After an impressive 15-1 regular season in 2011, Green Bay is looking to amend their 37-20 playoff loss to the New York Giants.
The Green Bay Packers are living proof that it's never easy to repeat as Super Bowl champions. The most improbable teams at the most improbable times make a run unexpectedly. It seems as if teams who dominate the regular season rarely win the Super Bowl. Which begs the question: Is it better to lose a few games here and there?
I'm sure the Patriots wouldn't have minded losing a couple games in 2007. Their only loss of the season couldn't have happened at a worse time. A 12-4 or 13-3 mark as teams head into the playoffs seems to be the magic number. Any fewer wins and you risk not getting into the playoffs at all, and any more suggest you coasted through the regular season.
However, the Packers shouldn't have to worry about finishing 15-1 in 2012, as their regular-season schedule figures to pose more problems than last year's. Not to mention starting the season against the San Francisco 49ers could net Green Bay their first loss after only one week.
Let's take a look at how the Packers should attack San Francisco's swarming defense so they can avoid a Week 1 letdown at Lambeau.
Spread the 49ers Out
Aaron Rodgers and the boys are most dominate when they run a wide-open spread offense out of the shotgun, so why would they do anything different against the 49ers? Outside of Carlos Rogers and Terrell Brown, San Fran gets awful thin when in their dime and nickel packages.
Tramaine Brock had a preseason to forget after getting torched by Lester Jean and Eric Decker. The preseason torching led him to the No. 5 spot on the depth chart after being passed by Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver.
Cox is coming off of a one-year hiatus because of off-the-field legal problems. The one-year layoff hasn't seemed to affect his play, but he was squaring off against mostly second- and third-team wide receivers during the preseason.
With Green Bay being so deep at wideout, James Jones and Donald Driver should have a field day. Rodgers is great at getting everyone involved in the passing game, so I could easily see him having a huge day through the air. It's no secret they won't find much success on the ground.
Attack Anthony Davis
Just a couple of days ago, I wrote an article about how right tackle Anthony Davis needs to step his game up in a big, big way. Davis has struggled to become an impact pass-blocker at the next level. At Rutgers, Davis could get away with improper technique, as he overpowered most of the competition, but poor technique won't get you far in the NFL. Everyone is too strong.
Even though improvement has occurred in his young career, that next step needs to be taken in 2012. The last time these two teams met he struggled against the pass, allowing one sack and one quarterback hurry.
Taking on Clay Matthews is never an easy task, which is why I expect the Packers to attack Davis with Matthews off the edge.
Hopefully, newcomer Nick Perry's presence will eliminate teams from double-teaming No. 52. Matthews' athleticism and speed will prove to be too much, as I see him blowing by Davis for a couple of sacks and multiple hurries.
As much as I love the 49ers' makeup, I still can't pick them to beat the Packers. Green Bay has way too much firepower on offense, and playing at Lambeau is always an advantage for the hometown cheeseheads.
Overall, the outcome will be much closer than in 2010. The 49ers are a totally different team under Jim Harbaugh, and Alex Smith is starting at quarterback. For those who don't remember 2010, Mike Singletary thought it would be smart to start the inept Troy Smith. To no one's surprise, things didn't go as planned and San Francisco was dropped, 34-16.
The game will be tight, but I expect the Packers to return to Super Bowl form in 2012. And there's nothing like starting the season off on the right note.