Packers Morning Buzz: Green Bay's path to NFC's top seed becomes more clear
Welcome to your Morning Buzz, rounding up news and views regarding the Green Bay Packers from around the web and here at PackersNews.com.
We'll start with the Packers getting a huge gift from the Arizona Cardinals, who upset the host Seattle Seahawks 27-13 on Sunday to enhance Green Bay's chances of earning the NFC's No. 1 seed. If the Packers (11-3) beat Minnesota and Detroit in their final two games and the Seahawks (who fell to 11-4) win at home over the San Francisco 49ers (12-3) next Sunday, the Packers will clinch the top seed even if the New Orleans Saints (12-3) win at Carolina (due to a better conference record).
If the Packers lose to the Vikings (10-4) on Monday night, they can still clinch the NFC North title and no worse than the No. 3 seed by winning their regular-season finale against the lowly Lions (3-11-1).
Here's a look at the entire NFL postseason picture:
The Seahawks, who previously had lost running back Rashaad Penny to a torn ACL, lost running backs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise for the season to injuries, as well as their left tackle:
Former Packers quarterback Brett Hundley was understandably jubilant after replacing an injured Kyle Murray and finishing out the Cardinals' upset of the Seahawks:
Tom Silverstein looks at Aaron Rodgers' recent struggles in domed stadiums as part of his "5 things to watch" for the Packers' game Monday night at Minnesota.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers used to feel right at home playing indoors, but of late his record in domes has taken a dive. Including playoffs, Rodgers is 20-19 overall indoors but over his last nine games he is just 3-6. Three of those losses were inside U.S. Bank Stadium, including the 2017 game in which he broke his right collarbone. In regular-season games, Rodgers has completed 705 of 1,051 passes for 8,707 yards and 68 touchdowns with 13 interceptions (108.9 rating) in domes. He has been sacked 96 times. One aspect at which Rodgers excels inside is dealing with crowd noise. He has mastered the silent count and giving hand signals to his receivers and coach Matt LaFleur has not changed a thing. “Typically, you don’t want to mess with what the players are doing, what they’re comfortable with in that regard,” LaFleur said. “If you have something to add to it, great. But they’ve been doing it here for a long time at a really high level.”
You can read the rest of Silverstein's keys to the game, plus our staff predictions, here:
Pete Dougherty explores how the Vikings' defense excels at picking up opposing team's line calls and how the Packers' offense must avoid tipping its hand:
The Packers' uncanny good fortune regarding injuries (both their own and their opponents') continues:
Jim Owczarski looks at how Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander is using footwork and patience to become a rising star:
The Packers' defense will be looking to make Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins uncomfortable, writes NFL.com's Tom Pelissero:
Kirk Cousins had one of the roughest days of his impressive season against the Packers back in Week 2, completing just 14 of 32 passes with a touchdown toss and two interceptions in a game where the Vikings fell behind 21-0 en route to a 21-16 loss.
So how does the Green Bay defense disrupt the rhythm Cousins has found in virtually every game since in Monday night's rematch, when the NFC North will be on the line?
"Affect him," Packers OLB Za'Darius Smith told me Thursday, "as far as getting him out the pocket, moving him around, getting pressure, getting hits. If he can't see his first read, hopefully we can get there as pass rushers."
The remodeled Packers defense also has improved since that early season matchup. During their current three-game winning streak, they're allowing just 13.7 points per game and now rank ninth in scoring defense.
You can read of NFL.com's Reporters' Notebook here:
The spotlight on Cousins will be intense:
ICYMI, Silverstein and Owczarski preview what to watch for in Packers-Vikings in their Green 19 podcast:
Jason Wilde writes about the mutual admiration between Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer:
Former Packers receiver James Jones analyzes the Monday night matchup in Minnesota. Spoiler alert: He likes Green Bay:
A real feather in the cap for Elgton Jenkins:
Once again with a Packers selection to the NFL's All-Time Team, there's no surprise here:
And finally: Packers guard Billy Turner doing good work off the field:
Contact Stu Courtney at (920) 431-8377 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stucourt