Monday, December 14, 2009

Bears Swept Away by Packers

The Packers certainly still have some things to clean up in the remaining three weeks. But still, they completed a sweep of the Bears on Sunday, with the Bears hanging on to slim playoff hopes as they went into the game. This is the sixth season with Lovie Smith as the head coach of the Bears, and interestingly enough, this is the first time in those six years that the Packers have swept the Bears. When he was hired, he famously said that his first goal was to beat the Green Bay Packers, and he has done a pretty good job of that, until this year.

The Packers looked pretty good on offense in the first couple of drives (it is hard to look bad on a 62 yard, 1 play touchdown drive), but the offense started to sputter soon enough. Jennings dropped what looked like a touchdown pass on the second drive, and Rodgers misfired on 3rd and 7 on the next one. So instead of what could easily have been a 21-0 lead, the Packers were ahead only by the score of 13-0 instead.

But no matter. The defense played another solid, even dominant, game, and thanks to that effort, the Packers won their fifth game in a row. True, the Bears did go ahead in the third quarter, by the score of 14-13, so the Packers could easily have lost this game. In fact, I don't think there is any doubt that they would have lost this game last year. But now, and thanks largely to the strength of the defense, they have the ability to re-group, score some more points, and put the game away. That is what they did in the 4th quarter against the Bears, just as they did last Monday night against the Ravens.

Dom Capers again deserves credit for the creativity of his defensive game plans. First of all, you have to love any defense that has an alignment known as the Psycho Defense. I'm sure the players themselves love the defense, just because of the name. But seriously, a 1-5-5 defensive alignment? What a great way to deal with the fact that there were so many injuries on the defensive line, so that Capers wasn't really sure who he would have available at game time. And it was very successful when it was used, most likely by confusing Jay Cutler so that he did not know where the rush was coming from, and which players were covering the receivers.

The Packers are now in an excellent spot to make the playoffs as a wild card. They probably will make the playoffs with one more victory, and will definitely make it with two. I am sure we can all remember years where the Packers had to win all their games, plus three out of five games (or whatever) had to go a particular way for the Packers to make the playoffs. The problem is, things don't always go as planned. Would many of us have predicted that the 49ers would beat the Cardinals tonight? Or that the Raiders would beat the Steelers last week? It is hard enough to get your own games right, without having to rely on some other team. So I like the fact that the Packers can get this done all by themselves, starting this week in Pittsburgh.

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