Can the Packers avoid looking past the Tennessee Titans?

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Packers team photo

Fresh off a significant division-clinching win over the rival Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers have their eyes set on a possible first round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Before they can start thinking about those amenities, they first must host and beat the Tennessee Titans.

The Titans enter the game as huge underdogs and will be highly motivated to sneak up on Green Bay and play a spoiler to one of the NFC’s Super Bowl hopefuls. Chris Johnson vs. Packers

Tennessee Titans (5-9) Analysis: Tennessee is coming off a short week because of their ugly affair with the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. Even though their offense was highly inconsistent (as it has for most of the season), the defense forced five Mark Sanchez turnovers and won the game 14-10. New head coach Mike Muchak deserves a lot of credit for turning around a defense that opened the season with a lot of problems. Where the Titans struggle the most is with penalties, completely evident from the 14 yellow-flags they received in Monday’s win.

Chris Johnson, the Titans semi-star running back, will get yet another chance to show he can get back to being the runner he was in 2009 when he rushed for over 2,000 yards. He’s shown flashes like a 94 yard touchdown he ripped off last week, but he’s been far too inconsistent on a play-by-play basis. Quarterback Jake Locker and the Titans’ young receivers are intriguing, but they need to run the ball to keep the ball away from the Packers’ offense.

Green Bay Packers (10-4) Analysis: According to ProFootballFocus.com, rookie corner Casey Hayward has been the second best corner in football. With that surprising revelation, it makes a bit more sense why the defense has been able to survive the loss of Charles Woodson, multiple linebackers and Clay Matthews for a short stint. With Matthews back, the Packers rush defense improved dramatically against the already-stagnant Bears. It will be a great barometer for this defense on whether they can stop Tennessee’s young playmakers.

Aaron Rodgers may be the best quarterback in the league, but he’s receiving a lot of help from wide-outs James Jones and Randall Cobb who are putting together a pair of breakout seasons in Green Bay. The old adage is that an elite quarterback makes mediocre receivers, though this is not at all the case with Jones and Cobb. Look for Green Bay to continue to get the running game going with mild success.

Prediction: Green Bay 30 Tennessee 17

Circling back to my headline, I don’t think there’s a chance the Packers look past the Titans. They have last year and this year’s beatdown by the Giants on their minds, they know they need to be peaking at the right time. With key players returning from injury and a little more balance on the offensive end, the Packers could be a team no one wants to see in the playoffs.

TV Coverage: CBS 12:00 PM CT including Greg Gumbel (play-by-play) and Dan Dierdorf (color).

Betting Lines: Packers favored by 12.5 with over/under set at 43 points.

2012 Record straight up: 10-4

2012 Record against the spread: 5-9

2012 Record in over/under: 8-6

What are you most looking forward in the Packers and Titans game? Let me know by commenting below.

Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at grays@uwalumni.com.

Pictures:

Team Photo (packers.com)

Chris Johnson (facebook.com)

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