Packers vs. 49'ers Forecast
The Packers begin their 2012 season against the 49'ers Sunday afternoon and it'll be an acid test for both teams. Of course Green Bay is coming off its15-1 campaign while San Fran came out of nowhere to go 13-3, making it all the way to overtime of the NFC Championship Game before falling to the Giants. Both clubs have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations and if you like games where a victory won't come cheap, this should be it.
Potential Turning Points. (From a Packer Perspective Naturally.)
-Hanging on to the football. Any old kind of a turnover can be costly, but I'm referring specifically to fumbles. Last season the Niners recovered 15 fumbles, which tied for the league lead. No accident, their tackles are of the "collision" variety and they're usually group efforts. Their defense is very capable of knocking the ball out and ball security is a must.
-Holding the fort vs. double team blocks. San Francisco will pound the ball on the ground and it will do so with "power" plays. Power plays involve a double team at the point of attack. The Packers defensive linemen will have to hold their ground despite being outnumbered. The key is to keep the pads low and turn the hip into the 2nd blocker. It gives the defender leverage and it eliminates blocking surface for the offensive linemen. If executed properly, the defender, despite the double team, maintains the line of scrimmage and doesn't get driven back into the laps of the linebackers. That's when trouble starts.
-Don't get out-worked by DRE Justin Smith. He's the best player on a good defensive line and a non-stop motor is one of the reasons why. Most of the time, he'll be responsibility of either Marshall Newhouse and T.J. Lang. They'll have to be at the top of their respective games, because Smith is always at the top of his. He's particularly adept at running stunts with Aldon Smith. (14 sacks as a rookie last season.) The secret to Smith's (Justin) success...he cheats and holds on to the offensive guard, not allowing him to switch and block the other Smith.
-Don't fall asleep on Randy Moss. He was brought to the Bay for one reason and that's to provide a deep threat. One of the biggest head-scratchers in football is when everyone knows a particular player is really good at something, and then he's allowed to go ahead and do it. If they're going to beat you with Moss, make them do it 8-9 yards at a time.
-Solid play at right cornerback. It looks like Jarrett Bush will get the start in the Packers base 3-4 but Sam Shields is likely to get plenty of playing time in the "sub" packages. With Tramon Williams playing back to his 2010 Pro Bowl form, whoever's on the other side is going to get tested. Passing said test will up the Packers' chances for victory considerably.
We'll be back with a game review on Monday, after yours truly has had a chance to check out the film. Have a good weekend.