Monday, October 28, 2013

Packers stomp Vikings, 44-31

It was, quite simply, a beat down of the woeful Minnesota Vikings by the ascending Green Bay Packers. It was a game of domination by the Packers on both sides of the ball. But don't just take my word for it. Look at the facts:
  • Fact: the Packers possessed the ball for more than 40 minutes of the game.
  • Fact: the Packers scored on every possession with the exception of the last, when QB Aaron Rodgers took a knee a few times in victory formation to run out the clock.
  • Fact: Aaron Rodgers can make even practice squad receivers look good.
  • Fact: Running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks provide a powerful and explosive one-two punch of a rushing attack.
  • Fact: LT David Bakhtiari made ViQueen DE Jared Allen a non-factor all evening; Allen is nowhere to be seen in the defensive stats -- no tackles, no sacks, no pressures...nada.
  • Fact: The Packers defense held last year's league MVP, 'Queens RB Adrian Peterson, to just 60 yards on 13 carries, roughly half his typical career average against the Pack.
  • Fact: Cornerback and returner Micah Hyde makes himself more valuable to this team every game; in this game he had a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown.
  • Fact: The Packers defense, despite so many injuries, is pretty darn good (although they tend to let up on the peddle late in the game and give up garbage points).
  • Fact: Jordy Nelson has to be the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL.
  • Fact: 'Queens WR Greg Jennings -- after an offseason full of trash-talking about his former team, teammates and QB -- had one reception for nine yards.
  • Fact: Greg Jennings is starting to realize that you're only a "receiver" if you have someone who can actually throw you the a quarterback. We can assume Jennings' post-game suck-up to Rodgers was very much a serving of humble pie for Mr. Jennings.
  • Fact: There is a textual error in the Rodgers image you see it? (Extra reward points if you do!)
We could go on and on and on. But anyone who watched or listened to the game already knows what went down. That would be the ViQueens...big time.

Da Bearz are coming to Lambeau

Next up for the Packers Monday evening: Da Bearz. Who, while not in as bad a world of hurt as the 'Queens are at present, still are...not good. QB Jay Cutler is out, LB Lance Briggs is out...they have problems. Still, it's certainly no walk-over for the Pack. But if the Packers play the way they did last night, they can stay with any team, and put most away. We'll have more on the Packers vs. Da Bearz later in the week and as game time approaches.

Until then...just really savor this delicious win, Packer fans. And...Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Week 8: Packers vs. Vikings Preview

Tonight's game between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings will be the first meeting between the two teams this season and the last ever in the stadium generally referred to as the Humpty Dump. While the site of some epic battles between these two NFC North Division opponents over the years, players and fans alike will be glad to get into new surroundings next season.

But that's a side story to tonight's primetime game, obviously one of those scheduling decisions which didn't work out perhaps as well as imagined at the time it was set. The Packers, after all, are coming into the game atop the division at 4-2 riding a three-game winning streak despite a plethora of injuries, while the ViQueens are bringing up the bottom at 1-5 with a two-game losing streak and a mess at quarterback.

In our early-week glance at this game, we stated: "Packers and ViQueens is always a tough game, particularly when played in Minnesota. Even with the depleted roster the Packers are playing with right now, they should still win the game against this group of ViQueens. Especially if the 'Queens make the decision to start Freeman at quarterback once again."

Well, despite playing the entire game versus the Giants in a losing -- and inept -- effort Monday night, newly-acquired QB Josh Freeman will not play tonight. The decision was made earlier in the week. It was announced, to the surprise of many, that Freeman had actually sustained a concussion during the Giants game and would not be cleared to play against the Packers. Hmmm. How convenient. The announcement was met with some skepticism by pundits around the country. How was it that Freeman was not identified as being concussed during the Giants game? Some even asserted that Freeman or, more likely, the 'Queens, was faking the injury so Freeman wouldn't be fed to the Packers this weekend. We will make no such assertions here, but rather we leave it to you, dear readers, to come to your own conclusions.

So instead of a clearly not-ready-for-primetime Josh Freeman at quarterback, the Packers will instead see Christian Ponder. Ponder, as some have described him, is a capable quarterback. Not great, but if given protection and time, can execute a game plan and keep the 'Queens in the game. Especially with lots of handoffs to RB Adrian Peterson.

Let's not forget Greg Jennings
One of the best Packers receivers over the past seven years had been Greg Jennings. He was the epitome of class. Until he turned down more money to stay with the Packers and instead went to where many Packers' castoffs go, Minnesota. Then he began bad-rapping the Packers, Aaron Rodgers, you name it. Turns out he might have been a bit bitter. Now, when he has to line up against his old teammates, he claims all that mouthing off was just kidding around. Let's just hope Tramon Williams and the other D-backs hold Jennings to as few catches and yards as possible tonight. It will be a reminder to him that you're only as good a receiver as the guy throwing you the ball. Aaron Rodgers? Or Ponder, Freeman,'s that all working out for you, Greg???

What's it going to be?
The 'Queens secondary is woeful, meaning Packers QB Aaron Rodgers should have a big day despite the loss of some of his best receivers. Throw in a now solid running game and it will be enough to give Minnesota fits all day. That's not to say that Minnesota DEs Jared Allen and Brian Robison won't cause some problems, especially with Allen going against Packers rookie LT David Bakhtiari. Still, Bakhtiari has held up well in each game against other good talent and we would expect him to do so tonight, as well.

Minnesota's offensive hopes rest on the legs of league MVP Adrian Peterson. The Packers can't give him any room to run, and they can't arm tackle. Peterson will get his yards, it's expected. But as long as there are no major game-long breakdowns in the Packers defense, Peterson won't be enough to overcome the ViQueens many other woes.

The Packers are favored by anywhere from 7-1/2 to 8-1/2 points depending upon who you are looking at for your line, with an over-under 47-1/2.

We're calling this game 31-20 in favor of the Packers.

It will be a battle, as these divisional games always are regardless of records, and it may even be close for a good portion of the game. But the Packers will separate and maintain the lead until the final seconds tick away, maintaining their lock atop the NFC North.

Go Pack Go!!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Packers down Browns, Vikings next up to go down

This is very late breaking news: the Green Bay Packers beat the Cleveland Browns Sunday, 31-13. In doing so, the Packers now sit atop the NFC North at 4-2, 1-0 in the division; Da Bearz, the ViQueens and the Lions all lost. Order has been restored to the universe.

It was throwback weekend for the Pack, so they were in their blue and tan uniforms (now with a non-logo gold helmet courtesy of NFL rules), a recreation of the 1929 uniform worn by the Packers' first NFL championship team. With Sunday's win, the Pack is now 3-0 in these uniforms. Go, Acme Packers, Go!

The game itself was nothing flashy. The Packers were just generally efficient -- and better -- against a not-so-good Browns team piloted by a not-so-good quarterback. Although, to be fair, Browns QB Brandon Weeden did get into a rhythm as the game progressed. It's just that it didn't matter. Despite the plethora of injuries which has decimated the Packers again this season, the Pack just has more depth where it matters. And they also have QB Aaron Rodgers at the helm. That's big. So, too, is rookie RB Eddie Lacy who has become an integral and important part of this offense and has helped the offense overcome the loss of key receivers. (More on that in a minute.)

Defensively, the Packers -- playing rookies at the outside linebacker positions because of injuries to both starters and immediate backups -- held tight. The defense is playing aggressive football. Young players are sometimes making mistakes, but are also coming up with big plays. LB Jamari Lattimore, now seeing extended action, seemed fast, decisive and hard hitting. A.J. Hawk is continuing to perform at a level that seems to make this his best season yet. Micah Hyde is playing with a maturity that belies his rookie status. Davon House had perhaps his best game of the season in coverage. The defensive line, as a whole, is really making the opponents' running games a non-factor so far. It really is an all-around great team effort. With star performers on the sidelines, that's what it will take this season.

Jermichael Finley the latest addition to injury list
(Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

While the Packers and fans alike celebrated the win, all thoughts turned to TE Jermichael Finley who left the field on a stretcher and spent Sunday evening and Monday in the intensive care unit of a Green Bay hospital with an unspecified neck injury. In his press conference yesterday, head coach Mike McCarthy used the word "significant" in describing the injury and stated that it would take some time to accurately assess the injury and, by implication, Finley's future not just for this season but for his career. Word has only come out today that the initial prognosis is that Finley has a bruised spinal cord. He was up and around yesterday in the hospital. But it will apparently take additional medical tests and opinions before both Finley and the team are able to determine what role, if any, Finley may have going forward.

That's secondary, of course, to his overall personal health and well-being. Finley sustained a concussion in week 3 of this season, at which time his three-year-old asked him to stop playing football. No doubt the youngster's request will be made again. And this time, it may carry a lot more weight given the severity of the injury. If you want to read an overview of Finley's situation and its impact on both him and the Packers, check out this great article by Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

A quick look ahead to the Vikes
We'll do a more in-depth preview of the upcoming game between the Packers and the ViQueens later this week. For now, it's enough to know that the Josh Freeman era at quarterback has apparently started in Minnesota. He played versus the Giants in New York last night and the results were not good. Vikes lost their fifth game of the season and Freeman was done no favors by his head coach who put him in a position to fail rather than succeed. While the final score was 23-7 (against a currently not-great Giants team), Minnesota's offense failed to score a single point; the TD came on a punt return in the first quarter.

ESPN commentator and quarterback camp guru, Jon Gruden, couldn't fathom why head coach Leslie Frazier didn't make the switch to QB Christian Ponder in the second half of the game. Freeman looked totally out of his comfort zone if not element entirely. If you care to read a great synopsis of the game by Gregg Rosenthal at, go here. For game reactions via the Twittersphere, check this out.

Packers and ViQueens is always a tough game, particularly when played in Minnesota. Even with the depleted roster the Packers are playing with right now, they should still win the game against this group of ViQueens. Especially if the 'Queens make the decision to start Freeman at quarterback once again.

More later in the week.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Week 7: Packers vs. Browns Preview

This week has been a pretty uneventful one for the Green Bay Packers. No...wait...other way around, sorry: it's been a very eventful week for the Pack. It could cause more than a few Packer fans to get...nervous.
After all, the Packers lost two of their starting receivers in the win against the Ravens, James Jones and Randall Cobb, for varying amounts of time. It was hoped that Jones might be able to play this weekend but he did not practice during the week and is listed as questionable for the game. Randall Cobb, well, he's out longer. A lot longer. He was placed on the injured reserve list with a "designated to return" classification. He won't be back till mid-December at the earliest. (Be positive: it will be for the stretch run!)

So the receiving corps -- one of the best in the league at the start of the season -- was down to basically Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin. As a result, the Packers promoted practice squad WR Myles White to the active roster earlier in the week. They also claimed 49ers wide receiver Chris Harper off of waivers a day ago, so don't expect to see him this week. But GM Ted Thompson wasn't done yet. He also promoted TE Jake Stoneburner from the practice squad. With TE Ryan Taylor out, Brandon Bostick will also be getting some playing time. QB Aaron Rodgers will have plenty of targets to throw to. The key will be how many of them are able to make catches and make plays.

Thankfully, the Packers have a running game this season. With Eddie Lacy as the main man, and Johnathan Franklin available (James Starks is out), and the with offensive line playing like they actually like to run the ball, a balanced offensive attack is just what the doctor ordered for this game against the Browns.

Let's not forget the Packers defense, which has been equally hit by injuries. With four of the team's top linebackers now out for varying periods of time -- Clay Matthews, Brad Jones, Nick Perry and Mike Neal -- and veteran backup Robert Francois done for the season, young players are going to have to step up. Rookies Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer will be called upon to fill the gap -- literally. We can only hope that A.J. Hawk continues his outstanding play because he is going to be needed more than ever.

What else? Well, with Randall Cobb now out of the picture rookie CB Micah Hyde will take over the punt return duties.

If you seem to be picking up a youth theme among these changes you are correct. As the article by Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, the Packers' "53-man roster now has 14 rookies, including six who were not drafted. At a minimum, the Packers will have seven rookies on their 46-man game-day roster against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Lambeau Field."

Game Prediction
The Packers are 3-2 and the Browns are 3-3. The Packers are favored by 10 points at the time of this post. The Packers pass production could be down because of the loss of Jones and Cobb...those are guys that are difficult to replace in production. Expect coach Mike McCarthy to use Jermichael Finley as a third wideout in some sets. But if Lacy can have a 100-yard day -- and there is no reason to think he won't -- that will take pressure off the passing game.

Note that we haven't said much here about the Browns. It's not that they don't pose a threat because, given the Pack's beat-up status, they do. It's just that if they do what they need to do -- especially on the defensive side of things -- the Pack will come out on top. If memory serves, the Browns haven't yet surpassed 17 points in any of their three losses. If the Pack can hold them to 17, the Pack will win.

So, let's make the call: Packers 27 - Browns 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Packers outlast Ravens 19-17

It wasn't pretty, that's for sure. But the Green Bay Packers had just enough to beat the Ravens in Baltimore today. It was the first win for the Pack in Baltimore since MacArthur Lane was the running back and, coincidentally, the first time they had a 100-yard rusher in a game versus a Baltimore team since Jim Taylor against the Colts in 1963.

Those historical markers aside, the game was memorable on a few other well as forgettable on still others.

The nod to the memorable part of the game has to go to the defense which, for most of the game, held the Ravens in check with smash-mouth play. LB A.J. Hawk was a man possessed, seemingly everywhere on the field, responsible for three sacks on Ravens QB Joe Flacco. The defensive front on two separate occasions stopped Baltimore deep in the red zone, once with 1st and goal from about the 2-yard line. On the offensive side of things, Aaron Rodgers threw for more than 300 yards and Eddie Lacy rushed for his first 100-yard game as a professional.

(Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun, October 13, 2013)

One of the forgettable parts was the almost similar 4th quarter collapse (but not this time) as occurred against the Bengals, including a 63-yard pass completion on 4th-and-21 which brought the Ravens to within 2 points of the Packers late in the game. John Kuhn touching and muffing a blocked punt, which instead of giving the Packers the ball deep in Ravens' territory gave the Birds a first down, was another forgettable play.

Perhaps the most forgettable, however, were the injuries. Actually, we probably won't be able to forget these injures anytime soon. First, WR James Jones went down with a knee injury. He was out of uniform and walking stiffly on the sideline in the second half. Then, WR Randall Cobb went down after being hit low on the right knee after making a catch. He was taken to the locker room on a cart and was on crutches on the Packers sideline late in the game. In his post-game interview, head coach Mike McCarthy said he didn't know the severity of the injuries yet but should know more tomorrow.

So the Packers were down to two wide receivers for the second half of the game: Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin.

The Packers now have a couple of starting linebackers sidelined and a couple starting receivers, as well. The injury bug has hit the Pack big early this season. And with the bye week already behind them, there's no time to "get healthy." GM Ted Thompson will have to figure out what to do to bolster the roster. Some pundits are already saying the Packers might have to become a serious contender in the trade market because of today's hits to the receiving corps.

It's not going to be easy. But the Packers have perhaps gone through the gauntlet of the toughest part of their schedule. Sure, there are 11 games left, no more byes and and it's all tough. But the Pack has already played three championship-caliber teams in their first five games and have come out with a 3-2 record. They have -- or had -- the talent to make a deep playoff run. In their last Super Bowl season, they also were plagued with injuries and found a way to win it all. Will that be possible this season? It remains to be seen.

All we can say right now is ... Go Pack Go!!!

Week 6: Packers vs. Ravens Preview

For the third time in the first five games of the 2013 NFL season the Green Bay Packers will play a championship-caliber team on the road. The team? The Baltimore Ravens, winners of the last Super Bowl. Who did they beat? The San Francisco 49ers, coincidentally the first of the teams the Packers faced on the road this season. And, coincidentally, the first of the two teams the Packers have lost to on the road this season.

Granted, the Ravens now aren't the Ravens they were then. (You follow that, right?) Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin are all gone from the squad. They are 3-2 overall, tied atop the AFC North with the Browns and Bengals after what generally is called a big win for them over Miami.

On offense the Ravens have, depending upon one's point of view, either an elite or a very good quarterback in Joe Flacco. Baltimore ponied up elite money for him after the Super Bowl win. The number of quality receivers he has to throw to this season, however, is not the same as last season. WR Torrey Smith is the go-to man this season. He has speed, size and can run great routes. The Ravens also have a good runner in Ray Rice, although his stats are down this season from what they have been in prior years. Still, he showed more of his old self in the win over the Fins last week. The Packers run and pass defense will have to be at least as good as it's been in its two wins in order for the Pack to notch the team's third victory of the season...and its first on the road.

(Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

It's not going to be easy for the Packers defense today with the loss of two starting linebackers, Clay Matthews and Brad Jones. Mike Neal -- who had arguably his best game as a Packer against the Lions -- and Nick Perry are both going to have to really step up today in replacing the two starters. If another injury hits the Packers' linebacking corps, they are down to very inexperienced players as backups; keep your fingers crossed that the injury bug stays away today, Packer fans.

The Packers offensive line and skill positions will also have to be on their "A" games. That means in big attitude. The Ravens still have one of the better defenses around despite it's personnel losses. OLB Terrell Suggs has recovered fully from a torn Achilles suffered 18 months ago. He's good. Very good. On the other side, OLB Elvis Dumervil brings speed. They can cause problems for both the rushing and passing games if allowed to get their games going.

Aaron Rodgers will need to be his usual sharp self. He got his mojo back after a down game in Cincinnati. The Packers receivers should be able to take advantage of an average secondary if the O-line gives Rodgers time to make his reads. That should be aided by the ongoing success of the Packers rejuvenated running game. That's going to do just enough to keep the Ravens from bringing an all-out pass rush every play.

The Prediction
The Packers haven't won on the road yet this season and the Ravens haven't lost at home yet this season. Streaks will continue or not. I'm going with the "not" group.

The Packers are favored by 3 points. The over-under is set at 49 points.

I'm calling this one 27-20 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

If you want the final video thoughts from on this game, just click here.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Packers beat Lions, lose Clay Matthews and other linebackers

The Green Bay Packers did what they needed to do yesterday at Lambeau Field: they beat the NFC North Division leading Detroit Lions, 22-9, to pull within one-half game of the top spot. They also moved to within a half-game of Da Bearz. It was an especially great defensive performance, sacking Lions QB Matthew Stafford five times and holding the fourth-highest scoring offense in the league to just nine points.

However, the win came at a price. Starting linebacker Brad Jones went down with -- what else? -- a hamstring injury; his status is still unclear. His backup and special teams standout, Robert Francois, blew out his Achilles and is done for the season. Near the end of the third quarter, uber-linebacker extraordinaire, Clay Matthews, broke a thumb on a sack of Stafford. Late today, it was reported that Matthews will have surgery on the thumb and be out at least a month. It's possible the Packers could use their one special injured reserve spot with return after six weeks to open up a position for another player while Matthews heals. Obviously, no matter who that player is, the Packers' defense took a hit with the loss of Matthews, as well as Jones and Francois. Other players will have to step up big time.

As to the Packers' offense, it did what it needed to do. Aaron Rodgers was his efficient self throwing for a tad under 300 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Eddie Lacy rushed for 99 yards. Randall Cobb ran out of the backfield for 60+ yards on one play. James Jones caught the longest TD pass and play from scrimmage this season, 83 yards. Jordy Nelson made acrobatic catches that are becoming his trademark. Mason Crosby tied a franchise record by kicking five field goals; he hasn't missed a field goal attempt yet this season.

But the offense had to settle for field goals the two times it got into the red zone yesterday. This has been a disturbing pattern so far this season: not finishing drives or capitalizing on turnovers...the latter played a role in the loss to the Bengals last week.

Still, a win is a win, especially over a division opponent.

Oh, and did I mention this was the 23rd consecutive time that the Lions have lost on Wisconsin soil? They came in roaring...they left meowing.

Next up for the Pack will be a road trip to Baltimore to take on the 3-2 Ravens. Check back here during the week for more about Packer developments and game previews.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Week 5: Packers vs. Lions Preview

The Green Bay Packers come into Week 5 off their bye week and much-needed time off in order to get some of the injured players back on the field. The Pack's record is 1-2 after an ugly loss at Cincinnati. The Lions come to Lambeau Field sitting atop the NFC North at 3-1 after a fairly solid handling of Da Bearz in Detroit. The Lions defense looked very good, particularly along the front seven.

The Lions have not won in Green Bay since 1991. They are tired of hearing about it. This is a team, truth be told, that has the best chance to break that streak.

So this is what is at stake in Sunday's game:
  • For the Lions, going to 4-1 and holding onto first place in the NFC North with a 3-0 division record.
  • For the Packers, going to 2-2 and staying within a game of the Lions (and perhaps Da Bearz, who play the Saints in Chicago and are 1-point underdogs).
  • For the Lions, dropping to 3-2 and perhaps falling to second place in the division (with a Bearz win).
  • For the Packers, dropping to 1-3 and a tie for last place in the NFC North with the ViQueens, who have their bye week.
The last point above is the one which should make every Packer fan very nervous. The historical odds of a 1-3 team making the playoffs is not great. (Sorry, can't locate my exact stat at present but seem to remember that it is less than 15 percent.) So, that's a place we don't even want to go. Losing this game is not an option for the Packers. They need it more than the Lions, although the Lions certainly have enough incentive, as well.

The good news for the Packers during the bye week is that LB Clay Matthews will play. After going on a tear in the first half of the game against the Bengals, Matthews' hamstring acted up and he and medical staff decided to pull him and not risk injury. The second half of that game was one where his lack of presence was certainly felt. But having him rested and available for the Pack's first divisional game of 2013 may well have been worth it in the long run if he's able to stay on the field. Running backs Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin are also expected back, as is FB John Kuhn, and TE Jermichael Finley. After being down to one running back by the end of the Cincinnati game, the Packers should be able to offer a more balanced effort on offense. The key will be how well the Packers' offensive line is able to handle arguably one of the best defensive lines in football. Without a running game or a threat of it, it could be a long day for QB Aaron Rodgers.

A couple other things to keep in mind: the Packers are generally a very good post-bye-week team under head coach Mike McCarthy; Rodgers has a record of playing extremely well following his rare bad games. Rodgers had an off-game by his standards against the Bengals. That won't happen against the Lions. Especially not at Lambeau Field.

The Packers are very much a work in progress. Just one example: a quarter of the way into the season and they still don't have a solid kick and punt return arrangement, with Jeremy Ross having been cut the day after his disastrous performance in the Cincinnati game. It will be return by platoon until someone steps up. Coach McCarthy is understandably reluctant to expose WR Randall Cobb to work as a returner, but he may not have another choice. Sure hands are needed.

The oddsmakers have set the Packers as 7-point favorites at the time of this writing; that's the third-highest margin of the weekend. We'd be very happy to see that margin come true. The over-under is currently set at 54 points, again, the third-highest total of the week. With Lions QB Matthew Stafford having one of his better seasons so far, with WR Calvin Johnson being his usual nearly-unstoppable self, and RB Reggie Bush giving the Lions a look at running back that they haven't seen in Detroit since Barry Sanders, the Packers defense will have its collective hands full.

What's our prediction? If you are one of those working the odds, take the Lions. Straight up, take the Packers in a very close and hard-fought game.

We're calling it 30-28 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!