Sunday, October 22, 2017

2017 NFL Week 7: Packers vs Saints aka Week 1 of Life After Rodgers

We're in generally unfamiliar territory this weekend, Packers fans, and we will likely be so for the rest of this season: no more Aaron Rodgers. The horror...the horror...

Now we get to see how the other half lives. Or perhaps more accurately, how the other 75 percent of the NFL lives without a top-notch quarterback.

As football fans of every variety know, the Green Bay Packers QB was injured early in last week's loss at Minnesota. A broken right collarbone to make a bookend to the left collarbone broken several years ago. Rodgers was able to come back at the end of that season to help the Pack in the playoffs. This season? It's his throwing arm, folks. He just had surgery this past week, is on injured reserve for the next 8 weeks and all medical personnel are saying he can't begin throwing again for at least 6 weeks, which would coincide with the earliest he could begin practicing with the team because of his IR status. The likelihood of his returning this season is slim. And it would not only depend upon how quickly he is able to recover and regain his throwing ability but where the Packers would stand at the time in the playoff hunt.
Packers QB Brett Hundley got thrown in the deep end
at Minnesota last weekend after the early injury to
Aaron Rodgers. 
Today, he gets his first start
against the Saints.

(Photo: Jim Matthews/USATODAY NETWORK-Wi)

While now-starting QB Brett Hundley has been in the Packers' system for 3 years, has good size, arm strength and athletic ability, this will be his first NFL start today. Can 1 week of practice get him in sync with his receivers? Perhaps it's the case, likely the case, that he will be more so with the back up receivers and tight ends because those are the players he has worked with most. They may become his security blanket today and for a few games to come until he gets timing down with the starters.

Having said that, more than a few sports pundits, including Voice of the Packers Wayne Larrivee, have noted that despite whatever ability Hundley may bring to the position, his success is perhaps even more dependent upon those he has blocking for him. As Packer fans know all too well, the offensive line has been a MASH unit all season long. Today, it appears as both tackles will at least start the game; whether they are able to finish is another thing. There are injuries at every position on the line and having a consistent presence, having continuity in front of him, will be key to Hundley's success this season.

So will a running game. Particularly today, as the weather forecast calls for rain during the game, complicating the pass route timing, etc. Not ideal for one's first NFL start. But it is what it is. Of course that running game needs blockers, as we're back to the issue with health of the offensive line. The upcoming bye week certainly comes at a good time for that group.

The Saints defense isn't as strong as Minnesota's, so that will help some. Unfortunately 38-year-old Saints QB Drew Brees doesn't show any signs of slipping. The Saints offense is average a bit more than 29 points a game through the first 6 weeks of the season. Toss in the fact that he and the Saints have typically owned Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers over the years. With injuries in the defensive backfield for the Pack, trying to contain Brees and his receivers is going to be a huge challenge.

The Prediction

Given all the conditions that are present going into the game -- the weather, a young quarterback's first NFL start, injuries on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield for the Packers, and a someday-Hall-of-Fame QB on the opposite side of the field and Saints' schemes on both sides of the ball to give the Packers problems -- this is going to be a difficult game for the Pack, despite it being played at Lambeau Field. The oddsmakers have determined that the Saints are favored by 3.5 points at the time of this writing.

While we hope that the Packers rise to the occasion across the board, and we hope that Hundley rises to near Rodgers' level performance, we think we will see growing pains this weekend. Give him and the team the bye week and another week to come together and things may be back to close to normal...or as close as they can be until Rodgers is able to return, whether this season or next.

We're calling this one Saints 31 - Packers 17.

Go Pack Go!!! Make us wrong today!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

2017 NFL Week 6: Packers vs. Vikings

The Green Bay Packers dealt the Dallas Cowboys another patented, last-second dagger loss last weekend in Big D. Say it with me (in your best Seinfeld voice): "That's a shame." The heroics of that game have been well documented throughout this last week, so we won't go into them again here. Bottom line is that the Packers are 4-1 and leading the NFC North going into today's game vs. the ViQueens.
Packers QB extraordinaire, Aaron Rodgers, scrambles for a 1st down in last week's winning drive against Dallas.
(Photo: Jim Matthews/USATODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

In today's game, the Pack will face the exact opposite of the situation they had to deal with in Dallas. Where Dallas had a potentially explosive offense (if not contained) and a mediocre defense, Minnesota has perhaps one of the best defenses the Packers have faced so far, but with an offense missing its starting quarterback, top wide receiver and running back. Given that the Packers will be without probably half of its usual starters in the secondary, this scenario is certainly a help.

Safety Morgan Burnett has been ruled out, as have Davon House and Kevin King. There are other issues and missing pieces from the defense, as well; adjustments will need to be made, obviously. Offensively, running back Ty Montgomery looks as if he might get some plays today wearing a flack jacket to protect his broken ribs. But we should expect, after his breakout game last week, that rookie running back Aaron Jones should still get most of the carries out of the backfield. While Jordy Nelson migth be slowed by whatever took him out of the game late down the stretch last week, the emergence of Davante Adams as Rodgers' go-to guy in clutch situations means no drop off. Couple that with the terrific tight end trio of Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers and it's a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare. Reports just coming in that for the first time this season, the Pack's starting offensive tackles are good to go: Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari finally get a chance to start in the same game! That's a huge plus.

The Prediction

The offensive firepower of the Packers should once again carry the day. A tough Minnesota defense may contain things for a while, but their offense just doesn't have the ability to keep up with what the Pack will do. The Packers are favored by 3 points at the time of this writing.

We're calling this one Packers 27 - ViQueens 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 08, 2017

2017 NFL Week 5: Packers vs. Cowboys

It's been 10 days or so since we last saw our beloved Green Bay Packers take to the field. As you'll recall, they beat Da Bearz at Lambeau on a Thursday night "Rush" uniform game...still hate that whole "Rush" uniform concept. And, of course, we're not fond of Da Bearz, either.

So coming out of the first quarter of the season the Packers are 3-1. If you look back to our season prediction for the Pack, that's right where we had them: 3-1. So there's that.

But what about today? What about Jerry's Kids, the 'boys? How are the Packers going to handle things in Dallas later this afternoon?

The Packers will need a big day from Jordy Nelson and help from
Davante Adams and others for the team to win in Dallas today.
(Photo: Jim Matthews/USATODAY NETWORK-Wi)

The Cowboys are favored by 2 points, staked to a point less than the usual home field advantage. They have a big and aggressive defensive line which could present problems for the Pack, particularly if the team is again without its two starting tackles. Both Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari are listed as questionable today; we may seem them some, little or not at all. 

WR Davante Adams has -- believe it or not -- cleared the NFL concussion protocol following that brutal hit in the Chicago game and may be able to play today. The same can't be said for RB Ty Montgomery. Broken ribs don't seem to recover quite as quickly as a concussion...although the comparative long-term effects of the latter...? Let's not go there today. So it will be the three rookie running backs who will be charged with getting something, anything, done on the ground to keep the 'boys from teeing off on QB Aaron Rodgers, especially behind what may still be a makeshift offensive line. Still, if the Packers are able to develop a bit of a running game, the line is able to protect, Rodgers could have a big day against the Dallas secondary. Lots of "ifs" there.

Defensively, the Packers may get Mike Daniels back today in some capacity. Even a little of Daniels is better than a lot of some other players so we'll take whatever he is able to give, particularly in the way of helping slow down Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliot. It will also be interesting to see if DB Damarious Randall sees much playing time today after his hissy fit during Da Bearz game which resulted in him spending a chunk of the game in the locker room after being sent off by Packers coaches. Let's hope he uses this incident as positive motivation.

The Prediction

On to the reason you're here: the prediction for today's game. We're seeing this as a being a close game through the first half, perhaps well into the third quarter. But we think the Packers have the tools to pull away at some point.

We're calling it Packers 30 - Cowboys 24.

Go Pack Go!!!