Packers must raise the bar

The Packers played an excellent game Sunday against the Seahawks, but just barely won. How then, does the Pack get by a menacing Eagles team? One way to raise the bar, writes's Laura Veras Marran, is to remember that Green means Go...

The good news about Sunday's win over the Seahawks is obvious: Green Bay advances to an NFC Divisional Playoff date in Philadelphia next weekend. The bad news is just as clear: Green Bay has some improvements to make if they want to keep dancing.

The Packers played a nearly flawless game, but still needed overtime at home to get by the Seahawks. Although Seattle is a formidable opponent, the Eagles are the best the NFC has to offer.

"It's good to get a little wake-up call, and win, and live to play another week," said quarterback Brett Favre, who knows a little bit about playoff-caliber football. "We could have lost this game. We played mistake-free football and barely won.

"We're not quite as good as maybe we think we are," Favre said. "We're pretty good, but it only gets tougher from here on."

What does Green Bay have to do to raise the bar? Not much more can be asked of Favre, who turned in yet another stellar, and mistake-free performance Sunday. Sure, there are little things, like receivers eschewing drops, improving the punting game which in turn will deny opponents the luxury of field position enjoyed by the Seahawks.

The biggest change to look for Sunday? Go with Green.

Ahman Green had just 66 yards of the Packers' lackluster 78 yards rushing against a Seattle team that was lukewarm against the run in the regular season (109.9 yards per game, 14th NFL). It wasn't the play calling that shorted the running game, it was a tough Seattle defensive front that reined in Green for a 2.9-yard average. In the regular season, Green's per carry average was nearly twice that – 5.3 yards per carry.

Green admitted the usually potent Packer ground game wasn't too tough for a seasoned coach (and Green's former boss) like Mike Holmgren to figure out.

"They knew our running plays. Our plays are not too dynamic, they're simple plays. Our plays, if you're there, you can stop it. If you got more guys than we can block, they're easy to stop, but if you over-pursue it could hurt you," Green said after the game Sunday. "But (Seattle) had the right amount of guys. They always have one or two guys that it seems I haven't seen on film yet. I'm pretty sure they always had an extra guy that I had to deal with or there's too many for the guard or the fullback coming through."

Will Philly figure it out? The Eagles ranked in the bottom third of the league (22nd) allowing 129.9 yards per game during the regular season. Green has to run early, often, and effectively.

"Coming into the postseason and the last four games of the season, I knew that defenses were going to start keying in on the run game, because that's something the NFL does all year long," Green said. "I'm prepared for eight, nine guys in the box...We might just take one yard per carry, but it's something they've got to know - that we're going to run the ball regardless of who's there and set up the passing game."

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