For about 50 minutes or so of this game, the Packers were the better team and looked on their way to the NFL final four, but ‘bad’ Jordan Love appeared out of nowhere and started faltering while previously scuffling Brock Purdy rose up to his clutch/MVP self and pulled this sure loss out of the fire...and onto the Conference Finals limp the 49ers.
It’s really a shame because the better team did not win here, from a ‘judge’s scorecard’ perspective. Even if it was a fluke or a 1x thing...Green Bay was better this day. This loss will haunt Green Bay because this perfect storm may not come around again for a while – to me, the Packers are just a mediocre team that got hot at the right time after stumbling barely into the playoffs via tiebreaker and they had the prohibitive favorites (SF) on the ropes with aid from the rain and Deebo getting hurt...it was all ‘right there’ and then it slipped away with several bad/late turnovers.
People will walk away from this thinking the Packers are the team of the future in the NFC North, but I think they’re just ‘in the hunt’ and as likely to finish last as they are first next season. The good news is – the future looks hopeful, not doomed. I just don’t know that it is as bright as the Dallas blowout and 49ers near-miss upset is gonna make it feel.
The 49ers have to be complimented for pulling this out, but they were as lucky as they were good. I suspect this is the type of moment where a really good team plays flat and was unlucky while key players got hurt but they pull out a semi-miraculous win, so people have bad ‘feelings’ about them and the collective worry lingers early this week and the Vegas line is kind of suppressed from where it should be...but then the team reverses course -- practicing strong and focused after the scare their last game and then play a tight, efficient, strong game and blowout their next opponent (Detroit).
*Note any fractional numbers in parentheses (4/2) or (2/3), etc., are a 'split' stat on our definition of a 'quality start' (or not) marker on a player -- using 14 PPR points in a game for RB-WR-TE and 21 for a QB ...point levels that are good/productive/well above average starts for a Fantasy week. Trying to identify trends, consistency (or not) in players we might not normally realize.
A (3/2), for example, means: 3 times the player hit at/above the QUALITY mark, and 2 times they did not (this current season).
Player Dynasty/Fantasy Notes...
-- Jordan Love (21-34 for 194 yards, 2 TDs/2 INTs, 5-3-0) played very well for about 50+ minutes of this game...and then got sloppy/looked like the old ‘bad’ Love the final couple drives with the money on the line. That’s the thing about Love right now – he was 50-50 good/bad in games, drive-to-drive, play-to-play...you never knew what would happen next. Midseason there was turbulence that he might be benched with another loss...but he swerved out of his trouble and went from 50-50 guy to 75-25 guy to 90-10 guy the last few games. I have to judge him as ‘arrived’.
I was against Love, scouting-wise, coming out of Utah State...too erratic, too low key. But then I remember FFM scout Ross Jacobs and I saw/scouted him his 2nd preseason and thought we’d seen the greatest QB in the league pop up out of nowhere...then he flopped the following preseason and it was back to all our original ‘sour’ feelings on Love. The prior 4 years that I’ve been observing him in the NFL...it’s been mostly ‘bad’. The first half of this season was 50-50 good/bad. He finished 2023 like he has ‘arrived’.
Just like with Geno Smith last year...Joe Flacco this year, off the street...it gets more and more easy to play QB in the NFL and the QBs entering the league are so much more prepared. The more QBs are NOT taking massive hits constantly, with guys no longer landing on them to drive them into the ground or hitting them seconds after a throw for sport PLUS you can’t touch their receivers either (unless it’s a final drive/throw of a game...then you can prison shank them and it doesn’t matter) – everything is set up for QBs who would’ve been more rattled 5-10+ years ago to be totally fine/confident going forward...like it’s a giant 7-on-7 in t-shirts and shorts. A great set up for Jordan Love, and everyone else, to continue to get experience and confidence at the pro level.
Scouting has to evolve every year...with the evolving landscape and trends of the NFL, but it doesn’t with mainstream scouts who usually run 1-5 years behind on emerging trends...catching up to them right as they’re changing again. Scouting QBs ahead has to change, for me...I’m spending time this offseason trying to process how that looks for us. And I’m saying that as a great QB scout already (my record speaks for itself). The football world is changing as fast as technology is changing – ‘Moore’s Law’ of the rate of ‘change’ has arrived in the NFL. It was already happening.
-- If Jordan Love is now fine/good...then you’d like to have his main WR for FF 2024+. However, Green Bay is the forerunner of the new era of NFL WR groups (speaking of radical/rapid change)...everybody/team is going to have 2-3-4-5 legit WRs, and you don’t know who the standout #1 is and these new era QBs don’t have to just lean on one WR...which is gonna make Fantasy Football 2024+ a mad guessing game.
Romeo Doubs (4-83-0/6) was a ghost/up-and-down most of the season, but was a stud in the wild card round...and just ‘solid’ here.
Christian Watson (1-11-0/2) had like one good game and was hurt half the season. When he was back, Love couldn’t have cared less to end the season.
Dontayvion Wicks (0-0-0/2) is nice but he’s gotta beat out Doubs in 2024, and I thought he would...but watching the playoffs...I don’t think it at all now.
Jayden Reed (4-35-0/4) is probably the best GB WR to have going forward for FF...and he had no catches in a playoff game, the game prior. Some ‘best’...
What GB WR do you want for FF 2024+ to grow forward with Love? None.
I don’t know that you can really bank on Luke Musgrave (3-14-0/4) either, with the talent and rotations GB has shown.
-- Aaron Jones (18-108-0. 3-8-0/6) finished super strong. He’ll be back to lead the backfield in 2024. Hurt/underperforming most of the 2023 season...a huge FF disappointment...he turned it on late in the season, when he apparently got healthy.
A.J. Dillon (DNP) will be off to free agency, and Emanuel Wilson (4-16-0, 1-11-0/1) will be the oft-injured Jones handcuff.
-- Brock Purdy (23-39 for 252 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) started nice, then scuffled the whole midsection of the game...but he went MVP-mode the final 10 minutes, doing so using Jauan Jennings (5-61-0/6) and Chris Conley (1-17-0/1) and Ray-Ray McCloud (1-7-0/2) with Deebo going out hurt early.
Both Purdy and Love joined a growing list of QB1 hopefuls in 2024. They were both QB1s in PPG this season.
Also, Purdy gets a delicious matchup with the Detroit secondary next round!
-- With Deebo out, the Packers were able to take Brandon Aiyuk (3-32-0/6) out of the game until he made a couple clutch plays late. Still, Aiyuk is a legit WR1 hopeful working with Purdy...but we have to see what SF does at WR in the offseason. Deebo Samuel is getting hurt way too much...and Aiyuk is in a 5th-year option year (2024)...will they let Aiyuk play it out in 2024 or will they do a longer-term commitment deal?
I think they’ll commit to Aiyuk and structure a deal so he’s cheaper in 2024 because Deebo is expensive, and then let Aiyuk’s cost rise after that...in the years where SF can look to ditch Deebo for less impact if they need to.
...and with the flood of WR talent coming...the 49ers can land a draft day two WR talent and completely change the dynamic and future of the targeting flow in San Fran.
Snap Counts of Interest:
64 = Aiyuk
40 = Jennings
25 = Conley
18 = McCloud
09 = Deebo
54 = Doubs
41 = Jayden Reed
37 = Chr Watson
27 = D Wicks
19 = Musgrave
17 = Melton