A friend (who is rather anti-Bear) and I were debating the merits of the Green Bay Packers when he brought up this observation: the Packers are team in the NFC playoff picture with the best chance to beat the Patriots. An anonymous quote from the Audibles feature at Pro Football Weekly reminded me of his comment:
“If you want to beat the Patriots, you need to look at the job Cleveland did on them. The one thing (Eric) Mangini definitely knows is how to beat New England. They had a phenomenal game plan. I’ve never seen Tom Brady so confused. They had 11 guys standing, and (Brady) had no idea who was coming and who was dropping. No team is good playing from behind, especially if the offense can run at you. Colt McCoy made a few plays early, and (Peyton) Hillis ran at them. That is the winning formula to beat New England. It’s a copycat league, and you have to know where you could pull from.”
Defensively this is exactly what the Packers did to the Patriots and they almost beat them. They run a look with only two down linemen and everyone else stands around so you can’t tell who is coming from where. It’s problematic but it also looks to me like the type of defense that you could beat with the run if you had the right blocking scheme.
Frankly I don’t see anyone in the NFC beating the Patriots in a Super Bowl matchup. But I said that the last time they were there and they lost. It will be interesting to see if more teams do, in fact, copy the Cleveland game plan and what the Patriots do to try to stop it.
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