3 Things We Learned from Green Bay Packers' Blowout Loss to the Giants
While the Packers are a talented team and control their own postseason destiny at this point, closing the season with four divisional games—starting next week with a home tilt against the Minnesota Vikings—will either make or break Green Bay's 2012 season. They also have a home contest with the Tennessee Titans thrown into the mix.
What we saw during the loss to the Giants will have a huge impact on how the Packers finish out this season.
Here are three things we learned on Sunday night.
Injuries Are Hurting this Team
From the receiving corps to the offensive line, it seems the Green Bay Packers are suffering an injury to a key player from each position group.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings hasn't played since Week 4, though seems to be close to a return. Other key inactives during Sunday's loss included linebacker Clay Matthews, and defensive backs Charles Woodson and Sam Shields.
Defensive tackle B.J. Raji and wide receiver Jordy Nelson have also missed time nursing injuries.
The Packers offensive line has also been forced into a tough spot primarily due to a season-ending hip injury to tackle Bryan Bulaga.
Protecting the quarterback of a team that relies heavily on the pass is imperative. And without arguably his best target in Jennings, Aaron Rodgers has found himself shouldering much of the load this season.
Though Rodgers is one of the best in the league, no quarterback should be asked to lead his team under these circumstances.
Lack of Running Game Will Prevent Deep Playoff Run
The Green Bay Packers entered Sunday night as the league's 24th-ranked rushing attack with just under 100 yards per game. Though they were able to tally 116 yards on the Giants defense, 34 of those yards came on quarterback Aaron Rodgers escaping a crumbling pocket and on a run by wide receiver Randall Cobb.
While the Packers will find most of their success through the air—and rightfully so with Rodgers and all of his receiving targets—a viable running game is imperative for this team to execute its game plan.
Not having starter Cedric Benson has certainly prevented Green Bay from establishing a consistent ground attack, but he wasn't going to be asked to do too much out of the backfield anyway.
All the Packers need is an average ground game for Rodgers to maximize his ability to move the ball down the field. Unless Green Bay finds a more balanced offense, don't expect a deep playoff—assuming this team makes it.
Next Week's Game with the Minnesota Vikings Is Now a Must-Win
The Green Bay Packers took a five-game winning streak into New York against the Giants on Sunday night. Falling to 7-4 after the loss, this team suddenly finds itself in a must-win situation with next week's home tilt with the Minnesota Vikings (6-5).
While the Packers control their own postseason destiny, a loss next week would tighten things up in the NFC.
After next week's matchup with the Vikings, the Packers have a home game with the Detroit Lions, followed by a road contest with the Chicago Bears, a home game with the Tennessee Titans and they close out the season on the road with the Vikings again.
While they should be favored in all but the Bears game, the Packers could easily find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture very soon.
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