The date was January 20th, 2008, a day that will live in Lambeau infamy. Favre and the Packers were hosting the NFC Championship in what would be the second coldest game in the history of the franchise, with a temperature of minus-1 and a wind chill of minus-23. And boy, could we tell. Tom Coughlin’s frozen tomato cheeks were in full force as he marched the fifth-seeded Giants into Lambeau. In what would be Favre’s last game as a Packer, you just kind of had the feeling that Green Bay was the team of destiny, primed for a rematch with the undefeated Patriots, a winner-take-all with Favre v Brady for the last time. And you just thought that when Green Bay won the overtime coin toss, it might just happen. But this was a Brett Favre-led team–anything could happen. I don’t want to say that it’s fitting that Favre’s last pass as a Packer was an interception, but it’s fitting. He was unpredictable, making the best plays, and the plays that drove you darn crazy. There was a team of destiny in this game, but, alas, they were not wearing green and gold.
Fast forward to January 15th, 2012. A new leader of the Pack, Aaron Rodgers was historically great. Green Bay was 15-1, and the number one overall seed. Many had them pegged as Super Bowl representatives in the NFC, but those pesky Giants were back in town, and this time, they didn’t mess around. They dominated the Packers, and left them pondering a successful yet disappointing season. I can’t help but wonder what might’ve happened if Rodgers had played week 17. That was the historic Matt Flynn six touchdown game, and Rodgers had no business playing–why risk a season-ending injury when everything was wrapped up? But to sit out of live action football for a whole month takes its toll on even the best. We often see this with the teams with the bye week, getting taken out by the hot wildcard team. And now it’s 2016, and the Giants are back in Lambeau once more. Here’s how the Packers can advance to the divisional round:
Don’t revert back to early-season defense
This Packers defense is not the best. By any means. They rank 21st in points allowed this season, giving up 24.3. However, over the six-game run the table period, they’ve gone down to 18.6 points per game. Not too shabby. Lately, the defense has been very opportunistic, creating turnovers and bending but not breaking. But they give up yards. A lot of yards. Earlier in the year, we writers here at Sconnie Sports Talk probably could’ve put together a team and scored on the Packers–it was downright embarrassing. Now part of that can be contributed to injuries–the secondary had the backup’s backup in, and the loss of Sam Shields has been costly (also very much questioning Thompson’s decision to let Casey Hayward walk, as he now leads the league in interceptions. Thanks Ted). But if the front seven can get decent pressure on Eli, not have total collapses in the secondary, and the defense can create a few turnovers, the Packers should be well on their way to the divisional round.
Use the home-field advantage
Lambeau Field is a special place. With few others like it in the league, it has an electric atmosphere that was meant for playoff football. Unfortunately, in recent years the Packers have been rather average at home in the playoffs, going 2-2 in Rodger’s time, the only wins coming against the Joe Webb-led Vikings and a Cowboys team that will argue about the Dez Bryant catch for years to come. The Packers need this victory at home against the Giants. They just can’t lose three times to the Giants at home in the playoffs with two of the best QB’s of all time on their team, Favre and Rodgers. They must feed off the crowd’s early game energy, pounce on New York for the early lead, and keep the crowd in it. The key about home field advantage is the moment the road team gets hot, it sucks the air right out of the building. Get loud Lambeau.
Don’t change a thing on offense
This offense is on a roll, and you can only hope to contain it. From an offense that seemed to lack productive weapons, to an offense that can’t get enough production, this offense is ready for the postseason. And the beauty of Green Bay’s offense is that they may not have the most talented players, but they make the most of everyone and use everyone perfectly. Jordy is Jordy, Mr. Reliable. He and Rodgers have a chemistry unparalleled by most. Davante Adams came into his own this year, and has really helped Rodgers out in the long game. There is a wide receiver playing running back, and hey, he’s pretty good. He has excellent patience and let’s face it, the guy is a tank. Recently, Jared Cook and Geronimo Allison have stepped up big time, and this has all been without Randall Cobb, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury. And this is all made possible by Rodgers, who extends plays better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Yes, the Giants have a good defense, but the Packers have made short work of very respectable defenses in Minnesota, Seattle, and Houston.
It won’t be an easy task, but if the Packers can win the NFC North after starting 4-6, anything can happen.