Thank goodness the Packers won’t have to play any road playoff games
Some might argue that Green Bay just survived its toughest test yet by winning as the clock expired at MetLife Stadium. And considering that the Giants were desperate at home, that wouldn’t be an outlandish suggestion. It was obviously the closest the Packers have come to losing this year, but it wasn’t the first time this year that they’ve had to work a little harder than expected on the road.
This is a team that fell behind 13-0 in Carolina in Week 2, trailed the Vikings at halftime in Week 7 and barely hung on despite surrendering 38 points in San Diego in Week 9.
But they’ve survived, and now the tests are over. Their only remaining road game takes place in Kansas City, which shouldn’t be too challenging. In their other three remaining games, they host Oakland, Chicago and Detroit, all of whom have struggled lately, especially on the road.
At this point, it’s very difficult to imagine Green Bay not going 16-0. Beyond that, based on how great the offense has been at home, it’s also pretty hard to imagine a Super Bowl game in Indy on Feb. 5 that doesn’t have the Packers in it.
So 18-0 should happen. Then the question will become whether they follow the path of the 1972 Dolphins or the 2007 Patriots. If it’s the latter, this will all have been irrelevant to Aaron Rodgers and Co.
Making sense of Arizona 19, Dallas 13
The Cowboys obviously had no business losing in Glendale. They were more rested and they are significantly more talented.
But let’s not overreact.
First of all, this was not a trap game. The Cowboys beat an average Miami team last week and have a slumping Giants team on deck. They weren’t looking past the Cardinals. They remember what happened when they played the Cards at the very same site last December. For whatever reason, they’ve struggled to stop, of all people, Andre Roberts. And for whatever reason, Arizona has their number.
That marks the third straight time Arizona has beaten Dallas at home, all in the last four years.
Also in the Cards’ defense, they’re 16-12 at home dating back to the start of the 2008 season. Over that same span, Dallas is just 14-15 away from home. Even while they’ve struggled the last two years, the Cards are still 6-6 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
And that’s why this result shouldn’t surprise anyone (Dallas was only a 4.5-point favorite in Vegas). And that’s something that should provide some relief for Dallas fans. This loss wasn’t an omen that the team is about to suffer another December collapse. This loss was just another loss for a team that, let’s face it, might have been due for one.
Of course, that doesn’t mean a December collapse won’t still happen. And Jason Garrett’s terrible clock management late in regulation probably has fans fearing that they’re about to become snake bite victims yet again. I don’t blame them, but they should take solace in the fact that every other team in the mediocre NFC East lost this week.
49ers, Ravens benefit from rest
While the Cowboys didn’t take advantage of an extra three days to prepare for their next opponent after playing on Thanksgiving Day, the Ravens and 49ers were superb after receiving mini bye weeks.
In the other two late Sunday starts, Baltimore and San Francisco outscored their opponents 50-10 in easy victories against weak teams. Both defenses pitched shutouts in the first half.
Both teams did what they do best, with the Ravens making Colt McCoy’s life hell and the Niners shutting down Steven Jackson. The Rams managed just 157 total yards in San Fran; Cleveland had 233 against Baltimore.
Taking care of business against inferior teams in methodical fashion. That’s what good teams have to do in December. The Ravens had been struggling this season against weaker teams, while Niners fans were likely a little on edge after a tough outing in Baltimore last week. But on Sunday, both teams delivered statements with clean, efficient victories.