As Green Bay Packers fans, we tend to always look at the big picture. If the Packers beat a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-3, we’re happy about the win, but we’re a little concerned about “only” scoring 20 points and what that might mean for the offense heading into the postseason against stronger teams.
We’re also happy about being 11-4 heading into the season’s final game with an opportunity to win the division, secure a first-round bye and play at least one home playoff game. But we’re also concerned that the Packers haven’t been dominant for the last 10 quarters and if that might lead to an early exit against a quality playoff opponent.
Three’s nothing wrong with looking at the big picture and peeking ahead. I do it all the time and it’s part of what makes following the Packers and the NFL so much fun. But the NFL is a week-to-week league, especially this season. Or at least a month-to-month league.
Heck, just this season I think the Broncos, Patriots, Seahawks and Packers have gone through stretches where the experts pegged them as the obvious Super Bowl “favorites.” Even Philadelphia and Indianapolis have been mentioned as Super Bowl “favorites” at some point. Most recently, Dallas has joined that list.
Any team that survives the ups and downs of a season like this one to be in the mix for a division title and a first-round bye on the season’s final day is rising. It’s an added bonus if, like the Packers, that team has an MVP quarterback and an offensive line playing at the top of its collective game.
There’s a lot to be excited about on this Packers team. There are also a few areas of concern. Regardless of how you look at this team as January approaches, it’s been a fun ride.
On to the Packers Stock Report:
What a bounceback season for Burnett. He seems to be playing closer to the line of scrimmage, which gets him involved in stopping the run and even rushing the quarterback every now and then. For a guy left for dead after last season’s disaster, it’s been quite the transformation.
Anyone who completes 78 percent of his passes and throws for 318 yards with the flu on a bum leg makes the rising category in my book.
Ever since taking more snaps inside, Matthews has been steady. His play on Sunday elevated him back into the rising category. I love this new hybrid role for Matthews. Stick him inside if teams start gashing the defense up the middles, then put him on the edge in obvious passing situations.
He blows up at least a couple of plays per game. A lot of us pegged Daniels as one of the keys to the Packers season and, with the exception of the opener in Seattle, he’s delivered.
Jordy should probably be in the rising category, but I’m still kind of mad at him for dropping that pass in Buffalo. My favorite thing about Nelson is his ability to make a big play when the Packers are spinning their wheels. It’s like he says, “Ok fellas, ya’ll are playing like horse manure, so I’m gonna go ahead and make a ridiculous catch and see if that gets us going.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Lang has graded positively in six consecutive games and led the team with a 4.8 grade on Sunday. Overall, the offensive line has been tearing it up. We’ll see how they hold up against strong fronts like Detroit and Seattle, but if they keep playing like this, it’s hard to see the Packers losing.
If Perry would step up just a little bit, this defense could take another step forward. Perry doesn’t need to morph into Lawrence Taylor, just play a little better than he is now and fill the void on the edge if Matthews moves inside.
Mason Crosby/Tim Masthay
Listing both the kicker and punter as falling might be a little harsh, but both need to play better heading into the postseason. Crosby has missed a few makable kicks and Masthay’s punts have been shaky. Remember when the Packers beat the Bears in the NFC title game during the 2010 season? Masthay neutralized Devin Hester and pinned the Bears deep in their own territory often. The Packers will need their kicker and punter to be at the top of their game in the coming weeks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Not only is the team awful, but the stadium was half full of Packers fans. Not a good situation going on in the other Bay.
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .