8

January

Packers Stock Report: We Got a Bye Week After All Edition (with Podcast)

DuJuan Harris

Packers RB DuJuan Harris scores in the first quarter of Saturday night’s playoff games against the Vikings.

I was at Lambeau for the Packers  bye week   NFC wild-card round victory over the Vikings on Saturday night. I have a couple of questions:

1. Should we be excited about the defensive performance? Or chalk it up to playing against Joe Webb?

2. How awesome is Aaron Rodgers?

3. Will the Packers turn in one of their “we’re nobody’s underdogs” performances against the 49ers?

4. What should we do with people (and I was kind of one of them) who thought the Packers defense was better without Woodson?

5. Since when did the Packers replace the Lambeau PA announcer with a guy from the NBA? Too much screaming, too much nonsense. Packers fans are capable of getting loud without gimmicks.

Now I will attempt to answer my own questions:

1. Somewhat excited.

2. Very.

3. Yes.

4. Ban them from blogging.

5. I already kind of answered this one. On to the stock report:

Rising

Aaron Rodgers
How many other quarterbacks can make the throw where Rodgers rolled right and hit Jordy Nelson inside the 5-yard line? Very few, if any. Rodgers has been excellent the last two weeks. If he keeps it going against the 49ers, I like the Packers’ chances.

Clay Matthews
Every week, the size of Matthews’ new contract gets bigger and bigger. Matthews kept himself under control on Saturday and rarely got out of position while rushing Webb or trying to corral Adrian Peterson.  You know a player is on a roll when he gets blocked to the ground, but manages to get a sack anyway because the quarterback trips over his prone body.

DuJuan Harris
I thought Harris might have lost his hot-hand status after he dropped a third-down pass on the Packers’ first possession. But McCarthy stuck with the car salesman turned starting running back in the NFL playoffs and it paid off. Harris runs to daylight and doesn’t make it easy for the other team to prevent him from getting to that daylight. He’s an ideal back to run behind a more powerful line with Don Barclay and Evan Dietrich-Smith (although Dietrich-Smith graded out poorly according to Pro Football Focus).

Steady

6

January

Packers 24, Vikings 10: Wild Card Game Balls and Lame Calls

Clay Matthews

Clay Matthews and the defense stepped up big and the Packers are on their way to San Francisco.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” or so the saying goes, and the Green Bay Packers got their revenge against the Minnesota Vikings by winning their NFC Wild Card game 24-10 a week after the Vikings beat the Packers 37-34 which cost Green Bay a first round bye.

The Packers spotted the Vikings an early field goal as the Vikings marched down the field. Some fans began to experience a sense of déjà vu as the Packers went three and out on the following drive.  Thankfully that malaise didn’t last long as the Packers got into the end zone on the next drive and went up 7-3.

Green Bay never looked back as they got to Vikings quarterback Joe Webb and raced out to a 24-3 lead that held throughout most of the second half and gave up a touchdown pretty much in garbage time as the score settled to 24-10 as time expired.

Here are the good and the bad for the Packers in the victory that eliminated the Vikings.

Game Balls

LB Erik Walden

It was not even a week ago that the Packers allowed Adrian Peterson to run all over them, but the Packers put forth a much better effort Saturday and Walden was a big part of it.

Walden was credited with one sack and two tackles for a loss but he was constantly in Webb’s face and had one of his best games in a long time. Walden can be inconsistent but if he can warm up for this playoff run, then the Packers will have yet another weapon to go alongside Clay Matthews at the linebacker position.

He’ll have a tougher time against the 49ers but the game against the Vikings should be a big confidence booster for Walden.

RB DuJuan Harris

Harris’ emergence late this season has all but guaranteed him a roster spot going into training camp this summer, but Harris is now making a case to be the Packers starting running back and there’s really no reason he couldn’t be.

17

October

McCarthy: Packers Won’t Overlook Struggling Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers are just two years removed from playing a pair of games that essentially decided the NFC North in 2009, but the franchises couldn’t have veered in more different directions since then.

The Packers rebounded from two crippling losses to Brett Favre in ’09 to win the Super Bowl last season, and they’ve started 2011 with six straight victories. Green Bay is the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL and the odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl for the second consecutive season.

The Vikings, on the other hand, went through a circus year in 2010 which saw them stumble to a disappointing 6-10 record. Things haven’t gotten better this season under coach Leslie Frazier, as the Vikings are fresh off a 39-10 drubbing at the hands of the Chicago Bears which dropped them to 1-5.

But despite everything suggesting an easy path for Green Bay to get to 7-0 this week in Minnesota, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is standing firm that Sunday isn’t a game that his team will overlook on the schedule.

“We’re not overlooking the Minnesota Vikings, I can promise you that,” McCarthy said during his Monday press conference. “The Vikings are a different team in the Metrodome than they are on natural grass. Hard lesson this team has learned in years past.”

The Packers have won three of the past five games at the Metrodome, including a 31-3 win there last season. The two losses during that stretch came in ’09 when the Vikings beat the Packers, 30-23, on Monday Night Football, and in ’08, when Adrian Peterson’s late touchdown run gave the Vikings a 28-27 win.

The Vikings quarterback situation is as foggy this week as it was at times during the 2010 season, when Favre was hurt for most of the year. Minnesota has started 34-year-old Donovan McNabb, whom they traded for this past offseason, in each of the Vikings first six games. But he’s struggled mightily at times, and McNabb has just a 82.9 passer rating with four touchdowns so far in 2011. In the second half Sunday night, Frazier pulled McNabb in favor of rookie Christian Ponder, and the first rounder showed some poise behind the Vikings leaky offensive line. Ponder saw both his drives end with completions short of the sticks on fourth down, but he finished the night 9-of-17 for 99 yards and wasn’t sacked.