2019 NFC Championship Preview: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers

There is a tremendous amount of shared history between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. Of course there is a tremendous amount of history dating back to the Bill Walsh coaching tree bearing fruit with Mike Holmgren heading to win in Lambeau to Steve Mariucci leaving Green Bay and coahing by the bay. Well this generation has Packers Head Coach Matt Lafleur having coached with Kyle Shanahan over the last 8 years.

Both Coaches are making their 1st appearance in a championship game and there are several questions:

  • Which coach will abandon the run first?
  • Which coach has self scouted their tendencies and know when and how to break them?

All year long the 49ers have boasted one of if not the best front 7 in all of football. With the return of Kwon Alexander, last week San Fran returned to the emotion & speed they played with earlier in the season.

Dee Ford has come back from injury and with NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa (9 sacks) and Arik Armstead (10 sacks) have their complete package of pass rushers to get after Aaron Rodgers.

The unsung hero on the defense this year in The Chancellor’s eyes is Fred Warner. He’s made several splash plays this year (118 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 int & 3 forced fumbles) has become the Novorro Bowman of this incarnation of a Niner championship defense. Warner & Alexander will eat up the intermediate throws if the Packers can’t establish the run. Which is the key to this game…

Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones runs during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

The Packers have to take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hand and feed Aaron Jones. They can’t get impatient and sit in shotgun and throw the football 30 plus times or they’re traveling back to Lambeau a loser. Surprisingly this is a weakness on an otherwise rugged #2 ranked defense. San Fran ranks 17th against the run but will LaFleur stay with it long enough??

In the last 5 games Green Bay has rushed the football more than 30 times, including 3 in the last 5 games. Even in last week’s playoff game when the run didn’t produce splash plays, they kept feeding Jones the football. His 21 carries for 62 yards allowed them to keep the ball out of Russell Wilson’s hands just enough in a 28-23 win. However on the road it’s real easy for a young coach to try to show his genius and throw the football more than he should.

The problem is the 3 headed monster in San Francisco with Tevin Coleman (544 yds) Raheem Mostert (772 yds) & Matt Breida (623 yds) has shown the penchaant to stay with the run. Last week they ran it 43 times and wore Minnesota down. Green Bay is 18th in defense 23rd against the run and tied for 24th allowing 4.7 yards per carry.

To win this game Green Bay needs to force several turnovers to steal the momentum. One of the problems is they haven’t forced any opponent with a winning record into just 2 in any game this season. In fact they haven’t forced more than 2 since they saw Mitch Trubisky (3) on December 15. Can they force Jimmy G into turning it over?? He has the most interceptions thrown of all QBs in the playoffs.

However we can’t bank on that… San Francisco wins 38-17 and make the trek to Miami for Super Bowl LIV.

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

Early Moment of Truth: Buccaneers v. Cardinals

For every championship football team, there are signature wins where one must prove to themselves they are among the league’s elite by beating a quality opponent. Another psychological building block on the way to the playoffs or a championship season is to conquer a desperate quality team that knows you’re coming. Such will be the case Sunday when the 1-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to an 0-1 Arizona Cardinals team that has Super Bowl aspirations.

David is swallowing intermediate receivers and runners coming into his area.

David is swallowing intermediate receivers and runners coming into his area.

Last year Tampa finished with a top ten defense which figures to be one again this year. Leading the way is a linebacking corps where Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander might be the best set of linebackers in the NFL. These two combined for 251 total tackles, 6 sacks, 5 interceptions returning 1 for a touchdown. Alexander is off to a torrid start with a 17 tackle 1 sack performance in a week 1 win over Atlanta. This is going to be his breakout year where he will join David in the Pro Bowl and is an early favorite for Taylor Blitz Times Defensive Player of the Year.

This is the breakout year for Kwon Alexander.The Cardinals live and die on the intermediate routes of Larry Fitzgerald, RB David Johnson as Carson Palmer works the crossing routes underneath 15 yards over the middle.  They have to establish the run to suck these athletic linebackers up and clear those areas.

Last week the Cardinals were able to establish the run early but when G Evan Mathis left the game with a foot injury they lost offensive continuity. He will be back this week and has to deal with Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy in Tampa’s defensive line rotation.

johnsonAfter a lackluster postseason Carson Palmer had a good game in the opener against the Patriots. They can’t get off to the slow start they did when they lost to New England. It took the ball out of David Johnson’s hands and half the Cardinal playbook was moot when they fell behind 10 Sunday Night. Inevitably Johnson wound up with 92 yards on 16 carries in the game but they need to get him running right at Tampa’s defense and keep Jameis Winston on the sideline. His bruising style can wear down the Bucs athletic defense and open up passing routes later in the game.

This could be the coming out party for Jameis Winston as he has the chance to pull off a second straight upset and establish the Bucs as a team to be reckoned with if they go 2-0. Last week he outplayed Matt Ryan throwing for 281 yards and 4 touchdowns while completing 71.9% of his throws. He had more TD passes (4) than incompletions (3). As long as he is supplemented by Taylor Blitz Times favorite Doug Martin, he will throw against a balanced defense that will resort to blitzing if they can’t get to him.

The strongest suit for the Cardinals is to lean on their passing game late. If they come out and fast break they allow the Bucs defense to clog the passing lanes and force turnovers and 3 and out series. The Cardinals need to have the “Red Sea” make noise and help make it uncomfortable for Winston.

Who will win this game?

Don’t forget these two teams were picked to be the NFC Wildcards in Taylor Blitz Times NFC preview. Arizona Head Coach Bruce Arians likes to show off his passing attack and will play right into the hands of this Buccaneer defense. The Cardinals won’t stay with the running game long enough to sustain offense early. Winston and his tall receivers will expose the surprising Achille’s Heel of the defense and that is their secondary.

Tampa wins this one in an upset and establish who they are in 2016 with a 34-24 win…