Game of the Week: Colts at Packers
Against the Baltimore Ravens, who lead the NFL in pass defense entering last week, Harrison absolutely owned cornerback
Last week's offensive showing is even more impressive when you consider things like
I don't expect either situation to be much of a problem against Green Bay. Addai looked like a no-go late in the week but he has a capable replacement in
The line was slightly less impressive on Sunday -- they allowed two sacks and on several occasions permitted interior defensive linemen to affect handoffs. But now they get a Packers team that entered the season unsure about its defensive linemen and that has lost a few key players in the six weeks since. After the Colts faced three of the top five run defense in five weeks, the Packers' 27th-ranked unit should be a nice reprieve.
Last week we saw the kind of swarming, helmet-on-the-ball defense that reminded me of the dominant '06 Bears, with Sanders' replacement,
The Colts sent some heavy pressure from a blitzing linebacker on the Ravens' third play, and
Baltimore had this to show for itself at the half: Eight drives that lasted three plays or fewer, three turnovers and 50 net yards. That shutdown defense translated to more opportunities for Indianapolis's offense, which put points on the board during four of its seven possessions.
Of course, that was all against the Ravens, who rank 25th in total offense. The week before the Colts barely contained the Texans by exploiting a glaring weakness: Houston has a league-worst turnover differential of minus-eight. So how will the Colts fare against a Packers offense that brings an infinitely greater long ball threat than Baltimore? I can tell you this much: They won't hold the Packers to three points.
The way I interpret this, Green Bay was already putting undersized defensive ends on the interior before injuries sprung up. Now they've got only a few big bodies and those beasts have to be spelled pretty often, which leaves Green Bay undersized far too frequently.
Even worse, the injuries have extended to the secondary, and now they've got reserve nickel and dime backs like
One reserve I do like is cornerback
I spent last Saturday afternoon tailgating before the Wisconsin-Penn State game in Madison and I engaged some Packers fans on the subject. They see it, too. It's the little things Favre did -- the things coaches would never teach you; in fact, coaches would probably teach you not to do these things -- that are so eerie. The shovel passes in traffic; the flick of the wrist jump-throws that actually aim downwards; the crazy play fakes. Against Atlanta, Rodgers faked a handoff up the middle, handed off to a receiver coming on a reverse and then mimed just about the silliest fake I've ever seen. It was sort of a jump hook basketball shot that had to have elicited a snicker from any linebacker who saw it. Classic Favre.
Back to my larger point. Rodgers moves the ball up and down the field just as efficiently as Favre ever did. He possesses a lethal deep ball (no other quarterback has completed more passes of 40 or more yards this season) and he moves the chains efficiently, as I well remember Favre doing. (In his most dominant years, Favre, it seemed, was always on the field.) Excluding a poor showing at Tampa Bay, when he was hurt, Rodgers has led 17 drives of 60 yards or more over a span of five games. And like Favre, he finishes strong, too. Of those 17 drives, every one resulted in a score, 11 of them touchdowns.
Rodgers's personnel are doing their best to extend the comparison. In
"The main things that is different about the Colts during the beginning of the season was
"The timing with Manning and the receivers has been off a little bit, too. When we played them it could have been a totally different game if some of those [incomplete] passes had been completed. Some of those passes just weren't where they usually are. For the most part, it was the timing. They just didn't hit the routes that Peyton and
"Besides Peyton maybe being a little bit rusty, the other guys were running good routes. Addai looked just as tough as [usual]. I don't think they're any less physical than they have been in the past. And they still do a great job of making all their plays look the same with their run game and the play-action game.
"Early in the season, they didn't have center
"What they're doing on the field is the same as what they've always done. It's just a matter of getting the right guys healthy again. Then that offense will click like it's always clicked. Every team that faced them in the first four or five weeks was facing that situation. Now, as they get healthier, you see the Indianapolis Colts. It's just a matter of time before they get their people back on the field and you got your hands full."
All things even, I'd lean towards the Pack playing at home and deeply needing to keep pace in the NFC North. With Green Bay's injuries outweighing Indy's, however,