The Green Bay Packers finally won a home playoff game, their first since 2008. They defeated the Minnesota Vikings and they’re now moving forward to the Divisional Round of the playoffs and will travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers.
That the Packers beat Minnesota should still be front of mind and reason to celebrate. I say “should” because while I believe in the “24 hour rule” (whereby you give yourself 24 hours to revel a win or wallow in a loss), for some reason I have already moved on and am thinking critically about next week’s game.
Since there is no NFC North Preview this week (and I am ecstatic about which team in the division is the only one left standing!), I’ll focus on an early look at the week ahead and what the win over Minnesota told us about what to expect.
One Big Positive
The Packers have found a running game. DuJuan Harris, who was claimed off waivers just a few weeks ago, has sparked the ground game and also added a valuable check down for Aaron Rodgers. Time and time again, Harris was not only a safety valve for Aaron Rodgers but the Packers got a ton of production from him in the passing game.
How scary is the thought that an already-potent Green Bay offense may also have a formidable screen game? Technically it’s part of the passing game but a well-timed screen can act just like a run. It draws in an active defense like San Francisco’s and can burn them if they over pursue.
Harris was arguably Green Bay’s MVP against the Vikings in the playoff game. He gets the tough yards after contact and has the ability to cut back and find holes in the run game. If head coach Mike McCarthy is going to go with the “hot hand” at running back, it’s Harris, hands down.
By the time a defense is worn down late in games, Ryan Grant is there to spell Harris. The run game is churning just as it did late in 2010, their last championship season. If San Francisco has to focus more on stopping the run, they may take their eye off the pass just long enough for Rodgers to make them pay for it.