In back to back years the Packers have now opened up their season against two formidable NFC opponents. Last year it was the New Orleans Saints and their high octane offense. This year the Pack opens against a team on the other end of the spectrum, the San Francisco 49ers and their intimidating defense. Kick-off is 3:25 in the land of beer, brats and cheese. Here are some keys for the Pack coming out on top.
1. The offensive line- The 9ers have linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman who are tackling machines and aren’t afraid to lay some wood on people. They also have the relentless Justin Smith and the young pass rusher in Aldon Smith. These four guys can easily cause havoc for any team. It will be up to the five guys up front, the backs and tight ends to give Rodgers enough time to find his receivers.
2. Pass rush- San Fran was not known for making explosive plays last year, but add Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and LaMichael James and you have three guys who can really stretch defenses. Time for young guys like first round pick Nick Perry and second round pick Jerel Worthy to show why they were drafted. If the Pack can get pressure on Smith they should be able to shutdown the 49ers offense.
3. Young guys in the secondary- It seems like Jarrett Bush will be starting at right corner in the base…insert groans here. If/when he struggles young guys like Sam Shields who had an up and down camp and second round pick Casey Hayward could be called upon to help stop potential bleeding. Also when the Pack goes into nickel and dime formation will it be M.D. Jennings or the more physical Jerron McMillian?
4. Running game- San Francisco had the number one ranked rush defense last year and only allowed three touchdowns on the ground. Will recent acquisition Cedric Benson and Alex Green be able to rack up respectable yards on early downs to have manageable second and third downs. If the Pack can get tough yards out of their backs look for the play-action pass to be out in full force.
The road to SB 47 begins tomorrow! Be ready! Just like in my pick ’em I said Pack win 27-26.