Jan 11, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) fumbles the ball as he is hit by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers (56) in the third quarter in the second half in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Cut the mistakes
This is something that Green Bay has already been able to do pretty well over the past handful of years: hold onto the ball.
Having a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers certainly helps; his affinity for not throwing interceptions — which usually account for more turnovers on a season than fumbles — keeps the ball with his team more than pretty much any out there.
Dec 28, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) fumbles the ball after a tackle by Detroit Lions safetyJames Ihedigbo
(32) in the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
That’s especially true this year, as the Packers led the league in turnover differential (+14). Unfortunately for them, Seattle is also pretty good in that area (+10), owing their total more to forced turnovers than a lower number of concessions on that end.
Another sign to worry about is that even though they did well during the regular season, all of a sudden Green Bay put the ball on the ground three times against Dallas.
Luckily they only lost one – and made up for it with a crucial force/recovery later on – but it was alarming to see.
Turnovers seem to have a habit of coming in bunches, which is exactly what you should be afraid of if your team is about to face a team that feasts on them like no other.
Green Bay will need to find a way to win in the turnover department, but it’ll take a combination of strategy and luck. Even with a seemingly strong strategy last time against Seattle, all it took was a tipped pass on a random play to give Seattle a turnover and the full-on advantage of the game.
I completely trust that Mike McCarthy and his assistants have been harping about turnovers all week, and I’m sure the players are well aware just how devastating one could be to their chances of an upset here.
Sep 4, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) forces a fumble by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. The fumbles was recovered by Green Bay in the end zone for a safety. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
This is where the big men come in.
The Packers’ offensive line may not be the league’s best, but it is right up there in terms of ability in both pass and run protection. If they can protect Aaron Rodgers for decent periods of time and be forceful in the run game, the odds of a turnover being forced drop dramatically.
It’s a good thing Coach McCarthy was right about these guys being the most talented lineman group he’s had in Green Bay; they’ll need every bit of that talent to hold their own in this matchup.
The opportunity is there for the taking, and their blocking is key.
Next: The YAC