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. This...is 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 week...how 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 glasses...so 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 soon...my 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 opportunities...as 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!!!