super Bowl MVP (with a brand new Camaro).

Now that the Super Bowl is over, football fans can await the drama of the off-season, including the labor negotiations. If these don’t entertain, I’m sure we can hear from some of the diva wide receivers of the league like Terrell Owens or Chad Ochocinco Johnson tweeting their pressing concerns. We can also look forward to the Arena Football League starting March 11, and this will temporarily satiate the football craving, if the NFL lockout occurs.  And then the playoffs for the NHL will begin soon.  Lastly, the beginning of the NASCAR season starting this week in Daytona with the new rules and the newly paved three-wide racetrack.  All these should be great sporting events to follow.

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers: Super Bowl XLV Pre-Game Analysis

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers are meeting in Dallas Stadium for the Super Bowl in about a week.  In the meantime, their respective teams can get some rest and perhaps recover some of those who may have been injured in their conference playoff games.  The Pittsburgh Steelers against the New York Jets was a physical game, and the Green Bay Packers against the Chicago Bears was just as physical, if not more.  For the Steelers game, their defense and their running game with Rashard Mendenhall broke the Jets backs.  And for the Green Bay Packers team, their defense and the combination of Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings won their game.

Now to the pre-game analysis of the Super Bowl:

Quarterbacks

Neither quarterback was particularly impressive in their last conference championship game.  The Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger had 133 yards passing, 2 interceptions and a 35.5 quarterback rating against the New York Jets; and, the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers had 244 yards, 2 interceptions and 55.4 quarterback rating against the Chicago Bears. However, in the post-season, Aaron Rodgers is currently ranked 1st in quarterback rating at 109.2 while Ben Roethlisberger is ranked 10th with an overall quarterback rating of 75.5. During the regular season, Aaron Rodgers was similarly more effective than Ben Roethlisberger. Aaron Rodgers had 3,922 yards passing, 28 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and overall quarterback rating of 101.2, which was 3rd overall rating during the regular season.  On the other side of the ball, Ben Roethlisberger had 3,200 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and an overall quarterback rating of 97.0, which was 5th overall during the regular season.  Given these statistics, the edge goes to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers by a moderate margin.  As of this time though, Rodgers is battling a sore shoulder during a hit that occurred during his game with the Chicago Bears. It shouldn’t change things though, unless he suffers another concussion.

Running Backs

Pittsburgh Steelers primary running back Rashard Mendenhall went on a tear against the New York Jets, rushing 121 yards, 2 touchdowns and 4.5 yards per carry.  Presently, in the post-season, Mendenhall is ranked 3rd in rushing yardage, has 3 touchdowns and averaging 3.6 yards per attempt.  Mendenhall was equally impressive during the regular season, as he was ranked 7th overall in rushing yardage. He had 1,273 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. His reliever Isaac Redman contributed 247 yards during the regular season and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. On the opposite side of the ball, the previously third option James Starks of the Green Bay Packers has risen in the post-season.  He is currently ranked 1st overall in rushing yardage with 263 yards rushing, a touchdown and averaging 3.8 yards per attempt in the post-season.  During the regular season, however, he had a meager 101 yards rushing and averaged 3.5 yards per carry.  His reliever, now former starter Brandon Jackson, has only 28 yards during the post-season, but he’s become more of a wide receiver during these playoffs. During the regular season, Jackson had 703 yards rushing, 3 touchdowns, averaged 3.7 yards per attempt and ranked 33rd overall.  Rashard Mendenhall and the Pittsburgh Steelers get the edge on this one by a wide margin, if Steelers coach Mike Tomlin sticks with his present gameplan.

Wide Receivers

This is one interesting battle.  Starting with the Pittsburgh Steelers, their receiving duo consists of Mike Wallace and Hines Ward. Mike Wallace of the Steelers was impressive during the regular season, racking up 1,257 yards receiving, 1o touchdowns and averaged 21.0 yards per reception.  He was ranked 5th overall in receiving yardage overall during the regular season, but in the post-season, he hasn’t made an impact yet. Meanwhile, Hines Ward had 755 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns and averaged 12.8 yards per reception.  With the Green Bay Packers, the tandem of Greg Jennings and James Jones were originally the pair to be reckoned with during the regular season, but Jordy Nelson has replaced James Jones as the second wide receiver threat during the playoffs.  Greg Jennings, however, is currently ranked 1st overall in the post-season with 239 yards receiving and averaging 14.1 yards per reception. During the regular season, Jennings was equally impressive.  He had 1,265 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns, averaged 16.6 yards per reception and was ranked 4th overall in receiving yards during the regular season.  Comparatively, during the regular season, James Jones had 679 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns and averaged 13.6 yards per reception, and Jordy Nelson 582 yards, 2 touchdowns and averaged 12.9 yards per reception.  During the post-season, however, Jordy Nelson currently has 146 yards, a touchdown, averaging 12.2 yards per reception and is currently ranked 5th overall in receiving yardage.  Suffice it to say, the Green Bay Packers wide receiving corps is much more of a threat than the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Packers get the edge.

Tight Ends

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller has maintained himself as a consistent threat into the post-season, with 77 yards receiving, a touchdown and is currently ranked 19th overall in receiving yardage.  During the regular season, he had 512 yards receiving, 2 touchdowns and averaged 12.2 yards per reception. On the Green Bay side of the ball, Andrew Quarless or Donald Lee have not been much of a factor during the regular season or the post-season. During the regular season, Quarless had 238 yards receiving, a touchdown and averaged 11.3 yards per reception.  And Lee had 73 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns and averaged 6.6 yards per reception. Heath Miller and the Pittsburgh Steelers get the edge on this one by sufficient margin.

Defenses

Both of these defenses have been the difference maker during nearly all the post-season games that they have played.  During the regular season, the Steelers defense was ranked 12th against the pass, 1st against the run and 2nd overall in the league.  Their playmakers were many.  During the regular season, Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons recorded 135 tackles and was ranked 8th overall. Safety Troy Polamalu recorded 7 interceptions during the regular season and was ranked 3rd overall in the league. To date, Lawrence Timmons has 19 sacks and is 4th overall in the post-season. Linebacker James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers have contributed 3 sacks in the playoffs and is currently ranked 3rd overall. During the regular season, the Green Bay Packers defense was ranked 5th against the pass, 18th against the rush and 5th overall.  Linebacker Clay Matthews was ranked 3rd overall in sacks with 13.5 by the end of the regular season, and cornerback Tramon Williams had 6 interceptions and was ranked 5th overall in interceptions.  Both of these defensive backs have maintained their momentum into the playoffs.  Clay Matthews recorded 3.5 sacks to his name and is ranked 2nd overall currently in sacks.  And Tramon Williams is ranked 1st with 3 interceptions in the post-season with his fellow cornerback Sam Shields who is currently ranked 2nd with 2 interceptions.  In terms of numbers and playmakers, the edge goes to the Green Bay Packers, but should Mike Tomlin retain his gameplan previously, the edge should go the Pittsburgh Steelers in reality.

Coaches/Intangibles

Both of these head coaches have adapted and changed their gameplans accordingly in the playoffs.  Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Packers coach Mike McCarthy have both relied on the run and the pass when necessary.  The talent though still runs on the side of the Green Bay Packers, although Rashard Mendenhall could possibly be featured again against the Packers.  This remains a push, although the injury to Aaron Rodgers may be a concern in the Super Bowl itself.

The Edge

The edge goes to the Green Bay Packer2 24-20, but this score may be a conservative estimate.  In any case, Aaron Rodgers should find a way to squeak one past the Pittsburgh Steelers stifling defense in the last few minutes of the game.  This game will be hard-fought between these two teams though, and it should be a physical matchup and a mental one between the coaches.

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears: NFC Championship Post-Game Analysis

This was one of the oldest rivalries sorting itself out on Soldier Field, with Aaron Rodgers and his explosive wide receivers against the stalwart defense of the Chicago Bears, led by Brian Urlacher.  This was the ultimate rubber-band match for these two rivals this season — whoever wins goes to the Super Bowl.  The Chicago Bears won in week 3 of the regular season with a 20-17 score and lost in week 17 against the Green Bay Packers 10-3.  The Bears intended on shutting out the Packers from arriving into the playoffs by using their starters in that last game, but they couldn’t stop the fourth quarter drive against Aaron Rodgers.  It’s Lovie Smith vs. Mike McCarthy, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher vs. Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings and Jay Cutler vs. Clay Matthews…

Now here comes the NFC Conference playoffs and its analysis:

  • Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers started off early in the first quarter with passes to Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and James Starks. And an amazing Rodgers’ 1-yard rush for a touchdown as a first strike against the Chicago Bears.
  • Bears running back Matt Forte‘s early first quarter 24-yard reception from quarterback Jay Cutler was stunning.
  • The almost-close safety late first quarter to Jay Cutler was avoided barely with a jump pass to Matt Forte (that was dropped).  That was too close for comfort for the Bears and their fans.
  • James Starks got his first NFL career touchdown from 4-yards out, and it extended the lead to 14-0 for the Packers.
  • Bad Jay Cutler finally showed up in this critical game with a quarterback rating of 34.1 with only 80 yards passing and an interception into the half.  Unfortunately, Bad Jay Cutler additionally was replaced with backup Todd Collins after the half. The game for the Bears started to spiral downwards afterwards.
  • Green Bay Packers had 103 total yards rushing between Aaron Rodgers, James Starks and Brandon Jackson into the half.  The Packers established a running threat albeit a bit unconventionally with Rodgers in the equation, but it was first assisted by the receiving duo of Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson with 115 yards combined into the half.
  • Near the end of the fourth quarter, the interception from Lance Briggs of the Chicago Bears from a pass intended for Packers wide receiver Donald Driver was answered with an interception from Sam Shields with a pass intended to Johnny Knox.
  • Brian Urlacher’s 39-yard  interception return of Aaron Rodgers could not swing the momentum into the Bears favor as the offense sputtered under Todd Collins.
  • Then in came Caleb Hanie, the third option at quarterback for the Bears late third quarter with both an injured Jay Cutler and an anemic Todd Collins on the sidelines.
  • Caleb Hanie’s drive ended with Chester Taylor’s 1-yard touchdown to close the lead within a touchdown at 14-7.
  • BJ Raji’s late fourth quarter 18-yard interception on Caleb Hanie brought the score of 21-7.
  • Earl Bennett’s 35-yard pass for a touchdown kept the game interesting again at 21-14.
  • Sam Shields last interception of Caleb Hanie sealed the game.

The explosive Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers offense fought the Chicago Bears at Soldiers Field and came out with a 21-7 win. The arrival of Bad (and Injured) Jay Cutler and Bad Todd Collins did not go so well for the Chicago Bears, despite the Bears defense stepping up at times. Good Caleb Hanie brought life to this Bears team, although the last two minutes closed the game for the Bears.  Surprisingly, Good Caleb Hanie had a better quarterback rating at 88.1 compared to Aaron Rodgers 55.4.

Now the Green Bay Packers are off to the Super Bowl against their opponent to be determined later tonight, and the Chicago Bears may have found a starting quarterback for their next season over Jay Cutler. Coach Lovie Smith and the Bears are now regretting not stopping the Green Bay Packers in their last game of the regular season, as the Packers ended theirs in the post-season.

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears: NFC Championship Pre-Game Analysis

This is one of these games that have been going on a spin-cycle this season.  The Chicago Bears began their starters during their last regular season game against the potent Green Bay Packers, but they could not finish the job.  Now their demon has come back another time, inspired by the destruction of their wild card opponent Philadelphia Eagles and their divisional opponent Atlanta Falcons.  Both the Eagles and Falcons were ranked higher than the Packers coming into the playoffs, yet both had their wings clipped.  The Good Jay Cutler, on the other hand, methodically handled the football in their game with the running game of Matt Forte against the Seattle Seahawks, but it was not quite as impressive showing as the Packers had against the Falcons during the same weekend.

Now to the pre-game analysis:

Quarterbacks

The Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers has been amazing so far in the playoffs. He currently leads all the quarterbacks in the playoffs with a 134.5 quarterback rating on 546 yards passing and 6 touchdowns.  In the regular season, he had a 101.2 quarterback rating on 3,922 yards passing, 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  Opposite of him, the Chicago Bears Jay Cutler is currently second overall into the playoffs with 111.3 quarterback rating on 274 yards passing and 2 touchdowns.  In the regular season, however, he had a 86.3 quarterback rating on 3,274 yards passing, 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.  Both quarterbacks have improved into the playoffs, but the Packers Rodgers has been more consistent.  The edge goes to the Rodgers and the Packers by a moderate margin.

Running Backs

This hasn’t been the best post-season for much of the running backs, particularly since they have been facing stiff defenses.  The Packers running backs James Starks and Brandon Jackson have been contributing to their running game.  James Starks currently leads the playoffs running backs in terms of rushing yardage at 189 and averaging 3.9 yards per carry, but he has no rushing touchdowns. During the regular season, he only had 101 yards, averaged 3.5 yards per carry and no touchdowns.  His partner Brandon Jackson had 23 yards rushing, 5.8 yards per carry and no touchdowns in the post-season.  During the regular season, he had 703 yards rushing, averaged 3.7 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns.  On the opposite side of the ball, Matt Forte is currently 7th in rushing yardage at 80 yards and averaging 3.2 yards per carry in the post-season.  In the regular season, he had 1,069 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per carry.  James Starks and the Packers get a slight edge in this game as they’ve been more effective rushing in the post-season, but Matt Forte still remains a force in the playoffs. 

Wide Receivers

The Packers wide receiver combination of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver have been effective in the playoffs.  Greg Jennings is currently 9th in terms of receiving yardage at 109 and averaging 12.1 yards per reception; and Donald Driver is currently ranked 3rd at 132 yards and averaging 12.0 yards per reception.  During the regular season, he had 1,265 yards receiving, 12 touchdowns and averaged 16.6 yards per reception.  Additionally, he was ranked 4th overall in terms of receiving yardage during the regular season.  Comparatively, the Chicago Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox is currently 35th in the playoffs in terms of receiving yards at 48 yards and 12.0 yards per reception.  During the regular season, he had 960 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns and averaged 18.8 yards per reception. His compatriot Earl Bennett in the post-season only has 13 yards receiving.  During the regular season, he was more effective at 561 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns and averaged 12.2 yards per reception. The receiving corps of the Green Bay Packers get the edge.

Tight Ends

The Packers tight end Donald Lee so far has no receptions during the post-season.  During the regular season, he only had 73 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns and averaged 6.6 yards per reception.  Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen has been infinitely better.  In the post-season, he is currently ranked 5th in receiving yardage at 113, averaging 37.7 yards per reception and a touchdown.  Compared to his regular season numbers, he had 404 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns and averaged 9.9 yards per reception.  The Chicago Bears get the edge for this one by a wide margin.

Defenses

During the regular season, the Green Bay Packers defense was ranked 5th overall, and they were 5th against the pass and 18th against the run. Linebacker Clay Matthews made his mark in the regular season as he was ranked 4th overall and had 13.5 sacks.  In the post-season, he has improved to 3rd overall at 3.0 sacks.  Cornerback Charles Woodson has been effective during the post-season as he is ranked 7th in tackles at 12. His teammate Tramon Williams currently leads in interceptions in the post-season at 3, and he has become a playmaker for the Packers defense. The Chicago Bears defense, led by Brian Urlacher, was effective during the regular season. Their defense was ranked 20th against the pass and 2nd against the run and ranked 9th overall. Bears tackle Tommie Harris is currently ranked 4th in sacks at 2.0, but Brian Urlacher is currently ranked 32nd in tackles at 7.  The Packers defense gets the edge in this matchup, as they have more playmakers that have been effective in the playoffs.

Coaches/Intangibles

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has been through some tough opponents in the playoffs so far — the Philadelphia Eagles, the Atlanta Falcons and the last game against the Chicago Bears to get into the playoffs. He has had to make various adjustments through each game, running against the Eagles and passing against the Falcons.  He has been adaptable so far, although he still relies on Aaron Rodgers’ arm to ultimately win the game. On the opposite side of the ball, head coach Lovie Smith had to rely on balance as well. His reliance on the run has been highly dependent on whether Jay Cutler has been an accurate passer, and so far, he has. Jay Cutler has leaned on tight end Greg Olsen for much of success so far.  Mike McCarthy and the Packers get the slight edge in terms of their path in the playoffs, and they demonstrated more effectiveness against stronger opponents.

The Edge

The edge goes to the Packers 20-17, but it is highly dependent on if the Good Jay Cutler remains on the field. The Packers defense, however, should hold against the Bears offense.


Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons: NFC Divisional Post-Game Analysis

This was the battle of two of the most consistent offenses at the Georgia Dome. Both were dangerous in their own right, with talented wide receivers of the Falcons Roddy White and the Packers Greg Jennings and their respective quarterbacks Falcons Matt Ryan and Packers Aaron Rodgers. Now that Michael Turner left LaDanian Tolimson’s shadow, Aaron Rodgers left Brett Favre’s and this could have been a game for James Starks to establish his own.

Now the post-game analysis:

  • The early pass from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings for 30 yards could have been a game changer early first quarter, and his fumble recovered by Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes was disastrous for the Packers.  The pound and ground game of the Falcons with Michael Turner from 12 yards out led to the first score of the game, and the gamble on 4th and 1 paid off for coach Mike Smith and his team.
  • Falcons returner Eric Weems scored a 102 yard return early first quarter and set the record for the longest scoring drive in post-season history.  Fantastic run makes Devin Hester seem like last year’s news…
  • Both teams counterpunched each other with their offenses constantly in the first quarter, but the Packers defense eventually rose to the occasion in the second quarter and for the rest of the game.
  • Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers is one devastating quarterback for opposing offenses. He ended the half with 144.8 quarterback rating on 2 touchdowns and 234 yards passing. And he ended this game with a 136.8 rating on 3 touchdowns and 366 yards passing.
  • Packers cornerback Tramon Williams got 2 crucial interceptions off of Matt Ryan.  One was for a 70-yard touchdown and shifted the momentum for the Packers into the rest of the game.
  • The Falcons potent running back Michael Turner was limited to under 50 yards rushing, 39 to be exact.  The Green Bay defense stuffed one of the better running backs in the league.
  • Packers athletic and dominating Greg Jennings had a 101 yard game. Enough said.
  • The Falcons had four turnovers. Enough said.
  • Aaron Rodger’s 7 yard run for another score  in mid-third quarter put another nail into the coffin for the Falcons as the score was 35-14.  He basically schooled the Atlanta Falcons afterwards, and neither Matt Ryan, Michael Jenkins or Michael Turner could generate enough offense to counteract the Packers offense.

This started out as a great game of counterpunches, but the heavyweight Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers decimated the Atlanta Falcons 48-21 in the end. Now the Falcons will have to go into the off-season and make some serious adjustments.  Whoever wins tomorrow’s game, the Seattle Seahawks or the Chicago Bears will have to face this explosive, versatile offense and striking defense.  The Bears would be the better game perhaps for the NFC Championship game, but we’ll have to wait on this one until tomorrow for the challenger.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ Playoff Picture: Gameplanning Against the Green Bay Packers

The Philadelphia Eagles have clinched the third seed in the NFC playoffs, but they should not rest upon their laurels.  Although Michael Vick has shown he is capable of leading this explosive offense, he has also shown he has not demonstrated he is capable of lending balance to this offense.  Vick himself carries much of this offense, without use of the running back LeSean McCoy or tight end Brent Celek.  Both McCoy and Celek are talented in their own right, but they are far too underused.  I imagine both are frustrated and biting their tongues for sake of professionalism, the team and the coach Andy Reid.

Facing their opponents in the playoffs are going to be a different picture altogether with this quasi-one-dimensional team. One misstep and they will be gone.

But with all the resources available to the Eagles, here’s how the Philadelphia Eagles should gameplan against the Green Bay Packers:

Shore Up the Offensive Line

This may be easier said than done.  This offensive line has been mediocre all year.  Whether with Michael Vick or Kevin Kolb, the pocket has constantly collapsed, and sometimes at the most inopportune moments. It has caused Vick to throw interceptions and forced him to rush, as he is forced out of the pocket.  This offensive line cannot take overload blitzes too well.  Neither can Vick’s health.

Tagteam and Key on Clay Matthews

The Eagles offensive line  have to know that Clay Matthews is coming for Michael Vick.  It will be dependent on Vick to spot him and perform a “mike” (blitzer) check on Matthews on every single play.  Again, this is easier said than done.  With the lackadaisical and porous nature of this line, realistically, Vick will have to rely on his feet to keep the game in play.  But if Clay Matthews doesn’t get to him, someone else certainly will.

ALWAYS Cover Greg Jennings

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings simply exploded this year.  Originally the counterpart to Donald Driver, he has taken over the position and become the 4th most dominant receiver in the league, with the ranks of Indianapolis Colts Reggie Wayne, Atlanta Falcon’s Roddy White and Denver Broncos Brandon Lloyd.  With Jennings 12 touchdowns to date, he currently has more touchdowns than either Brandon Lloyd or Roddy White. However, he realizes that he cannot work alone, and he has Jordy Nelson and James Jones to help.  The Eagles secondary is moderately good, but they can’t be trusted.  And with someone as athletic and aggressive as Greg Jennings, they will be contending with more than they have handled previously.

Respect the Run But Fear the Pass from Aaron Rodgers

Packers Aaron Rodgers is not a flashy quarterback, but he is efficient and accurate. Even more importantly, his backup Matt Flynn is just as capable. Aaron Rodgers is currently ranked 3rd in terms of quarterback rating at 101.2, ahead of Michael Vick, and he has 28 touchdowns to his name right now.  Plus Rodgers is ranked 7th in terms of passing yardage at 3,922 yards.  Meanwhile, the Eagles Pro Bowler is ranked 20th in comparison.

Although the rushers of Brandon Jackson and their fullback John Kuhn aren’t fantastic by any means, they are respectable, when given space.  Jackson has shown that he’s capable of breaking out long runs, and Kuhn has shown he is capable of scoring near the goal line.  The Eagles should respect the run, but they should continue blitzing whenever it’s appropriate.

Establish the Run with LeSean McCoy

The Eagles should attempt to establish the run with LeSean McCoy.  If McCoy can establish the run early, with long runs against the Packers defense, it should give Vick some breathing room to pass, but should McCoy shut down or the Packers defense don’t respect the run, Vick will be a small fish in a shark pond and will have to rely on his rushing ability. Given that Vick has scored a rushing touchdown in four of his last five games, McCoy may be essentially riding the pine although he will get his carries. And again the hits will leave marks on Michael Vick…

Intermediate Passes vs. Homerun Hitting

Remember the days when Donovan McNabb used to throw screens to Brian Westbrook and Brent Celek.  Those were the days…Although Micheal Vick used to throw screens when he and the media declared him a pocket passer early in the season, but he has all but stopped doing this.  He also stopped relying on intermediate passes to his tight end Brent Celek or wide receivers DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin.  He has become the impulsive shotgunner in the past few games, overthrowing receivers or missing receivers entirely.

Don’t Let Green Bay Packers Hang With the Philadelphia Eagles

With this, I don’t mean after the game they can’t hang out at a Chickies and Pete’s in South Philadelphia, but it is more meant that if they allow the Packers to hang in with them during the game, the Packers will find a way to strike at the worst moment for the Eagles.  The reverse was true for the Eagles during the Giants, but lightning has not struck twice with Michael Vick.

Hits = Interceptions or Fumbles for Michael Vick

This is the superficial part of the equation that the Packers defense is working on right now.  Right now, just maybe, the Packers defense is watching the final few tapes of the New York Giants, the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys and Vick’s tendencies to scramble in the film room after breaking it down over the past week.  Whether Michael Vick will have to scramble from necessity or not in this game, he will have to address this problem at some point.  Sometime before this playoff game would be preferable.  The Pro Bowler for the NFC has an interception in his last five games.  We’ll let that speak for itself.

Michael Vick Is Not a One-Man Army

However spectacular his play may have been during the Washington Redskins, it foreshadowed Vick’s tendencies to be self-centered.  In light of his success within the first few minutes of the first quarter to DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, both disappeared into the second quarter afterwards.  Vick basically played around with the Washington defense and was not relieved until late fourth quarter.  Lesson: Even TCU’s Andy Dalton realized he couldn’t carry the team himself after the half of this year’s Rose Bowl…

Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers Out with a Concussion: What It Means for the Packers

Green Bay Packers‘ quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion against the Detroit Lions in the second quarter as he was sandwiched between Amari Spivey and Landon Johnson on a 18-yard scramble. Now it’s Matt Flynn‘s turn to run this offense for the next few weeks.  He fared decently as a “manager” of the game, but he’s no Aaron Rodgers.

But this concussion will effect against the team offensively, in particular. The Green Bay Packers will face the hot New England Patriots, the devastating New York Giants and the battling Chicago Bears defenses.  That does not bode too well for Matt Flynn and the Green Bay offense. Running backs Brandon Jackson and James Starks were essentially stopped cold by the Detroit Lions defense .  The Patriots defense won’t give either of them a breather next week.  Wide receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver will also suffer a tremendous hit with Flynn at the helm.  They will no longer become efficient receivers.

The Packers can still battle the Chicago Bears to top the division and enter the playoffs so it is not quite as bleak as it seems. The Bears will face the Minnesota Vikings, the New York Jets and the Green Bay Packers last.  These first two opponents will be moderately difficult to face for the Bears.  This last game between the Packers and Bears will be critical. The Packers may need Aaron Rodgers to return by then.