3. The defense is improving
If there’s one concern for this Packers team, it’s the defense. However, there have been some improvements on this side of the ball in recent weeks.
In particular, the pass rush has started to show some of last season’s form. The group combined for seven sacks and 12 quarterback hits last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, and three sacks with seven quarterback hits the week prior against the Chicago Bears.
With Jaire Alexander having an All-Pro season and the pass rush heating up, this defense is trending in the right direction. Darnell Savage has also taken a big step forward in recent weeks and the turnovers are coming with three interceptions in the past two games. Hopefully his groin injury isn’t serious; he’s questionable for Week 14.
Stopping the run is the biggest issue. While Green Bay does rank 11th in rushing yards allowed, in many games the offense has built a big lead and forced opponents to abandon the ground game. While this is possible in the playoffs, it shouldn’t be the expectation all that often.
However, the Packers held Miles Sanders to 30 yards on 10 carries last week. That’s encouraging.
The run defense just has to be OK. The Kansas City Chiefs ranked 26th in rushing defense last season but won the Super Bowl. The Packers can’t allow 285 yards and four touchdowns on the ground like in the NFC title game last year. But they also don’t need to be dominant in run defense.
The defense needs to be OK, not necessarily great. Come up with takeaways and allow the offense to win the game. In recent weeks, Mike Pettine’s defense has shown signs of that.