With the Green Bay Packers headed to Texas on Sunday to take on the Dallas Cowboys, it's time to talk to the enemy. We sent five questions over to Acme Packing Company, SB Nation's Packers blog, and got back five good answers.
Blogging The Boys: So, your thoughts on Aaron Rodgers playing. Will he, won't he, should he?
Acme Packing Company: The decision on Aaron Rodgers' collarbone is now purely a medical decision, meaning that it's entirely out of the hands of the player and coaching staff. Historically, the Packers' doctors have aired on the conservative side, especially when it comes to the team's most important players. What's unknown at this point is whether Rodgers' shoulder will be scanned again before Sunday's game. If it is and the results are positive, then he should play. However, even Rodgers himself wasn't sure whether the team has scheduled another scan for him prior to Sunday's game. My best guess at this point is Rodgers doesn't play, but I really have no idea.
BTB: Eddie Lacy has given the Packers a running game. Talk about his play and what kind of back he is. Also, how is his ankle?
APC: In less than one season in Green Bay, Eddie Lacy has established himself as the Packers' best running back since Ahman Green's heyday. Lacy possesses a punishing running style that has been particularly effective as the weather has turned colder. There's more to his game than power, though, as he's demonstrated patience, excellent quickness, and surprisingly strong footwork, allowing him to turn gains out of losses. His only weakness has been staying on the field, a problem that has plagued Lacy since his days in Alabama. Since being drafted, Lacy has missed time with a hamstring, concussion, sore ribs, asthma, and now an ankle injury.
As for his availability this week, it appears that Lacy avoided the dreaded high-ankle sprain. The coaches planned to hold him out until Friday, which suggests that if he practices at all, he should be a go for the Cowboys game.
BTB: With the backup QBs playing, how has that changed how opposing defenses play the Packers offense?
APC: Since Rodgers went down, opposing defenses have done exactly what you'd expect: drop a safety into the box. The reason is fairly obvious; the Packers' backup quarterbacks have overall struggled to consistently create in the passing game while Lacy is the team's best offensive player still standing. The offense looked better last week, but that's largely due to the inability of the Falcons to stop anyone.
BTB: It's been a down year for the defense, what has been the problem? Injuries? Personnel?
APC: At no point this season has the Packers' defense had all of its preferred starters on the field at the same time. Early in the year, cornerback Casey Hayward was sidelined with a hamstring pull. Safety Morgan Burnett also missed the first quarter of the season with a similar injury. When they finally returned (and before Hayward was subsequently placed on the IR), linebackers Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Mike Neal were all banged up or unavailable for large stretches. On top of that, only A.J. Hawk has managed to stay healthy at inside linebacker, and there have been plenty of injuries along the defensive line. While all teams face these issues from time to time, no team in the NFL has dealt with as many devastating injuries as Green Bay. Understandably, their performance has suffered.
BTB: What do you think are the realistic chances that the Packers make the playoffs this year?
APC: While it's not mathematically required, the only plausible way the Packers can make the postseason is to win out and hope for the Lions to drop a game. That obviously would involve winning in Dallas this Sunday. Even if we assume Aaron Rodgers will play, a win for Green Bay is a tall order. For all of the mistakes the Cowboys have made this year, they've played very well at home. More to the point, the Packers have historically struggled to beat the Cowboys in Dallas. Because I don't expect Green Bay to win this weekend, it follows that I don't believe they are playoff bound this year.
Thanks to Acme Packing Company for dropping some knowledge on us.