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Yes, Defense DOES still win Championships

by Jerry Bader

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Michael Hunt makes the case that the Packers have enough tools in the box to get beyond the first round of the playoffs.Clearly the Packers offense, as close to full strength as its been all season, gives the Packers a fighting chance. Where I disagree with Hunt is his argument that the old maxim "defense wins championships" isn't true. The evidence suggests otherwise.

Seattle, Carolina, New Orleans and San Francisco, considered the four best teams in the NFC, are all in the top five in total defense. You don't think defense won last year's Super Bowl? Heck, the Packers ultimately won Super Bowl 45 on defense. In fact, I would argue Hunt has it exactly backwards; offenses put teams in positions to win championships and defense seals the deal. Because the evidence supports my position, I'm not confident of the Packers chances. 

They simply aren't a better team than the one that lost to the 49'ers to start the season and the 49'ers appear to be getting hot at the right time. And all the other teams in the NFC playoffs can move the ball, ranging from good to excellent. 

The Chicago game shows why the Packers were 6-2 in games in which Rodgers played and 2-5-1 in games that he did not play. The Packers can outscore a lot of teams, covering the sins of a weak defense. That just doesn't work in the playoffs, where most of the teams are near the top in D. I think the Packers will score some points, but an already porous Packers defense is without Clay Matthews and Johnny Jolly. 

I'm not saying the Packers can't or even won't win Sunday. But a healthy Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb won't be enough to do it. To further prove Hunt wrong, let's go back to Sunday. The Packers won't because the defense finally stopped the Bears offense, giving the Packers the opportunity for the final, game winning drive. Hunt might argue the defense simply put Rodgers and Co. in position to win. But the D also stopped Chicago, barely, as time ran out. Just as they did Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. If the Packers D can rise to the occasion, they won't be one and done. But I can't say I'm confident that it will.