There's no such thing as the perfect NFL team, not unless you're the 1972 Miami Dolphins. And seeing as that undefeated feat with a Super Bowl victory hasn't been achieved since, it stands to reason even a dominant team like the 2020 Green Bay Packers could use a tweak here and there as they try to punch their ticket to Tampa, Florida. To do so, Aaron Rodgers will now have to go through the team based in that very city, with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on the way to Lambeau Field for the NFC title game. That won't be an easy out, to say the least, and assuming the Packers do find a way to best Brady and Co. -- a match with one of the two most prolific offenses in the AFC will await them in Super Bowl LV.
Rodgers is operating at an MVP-caliber level and will likely take home the honor when it's all said and done, but the Packers need to fine tune a few things before the Buccaneers arrive. It won't be an easy go for Tampa Bay either, mind you, because they have their own knobs to turn, but this article is about how the Packers can win the Super Bowl; it's not about the Buccaneers, the Buffalo Bills or the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs.
And, with that, let's discuss how The Cheese can avoid being Swiss.
1. Return Policy
Green Bay is a well-oiled machine in many ways, but certainly not on special teams.
To put it plainly, the club has one of the worst return units in professional football, but it's masked by Rodgers' ability to sustain long offensive drives and score points regardless of where the ball is placed before his first snap. And while nothing indicates that'll change in the NFC title game and potentially the Super Bowl, every NFL team could benefit from a dynamic return or two from special teams, and the Packers are no different. The team signed veteran receiver Tavon Austin with the hopes of rectifying this issue on punts, but that hasn't worked. Austin has made a questionable decision a time or two -- one of them being in a close fight with the Rams in the divisional round -- while a mix of Darrius Shepherd, Tyler Ervin and Malik Taylor have yielded poor results on kickoffs.
As a whole, the Packers are second-worst in yards per kick return (18.9) and third-worst in yards per punt return (4.8), having not delivered a return longer than 34 yards and 19 yards, respectively, while having zero touchdowns from any of their returners in 2020 or in their first playoff game. So again, while Rodgers and the offense continue to mask this abysmal return production, sooner or later someone is going to have to be more than forgettable in the return game.
2. The Unusual Suspects
We all know what Rodgers can do, so let's not waste any time there.
What the Packers must continue to do is keep opposing defenses guessing, and the best way to achieve that mission is to ask secondary and tertiary targets to step up in a big way and with little notice. They did a great job of this against the Rams, seeing Allen Lazard finish with a team-high 96 receiving yards and a touchdown, which would've been more if not for a key drop earlier in the game. He'd make up for it in the fourth quarter when, to my point, it was Lazard that Rodgers looked to for the game-sealing touchdown toss and not all-world talent Davante Adams -- the latter being the most likely target and, as such, who the Rams were expecting to get the primary look. There can be no doubt Adams will get his shots and produce when he does, but a healthy mix of Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and tight end Robert Tonyan is the perfect recipe for an aerial assault that can be as unpredictable as it is lethal.
Mix in some routes to Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams out of the backfield and it'll be all a defense can do to stop Rodgers from dissecting their scheme with surgical precision, always waiting to launch the Adams nuke when the moment calls for it. The stage doesn't get any bigger than what's to come in the next game and potentially the one thereafter. Rodgers and Adams will be ready, but the Packers need to make sure the other weapons are as well.
3. Wall off the end zone
One of the key reasons for the success in Green Bay is its defense.
They won't get nearly as much credit as Rodgers, Adams and the offense, but this is a defensive unit that's been getting the job done on a regular basis. That doesn't mean they can't improve though, because while they were top-10 in yards allowed per game (334.0), takeaway margin (+7) and interceptions (11), they would undoubtedly like to do better at keeping opposing teams out of the end zone. The Packers defense is more than respectable with only 23.1 points allowed per game during the regular season (13th), but that might not cut the mustard when facing Tom Brady and subsequently one of the incoming AFC offenses -- both the Buffalo BIlls and the Kansas City Chiefs having the ability to detonate the scoreboard. It's the one protruding defensive category that could use refinement, because while the unit was very strong down the regular season stretch, they were playing teams like the Eagles, Lions, Panthers, Titans and Bears in the month of December.
When they played the Buccaneers, they allowed 38 points in a losing effort, a hint at what's on the way to Lambeau Field. The elements will be on their side, along with the hometown fans and the dominance of Rodgers, but Brady is no stranger to playing in the cold or to pressure, so if the Packers truly want to solidify themselves as the best in the NFC and ultimately the NFL as a whole -- they'll have to figure out how to clamp down on the best offenses football has to offer.