Browns and the Packers are set to get underway Saturday night, so we here at DBN reached out to Packers SB website Acme Packing Company to ask a few questions. Luckily, Evan "Tex" Western was able to answer a few questions for us as well. Be sure to head over to APC answer any questions they may ask.
1. Are the Packers really that good, or did they just get hot at the right time?
Yes to both. This team had two must-win games at the end of the regular season to sneak into the NFC playoffs as the 6-seed, and really found their stride during that final portion of the season. But they were in that position because they had trouble early in the season adjusting to injuries. The Packers lost a few games that were very winnable in the first six weeks (back-to-back OT losses @ Washington and vs. Miami), but my belief is that it was an adjustment period for the players and the coaching staff with several starters going down to injury. Once the new starters got acclimated to their new roles, the creativity of the coaching staff allowed the Pack to become a great team. Combine the return of these players with great coaching and one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and I see no reason why they can't compete for a 14th NFL championship.
2. Is Tramon Williams better than Charles Woodson right now?
Most of us at APC would argue that Williams is the better "true cover corner" at this point. But this doesn't give the picture of what Woodson brings to the defense, and he's probably still a better all-around player - in fact, this was one of the major arguments for Chuck winning the DPOY in 2009 over Darrelle Revis. Woodson is truly Dom Capers' jack of all trades, and in 2010 he lined up for over 300 snaps at left corner, over 500 in the slot, and almost 100 at safety. Woodson's open-field tackling might be the best of any DB in the league, and he's a turnover machine. However, Williams has better physical skills right now, and with his intangibles benefiting from Chuck's tutelage, he is quickly approaching "shutdown corner" caliber.
3. Is Ryan Grant still the "go-to guy" in GB?
I'd love to say I know the answer to this one, but the truth is that nobody really knows how the carries will be split up in the Green Bay backfield. Grant claimed he was healthy enough to play during the playoffs, but was a victim of the Injured Reserve rules and a roster crunch earlier in the season. He's certainly the most established running back, but he's never been known much as a receiver or blocker. James Starks was a playoff hero after spending much of the year on the PUP list, and has excellent size and ability, but he's still rather raw. Third-down back Brandon Jackson is now in Cleveland, as you well know, so blocking and receiving duties may be split among FB John Kuhn
(a cult hero in Wisconsin) and rookie Alex Green
. Ultimately I think that with a healthy stable of talented running backs, Mike McCarthy will likely find ways to get all of them involved in the game plan, and I foresee a fantasy football player's worst nightmare: Running Back by Committee.
4. How does your team and fanbase view the Cleveland Browns?
I can't speak for other fans personally, but I sense no animosity towards the Browns among Packers fans. I actually moved to Columbus about a year ago, and the Packers bar in town doubles as a Browns bar, so I know many Cleveland fans, and both fan bases tend to like each other. Plus you have the Joe Thomas factor. We Wisconsinites love to see former Badgers succeed in the NFL (when not wearing Bears or Vikings uniforms, of course), and Thomas is certainly the best Wisconsin alumnus in the league right now. Finally, the fact that Cleveland is a blue-collar city endears it and its fans to Wisconsin and Green Bay fans, as we share a similar work ethic and attitude.