Sunday, December 09, 2018

2018 NFL Week 14: Packers vs Falcons Preview & Prediction

How are we feeling today, Packers fans? More specifically, how are we feeling about today's game between the 4-7-1 Green Bay Packers versus the equally mediocre 4-8 Atlanta Falcons? Both teams were preseason picks to be challengers for not only their Division titles but also potential Super Bowl contenders. So much for that idea. Lest we forget, that actually did happen in the 2016 season, with both teams meeting in the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta. Yeah, that was then. now (sigh).

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had his hands - and facemask - full in the
NFC Championship Game played in Atlanta in Jan. 2017.

(Photo: Getty Images)
The Packers made a number of changes to the roster this week, placing some players on IR and promoting some others from the practice squad. But, of course, the biggest move of all was the firing of head coach Mike McCarthy following the disheartening loss at Lambeau Field to the then 2-9 Arizona Cardinals. More on that later.

But can we really expect any huge changes after just a week under interim head coach Joe Philbin? C'mon. No. With just four games remaining in this dismal season, and given the injuries which have also significantly impacted this team's performance over the season, it is what it is. Granted, Philbin will now be dong the play-calling, something he hasn't done in about 20 years. So we may see some different philosophy at work, and perhaps some oddness, as well. But as Philbin was a close associate of McCarthy, things will probably be pretty much along the lines of what we have seen overall offensively. The defense under coordinator Mike Pettine will be the same, still lacking a pass rush and fielding some defensively challenged defensive backs (is that redundant, by the way?).

The Prediction

No need to drag this out, is there? Both teams are train wrecks this season. And even though the Packers are favored at the time of this writing by either 4-1/2 or 5 points depending on what line you're following (as a reminder, the Packers were 14-point favorites last did that work out?), does anyone out there feel comfortable picking them?

I hate to say it, Packer fans, but this is one of those pick 'em games at this point, at least as it seems on this end. Week after week we've been hoping against hope...or, at least, logic...that the Pack would get it together and at least once this season play a complete game. We're still waiting.

Will McCarthy's exit be enough to rally this team somehow? Maybe. But what else is a motivator? The season is done. So perhaps jobs for next season for those players not under contract or who are auditioning for a future role in Green Bay or elsewhere? Maybe.

Logic seems to indicate that given the under-performance of both teams, the game could very well turn on one play, a turnover, a missed tackle, a special teams breakdown or success. That and the Packers inability to perform well in the second half of games lately and close things out, would seem to give the Falcons the edge, despite being on the road. After all, if the woeful Cards can come into Lambeau with an inexperienced QB and pull out a win, what can QB Matt Ryan do today, with a receiver like Julio Junes ready to make big plays against a porous Packers secondary?

Still, we've looked at the Pack all season through Green 'n' Gold-colored why stop now? The odds say that at some point the Packers have to win onw of their last remaining games. This is as good a chance as any.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Falcons 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Thank you, coach McCarthy

Before signing off, we just want to thank former head coach Mike McCarthy for all he brought during his 13 years of service to the Green Bay Packers and the broader Green Bay community. He was and remains a class act. Certainly, this was not the way he or anyone would have wished for him to depart. But it was time.

He is the second-winningest head coach in Packers history, only trailing the guy whose name is on the Super Bowl trophy, one Vince Lombardi. He went to the playoffs eight straight years -- eight! That's something that is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself and one that we probably began to take for granted. He brought a Super Bowl trophy back to Green Bay. And it is a given that he will be in the Packers Hall of Fame sometime soon, as he rightfully should be.

Good luck, coach. You'll land in another head coaching position very guess would be Cleveland, to rejoin a number of other Packers front office personnel in helping to resurrect that franchise.

Let's close with this exceptionally heartfelt thank you from McCarthy to the Packers, the fans, Green Bay and Wisconsin. Well done, coach. Well done, indeed. And thank you!

Sunday, December 02, 2018

2018 NFL Week 13: Packers vs. Cardinals Preview & Prediction

Without beating a dead horse yet once again, the Green Bay Packers were unable to win again on the road last week, this time against the ViQueens, making the team's road record this season 0-6. Not good. At all. Especially when you consider that it's actually worse than that: the road loss streak extends back into last season. Oy.

There, that's' done. And with that loss at Minnesota, so, too, might be the Packers season. At 4-6-1 with five games left...the Pack is going to need a miracle of splitting-the-Red Sea proporations in order to somehow slide into the playoffs. (And, by the way, Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish sisters and brothers around the planet.)

Packers WR Jake Kumerow has finally been activated off IR. How much action he'll see, and what impact he'll have, remains to be seen today and for the remainder of the season.
(Photo: Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis)

The Packers will once again be limited both offensively and defensively by injuries to key personnel. DL Mike Daniels and WR Trevor Davis have both been placed on the injured reserve list and are done for the season. Safeties Kentrell Brice and Raven Greene, along with RB Tra Carson, are all out today with injuries. At last notice (subject to change), OT David Bakhtiari, CB Kevin King, WR Randall Cobb, OG Lane Taylor and CB Bashaud Breeland were all listed as questionable.

If Bakhtiari is unable to go, the Packers might wind up having to give help to back up Jason Spriggs who was not able to hold up well last weekend in relief of Bakhtiari. It also became apparent how good Lane Taylor is week in and week out once he also had to leave the game last week.

The Packers opponent today, the Arizona Cardinals, have the 32nd-ranked rush defense in the league going into this game. That, combined with cold and snowing weather predicted for today's game at Lambeau Field, should be a recipe for a steady diet of RB Aaron Jones. But you still need an offensive line that can create those running well as keep QB Aaron Rodgers upright.

During preseason, WR Jake Kumerow was the talk of camp. He and Rodgers had seemingly developed a good rapport. Kumerow led in receiving yards until his celebratory shoulder dive into the endzone on a long-yardage reception and TD wound up knocking him out of the lineup until today. Given the injuries in the wide receiver group, Kumerow should get some action today. It was also hinted that he might get some return opportunities particularly now that Trevor Davis has been placed on IR. Let's just see if he and Rodgers have been able to rekindle that preseason magic; the Pack could sure use it.

The Prediction

Given that the warm-weather, 2-9 Cardinals will be coming into Lambeau led by a rookie QB and with issues offensively and defensively overall, it's no wonder that the Packers are 14-point favorites, albeit as "meh" as they have performed to this point in the season. The Pack hasn't lost at home yet this season. So at least there's that. This should be a game where, if the team isn't totally phoning it in at this point behind what seems more and more to be the lame duck tenure of head coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers should win this handily. On the other hand, the Pack has continued to find ways to self destruct and have yet to really play a complete game all season. So if the Packers don't come to play...anything can happen. 

We're hoping the Cards are exactly what the doctor ordered to at least get the Pack to 5-5-1 after today's game.

We're calling it Packers 34 - Cardinals 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

2018 NFL Week 12: Packers vs. Vikings Preview & Prediction

Guess what, Packer fans? We were actually spot on in our score prediction for last week's game at Seattle: 27-24. Only problem was we had the Pack with 27 and Seahawks with 24. As we sadly know, it was the other way around, with the Packers garnering their fifth road loss of the season. Yup, Green Bay hasn't won a road game yet this season.

The Packers will need an MVP effort from QB Aaron Rodgers tonight at Minnesota.
(Photo: Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis.)
So where do we find our beloved Green Bay Packers tonight? On the road. At Minnesota. Where they are 0-2 in the new stadium of whatever name.

The ViQueens are 5-4-1, the Packers 4-5-1. That one tie for both teams, as we know, was in the first match up. Pretty much representative of the parity, unfortunate as that may be at this point in the season, between these two NFC North rivals. Both of which, as we also recall, were supposed to be competing for the Division championship. So much for that idea; Da Bearz look well positioned to lock that up fairly soon...which will make my good friend, Billy Da Bearz Fan, most happy indeed. (The horror...the horror....)

As for Minnesota, it has become obvious as the season has gone on that QB Kirk Cousins is obviously overpaid, and the Packers defense can hopefully make him look that way again tonight, albeit as wounded as they are. RB Dalvin Cook hasn't broken out quite as much as they'd hoped, either. Defensively, Minnesota isn't all it was cracked up to be this season.

The story of the Packers this season, especially in their road losses, has been one of "close but no cigar". Late errors, penalties, bad play-calling and clock management...pretty much you name it and it has been just enough to keep the Pack from coming away with a win in those tight games they've been playing and losing.

Bottom line is that we have seen the Packers have no room for error. A near-perfect game is needed not only from QB Aaron Rodgers who, thankfully, seems to be getting healthier, but from the rest of the team, as well. But WR Randall Cobb is questionable, as is TE Jimmy Graham, continuing the potential limitation of Rodgers' receiving options (and, no, preseason receiving fave, Jake Kumerow, was not activated for this game, as some may have wished). Still, if RB Aaron Jones can be schemed and targeted as a receiver coming out of the backfield, we saw his potential in that area of the game on display against Seattle. Regrettably, as we have seen for most of this season, head coach Mike McCarthy has been reluctant to fully utilize the talent of this young running back. Tonight would be a very good time to change that approach.

The Packers are banged up on defense. DT Mike Daniels is likely done for the year and the team placed LB Nick Perry on injured reserve, ending his season and, perhaps, his career in Green Bay, as well. Defensive backs Bashaud Breeland, Kevin King, Kentrell Brice, and Raven Greene are questionable for tonight. But if LB Kyler Fackrell can keep up his sack-meister ways, along with inside pressure from Kenny Clark and others, problems in the secondary may not be quite as pronounced. Maybe.

The Prediction

We've been giving the Packers the benefit of our Green 'n' Gold-colored view for the road games this season, only to be disappointed. They've been close...but that counts for nothing. There is probably no game in this woefully mediocre season that counts for something bigger than this game tonight. Yes, every game is big. But when you are 4-5-1 and have six games left...and you probably need to go at least 5-1 over the course of those games to maybe have a shot at the playoffs...this game would be a good game to finally -- FINALLY! -- grab a road win. If they don't do it tonight, Packer fans, while the fat lady may not have sung, she's certainly warming up. They need this game.

Minnesota is favored by 3.

We're calling it Packers 24 - ViQueens 23.

Go Pack Go!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

2018 NFL Week 11: Packers vs. Seahawks Preview & Prediction

The Green Bay Packers were home this past Sunday and, following their winning ways there, beat Miami 31-12. Our prediction had it 31-20, spot on on the offensive tally for the Pack but the defense really played extremely well, holding the Dolphins to field goals only, four of them, to be precise. Impressive performance!

Tonight, on the short turnaround of a Thursday evening performance made even shorter by having to play on the West Coast after a late Sunday afternoon game, the Packers take on the Seattle Seahawks on the road.

The road. Where the Packers haven't one a game yet this season. Seattle. Where the Packers haven't won in nearly a decade. Head coach Mike McCarthy is just 1-3 there. The losses, we don't need to remind Packers fans, have been extremely gut-wrenching. The horror...the horror... Weird things happen in Seattle. They just do. And usually not in the Packers favor.

But Seattle's famed Legion of Boom defense is no more. QB Russell Wilson is still dangerous outside of the pocket but not quite like he used to be. While there is a new offensive coordinator, the Seahawks have a very good running game and if the Packers aren't ready for that Seattle could rack up some big numbers there.

Packers RB Aaron Jones gets off to a fast start last Sunday against
the Dolphins 
on a 67-yard run. He'll need similar heroics tonight in Seattle
to help keep the Packers in the game.

(Photo: Dan Powers, Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis)

Conversely, the Packers have a good running game themselves emerging behind second-year RB Aaron Jones. McCarthy finally gave him the ball more than a handful of times against Miami and it resulted in an outstanding performance by Jones. Because the 'hawks secondary isn't quite what it used to be, McCarthy's penchant for the passing game may take him out of a more balanced approach. But the Pack needs to run the ball, run it well, and run it often to help take the crowd and the opponent down a notch or two. If you let Seattle take control or stick around, the crowd noise will also turn into an opponent, as has usually been the case in Seattle. And we know how that has typically worked out. Not well.


The Packers are 2-1/2-point underdogs at the time of this writing, with the home field advantage being the difference between the 4-5 Seahawks and the 4-4-1 Packers. The Packers will be missing some key personnel this evening, with WR Randall Cobb out yet again, OLB Nick Perry out, S Kentrell Brice and CB Kevin King also out and apparently not even making the trip to Seattle. OG Lucas Patrick is doubtful with a concussion, with LB Blake Martinez and CB Bashaud Breeland listed as questionable. The Pack could definitely benefit from the play of the latter two. Seattle will likely be missing one if its better linebackers, K.J. Wright (listed as doubtful), as well as some secondary defenders who are listed as questionable.

But it seems as if the Packers' passing game is getting healthier along with QB Aaron Rodgers' left knee. He's got some good young receivers who are starting to make a mark and with whom he's developing a connection. With Jones in the backfield, Rodgers doesn't have to do it alone. If the Packers have a balanced game plan tonight, despite the travel and short turnaround time since Sunday, the Pack can come away with a win. They need it. While playoff hopes wouldn't be gone with a loss tonight, the window of opportunity definitely narrows. The Packers need to get this game in the win column.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Seahawks 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

2018 NFL Week 10: Packers vs. Dolphins Preview & Prediction

Here we are again, Packers fans, sitting here after another road loss, this time to the Patriots ... in yet another game where momentum was there for the taking and a Green Bay win ... except for (fill in the blank).

We've had a lot more of those fill-in-the-blank moments this season than we anticipated, or should have, particularly at the half-way mark for the Pack. Really, who would have thought that 8 games into the season the team would be a mediocre 3-4-1? Our preseason prediction basically had the Pack at 6-2 at this point. (On the other hand, we should have looked at the stat that came up just the other day that since 2015 the Packers are something along the lines of 30-25-1 ... you can look that for yourself if interested ... the point is, mediocre and "average" has been the Pack's mode of operation pretty much for the last 3+ years now despite having Aaron Rodgers at quarterback ... and that's not good.)

Packers AB Aaron Rodgers has been doing a lot of scrambling this season.
Photo: Charles Krup, AP

The offense still hasn't found any rhythm, Rodgers' knee injury -- sustained in the first game against Da Bearz -- has surely affected his performance in more ways than expected, the play calling by head coach Mike McCarthy has been very predictable, lack of commitment to the running game has limited the offense, and lack of ability to score touchdowns once in the red zone has been mind-numbing. On defense? Lack of a defensive pass rush has kept other teams on the field and making plays the Packers don't seem to be able to stop often enough, and downright stupid penalties on the defense and special teams have given opponents more yards and opportunities than they should have. It's a mess, really, isn't it? The team has been finding ways to shoot themselves in the foot, particularly on the road.


The good news is that the Pack plays at home today in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field against the 5-4 Miami Dolphins. And, believe it or not, in this series the Fish (OK, I know, Dolphins are not fish, but just go with it, will ya?) own the Packers 10-4. Who'da thunk it?

Now, given that Miami has seen the success the Rams and Patriots had with a no-huddle offense agains the Packers, we can expect to see more of that again today. The defense better be ready for that tempo. Brock Osweiler is getting the start for Miami today and certainly no Tom Brady or even Jared Goff, for that matter. While the Dolphins are pretty much an average team, as the record shows, regrettably, so are the Packers right now. Still...Rodgers vs. Osweiler? C'mon.

Given home field advantage, Rodgers vs. Osweiler, and an absolute need to get this win today (the Pack basically need to go no worse than 6-2 in their remaining 8 games to have a shot at a playoff spot), and the Packers being favored by 9-1/2 points at the time of this writing...

We're calling it Packers 31 - Dolphins 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

2018 NFL Week 9: Packers at Patriots Preview & Prediction

Last weekend's excruciating loss to the LA Rams was the stuff of much conversation this past week, locally and nationally. Specifically, veteran Ty Montgomery's decision with about 2 minutes remaining in the game and the Packers trailing by 2 points to take a kickoff out of the end zone after coaches had reportedly told him to take a knee. He didn't. A fumble occurred. Recovered by the Rams. Game over. No chance for one of those patented Aaron Rodgers last second comebacks. Crushing. Give the man the benefit of the doubt that he was trying to make a play. Unfortunately, he took that same opportunity out of the hands of the best player on the field, Mr. Rodgers.

I had opined on Twitter afterward that if Lombardi was the coach Montgomery would have already been cut for that type of disobedience. Well, the Pack didn't cut him, but two days later did trade him to Baltimore for a 7th round draft pick and, we're guessing, a case of cheese curds.

Wow. It was a horrible loss, make no mistake, especially for a game the Packers were certainly in a position to win. But that's been the nature of this season. So close. But...not. And the team is sitting at 3-3-1 going into its game against the 6-2 New England Patriots on the Pats' home turf in less than 2 hours from this writing.

The Packers are again counting on rookie CB phenom Jaire Alexander
to have another big game tonight, this time against Tom Brady and the Patriots.


The Packers are 5-1/2-point underdogs at the time of this writing. Not many are giving the Packers any chance this evening and, to be fair, they really haven't demonstrated that they can play a complete game. But last week, against the undefeated Rams, on the road, they should have won. And I believe they will tonight against all odds.

The Pats are expected to be missing their starting right guard and have other key players also as questionable tonight, including some receivers and Brady fave, TE Rob Gronkowski. So if the Packers can take advantage of those shortcomings -- oh, and did we mention the Pack will also be playing for the first time in a long time without DB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who also got traded during the week? -- the team should come away with a hard fought win.

If the Pack wants to have any chance of even being able to grab a wildcard spot given current standings, they need this win. Going to 3-4-1 would mean the Pack would have to likely go at least 6-2 in their remaining games. Could they get hot? Yes. But given what we have seen so far, that's iffy. The wiggle room provided by being 4-3-1 going into games against Miami and Seattle and beyond would be huge. The Packers need this game in the win column when it's all said and done.

We're calling it Packers 34 - Patriots 31.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

2018 NFL Week 8: Packers at Rams Preview & Prediction

How are we feeling today, Packers fans? Yeah, me, too. We know the Pack can play better than we've seen through their first six games, sitting at a middling 3-2-1 and coming off their bye week. They have yet to really play a complete game on either side of the ball.

Will they have been able to get healed up a bit during the bye? And will head coach Mike McCarthy's seeming magic coming out of the bye week, where he has gone 9-3 during his tenure, play out today agains the 7-0 LA Rams? How will the team handle not only what may well be the best team in the league at this moment, but start off a five-game gauntlet that could well determine the team's season?

Lots of questions. Answers -- at least a few -- will be revealed just a few hours from now.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers give WR Randall Cobb
a big hug after a TD reception.
(Photo: Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
As for our guess...the Packers have their work cut out for them today. A-duh, right? But if they wish to make a statement, this would be a good time to do so. In the Pack's favor, QB Aaron Rodgers has had an extra week to rest up his ailing left knee. That helps. It also helps that both veteran wide receivers, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison, are ready to go this week, while Rodgers had time over the last few games during their absence to become more comfortable with a couple of the rookie wideouts; in short, a bigger talent pool to rely on in the passing game than he started the season with. The Packers will also get back CB Jaire Alexander to give some much needed help in the secondary.

Questions, of course, surround the running game. Not questions about the talent there, but rather about why RB Aaron Jones isn't given the ball more and why the running game in general isn't being used to take some of the pressure off the passing game. In today's contest, it might be best to consider approaching the game plan as most teams do against the Packers: the best defense is to keep the opposing team's offense off the field as best you can. Because, to borrow a phrase, that LA offense will mess you up!

The Packers defense has been a squad of two halves so far this season: ranking near the bottom of the rankings for first half performance and nearer the top in the second half. The defense needs to play well in both halves today for the Pack to have a chance in this game. If it gets out of hand early, some of those last minute comebacks we've seen might not be quite as possible today.

The Prediction

We could do further breakdowns, but really this game is going to come down to whether the Pack is able to play a complete game for the first time this season. If so, the game could turn into a shootout and, if so, the Packers may not only beat the 10-point underdog spread, but may also come out with an upset win. If the Packers, on the other hand, continue to play the way they have before the bye ... say bye-bye to this game.

Still, we think despite all the offensive firepower of the Rams, the Packers have some of their own in that regard. We think the defense will step up. Yes, Green 'n' Gold-colored glasses, perhaps. But what can we say?

We're calling it Packers 37 - Rams 34.

Go Pack Go!!!