The Packers’ strong season will continue into the bye week. After a lackluster performance in Los Angeles in week nine, the Packers rebounded in a strong way to defeat the Carolina Panthers 24-16 at a snowy Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers was far from perfect as he missed throws he would ordinarily make 100 percent of the time and only finished with with 233 yards on 17 completions and no touchdowns. But it didn’t matter. Running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams combined for 156 yards on the ground and three scores (all by Jones). There was a time not so long ago where a game in which Rodgers didn’t find the endzone would certainly end in defeat for Green Bay. Now, with a dynamic running game, Matt LaFleur’s offense has proven time and time again that it is balanced and not afraid to stick with the run. That’s not to say the receiving game struggled, however. Davante Adams topped 100 yards and Allen Lazard continued to make plays, furthering the narrative that he just may be a diamond in the rough.
Defensively, the Packers struggled early on with giving up big plays, as they have all season. But in the end, the held MVP-candidate Christian McCaffrey to 141 scrimmage yards, which I consider a win given that he has averaged over 150 per game this year. McCaffrey also didn’t have a run or reception go for more than 20 yards. We knew McCaffrey was going to get his, and he did, but he didn’t kill the Packers. Quarterback Kyle Allen’s yardage total of 307 looks impressive, and he certainly held his own, but he was under duress much of the game and he, too, didn’t do anything to put the Green Bay defense away. Preston Smith continued his torrid 2019 campaign and tallied two sacks to bring his season total to a career high 10. Allen was hit a nine times.
Cornerback Kevin King led the team with nine tackles and played (mostly) well in coverage again, as his 2019 season continues to be impressive. Jaire Alexander, who looked like an All-Pro in the first quarter of the season, dropped a likely-game-winning interception, but he played well in coverage and didn’t get burned, something he had struggled with in recent weeks. When King and Alexander are at their best, the Packers have one of the best cornerback tandems in the league. The Packers defense was also able to take the ball away, something they couldn’t do against the Chargers. Ibraheim Campbell forced a fumble and Tramon Williams intercepted a pass tipped by Adrian Amos.
Going forward, the Packers know their next matchup with be a tough one. The San Francisco 49ers remain the only unbeaten team in the league, pending their outcome against Seattle in week ten’s edition of Monday Night Football. Some may not be buying Jimmy Garoppolo and Tevin Coleman yet, but there is no denying the eliteness of the Niners’ defense. Nick Bosa is surely a superstar in the making, DeForest Buckner continues to prove he is one of the best interior lineman in the game, Arik Armstead has been an out-of-nowhere bright spot, and Richard Sherman is showing flashes of his Legion-of-Boom-heyday-self.
When the Packers travel to Santa Clara in two weeks, we may see the best game of the season and, perhaps, a preview of the NFC Championship Game. One thing is for certain: the week 12 matchup will go a long way towards deciding playoff seeding in January.