Sunday, November 28, 2010

Packers fall to Falcons 20-17

This was literally a situation of whoever had the ball last would win the game. Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers directed a final drive to tie the game at 17-17. But Atlanta got the ball back with under a minute left and, courtesy of a facemask penalty on the kickoff return, started at mid-field.

As TV commentators are saying, the one-dimensionality of the Packers' offense -- i.e., no rushing game by the Pack -- is showing up big time in a game like this, and was the difference today between these two teams. One could run the ball, the other couldn't. I don't have to tell you which is which.

Add in the inability of the Packers' special teams to do something big when it mattered most, with time running out. Instead, they gave up a big return and then added another 15 yards with a stupid penalty to allow a short amount of yardage needed for a winning field goal. (Sigh)

A turnover at the goal line by Aaron Rodgers meant two trips inside the 10-yard line with only 3 points to show for it. Killer.

Missed opportunities. As with the 3 other losses this season, that's the theme of today's game.

The Packers go to 7-4 and need Philadelphia to beat Chicago in the second game today.

Packers 3 - Falcons 10 at halftime

The first half of the Green Bay Packers - Atlanta Falcons game played out somewhat as expected: a battle of very good teams, but with a few glitches on both sides. For the Falcons, those glitches were penalties. For the Packers, those glitches were missed opportunities, including failure to challenge a 4th down pass reception by Tony Gonzales on the go-ahead TD drive by the Falcons.

The biggest missed opportunity, though, was a fumble on a quarterback sneak by Aaron Rodgers in the endzone, where the Pack would have gone up 10-3. Instead, the Falcons took the ball at the 20 and put together that 80-yard drive (incl. the non-catch catch on 4th down) to convert their own TD on a blown 3rd-and-goal coverage on TE Tony Gonzales. The Falcons are up 10-3 at halftime.

As Howie Long is saying during halftime comments on Fox, the failure of the Packers to challenge a bad spot on a 3rd down slide by Aaron Rodgers and then the non-catch by Gonzales account for 11 points in this game.

The Packers have to get it going at a higher level than they are now. There will be no help from the refs on spots. The team is playing sharp, just not sharp enough to overcome any mistakes against a team like the Falcons. Gotta kick it up a notch!

Go Pack Go!!!

Packers vs. Falcons Preview

Happy Dirty Birds Day to you, Packer fans! No, I'm not referring to the recent day on which you dropped turkey on the kitchen floor after carving, tossed it back on the plate, and then served it to your relatives. I'm talking about today's game in Atlanta between our Green Bay Packers and the Falcons.

The Falcons are coming into the game with a NFC-leading 8-2 record, with the Pack at 7-3. Atlanta is favored by 2 points.

The Birds fly high in their dome. They are 18-3 at home over the last three seasons. This team is not like the last two teams the Pack has faced. They are good and they won't quit on their coach the way those teams did. Statistically (you can look elsewhere today for that info if you are a stat geek), the Packers and Falcons are fairly close in many areas. However, the Packers have an overall better defense, particularly in the secondary. That is an area that will need to execute well today, as they have been doing, for the Packers to come out on top. WR Roddy White leads the league in receptions, if memory serves, and is up there in reception yards as well, not surprisingly. Expect the Packers to likely have CB Tramon Williams on White most of the time, although they may shift Williams and Charles Woodson around as needed so that rookie safety Sam Shields isn't stuck on an island against White.

The Falcons also have veteran TE Tony Gonzalez as a receiving threat and RB Michael Turner as the featured rusher. Gonzalez is still dangerous, despite perhaps losing a step, and Turner is quick and powerful and can move the chains and eat clock. The Packers' defensive line has handled running backs all season long and I expect them to bottle up Turner today as well; he may get some yards, but as long as they don't allow him to break long runs or get 5+ yards per carry, it will be OK. QB Matt Ryan is similar to the Packers' own Aaron Rodgers: cerebral, strong arm, and generally won't make mistakes.

So, if the Packers' defense can continue to do what they have been doing, and special teams holds its own, it comes down to the offense executing its game plan. The Packers have more weapons in the receiving game and they are going against a 24th-ranked passing defense. So if the offensive line gives Rodgers time and he's on his game, the Pack have the advantage. But expect a closer game than we've seen recently.

This is a game which will tell us a great deal about how good the Packers really are. As fans, we are all beginning to think they are very good. A win in Atlanta today will reinforce that perception. More importantly, though, it will also go a long way to helping determine homefield advantage in the playoffs. If the Pack plucks this one away from the Falcons, things are looking rosy.*

I'm calling this one 27-24 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

* Rosy reference: Have to give a shout out to the University of Wisconsin Badgers who finished their regular season yesterday with a 70-23 beat down of the Northwestern Wildcats at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. The currently 7th-ranked Badgers share the Big Ten championship title, and should receive the bid for the Rose Bowl. Go Badgers!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Packers - Vikings post-mortem: nice!

Green Bay Packers 31...Minnesota Vikings 3.

Stick a fork in 'em, Danno...the 'Queens are done.

What a tremendous victory for the Pack in the Humpty Dump. A place that had often been a house of horrors for the Green 'n' Gold instead became exactly that for the guys in the funky purple. Aside from the final score and total domination by the Packers from the 2nd quarter on, the other key indicator to revel in was the passer ratings: Rodgers 141+, Favre 51.2.

Yes, it was a nice game. Is that too understated? Well, let's see. Wasn't it nice that coach Mike McCarthy deferred after winning the coin toss and let his defense set the tone with a 3-and-out series against Favre and his offense? Wasn't it nice not to hear that stupid Viking horn blaring for no apparent reason? Wasn't it nice to hear the home fans chanting, "Fire Childress" in the 4th quarter? Wasn't it nice to hear Packers fans -- the best in the universe! -- chanting, "Go Pack Go" as score after score was tallied up? Wasn't it nice to see QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Greg Jennings light up the 'Queens secondary? Wasn't it nice to see the Packers defense totally shut down Minnesota's weapons and make Ol' #4 look like the grampa he is? Wasn't it nice to see the Packers special teams act somewhat special? Wasn't it nice to see 'Queens' players and coaches going at one another on the sideline? The list could go on and on. Yep, I'd say it was a very nice game indeed.

So, the Pack go to 7-3 on the season, tied with five teams for the second best record in the NFC. We share the division lead with Da Bearz. And we travel to Atlanta to take on the 8-2 Falcons on Sunday. That will be a challenging game, and more on that as actual game time nears.

But let's just look at where the Packers are right now. Their season point differential is plus-106, 36 points more than the next closest team, the Steelers. During this current four-game winning streak (which Atlanta also has going into the upcoming game), they have been penalized only eight times for 60 yards. And in the turnover margin, the Packers are ahead in that part of the game as well. Finally, in the last three games, the Packers have outscored their opponents 85-10. Holy blowout, Batman!

The offense is rolling. The defense is controlling. Special teams are trolling. (Sorry, got into a goofy rhyming thing bad...)

The Packers are putting the pedal to the metal, and they're driving to the playoffs. Might still be a few speed bumps on the way. But, man, ya gotta like it. Ya gotta like it.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Packers vs. Vikings Preview

Favremageddon 2010 - Part Deux is upon us. The Tempest in the Twin Cities. The Oh-The-Humanity in the Humpty Dump. The Overused Hyperbole in...well...

OK, you get the idea. The Green Bay Packers meet the Minnesota Vikings in the second of their two 2010 showdowns. Round #1 went in favor of the Pack. Round #2? That should also go in favor of the Packers, and the line seems to reflect that: the Pack is favored by 3 despite the game being played on the 'Queens home field where they are very good and the Packers usually aren't.

But we all know that these games in the Humpty Dump are never easy. It is one of the loudest venues in all of sports. It is made even louder this time around with all the Minnesota fans shouting for the firing of head coach Brad Childress. But that's a whole other story. The key thing for the Packers will be to get up early and take the crowd out of it. If you are the Packers, you want them booing their own team not creating signal calling problems for you.

Coming out of the bye week, and with time to re-gear and build upon the momentum and offensive rhythm established over the last three games, the offense should click. The defense, with Cullen Jenkins working without the club on his broken hand for the first time since the first game, and the possibility of Ryan Picket returning in even limited play, should pick right up where it left off. Contain RB Adrian Peterson and pressure Ol' #4. The Packers' opportunistic defense should be able to generate a couple turnovers and in a close game that can be the difference. The 'Queens got some good news today, however, when WR Sidney Rice was activated off the PUP list. How much action he'll see, and how in sync he'll be with his quarterback, is a big question.

As for special teams, the Packers will have cornerback and speedster Sam Shields returning kickoffs. He opened eyes with a big return against the Cowboys. Coaches have decided that, until fumbles prove otherwise, he creates more problems for opponents that he does for the Packers. Expect the usual suspects back to return punts. On special teams, look also for the return of TE/LB Spencer Havner to the mix. He was a great special teams player in his prior time with the Packers and one would expect more of the same now that he's back in the fold. Throw in the bonus of his rapport as a tight end with QB Aaron Rodgers in the red zone and the Packers have yet another receiving threat for the 'Queens to worry about.

This will be Brett Favre's Super Bowl: his chance to win one last time against his former team before calling it quits. You know he's going to do all he can to stick a fork into GM Ted Thompson one last time. But there should be no doubt that the Packers are the better team. And by the end of the game, the score will reflect that.

I'm calling it Packers 31 - Vikings 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

In the spirit of the season...

In keeping with the spirit of the holiday season and its rampant commercialism, we decided to jump onboard and sell out like everyone else. So, from today (Nov. 20) through Nov. 23, you can save $10 on orders of $50 or more at the Packer Fans United online shop. Just use code Friend10 at checkout. You will find all sorts of great apparel and gift items. Caps, t-shirts, sweatshirts, stuff for the ladies, stuff for the kids...stuff for everyone! Let the good times roll, Packer fans! Grab some cool stuff for yourself, pick up some gifts for your buddies and save some green to boot. It's what made America great, my friends. Time to start stimulatin' the economy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday before Favre's Super Bowl

No, we aren't doing a flash back to the late 1990's. We're talking this upcoming Sunday, when Ol' #4 himself might have his own personal Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers. Because this might, maybe, perhaps, who knows?, be the last time Brett Favre suits up against his old team. And with one loss already under his belt against the Pack this season, you know he's really gonna want to stick it to Packers GM Ted Thompson just one more time before riding off into the sunset on his lawnmower.

This, of course, despite the fact that Favre is surrounded by perhaps the most dysfunctional team in football this season. The Drama 'Queens have given a whole new meaning to the expression "They eat their own." When players do not respect their head coach -- as various comments out of the ViQueens' locker room over the past few weeks clearly suggest -- anything can happen. Yes, these are professional athletes who play for their own pride, if nothing else. But even these days, that sometimes isn't enough to get the most out of players.

Take, for example, the case of WR Sidney Rice. By many reports it seems as if he is capable of returning to the field from his hip injury. Yet, there are also reports -- or, at least, speculation -- that with a free agent year on the horizon, Rice is in no hurry to get back on the field for a 3-6 team that is as much of a mess as this one is. Why risk injury again and jeopardize a potentially huge free agent payday?

So, with arguably the 'Queens best receiver likely not playing on Sunday, and the other receivers also nursing some injuries, Ol' #4 just doesn't have the downfield targets he has been accustomed to. He does have a good tight end in Visanthe Shiancoe who has become a favorite. And, of course, he does have that running back...what's his name? Ah, yes, Adrian Peterson.

So, Favre's Super Bowl? Think he'll come up just a bit short of the mark. You know, like in the last two big games he's played that would get him there. The Pack is favored by 3 right now. Past history says this game will be a close one. Hope it's not. And the directions the two teams are going in indicates that it shouldn't be.

We'll do a a bit more of a preview later. But for now, just wanted to get back into the blogging game. The Packers took a bye week and I did too. Sometimes we all need a break.

Sales underway in the Packer Fans United online shop!
In a move of blatant commercialism, we wished to call your attention to the sales currently underway at the Packer Fans United online shop. Today, Friday, you can take $5 off orders of $45 or more by using code PRETG5 at checkout. And running from tomorrow, Nov. 20, through Nov. 23, you can save $10 on orders of $50+. Just use code Friend10 at checkout. You will find all sorts of great apparel and gift items. With the holidays coming up, stock up now and save some bucks in the process!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tauscher on IR, Havner re-signed

Given the outstanding play of rookie offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, the Green Bay Packers have opted to place veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher on the injured reserve list for the remainder of the season. Out since sustaining a shoulder injury in week #4 against the Lions, this move not only ends Tauscher's season but perhaps also his least with the Pack.

Tauscher is an 11-year veteran, with all his career spent with his home state Packers. But at age 33, and with several severe injuries already under his belt, plus a scheduled $4.1 million salary set to kick in next season, it would seem doubtful the Packers would bring him back at that price.

Last year, Tauscher had his second reconstructive knee surgery before finally being re-signed and helping turn around an offensive line that looked more like a sieve in his absence. This season, though, even before the shoulder injury, it sometimes seemed as if the years might finally be catching up with this sure-fire future Packers Hall of Fame member. We'll have to see how things play out in the off-season. But whichever way the cards fall, we have to thank Mark Tauscher for being a true Packer for so long and so well, and wish him the very best in the future.

The other news of the day was that the Packers re-signed TE/LB Spencer Havner. This was rumored to be a strong possibility and was, actually, projected here and many other places. No big surprise, really. When the Packers tight end corps thinned greatly, it was likely that management started to regret their decision at final cut-down to release the reliable Havner. The kid could not only catch passes -- he was a red zone touch down machine last season -- but could also fill in on the defense and play special teams. It didn't make sense to many fans when he was released. Havner was picked up by the Lions but sustained a hamstring injury in mid-October and was waived. The Pack, thankfully, picked him up. Good to have Havner back in the fold.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who ya got? Da Bearz or ViQueens?

One of the joys of this particular bye week for fans of the Green Bay Packers is that the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings play each other this Sunday. And while it's not as joyous as it could be if there were actually a way to have both teams lose, we can still be thankful for a couple things. First, one team will lose. Secondly, both teams will get beat up.

My friend, Billy Da Bearz Fan, asked me today who I was rooting for. I told him I'd have to agree with the radio voice of the Packers who said on Monday that he believes the 'Queens have the most talent on paper in the NFC North (despite their record). Thus, Wayne Larrivee said, the Pack really has more to fear from Minnesota than Da Bearz, who he sees falling apart as the season goes on. Seems a reasonable argument.

So, on this given Sunday, yours truly will be rooting for Da Bearz to beat the 'Queens. Yes, this will keep Chicago in the running with the Pack, at least for another week. But it will put more distance between the Packers and Minnesota, which, if you believe Larrivee, is the greater challenger for the division title. And if Chicago can help send the 'Queens broken and battered into the game with the Pack the following week, all the better.

For those reasons, a victory by Da Bearz is on my wish list for this weekend.

How do you feel about it? Are you rooting for Chicago or Minnesota this weekend? Tell us by voting in the poll in the righthand column.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Packers release CB Al Harris

Today was the decision day for the Green Bay Packers as to what to do with veteran cornerback Al Harris: activate him, put him on IR for the rest of the season, or release him. The Pack went with door #3: they released the veteran who had been with the team since being acquired from Philadelphia in 2003.

Harris suffered a severe knee injury last season and has been rehabbing it ever since in the hope of rejoining the team. Despite being hit by injuries throughout the team, including the defensive backfield, it appears that Packers' management felt going with younger players who have played beyond expectations to this point -- including undrafted rookie CB Sam Shields who has performed very well as the nickel back -- was preferrable to a 35-year-old player attempting a return after what is often a career-ending injury. The decision was obviously also made easier by the fact that Tramon Williams has really raised his level of play and become a very good cornerback for the Packers. The Pack will want to lock him in long-term. Salary implications and roster spots obviously become part of the equation in making the decision the Packers had to make. So does the variable about whether players have more good years ahead of them or less. Yes, Virginia, it's a business. And sometimes it can be that fundamental.

Harris started every game in which he played for the Packers from 2003-09, 102 in all. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2007 and 2008 and earned second-team All Pro honors in 2007. In 2004, Harris set the Packers' single-season record of passes defenses with 28. During his time with the Pack, Harris had 14 interceptions -- including some very memorable ones...right, Matt Hasselbeck? -- and 108 passes defensed. Harris may not have been the fastest cornerback in the league, but he always seemed to have a knack for being around the ball and making big plays.

The downside for the Packers, other than saying goodbye to a valued veteran, is that Harris can be picked up by any team. Hmmm...which team in the NFC, in the NFC North to be exact, winds up scrounging Packers' castoffs? Oh tends to be those guys in the funky purple uniforms, doesn't it? Don't be surprised if that's where Harris lands.

But, regardless, our best wishes to Al Harris. Thanks for all your great play on behalf of the Packers. As the statement from GM Ted Thompson said, "We wish him the very best in the future and he will always be a part of the Packer family."

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Packers whoop Cowboys 45-7

As the TV announcers were quick to point out, this game was an embarrassment for the Cowboys. Conversely, it was perhaps the most complete game of the season for the Green Bay Packers. At 45-7, you'd sure think so.

But let's just savor this one for tonight. There's plenty of time to review the details in the days ahead.

So, enjoy, Packer fans! The Packers are 6-3 atop the NFC North going into the bye week.

It's great to be a Packer fan. Especially when you put a hurt on the 'boys from Big D like the Pack did tonight. "America's Team" ... yeah, right.

Packers must beat Cowboys tonight

Granted, nothing surprising in that headline. But given that both Da Bearz and the ViQueens pulled wins out of you-know-where earlier today, the Green Bay Packers must do what they are favored to do: beat the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field.

This would give the Pack a three-game winning streak going into the bye week, and set them up to play what will no doubt be a battered 'Queens team at the Humpty Dump the week after; the 'Queens play Da Bearz in Chicago next weekend...which begs the question: can both teams lose? Yes, wishful thinking, I know. (Sigh)

But back to tonight's game. The point spread favoring the Pack over the past few days has gone from 8-1/2 points to 7. Tells you that those who wager see a Dallas team that could, perhaps, maybe, reverse their downward spiral. Certainly they have the talent to do so. We just need to hope they don't pick tonight to get off the turnover-penalty bandwagon they've been riding all the way to their 1-6 season record...or as owner Jerry Jones prematurely stated after last week's loss, a 1-7 record.

It will be an intriguing game to watch, as this will be a game of match ups. We can continue to look to Packers' defensive coordinator Dom Capers to weave his magic with players and schemes. That will be needed to keep Dallas' three-headed running attack in check and force Jon Kitna to carry the day. Conversely, Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy needs to start walking his own talk about committing more to the run on offense. RB Brandon Jackson has shown flashes. But it seems just when he gets rolling, McCarthy's play-calling turns into an ongoing series of shotgun formations with no running backs to be seen anywhere. Gotta keep the 'boys honest tonight, coach. Please. It might just be the thing to provide enough of a rhythm for the offense, the kind that seems to have been missing for a large part of the season.

So, without further ado...let the game begin!

Go Pack Go!!!

Lets' get ready to play music! Wait...what???

If it's game day in Green Bay then it must be time to talk about...symphonic music???

Yes, this is the place you come to read about our beloved Green Bay Packers. And you will, just not in the usual way. Bear with me.

"The Civic Symphony of Green Bay has a surprising concert lined up Friday – rousing football themes. Many of the pieces are bursts of heroics and adrenaline made for NFL Films. The man who wrote much of that music is coming from Munich, Germany, to conduct."

So begins an article in yesterday's Green Bay Press-Gazette. It tells the improbable story of how a chance pick up two years ago of a CD, "Power and the Glory," containing a compilation of that great music from NFL Films led to this upcoming multi-media orchestral presentation. And the characters involved have interesting connections going back to Vince Lombardi himself. The article details how the key players had to navigate a lack of musical score availability, rights to play the music, etc. Certainly it's all a tribute to an idea and the perseverance to see it through. Worth reading.

According to the article, "Narrating and hosting the concert will be Bill Jartz, WBAY, Channel 2, anchorman and stadium announcer at Lambeau Field. The Green Bay Press-Gazette has supplied photos from most eras of Packers history for projecting on a screen. Augmenting the orchestra will be players from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the community."

You can learn about the Civic Symphony of Green Bay's performance here. Tickets are just $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for students and families can attend for just $35. Holy helmet-to-helmet hit, Batman! That's a deal! And with the Packers bye week coming up, here's a way for you to get your football fix and even get a dose of culture at the same time. Thank goodness, though, it's still football culture. I mean...c'mon, right? It is Green Bay after all.

Thanks again to fellow Packer fan and friend, Steve, for passing this along.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Packers - Cowboys Preview: Sunday Night Showdown

Two teams headed in different directions. That pretty well sums up the contest Sunday evening between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. After giving away a couple games they should have won, and sitting at a mediocre 3-3, the Pack put together great wins over the ViQueens and the Jets.

Both of those wins can be attributed more to the Packers' defense -- which, lest we forget, is the unit that has been hurt the most with injuries -- than the offense. At the mid-point of the season, the Packers' offense still has yet to play a complete game. Sunday night against the 'boys would be as good a time as any to put a complete game together.

The offense will be without veteran WR Donald Driver for the first time in...oh...forever, it seems. He was on crutches late in the practice week just to give some added relief to his quad injury. That means, likely, that Greg Jennings will take Driver's spot in the slot and has the potential for some big plays. As radio voice of the Packers, Wayne Larrivee points out about Dallas in his blog, "There is a gap of coverage between the linebacking corps, the safeties and cornerbacks that is wide open" because "Dallas will blitz a lot and they like to play quarters coverage behind those blitzes." Jennings and fellow receivers James Jones and Jordy Nelson should be chompin' at the bit to against the Dallas secondary. Let's just hope that they and their QB, Aaron Rodgers, are a bit more in sync than they seem to have been over the last few games. And that they hold on to the passes that come their way. If so, the Pack could rack up some points.

Rookie TE Andrew Quarless was battling a shoulder problem throughout the week and he is listed as questionable for the game. It was clear in some of head coach Mike McCarthy's comments during the week that he was less than satisfied with Quarless' ability to work through the discomfort and be on the practice field. McCarthy noted that the players that practice are the ones who will get the nod on game day...hint, hint, Mr. Quarless.

On the Packers' offensive line, rookie Bryan Bulaga will once again get the start at right tackle in place of the still gimpy Mark Tauscher. LG Daryn Colledge missed a bit of practice during the week with a bad back and it wasn't certain he'd be available for the game. Jason Spitz and T. J. Lang would be the backups if Colledge couldn't go. But he did practice Friday and says he'll be ready.

On defense, it was announced late Saturday afternoon that S Atari Bigby was activated off the PUP (physically unable to perform) list and now fills the last open roster spot which was made available earlier in the week when the Packers cut DE Michael Montgomery. Rookie Morgan Burnett had filled Bigby's starting spot at the beginning of the season until he was lost to season-ending injury. Charlie Peprah has been filling the role well the last few weeks. It will be interesting to see just how much play Bigby gets in the game against Dallas.

It will also be interesting to see if CB Al Harris is activated before game time. Ditto for the other member of the PUP list, rookie RB James Starks. The Packers have until Monday to decide what to do with them. There is some speculation that CB Pat Lee might be placed on IR after sustaining a high ankle sprain in the game against the Jets. Lee is listed as out for the Dallas game. If that's the case, and the prognosis on the sprain is not good, it would make sense that the Packers put him on IR opening up a roster spot for Harris. The consensus on Starks seems to be that the Packers will put him on IR for the rest of the season and then see what they have with him next year.

As for the Cowboys, at 1-6 they are, to say the least, underperforming given the talent on the roster. But a lot of talent doesn't necessarily add up to a team. The 'boys seemingly are in disarray, much like that team in the funky purple. But as a character in a Monty Python sketch reminds us (please say with an Australian accent), "There's nothing as dangerous as a wounded mosquito."

What has cost the Cowboys this season has been turnovers and penalties. If the Packers can create turnovers and convert them into points, that will help seal the deal for a win. If the Packers allow veteran QB Jon Kitna -- replacing the injured Tony Romo -- time to find any among the band of talented receivers, things could get interesting. The running backs seem good enough, but they have been underutilized it would seem. The special teams have a dangerous returner in Dez Bryant, who is also the receiver Kitna seems to have developed a quick rapport with. The Pack will have to shut him down.

Bottom line is if the Packers defense plays the way it has been playing, the special teams continues its fine turn-around, and the offense finally gets it in gear and can get up early on the 'boys, the Pack should come out of this game with a win and be at 6-3 going into the bye week. That would also leave them well in charge of the NFC North. And given what a mess there is in Minnesota right now, what some (or many) figured might be a loss in the Humpty Dump in two weeks could very well be the Pack's seventh victory. But we'll worry about that game then. Gotta take care of business at Lambeau against the Cowboys first.

The Packers are favored by 7-1/2 points (depending upon who you tend to be looking at for that type of info). I'm calling this game 30-20 in favor of the Pack.

Go Pack Go!!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

New book details Lombardi-years' Packers and St. Norbert College

St. Norbert College Press, De Pere, WI, has just released the first book under its imprint: “A Championship Team: The Packers and St. Norbert College in the Lombardi Years”. Why should Packer fans care about this? Well, because the Packers have been holding their summer training camps at St. Norbert College (SNC), just outside Green Bay, since 1958 and the days of Vince Lombardi himself. (You will find a link to SNC in the righthand column of this blog, by the way.)

According to news on the college's website, the book was the brainchild of SNC President Thomas Kunkel, who took over the helm of SNC in 2008. It wasn't long afterward that he started hearing Lombardi stories from the Rev. Rowland De Peaux, O.Praem., and others.

Kunkel eventually asked veteran Packers beat writer and sports journalist Cliff Christl to put togehter an oral history of the Packers training camps at SNC during the Lombardi years. “We were fortunate to have Cliff take on this project with us,” Kunkel is quoted as saying. “He knows the team, he knows the players and he knows the campus. He was the perfect person for the job.”

If you're interested in the book, it's available at the Packers Pro Shop and will be available in Shopko stores in Wisconsin and upper Michigan (a shout out to all you Yoopers!) in early November. The book will also be available at the new SNC bookstore in Todd Wehr Hall (for those in the neighborhood of De Pere) and as a featured item in the college’s online store.

The news release notes that the strong relationship between the Packers and St. Norbert College continues: "This past summer, Kunkel was elected to the team’s board of directors. Former Packers general manager Ron Wolf will be December’s guest on 'Conversations from St. Norbert College,' and Packers CEO Mark Murphy has contributed a guest editorial to the upcoming issue of St. Norbert College Magazine, in mailboxes next week.

"In addition, the Packers will be co-sponsoring the college’s second sport and society conference in 2012. And, of course, the team will be back on campus when next year’s training camp rolls around."

The book sounds like a terrific addition to the library for Packers fans.'s perfect for parties...and ideal for gifts!

Oh, and for those looking for a great small college for the kids, you won't do any better than St. Norbert College. Hey...if it's good enough for the Packers...

And finally, thanks to friend and Packer fan, Steve, for passing this story along.

Favre as zombie? Hmmm...

There certainly have been many twists and turns in the life and NFL career of Ol' #4. Eschewing (look it up!) a big bankroll from the Green Bay Packers to ride off into the sunset as a legend and ambassador of sorts for the Pack, Brett Favre instead opted for more gridiron glory. Or not, as this year is sadly bringing home to roost for him in more ways than one.

But that aside, and no matter how we may feel about Ol' #4 on any given day, we mere mortals stand in awe of his ongoing ability to seemingly be the football equivalent of the Energizer Bunny, who just keeps going and going and going and going...even on an ankle with two fractures.

One writer has finally figured out Favre's secret: he's a zombie!

Check out the article and evidence for yourself. decide!!!

By the way, thanks to displaced -- and occasionally deranged -- Packer fan, Gonz, for passing along this story.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Packers' victory over Jets: no-name "D" gets it done

This NFL season for the Green Bay Packers certainly has not unfolded as many if not most folks thought it would coming out of the preseason. The injuries have bordered upon an epidemic of Biblical proportions. The inconsistency of the offense through the first half of the season is frustrating and bewildering. The special teams? Not very special early on, but as of late...not bad at all. And as for the defense, guys should be wearing name tags out there so you know who's playing on any given weekend.

And yet, somehow, this team has fought through the adversity, not used excuses, and have gotten tremendous peformances out of guys who might not even be on a NFL roster right now if not for all the Packers' injuries. Charles Woodson put it this way: "It's amazing what you can do with some athleticism and good coaching. We've got good coaches, so you can stick some guys in there who haven't been around, and they can get it done."

That's just what they did yesterday in the new Meadowlands. Despite the inability of the offense to score a touchdown -- even with 1st and goal from the 2-yard line! -- the punting of Tim Masthay and the coverage of the punt units gave the Packers the edge in field position all day long. Head coach Mike McCarthy said, tongue in cheek, at his press conference today that Masthay's punting performance was so good, it "almost makes me want to cry." Given that the Packers' punting production over the last several years has been near the bottom of the league, one can only image how giddy McCarthy must feel to have something going for a change in that area.

Anyway, as a result of Masthay's fine punting and return shutdowns by the coverage unit, the Packers' no-name defense was able to absorb the occasional big play by the Jets' reputed high-power offense. The closest the Jets got to scoring all day was a 37-yard field goal attempt that stayed right of the goal posts.

The bottom line was the Packers' first road shutout since 1991 and only their sixth in the last 50 years. Granted, the Jets helped the Packers all day long with a few dropped passes and, of course, three turnovers. But the Packers' defense took it to the Jets. Key plays by LB Desmond Bishop, S Charlie Peprah, cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, pressures by LB Clay Matthews and a three-man front, solid play by all the linebackers...all in all, it was a great effort by the Pack's defensive unit. And another great coaching job by that Conjurer of Lombardi Avenue, defensive coordinator Dom Capers. He's working magic with the defense, somehow getting production and performances out of players that just shouldn't be playing this well. But thank goodness they are. It's the story to the season so far.

Now, if the Packers can -- as they well should -- win at home on Sunday night against the woeful Dallas Cowboys, they will go into the bye week at 6-3. Who'da thunk it???

Cowboys, anyone?
Oh, and by the way, if you want to read about the Pack's next opponent, the 'boys, check out this article in which the Big 'boy himself, Jerry Jones, apologizes for the current state of his team.

Now, the Pack can't let down. We know there is a defense that can shut down and shut out a pretty good offense. And, finally, there may be a punting game back in Green Bay that can be relied on to shift field position in favor of the Pack. But it would be nice, before going into the bye, to see the offense finally get it together. If so, it will all add up to that 6-3 record we're hoping for.

All that's left to say about that is, Go Pack Go!!!