The thirteen-time NFL champion Green Bay Packers have returned to the postseason after a two-year hiatus. Following a first-round bye, Green Bay hosts Seattle in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs, after earning the two seed with a 13-3 record. Despite the successful season, many critics stating that this is a fraudulent team due to the ugly nature of some of the wins. On the contrary, the Packers are also in a great position to return to its first Super Bowl since the 2010-11 season and here’s why.
For the first time in years, Green Bay is an incredibly balanced team. For years, the Packers were incredibly reliant on the right arm of Aaron Rodgers and went only as far as Rodgers could take them. While the two-time MVP had a down year by his standards, Rodgers still threw for 4,002 yards, 26 touchdowns and only four interceptions. These stats don’t light the world on fire, but they don’t have to, due to the emergence of running back Aaron Jones. Jones had a career year, finishing his 2019 campaign with 1,084 rushing yards, 474 receiving yards and 19 total touchdowns. While the depth at receiver beyond Davante Adams is questionable, at best, Rodgers has enough in the tank to throw guys open and make another run at the Lombardi Trophy.
This has been one of the more talked about elements of the Packers in 2019. A much improved defensive unit has allowed Green Bay to get through the growing pains of a new system with Matt LaFleur. The Packers were ninth in the league in points allowed, 14th in passing yards allowed and created the seventh most turnovers. Speaking of turnovers, Green Bay was +12 in turnover ratio and 12-0 in games where it forced at least one turnover. Green Bay was led up front by Kenny Clark and the Smith Show, Za’Darius and Preston Smith, with Jaire Alexander, Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage leading the secondary. Blake Martinez, the NFL’s leading tackler over the last three seasons, patrols the middle. While the rush defense left much to be desired, the “bend but don’t break” Packers have a squad that could be dangerous.
Green Bay is unquestionably one of the healthiest teams in the playoffs. This alone gives the Packers a distinct advantage going forward. The offensive line has remained a cohesive unit and don’t get enough credit for the success of Jones and Rodgers this season. Kicker Mason Crosby has redeemed himself, coming off a subpar 2018 season that led to the team bringing in Sam Ficken during the preseason. This team is also battle tested. Of the Packers’ 13 wins, seven were decided by a single possession. While they may have been ugly wins at time, no team wins 13 games by accident. Most importantly, this team has an unexplainable swagger that has been missing for years. Players have spoken about it all year; the locker room, the team and the city has a vibe that makes you believe something special could happen. When Green Bay hosts Seattle on Sunday, Lambeau will be rocking with 80,000+ crazy cheeseheads rooting the Packers on to what fans hope will bring another Lombardi Trophy to Titletown USA.
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