Conference Championship time again! One last day of playoff football before setting off into the bleak and desolate two week period leading up to the Super Bowl; but before we move on to the drek of feel good stories about some guy who, despite growing up in abject poverty, losing his dog when he was eight years old because the family had no choice but to make stew out of it, spent his entire life being told he was too small to play in the NFL, yada, yada…he persevered to experience his dream by securing a spot on one teams roster as the third string long snapper and free kick gunner…let’s find out what it will take for the ‘road dogs’ to win this weekend.
The Packers come into this weekend with, in my opinion, the best chance to post the upset. Why? Simple…they have Aaron Rodgers; even if he is still a bit gimpy from the strained calf, so what? This is Aaron Freaking Rodgers, man! Nonetheless, the Pack are going up against one tough defense in an extremely hostile environment this Sunday. Rodgers or not, Seattle is the real deal. To win, Mike McCarthy is going to have to have the right game plan, executed to near perfection, if he has any hope of taking his team to Glendale in two weeks…come to think of it, he’ll probably be there either way; I mean, who in the hell wants to go back to Green Bay in January if you don’t have to? Anyway, here the Clown’s take on what Rodgers & Co. need to do to leave the CLink with a ‘W’
Protect Aaron Rodgers.
I know, this is pretty obvious…real genius observation there, clown. Hold on a minute, hear me out; two teams made it to this weekend with absolutely putrid offensive line play this year: Seattle and Indy, so it is possible to play championship football while hanging your QB out to dry like a soiled set of sheets on a breezy day…that is if you have Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson. You can even do it somewhat if you have a healthy Rodgers. The problem is, they don’t. Rodgers is playing a little bit hobbled, so even though we have seen that Rodgers is capable of moving around in the pocket on a pogo stick (right, Dallas?), how about we not try to do that against a real defense, humh? Seattle needs to be able to put constant pressure on the QB with their front four in order for that secondary to work the way it should…neutralize this pass rush and Seattle will have no choice but to start blitzing…which means man coverage on someone…most likely with Richard Sherman. Crazy? Yeah, like a fox. More on this in a minute.
Run the ball.
Eddie Lacy is a hammer. Hammers were made for pounding. Pound that freaking front seven of Seattle…pound them mercilessly, pound them into submission. Pete Carroll will eventually have no choice but to bring Kam Chancellor down into the box to impose his will on that running game; that’s going to leave little help over the top…I guarantee that they’ll shade Earl Bennet to help out on the side opposite Sherman.
If Green Bay has executed these two items flawlessly, that’s going to lead to the final piece of the diabolical plan to unseat the reigning World Champions and silence Richard Sherman’s bloviating self-promotion in one fell swoop…and here it is.
Attack Richard Sherman with Randall Cobb and Davante Adams.
Richard Sherman is a great corner, no doubt about it, but he also has a tendency to struggle with receivers who are quick and shifty off the line. Don’t believe me? Go watch this. Why was Sherman playing T.Y. Hilton so soft? Here’s why. Hilton’s not the first receiver to do this to Sherman and he won’t be the last…Cobb and Adams can do it, too.
Shut up the jackwagon, er, I mean Seattle crowd.
Okay, this is impossible…you can never shut up a Seattle fan. They’re invulnerable to logic and reality, so there’s no way to shut them up, but, you can neutralize the noise. Green Bay will have to come out with some system of visual cues to communicate at the line.
Indy has the tallest task ahead of them; I thoroughly despise the Patriots, but I have to give them their due…they are good, especially in Foxboro. That being said, the Colts can absolutely beat New England this Sunday, and here’s how they do it.
Stop the run.
Simply put, Indy doesn’t leave Foxboro alive if they let New England’s pathetic stable of running backs romp all over them like they did in week 11 and last year’s Divisional round…no way in hell. The Colts front seven are going to have to play solid fundamental defense to stop the run; they can’t afford any sloppy tackling this weekend or it’s “wait ‘til next year” time. D’Qwell Jackson, this is why you got paid by Mr. Irsay…earn your keep.
Clamp down on Gronk.
I don’t like Rob Gronkowski…he strikes me as a self-absorbed meathead, but, the guy is an absolute force of nature on the field and there is no way you take him out of the game with any single player the Colts have on defense. If the Colts want to have any chance of winning, they’re going to have to bracket Gronk over and under with a safety and linebacker, most likely Landry and Freeman. If you watch New England, they love to run Gronk up the seam until they get into the Red Zone, if he’s effectively defended in this fashion, you take away the passing lane underneath, but leave someone there to stop the run after the catch if Brady is able to thread it in. It’s a long shot, but it’s all the Colts have.
Collapse the pocket from the middle and hit Brady.
We all saw it in the Baltimore game…you hit Brady and he starts crying like a little girl; he always has. The Colts don’t have to make Brady run for his life all day, but they need to get pressure on him; the best way to do that is to collapse the pocket right up the middle. I don’t care what QB it is, you prevent them from stepping up into a clean pocket to throw the ball, they’re going to get sloppy and throw bad passes. If the Colts do this, they’ll send Brady crying in tears to the waiting arms of Giselle for comfort and consolation. Wait…
The last thing Indy needs is for Luck to be running around the pocket trying to make something happen against an opportunistic defense like New England…that’s a recipe for disaster. Luck can’t be throwing picks in this game; if he does, Indy’s dead.
Don’t even pretend you have a running game.
Simple fact…Indy can’t run the ball…in the traditional sense. Boom Herron only averaged around 2.5 yards per carry last week against Denver, but, when you factor in those little dump off passes and shallow crossing routes in, that average goes up over 4.5 yards per touch. That is Indy’s running game…c’mon, Pep, embrace it, you are who you are; it’s a lot easier to look in the mirror if you have a Lamar Hunt trophy to show for it.
Revis can’t cover everybody.
I fully expect the Patriots to take away T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne; fine, that still leaves Fleener, Allen, Nicks and Moncrief. They’ll either put Revis on Reggie and double team T.Y. or vice-versa, but the Colts have a lot more weapons at their disposal. If the Colts want to come away with the win, Nicks, Moncrief and Fleener / Allen are going to have to come up big.
So there you have it. The formula for the underdogs to advance to the Super Bowl…all wrapped up in a tidy little package. When we have a Green Bay vs. Indianapolis Super Bowl in two weeks, both franchises can feel free to contact me so I can tell them where to send the checks.