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Cheese Curds, 1/6: Packers’ UDFAs are making an impact; defense is on a nice roll

Krys Barnes’ emergence in recent weeks has been a reason for the Packers’ improvement on defense.

Carolina Panthers v Green Bay Packers Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

It’s not just one player — it’s never just one player. But the Green Bay Packers’ defense seems to have taken a significant turn for the better in recent weeks at the same time as the decision to move Krys Barnes to the middle linebacker position in place of Christian Kirksey.

Green Bay’s defense has quietly been good throughout the second half of the season, however, driven in no small part by improved safety play. Perhaps the players’ meeting with coordinator Mike Pettine, led by veteran Za’Darius Smith, really did play a major role in the team’s better results overall. Whatever the reason, Green Bay is now up to ninth in total yards allowed on defense and sits 15th in defensive DVOA, a ranking that should be plenty good enough for the team with the best offense in football to make a Super Bowl run.

For example, in 2019, the Chiefs finished the season 14th in DVOA, but their defense was playing its best football at the end of the season. We all saw how that turned out.

With the Packers finally getting some big contributions from some rookies — unheralded ones, at that — this team truly is a force to be reckoned with in January.

What You Might’ve Missed: Teamwork at its finest |
The Packers' interior line found ways to help their tackles against pass-rushers Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack on Sunday, while the defensive front -- Rashan Gary in particular -- stood out against the run.

Improving Packers' defense gets hot at the right time going into playoffs - ESPN
This is a formula for playoff success -- the 2010 Packers got hot late in the season, and it seems like the 2020 version is playing its best complementary football now as well.

Three undrafted free agents paying off | (subscription)
Krys Barnes, Henry Black, and Dominique Dafney are all playing key roles for the Packers down the stretch, contributing on defense, special teams, and offense respectively.

Packers Rookie Krys Barnes Emerges at Linebacker - Sports Illustrated
Barnes is probably the team's best rookie overall this year, recording tackles at a higher rate than even Blake Martinez did in recent years.

Multifaceted Dafney playing pivotal role in Pack's offense | Packer Report
Then there's Dafney, who only recently got a call-up to the active roster. He truly arrived on Sunday, with a touchdown reception followed immediately by a crushing hit on the ensuing kickoff return.

Court rules against man who sued city government over wrong directions - Focus Taiwan
Why did they rule against this man? He was late for his hearing. You guessed it -- he's blaming his tardiness on getting bad directions.