McCarthy wants a peaking Packers heading into playoffsWisconsin Sports
--Unlike a year ago, Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy says he wants his team to be peaking as they head into the playoffs.
GREEN BAY - Unlike a year ago, Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy says he wants his team to be peaking as they head into the playoffs.
Last season, the Packers pretty much shut themselves down late in the regular season, despite going 15-and-1 – and the result was a flat performance in their only playoff game, a 37-20 second-round home loss to the New York Giants. This year, the Packers still have a lot to play for as the regular season winds down. If the Pack can win its final two games against Tennessee and Minnesota – and San Francisco loses one of its final two – Green Bay would move up to the No. 2 NFC playoff seed with a first-round bye.
But more importantly, McCarthy says he’s still worried about the health of the team, and how it’s playing in all facets of the game. The returns of Clay Matthews and Sam Shields have provided a big spark on defense – and the expected return of Charles Woodson could provide another boost to the Green Bay secondary. On offense, the running game has improved to the point in which Aaron Rodgers can throw behind the linebackers. The Green Bay rushers have racked up 110-or-more yards in four straight games, for the first time since 2006. But the Pack is still not the offensive juggernaut it was a year ago, when it led the league in points. This year, Green Bay is 13th in the NFL in scoring, and 17th in total offense.
The Tennessee Titans will try to play a spoiler’s role when they face the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday. The Titans knocked the New York Jets out of playoff contention with a 14-10 victory on Monday Night in Nashville. And a Titans’ victory on Sunday could derail the Packers’ hopes of moving into the second NFC playoff spot with a first-round bye. Chris Johnson ran for 122 yards against the Jets, including a 94-yard touchdown scamper. And the Pack will face another solid rookie quarterback in Jake Locker, who threw for 149 yards and ran for 43 more yards and a touchdown. Tennessee took advantage of four Jets’ turnovers, including a lost fumble in the final minute. The Titans overcame 14 penalties for 111 yards, as they improved to 5-9. The Jets’ had their slim playoffs hopes dashed as they fell to 6-8. The Packers are 10-4, and have clinched at least a home Wild Card game after winning the NFC North Division on Sunday.