The rematch is set.
For a second time in the last two months, the Packers are traveling to Santa Clara to face the 49ers. The first time didn’t go so well for Green Bay, which lost 37-8. But that’s the most recent loss on the Packers’ ledger.
So, for a third time this year (the Raiders also played Green Bay), we turn to former Bay Area News Group writer Matt Schneidman to break down the hottest team in football. Matt now covers the Packers for The Athletic — you can find his work via Twitter at @mattschneidman.
Now onto the questions:
1. Headlines across the NFL universe have proclaimed in recent weeks that Aaron Rodgers is now an “average quarterback,” but he showed some of that verve for the big moment Sunday evening against the Seahawks. What has he lost, and what does he still have in his bag in this new offense?
I’m hesitant to say he’s “lost” something because if you asked me that question last week, I would’ve said Rodgers has lost some accuracy after having 16 overthrows for incompletions against the Lions in Week 17, tied for the most ever since ESPN first tracked the stats in 2006. Then he makes absurdly accurate throws against the Seahawks to Jimmy Graham and Davante Adams, among others, and it seems Week 17 was just a fluke.
He’s hardly average, and he can clearly still will a team to victory as he did in the divisional round. If anything, maybe some of his scrambling ability has waned, but even that is still pretty darn good. I think he and the Packers still have some trickery in their bag in the new offense. They haven’t used much of it this season, but we saw flashes of it against the Seahawks — a reverse handoff to return man Tyler Ervin, a jet sweep to wideout Allen Lazard — and I wouldn’t be surprised if Matt LaFleur and Rodgers drum up something we’re not expecting to see on Sunday.
2. The last time the Packers lost was Week 12 at Levi’s Stadium when the Niners dominated them. What has changed since then and what can the Packers glean from that loss to help them avoid a repeat?
The biggest thing to change since that dreadful night for the Packers, as cliche as it sounds, is a reinforced belief the Packers belong among the NFL’s elites. As you mentioned, they haven’t lost since, beating the Giants, Washington, Bears, Vikings, Lions and Seahawks. After resembling pretenders more than contenders against the 49ers, the Packers believed they were still one of the NFC’s best teams, but the results since have backed that up.
“This isn’t something that’s happened out of nowhere,” wideout Allen Lazard said. “We earned the right to be in this spot and we’re gonna take full advantage of it.”
The Packers realize they’re one win from the Super Bowl — not playing in a Week 12 game that won’t affect their position all that much — and that …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Sports