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!!!

Monday, October 15, 2018

2018 NFL Week 6: Packers vs. 49ers Preview & Prediction

A few words about the Detroit game...

Doesn't it always seem as if something goofy happens when the Packers play at Detroit? Whether for or against the Pack, something odd always seems to occur. In last week's disappointment, the Packers racked up all sorts of offensive stats, but still wound up losing. While the loss can't all be pinned on K Mason Crosby's five missed kicks (that is not a typo -- 4 field goals and a missed extra point)...yes, even just a few of those would have been the difference in the game...what about the play calling? QB Aaron Rodgers' two fumbles? Dropped passes? No pass rush? The blame is across the board. OK, good, now that we've got that out of our systems, let's move on to tonight's game at Lambeau Field against San Francisco, shall we?
Mason Crosby (right) walks off with Hunter Bradly
after missing one of his five field goals at Detroit.
(Photo by Paul Sancya, AP)

The Preview

The Packers are favored by 9-1/2 points going into this game. Pundits are universally picking the Pack to win and win big. That's if the offense can get off to a faster start (they have been outscored 42-13 in the first quarter this season), play without penalties (averaging 8 for more than 80 yards per game) and turnovers, and score TDs when they get into the red zone, all of which have been a challenge so far in this 2-2-1 season.

Otherwise, it could be another game where the Packers clean up statistically and somehow still lose the game. Certainly, the Niners are not the calibre of Detroit, and have had 17 players on the injury report this week. But the Packers are missing key players, too, including wide receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison. If they fall behind early as has been the case this season, the game plan goes out the window and you're trying to play catch up. There's no need for that. Especially this evening.

The Prediction

This is a game, coming off last Sunday's debacle and heading into the bye week, that the Packers should win and -- yes -- need to win.

We're calling it Packers 31 - 49ers 13.

Go Pack Go!!!

Also, Go Brewers!!!

RIP Jim Taylor

We were saddened to learn over the weekend of the passing of legendary Packers fullback, Jim Taylor. He was always one of my favorite Lombardi-era Packers. He was one of the toughest running backs to ever play the game, rushing for more than 8,000 yards in far fewer games than go into a season these days. He was also the first of those Lombardi Packers to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Thanks for the memories, Jim. They are many.

Packers legendary FB Jim Taylor
(Photo by Ernest W. Anheuser, Milwaukee Sentinel)

Sunday, October 07, 2018

2018 NFL Week 5: Packers vs. Lions Preview & Prediction

That was a nice shutout last weekend of a Buffalo team that just the week before had whomped the Minnesota ViQueens, wasn't it, Packers fans? You bet. 22-0 is nothing to sneeze at, even while QB Aaron Rodgers wasn't happy with the offensive performance and made that feeling known. He and head coach Mike McCarthy are, though, according to the latter, both on the same page. Good to know.

That will be important in today's game against the Lions in Detroit because the receiving game may be, how shall we say, challenged. That's because WR Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison are out and Davante Adams is questionable in reality if not officially. As such, rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling, J’Mon Moore and Equanimious St. Brown will have to step up. If that becomes shaky, the Packers running game will need to step up the pace. RB Aaron Jones -- who needs and deserves the ball more -- along with Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery can fill the bill. If McCarthy lets the running game get more reps, that is. The offense will always run through Rodgers, of course, as it should. But if the receiving corps is shorthanded today, let's hope the rushing attack gets its fair share of play calls.

The Packers defense needs to get to Lions QB Matthew Stafford
today just as it has done in the past.

(Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
Defensively, we saw a more aggressive scheme -- or at least, performance -- last week than in prior weeks. Let's hope that approach and energy continues today. The Packers will need to get pressure on Lions QB Matthew Stafford because if given too much time he will pick apart a defense. Under pressure, he'll give you an opportunity for turnovers. The Pack will need at least one today to help make the difference. The Lions may have only won one game so far -- against the Patriots...go figure -- but they are an explosive team. You really don't know what to expect. But with the Packers at 2-1-1, we can really say pretty much the same about them right now, particularly with the injury situation.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 1 point at the time of this writing with the over-under at 51 points, so the oddsmakers are expecting a high-scoring and close game. We do, too.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Lions 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

2018 NFL Week 4: Packers vs. Bills Preview & Prediction

After last week's dud in D.C., Packers fans, how are you feeling about today's game against the Buffalo Bills at Lambeau Field? A game with a still-gimpy QB Aaron Rodgers, a game likely without WR and sometime returner Randall Cobb, offensive guard Justin McCray, defensive lineman Mo Wilkerson (done for the season), and several other nicked-up Packers? A game against a team that was a 17-point underdog vs. the ViQueens last weekend and wound up spanking the 'Queens in their home stadium 27-6 behind a rookie quarterback?

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers calling an audible.
(Photo: Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis)
You have to believe that that win by the Bills in Minnesota last weekend got the Pack's attention. This is no gimme game, as it might have been perceived when the schedule came out. Recall that the Bills made the playoffs last season and have a stout defense (currently the fifth-ranked run defense in the NFL combined with being tied for 10th in sacks) that harassed Kirk Cousins all game last week, shutting down an explosive Minnesota offense. Offensively, the Bills likely will have running back LeSean McCoy on the field to take pressure off QB Josh Allen, who is no slouch in the running game either having run himself 18 times in two games. As Packers defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine was quoted as saying about Allen this week, “This is a big athlete. He's got good vision. He doesn't look at the rush. I think he does a good job with feeling it. And if you give him an open lane, he's going to take it and he can make you pay for it.

But perhaps the Achilles heel for the Bills is the team's 29th rank in opponent passer rating (108.1). So, if the Packers can protect Aaron Rodgers -- and the Pack also ups its own running game, particularly in what is expected to be wet conditions -- the Packers should be able to take care of business at home today.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 9-1/2 points at the time of this posting. Well, the 'Queens were 17-point faves, as already noted, and that certainly was jut a tad off, wasn't it?

Still, the Packers are at home, coming off an uninspired performance in Washington in a game they were favored to win, and at 1-1-1 through the first three games, have something to prove. If not to the fans at least to themselves at this point. It's time they start getting the season on track. Could the Bills pull off two back-to-back road win upsets behind their rookie QB? Sure. But on this day, we don't think so. We think the Pack gets it together.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Bills 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

2018 NFL Week 3: Packers vs. Redskins Preview & Prediction

How are we feeling today, Packer fans? Still a bit mixed feelings after last week's tie with the ViQueens? Yes, we can all relate to that. The Packers had all sorts of opportunities to put that one away, but the Packers defense couldn't stop a hot Minnesota offense in the second half. And relying for so many points off the typically sure-footed Mason Crosby...well, at some point that will come back to haunt you. And it did. Not his fault.

Having said that, let's recall that the Green Bay Packers are still undefeated. Yay. Does that tell us anything about today's game at Washington? Well, the Pack put up 46 points in the first two games against two of the better defenses they will probably face all season. Washington isn't close on that front. The 'skins lost to the Colts at home last weekend in an uninspired effort.

Packers RB Aaron Jones
(Photo: Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin/@jmatthe79)
The Packers get RB Aaron Jones back off his two-game suspension, although head coach Mike McCarthy insists that he's going to have to work his way back into the lineup. We'll see how that goes. Given that he's the only explosive back they have on the roster, and with the disparity between run and pass in the first two games at 38 to 87 respectively, a gimpy Aaron Rodgers could use a little relief from the pass-happy approach of the first two games. Of course, it will always skew to the pass game as long as Rodgers is at QB and McCarthy is coach. That's OK. But a greater balance would sure help, as well as a home run threat coming out of the backfield. Jones may well have to get his game legs and timing together. But the only way to do that is to feed him the ball. Let's hope that happens a lot today.

Anyway, a lot could be said but lack of time spares you, dear reader, from having to labor through that amount of verbiage. Washington does have Alex Smith at QB and the venerable Adrian Peterson at RB. That means things can happen if the Pack's D once again decides to sleepwalk.

Still, Washington is not of the calibre of either Chicago or Minnesota.

Our Prediction

The Packers are favored by 3 points heading into this game. We expect them to exceed that.

We're calling it Packers 31 - Redskins 24.

Go Pack Go!!!