5 Issues That the Packers Need to Address Before the Divisional Playoff Game

Alex MuellerContributor IIIDecember 26, 2011

5 Issues That the Packers Need to Address Before the Divisional Playoff Game

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    The Packers ensured that their road to Super Bowl XLVI will go through Lambeau Field by clinching the NFC's top seed Sunday night. However, there is no guarantee that the Packers will advance past the divisional round of the playoffs if they don't address some of the teams weaknesses as of late.

    This list will highlight the five biggest problems that the Packers need to fix in the next few weeks if they want to think about defending their Super Bowl title.   

Dropped Passes

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    Dropped passes are something that have affected the Packers all year, however they became more noticeable when they contributed to the first loss of the season. While Jermichael Finley has been the scapegoat, he is certainly not the only player having trouble catching the football. 

    The dropped passes are extremely irritating because catching the football is such a basic fundamental of the game. Aaron Rodgers usually puts the ball right on the money, but the drops still occur. 

    The Packers have such an explosive offense and receivers get open downfield in a hurry, which is why they are such a threat. However, they can't continue to drop the football, especially on crucial third down plays.

    The drops also damage momentum and rhythm that the offense has, and we saw that on the Packers second drive against the Bears.

    Come playoff time, the receivers really need to start capitalizing on these opportunities and take some pressure of Rodgers.

Run Game

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    While the Packers have been able to run the ball every once and a while, it really hasn't played a big part in the offense. Green Bay hasn't had a player rush for over 100 yards in a game this year, which is understandable with the carries being split. 

    That being said, the Packers need to find more consistency with the run game. In the playoffs last year, the emergence of a run game took the offense to a whole new level. They will need to do the same thing this year, especially since two of the games will be played non-favorable passing conditions.

    If the Packers can find early success on the ground, it will be easier to move the ball and sustain drives. More importantly, it will open up more opportunities for Rodgers and the passing game. 

Run Defense

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    The Packers run defense was flat out dominated by the Bears run game on Sunday night. The Packers looked physically outmatched, giving up nearly 200 yards to the third- and fourth-string running backs. For the second straight week, the Packers were killed off the line and continued to miss tackles.

    When the Packers can't allow the opponent to set the tone on the line of scrimmage and take control. When you give up an 8-yard run on first down, it becomes hard to make a stop and give the ball back to your offense.

    The Packers need to control the line of scrimmage, and put the opposing offense on the spot with long third downs. If they don't, playoff caliber teams have a field day and move the ball up and down the field.    

Pass Defense

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    It's already known that the Packers have the second worst pass defense in the league. This is very surprising because this was a top 5 pass defense last year, and is loaded with talent. Yet, game after game Green Bay gives up huge chunks of yardage through the air.

    A problem the Packers have had this year is getting to the quarterback. Last year, Green Bay was ranked second in the NFL in total quarterback sacks. This year they are ranked 27th. They need to put pressure on the opposing quarterback and make him feel uncomfortable. 

    Dom Capers has to find more ways to get Clay Matthews into the backfield. This should take alot of the pressure off the secondary and force some poor throws.

    The Packers can't continue to rely simply on turnovers; good football teams make few mistakes. If Drew Brees marches into Green Bay and the Packers continue to struggle against the pass, there will be a slim chance of a Super Bowl repeat.

Health

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    The Packers must take full advantage of the first-round bye and get healthy. While the injury bug has seemed rather gracious compared to last year, the team sustained a few big injuries over the last few games.

    The Packers need to get their offensive line back intact, and it appears as if both of the injured tackles will be back by then. With a healthy offensive line, Aaron Rodgers will have a lot of time to throw and it will be very hard to defend. The team should also make sure Greg Jennings is back at 100 percent.

    Finally, many defensive players have been playing through nagging injuries, and the week off should help them return to full strength.

    The Packers at full strength are a much better team than the beat-up Packer team we saw last week in Kansas City. While McCarthy will probably start most of his starters in week 17, I would expect them to see only limited action.