Blog Entry

Packers win again, but have some issues

Posted on: December 25, 2011 11:47 pm
K. Bell gained 121 yards in Chicago's loss to Green Bay (AP).By Josh Katzowitz

Not many people gave the Bears much of a chance to upset the Packers on Sunday night. Not with Chicago missing its first-string quarterback, starting a guy who was coaching high school football not so long ago, and playing a third- and fourth-string running back in place of Matt Forte.

But Chicago’s Josh McCown was more than solid, running back Kahlil Bell looked fantastic and Chicago played evenly with the Packers in the first half (and ultimately outgained Green Bay 441-364). But the Packers did what the Packers do and dominated the second half to finish off Chicago 35-21 and secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Before we anoint the Packers an automatic Super Bowl team, though, they still have issues they need to correct. Here are three that the Bears helped expose tonight.

Run defense: It’s easy to talk about how (statistically) poor the Packers pass defense is (though Green Bay has faced the second-most pass attempts in the league this season, so the statistics look a little worse than they should), but the run defense isn’t all that wonderful either.

Without Ryan Pickett, who was out with a head injury, in the lineup, the Packers showcased a major weakness through the entire first half. Bell -- the Bears third-string running back -- looked like an All-Pro, gaining 89 yards on 14 carries in the first half (he finished with 121 yards). Last year on their run to the Super Bowl, the Packers allowed 114.9 rushing yards per game, ranking 18th in the NFL. This year, after Sunday’s game, they give up 114.4 yards per contest, ranking 16th.

Listen, that’s not terrible. But against a Bears team that was one-dimensional, starting a third-string quarterback, the Packers knew Chicago would have to rely on its running game. Green Bay just couldn’t stop it. Against most teams, the Packers offense doesn’t allow that to matter, but in the playoffs, when Green Bay could be facing a top-notch defense like the 49ers, this could become a major hole.

Week 16 recap
Makeshift offensive line: The line actually played well vs. a Bears defense that boasts Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Julius Peppers. Marshall Newhouse handled Peppers well, and despite missing left tackle Chad Clifton and right tackle Bryan Bulaga, the Bears garnered just one sack. But this is potentially a problem in the future, because you can’t expect Newhouse and T.J. Lang, normally a guard, to keep up that pace in replacing Clifton and Bulaga.

Besides, without the starting tackles in there, Rodgers looks to make quick passes or get out in space on play-action. If Clifton, who’s been out since Week 5 with a bad hamstring, and Bulaga (a sprained knee last week who might not return until the postseason) can be back for the playoffs, that probably would make Rodgers -- who was sacked four times in last week’s loss to the Chiefs -- feel better.

Running game: Twice, in the span of one series, the Packers running back busted up a play and forced Aaron Rodgers to scramble a few yards and then fall down to avoid danger. Once, it was Ryan Grant, once it was James Starks and both times Rodgers couldn’t have been happy.

Starks and Grant were basically invisible anyway. They combined to record 57 yards on 14 carries, and overall, the Packers run game ranks 27th in the NFL. Even if the Packers become the most one-dimensional team in the league, it probably won’t matter with Rodgers running the team. But if he struggles in the playoffs or gets injured, Green Bay could be in trouble.

But Clay Matthews made a good point after the game in regards to how these issues could affect the team in the future.

“When you have a quarterback like that,” Matthews said on NBC, “you’re allowed to make a couple mistakes.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.

Since: Dec 22, 2011
Posted on: December 27, 2011 9:22 am

Packers win again, but have some issues

@itsearly. C'mon Man! Packers defense has been bad all year! What games have you been watching? 

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: December 26, 2011 4:54 pm

Packers win again, but have some issues

If you are going to condemn a least get the spelling of his name correct. I cannot stand the Packers nor the Bears, but the Packers need to play better if they actually want to do well in the postseason. Ask the Saints how they fared after winning the SB....they got routed in the playoffs.

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:12 am

Packers win again, but have some issues

Josh Kastowitz = Bears fan?

Let's not get too carried away with how "great" Khalil Bell or Josh McCown looked... The Packers are in "post-season" prep mode and have been playing vanilla schemes for weeks. They move the ball efficiently when they need to. and they make defensive stands when they need to. You don't put your best material on the field for opposing teams to dissect for games that really matter.

And, if Jay Cutler had been on the field, the outcome would have been no different... familiarity and predictability are the reason teams are so consistent in today's games. You throw in a new QB (like the Chiefs did), and a new head coach (like the Chiefs), and couple that with phantom offensive pass interfence calls on Jordy Nelson at critical moments in the drives, along with a vanilla game plan... you get an upset. This ain't rocket science.   

Since: Mar 5, 2008
Posted on: December 26, 2011 10:52 am

Packers win again, but have some issues

Weather in late January in Green Bay favors A running team or a Passing team. Hmmm Its a running team both the Saints and the 49ers have a potent ground game. Might not be seeing the Packers in the Super Bowl.

Since: May 15, 2010
Posted on: December 26, 2011 8:44 am

Packers win again, but have some issues

As a Packer fan, I wish their defense was playing better than it is. But things aren't going to change now. And 14-1 is 14-1. They've beaten every team that has come into Green Bay this season. It's going to take someone else playing exceptionally well to win a game in Lambeau, especially in late January.

Since: Sep 11, 2007
Posted on: December 26, 2011 4:33 am

Packers win again, but have some issues

What a stupid article... Packers won by 14 against an NFL team period... And secured their ranks as the best team in the NFC... I'm a die hard Cowboys fan but Im not afraid to speak the truth when a hater like this writes such an idiotic article...

Since: Dec 20, 2009
Posted on: December 26, 2011 2:21 am

Packers win again, but have some issues

GB has some big holes to fill. ny money is on NOS.

Since: Apr 7, 2010
Posted on: December 26, 2011 1:56 am

Packers win again, but have some issues

"But if he struggles in the playoffs or gets injured, Green Bay could be in trouble."  Replace 'could' with 'will'.

Since: Jan 3, 2008
Posted on: December 26, 2011 1:16 am

Packers win again, but have some issues

Wow, how much did this guy get paid to write this? Most 3rd graders could've come up with the same conclusions about the Packers. The thing this guy forgot to mention is that there is no team in the NFL without a noticeable weakness or two, so it's all up in the air when the playoffs roll around. I will not be surprised if the Packers lose before the Super Bowl, but also not surprised if they win it all again. Like the old adage says, that's why they play the games.

Since: May 11, 2007
Posted on: December 26, 2011 12:56 am

Packers win again, but have some issues

Green Bay`s defense is ranked 31st, Chicago`s defense 18th, but the Chicago defense has given up 328 points, compared to the Packers 318. So, what do we learn about Stats?? They mean Nothing.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or