By the time Saturday is over we will know if the Packers have an outside shot of the number one seed in the playoffs. Regardless of how the Saturday game turns out though the mission for the Green Bay Packers remains the same, beat the Tennessee Titans and attempt to ensure a first round bye.
Here are five keys to securing that victory:
1. Get the running game going. When the weather gets cold you need to be able to run the football. There are countless little reasons why that is the case, but running the ball effectively is the bottom line when making a playoff run. Now is the time for the Packers to get that ground game going. It doesn't matter if it’s Alex Green, DuJuan Harris, or Ryan Grant. The Packers need to find their ground game and get that mojo going before the playoffs.
2. Keep the play in front of you. Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson are both elite running backs in the NFL, but they are not identical. Peterson has earned his nickname "All Day," meaning he is quite happy to pound a defense into submission. Johnson on the other hand is a game breaking threat, but not a bruising back that is going to run through you carry after carry. The best way to limit Johnson is to prevent him from getting the long run of 20, 40, or 90 yards. Let him get four yards here or six yards there….just stop the big play and force the Titans to put together long drives.
3. Limit the penalties. The last couple weeks the Packers have played aggressive, which is good….but this has led to some penalties, this is bad. The biggest no-no are penalties for the offensive line. Nothing kills a drive like a holding call or false start. The Packers can’t afford to go backwards and possibly lose scoring opportunities merely because of stupid or undisciplined play. Even worse may be a penalty that forces Mason Crosby on the field instead of notching a touchdown.
4. Start fast. The Packers have gotten into a bad habit of slow starts. Since the bye week the Packers have only scored in first quarter twice (at New York and versus Minnesota) and have ended the first quarter with the lead once (versus Minnesota). This is simply unacceptable for playoff football, and not a good way to win against a team like the Titans. The faster the Packers and build a healthy lead the better as it will cause the Titans to get away from their best offensive weapon.
5. Finish Them! Last week the Packers let the Bears hang around until late in the fourth quarter. This is not the first time the Packers were unable to just put away an opponent and it’s a skill that needs to be mastered for the road ahead. There is no time like the present to begin learning this talent and ensure that this game is not close or in question.
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