Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Packers take it to Chiefs, 38-28

The final score was closer than the overall tone of the game itself. That's because the Green Bay Packers completely dominated the Kansas City Chiefs last evening at Lambeau Field, going to 3-0 on the season as they notched an impressive 38-28 win.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers sliced and diced the Chiefs all night long.
Photo by Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Key to the win was, not surprisingly, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers who put in a masterful peformance. He was 24 of 35 for 333 yards passing, including five touchdowns and, once again, no interceptions. He even had two scrambles for 16 yards and one first down. Rodgers targeted 10 different receivers on the night, with completions to eight. Randall Cobb had three TD catches while James Jones and rookie Ty Montgomery -- in relief of the again-injured Davante Adams -- each caught one TD pass.

The Packers scored early and often in the first half, building a 24-7 halftime lead. And while the offense and Rodgers certainly and deservedly is the talk of the sports shows today, kudos must also be given to the Packers defense and special teams. With a handful of exceptions, Dom Capers' defense -- switching up personnel and schemes often -- completely stymied Kansas City's offense until well into the 4th quarter. Likewise, Ron Zook's special teams -- with the exception of allowing one long kickoff return -- kept the Chiefs from getting untracked by limiting field position most of the game.

DE Mike Daniels and OLB Mike Neal get one the night's seven sacks on Chiefs QB Alex Smith.
Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Sam Shields had a big interception, and six members of the Pack's "D" racked up seven sacks on KC QB Alex Smith; Clay Matthews accounted for 2 of those sacks. Pressure was constant on Smith. The defense also kept Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles from hurting them too badly; he did score three touchdowns, two coming late, but had just 49 yards on 11 carries, with a long run of 13 yards. This was the third week in a row that the Packers have a faced a top-notch running back. To this point in the season, they've answered the call admirably.

The injuries continue
Davante Adams (ankle), tight end Andrew Quarless (knee), defensive end Datone Jones (possible concussion) and linebacker Jake Ryan (hamstring) all departed the game early; their status for this Sunday's game at San Francisco will be determined as the week goes along, although it's likely Adams will be sidelined a week or more, re-injuring the same ankle as during the Seahawks game a week ago. Quarless took a nasty hit right to his knee after he caught a pass and while his leg was planted. We'll have to see how that goes this week. Jones will have to go through concussion protocols before being allowed back to practice. Ryan was seeing action not only on special teams but in the middle prior to his injury. The Packers were already down four players to injury coming into the game; add these players to that list.

The Packers will, however, get Letroy Guion back following his three-game suspension. That will definitely help the rotation on the defensive line.

Next up: the 49ers
The Packers travel on a short week to San Francisco to take on the slumping Niners. QB Colin Kaepernick had perhaps his worst game as a pro this past Sunday in the team's 47-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He had four interceptions on the day, including two in his first four passes. Let's hope that poor performance continues this coming Sunday. Packer fans know all too well that Kaepernick seems to have had some of his best games against the Pack. The Niners, however, are not the same powerhouse they once were. Still, on any given Sunday...

The Packers are currently listed as 8-1/2 point favorites over San Francisco. If they keep playing the way they have been through these first three games of the season, this is a game that should take the Packers to 4-0 on the season.

We'll have more as the week goes along.

Go Pack Go!!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Packers vs. Chiefs in Week 3 Replay of First AFL-NFL Championship

Well, that's the hook, anyway. The two teams from the very first Super Bowl -- then known as the AFL-NFL Championship -- meet tonight at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI: the Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Well, OK, not those exact teams...that game would really look like a rolling MASH unit. Still, on hand tonight will be quite a few of the Packers who actually played in that first championship game 50 years ago. Imagine that. Fifty years ago.

While that is cool enough in itself, it's history...good history: the Packers won. But our concern is more immediate. What's going to happen with this Monday Night Football extravaganza?
Get ready for a show at Lambeau Field tonight.
Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Here's what we know about the Packers
We know Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is healthy. That's a good thing. A very good thing. Starting RB Eddie Lacy is "probable" tonight, which is an upgrade from his "questionable" status of a few days ago. That means probably limited action. But James Starks can certainly fill the void, as we saw again last week against the Seahawks. In terms of receivers, Davante Adams is also listed as probable. So, again, perhaps limited action. But that means there are opportunities for other receivers. Plus, the Packers have had a week to game-plan for a reduced role for Adams. The receiving corps didn't seem to miss a beat last week while Adams was out. And let's not forget TE Richard Rodgers, who was not only working at his usual spot but also on occasion out of the backfield. There's plenty for the Chiefs to worry about.

We know we are in good shape with our skill players (note that I can say "our" because I am a Packers shareholder...a-hem), but we may have cause for concern at the tackle positions, particularly on the right side where Bryan Bulaga is still out and Don Barclay will have to take on arguably one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, Justin Houston. On the other side, we saw LT David Bakhtiari get speed-rushed a few times last weekend; he's got to hold up better this week. The Chiefs have a good front seven and can cause problems if the Packers O-line doesn't perform well.

On defense, we know that the Pack will be without S Morgan Burnett tonight. He helped a great deal in terms of secondary toughness last week against Seattle, as well as being the defensive backfield "quarterback." Seems as if the secondary is just not as good when Burnett is out of the lineup. Against a very good opposing quarterback such as Alex Smith, the Pack's secondary has to play more like they did last week than in the opener against Chicago.

The Packers are a work in progress and a bit banged up in the third week of the season, but are 2-0 going into a tough, but winnable game at home against a very good opponent, who themselves may be Super Bowl-worthy when it's all said and done.

What we know about the Chiefs
Since this is an inter-conference game, many Packers fans probably don't follow what happens in KC very closely. The Chiefs are 1-1 and have given up as many points as they've scored: 51. We also know the coach used to be a Packers assistant under Mike Holmgren once upon a time. He had a good stint with the Eagles, but didn't get them to the promised land. In Kansas City, he has a a team with a very good defense, particularly up front, a very good quarterback (Smith) and very good running back in Jamaal Charles when he isn't fumbling away the game as he did last week against Denver. This is the third week in a row that the Packers defense will have faced a top-notch running back. Charles is a versatile back, the kind that has often given the Packers defense troubles. Still, the "D" has done pretty well containing those backs the first two weeks; they'll need to do so again tonight.

Our prediction
The Packers are 6-1/2 point favorites. Many think it will be closer than that, and some even think this is a game the Pack could lose given their emotional expenditure in the win against the Seahawks. But the Packers are establishing dominance at home. Aaron Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception at Lambeau since...2012? Amazing.

The Packers get this win. We're calling it 31-24 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Packers pluck the Seahawks 27-17

It may have been publicly downplayed by Green Bay Packers coaches, staff and players prior to the game, but there's no denying the sweet taste of revenge that comes with the Pack's Sunday night win over the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. After losing three straight to Seattle, in heartbreaking ways, the Packers finally got their "white whale"...or blue-green birds...whatever.

It was a game where the better team exerted itself and controlled the game, particularly in the fourth quarter. To the latter point, the Packers controlled the ball for more than 10 minutes in the final quarter of the game, scoring 11 unanswered points.

As the Packers went to 2-0 in the division and conference, Seattle fell to 0-2, effectively putting the Pack three games up on their conference rival by virtue of the head-to-head tie-breaker, should it come to that at playoff time. The win was a huge one for the Packers and an equally huge loss for the Seahawks.
The Packers defensive line dominated the Seahawks
Photo by Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

While we expect the Packers offense to score points and lead the way (thank you, Aaron Rodgers, may we have another?), it was the Packers defense and special teams which played key roles in the win with unexpectedly strong performances. Outside linebackers generally held contain, while the D-line, anchored by B.J. Raji and Mike Daniels, stuffed RB Marshawn Lynch time and again, holding him to 41 yards on 15 carries. An amazing effort. Seattle QB and former Wisconsin Badger Russell Wilson was the team's leading rusher on the night, with 78 yards on 10 carries/scrambles.

The defense also caused two huge turnovers. Actually, LB Jayrone Elliott was the party responsible for both: he picked off one-handed a screen pass over the middle and then late in the game chased down RB Fred Jackson from behind and caused a fumble. A great night for the young man, who actually was back up to Andy Mulumba.

Packers special teams also are uncharacteristically performing well two games into the season under the leadership of coordinator Ron Zook. They covered well against the Seahawks. K Mason Crosby hit field goals of 54, 18, 44 and 21 yards. In doing so, he passed K Ryan Longwell as the Packers' all-time scoring leader. Congratulations, Mason!

While there was much to be pleased with in this game, injuries again reared up to bite the Packers. RB Eddie Lacy was lost in the first quarter to an ankle sprain; there is a possibility -- given the extra day of rest because the Packers don't play until Monday evening against the Kansas City Chiefs -- that he could be available to play. But James Starks carried 20 times for 95 yards as his replacement, proving why Ted Thompson decided to keep him in free agency rather than let him depart. Randall Cobb and rookie Ty Montgomery also got snaps out of the backfield, proving their versatility and how this offense just keeps coming at you no matter what.

WR Davante Adams was also out of the game for a while with an ankle injury, but returned to play. The biggest loss of the night was that of third-year DT, Josh Boyd, who broke his ankle and sustained some ligament damage, as well. He has since been placed on injured reserve for the season; the Packers immediately signed ILB Joe Thomas to the roster spot.

Chiefs up next
Next up for the 2-0 Packers are the 1-1 Kansas City Chiefs. The game will be in primetime on Monday night at Lambeau Field. In keeping with their 1-1 record, the Chiefs have both scored and given up 51 points in their first two games. The Packers, conversely have scored 58 while allowing just 40. The oddsmakers have installed the Pack as 6-1/2 point favorites at this point in time.

Check back with us later to read any updates and be sure to check back closer to game day for our preview and prediction.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Big Game of NFL Week 2: Seattle at Green Bay

Is there any denying that the biggest game of the second week of the 2015 NFL regular season is that of the Seattle Seahawks vs. the Green Bay Packers? Is there any denying that this game -- so early in the season -- may well go a long way to determining home field advantage in the post-season playoffs? Also, is there any denying that the Packers desperately want to take down this recent thorn-in-the-side Seattle team?

The answer to all of the above, as Captain Obvious would no doubt suggest, is a resounding "No!".

So what's our take on this game? Perhaps a bit more muted than it was earlier in the week. After the Chicago game, we knew the Packers would be without inside linebacker Sam Barrington for the rest of the season because of his ankle injury. That made an already thin inside linebacker group and overall questionable run defense even more so. The inside linebackers now consist of Clay Matthews, third-year player Nate Palmer (who relieved Barrington last week during the game after Barrington's injury and who will get the start today), and rookie Jake Ryan. The Packers do get back defensive end Datone Jones following his one-game suspension and that should help...somewhat. Consider that the Packers' biggest challenge is stopping RB Marshawn Lynch from tearing them up, followed by allowing QB Russell Wilson to remain untouched in the pocket...or out. The challenges to the Packers defense are significant. Seems as if we've been saying that for a few too many seasons now, doesn't it? Geesh.
Packers' slot receiver Randall Cobb can have a big day against a shorthanded Seattle secondary
Photo by Rick Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As if that blow to the defense wasn't enough, things then got worse mid-week for the Packers offense: starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga sustained a knee injury. Initially said to not be severe, we soon learned he'd had surgery and would be lost for at least 4-6 weeks. Not good, especially going into a game of this significance. Don Barclay will get the start in his place. Don't forget Barclay's started something like 21 games for the Packers during his previous three seasons with the team, so he's got good experience. But coming off his own injury of last season, Barclay looked overmatched at times during preseason action. Supposedly, he's getting back to his game. But he will need to be fully on his game today in order to give QB Aaron Rodgers the time he needs to work his magic.

While neither the Packers or the Seahawks are the same teams that met during the NFC Championship game, the Packers would seem to have the edge in this game (heck, they had that Championship game won big and gave it away, quite literally). Pundits seem to think so, too, generally picking the Packers to win this game. The oddsmakers have the Packers favored by 3-1/2 points. The projected 49-1/2 points total line for the game is the second highest of this weekend.

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are 3-0 against the Packers, defeating the Pack twice last season. Seattle is now the Packers' "white whale," much as Dallas and San Francisco were at different points of time in decades past. The Packers have to get by Seattle. Doing so tonight, in the 2015 Lambeau Field home opener, during primetime, would be a big step to not only the playoffs but home field advantage and further the Super Bowl chances which many hold for the team.

Our Prediction
We haven't talked here much about the Packers offense. With the exception of the loss of Bulaga, the Packers offense is the better of the two offenses on the field today overall. The Seattle Seahawks defense is without several key players from last season due to free agency and a holdout. The Packers will put up points. The key is whether or not the Packers' suspect defense can stop the run and keep Seattle from putting up too many points. If they don't, it will be a tight game and -- as we saw last season -- if the Packers play not to lose...they probably will.

But we are going with home field being a big factor today. And the revenge factor, despite being downplayed by coaches and players alike, has to be a factor for the Packers in this game.

We're calling it...30-27 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Packers beat Bears in 2015 NFL season opener

The Green Bay Packers did what they were expected to do yesterday in their 2015 NFL season opener in Chicago: beat Da Bearz. The final tally was 31-23 (our pre-game prediction was 34-24 Packers for those keeping track). For the betting folk out there, the Pack covered the spread. For the rest of us, it's enough to know they won and are 1-0 heading into the home opener Sunday evening against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. We'll talk more about the Seattle game later this week. For now, let's take a quick look at yesterday's highs and lows from the point of view of this writer.

The Good Stuff
In no particular order of importance, here are a few of the things we saw as positives coming out of yesterday's game:
  • The Packers won (OK, that definitely is the most important thing coming out of the game.)
  • Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, James Jones, Randall Cobb and Clay Matthews sustained no significant injury (as far as we know so far).
  • QB Aaron Rodgers is already looking in MVP form. He didn't rack up big yards yesterday but, in beating the Bears for the 13th time in 16 tries, he completed 18 of 23 passes for 189 yards, three touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 140.5. Not a a bad start to the season for A-A-Ron.
  • WR James Jones looks as if he never left the Pack. He and Rodgers teamed up for two touchdowns, including a tough contested catch on the first TD. If memory serves, a possible third TD catch was taken away because of a holding penalty.
  • RB Eddie Lacy is more than just a two-down back; he's worked hard on his receiving skills and it showed big-time yesterday on the improvised flip pass from Rodgers to Lacy who made a very athletic one-handed catch.
  • The Packers may have solved their kick returner problems. WR Ty Montgomery looks every bit the part, averaging 35 yards a return on three returns (if I recall correctly...look it up!).
  • LG Clay Matthews is one of the most instinctive linebackers in the league, demonstrating exactly that on an amazing -- and crucial -- interception of Jay Cutler late in the game. Yes, we're used to Cutler throwing INTs to the Pack; he has done so at least once in every game he's played against the Packers. But this one was more about Matthews and less about Cutler...amazing as that may sound, particularly as regards the latter part of that statement.
  • The Packers' generally inept run defense held Chicago out of the endzone despite a 1st-and-goal situation ...although that might have more to do with Chicago trying to pass in that series than run.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
While the Packers won and there was much to be pleased about in terms of the offense's performance and, generally, special teams' play, there is also more than enough for head coach Mike McCarthy to "get cleaned up" this week.
  • Let's begin with the Pack's defense. It was...oh, pretty horrible overall. It gave up 189 yards on the ground to Da Bearz. Certainly not as bad as 235 yards on the ground given up last Sept. 28 at Lambeau Field (that ranked as the NFL's worst in mid-2014), but still nothing to feel good about. Chicago RB Matt Forte ran for 141 yards in 24 carries. Head coach Mike McCarthy said months ago that stopping the run was his most important objective on defense this season. Well, it still looks as if there's work to do: since leading the NFL in run defense in 2009 (defensive coordinator Dom Caper's first year with the Pack), the Packers have been middle of the road or worse in this category every year since.
  • CB Sam Shields was more of an asset for Da Bearz during this game than for the Packers: arm tackling and multiple penalties -- including an offside on a field goal attempt which gave Chicago a first down and ultimately led to a TD. Not Shields' best game by any stretch of the imagination.
  • The defense had a great deal of difficulty stopping Chicago on third down, allowing Da Bearz to convert 11 of 17 third-down attempts, and convert two out of three on fourth down. Not good, and for a good chunk of the game Chicago dominated the time of possesion as a result.
  • The Packers nearly let Da Bearz back into the game late. That onside kick with about a minute or so remaining in the game, with just an 8-point lead, created a great deal of "Seattle 2014 NFC Championship Meltdown" anxiety throughout the Packersphere. The defense needs to dominate...and that's something we haven't seen for a while.
So, that's the good and the bad as we see it coming out of Week 1 of the season. Next up: Seattle. Yeah...those guys. Time for revenge. More on that later. For now, savor beating Da Bearz and being 1-0 in the division.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Packers vs. Bears in 2015 NFL Season Opener: Preview and Prediction

This is it, Packers fans: the Pack's journey to Super Bowl 50 (substitute Roman numerals if you are a literalist) begins today in Chicago...against...Da Bearz.

What could be a better kickoff than notching the first win of the 2015 NFL season against the divisional rival from south of the border? (That would be the Wisconsin-Illinois border for those not up on their U.S. geography...which, if recent studies are accurate, is most of you. A-hem.)

So what can we expect today? Well, everyone always says that you can throw out the record books when divisional rivals play...and especially when it's the first game of the season. After all, starters really haven't played that much in the preseason, so perhaps timing is off a bit. It might take a while for new players to get their groove on, so to speak. Well, you get the idea. Who knows what will happen?

Well, apparently, the oddsmakers think they know what will happen. And it's not good for Da Bearz. The Packers have been installed as 7-point favorites (6.5-points in some places...but that half point is hard to come by, even with the new extra point rules). That ties with the biggest projected winning spread of this weekend's games. And the projection for total points scored -- 49 -- is among the top three for Week 1.

Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy, and 2-time NFL MVP QB, Aaron Rodgers (Photo from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

What can Chicago bring to the field today? Well, there's a new coaching staff, a few new folks on offense and defense. The best thing they have going for them today will be veteran RB Matt Forte, one of the best in the league. They'd be wise to get the ball in his hands as often as possible today; after all, the Packers defense had issues last year and we really have no idea where it sits going into the season. There's been some big personnel changes. Can Forte exploit those? Sometimes. So will WR Martellus Bennett. He could take advantage of a very young and relatively untested Packers' defensive backfield if QB Jay Cutler can get him the ball. Wait, what was that we just said? Oh, yeah. Cutler. Enough said. Let's move on. Defensively, Da Bearz will be nothing special, especially this early in the season.

What will the Packers bring today? Well, QB Aaron Rodgers, of course. Eddie Lacy and James Starks...Randall Cobb, James Jones, Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers...a starting offensive line that's intact from last season and ready to roll once again. Defensively, NT B.J. Raji is back. That's huge...and no pun intended there. DT Mike Daniels will also come up big, as will some up-and-comers on the line such as Mike Pennel. The Pack brings two of the best linebackers in the league to bear (pun intended): Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, the latter of which should definitely not be underestimated despite his 14 years in the league. There's no arguing that the Packers defense needs to find solid replacements for D-backs Tramon Williams and Davon House who exited the team in free agency. We'll begin to see how well that is sorted out today. As for the Packers special teams...well, they were ranked 32nd in the league last year and until we see evidence to the contrary, we have to keep our fingers crossed in that respect.

The Prediction
Bottom line: the home field opening energy and divisional rivalry will likely keep Da Bearz close until probably half time or so. But over the course of the game, despite some first-game miscues, the Pack is just too much for Chicago to handle.

We're calling this in favor the Packers 34-24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Last Call for Contest Entries!
You have one last chance -- until noon CT kickoff today -- to get in your entry for our Packers house flag giveaway. See this post for details. Get your entry in NOW!!!

My Season Dedication
On a personal note, I am dedicating this season of PackersFansUnited posts to one of my best friends, Marty, who passed away unexpectedly this summer. We'd known each other since we were 5 years old and were lifelong friends...which I consider my very good fortune. Marty was a star athlete in football, wrestling and track-and-field in high school, and went on to have a successful career as a builder and remodeler. Marty was one of the biggest Packers fans on the planet. The area over his barn-sized garage was like a mini-Packers Hall of Fame. He could have charged admission to that place, honestly. He even hand-build a bar in the shape of the Packers' logo. He and his partner, Peggy, called this place the "G Spot," and so it was. Just so you have an idea how well-known and loved Marty was in his community, more than 2,000 people attended his wake; it was epic. Rightly so. He touched so many, many lives. He was a gentle giant, and any time spent with him was filled with so much laughter your stomach hurt from laughing so hard at the jokes and comments. I'm convinced that if the Packers go on to win today and to go to the Super Bowl, it will be because of some unseen block or tackle that seemed to come out of nowhere to give the Pack the win. He'll help the Packers take care of business. Here's to you, Marty. We miss you, but know you are enjoying the biggest and best tailgate party ever...the one that never ends.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Packers 2015 Season Prediction

As I say every year, sports pundit and blogger types usually do a game-by-game set of predictions for the NFL season. Not here. Instead, we break the season down to four quarters, much like a football game itself. We think that gives a better look at reality...or what will hopefully be reality when it's all said and done. It also follows an approach which many coaches, including Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy, use in looking at a season's schedule.

Given that the Packers roster is now set (at least through Game 1, after which DE Datone Jones returns from his one-game suspension and someone on the current roster will have to go), we have an idea what we are looking at in terms of player potential and player reality.

We begin, of course, with the season-long loss of number one WR Jordy Nelson. Dang. But, the Packers arguably still have the best receiving corps in the league, particularly so when QB Aaron Rodgers is throwing to them. He can make even mediocre receivers look good. Plus, with the return of veteran WR James Jones to the Pack, the offensive unit got a real lift. He's a player Rodgers knows and trusts to be where he's supposed to be on a route. Plus, having played seven seasons together, all those little unspoken signals and signs that pass between quarterback and receiver are definitely in play. How Jones fell back into the Packers lap after he was released by the Raiders after one season and then by the Giants...man, a gift from the football gods, indeed.

Packers WR James Jones is back with the Pack!
Photo by Jim Biever, Packers.com

The Season, Quarter by Quarter

1st Quarter Overview: The Packers play the first and last games of this first quarter of the season on the road, starting with Da Bearz and ending with San Francisco. In between, the Pack takes on the Seahawks and Chiefs at Lambeau Field. Chicago has a new coaching staff, but still has Jay Cutler at QB and a non-monster-of-the-Midway defense. The Pack kicks off their Super Bowl journey with a win. Both Kansas City and San Francisco are generally thought to be .500 teams. Seattle, of course, is still a stumbling block for the Packers...until their not.

Prediction: While the Packers could come fast out of the gate, that has not been their style in recent years. While it's quite possible they could go 4-0 here, I'm predicting a stumble somewhere...and it might not even be against the Seahawks.

2nd Quarter Overview: The Packers alternate two home games and two away games, plus a bye inbetween in this stretch: Rams and Chargers at home, then a bye in Week 7, then Denver and Carolina away. St. Louis, San Diego and Carolina are all somewhere around .500 teams, while Denver is among the top echelon in the league thanks to the ever-young Peyton Manning.

Prediction: This stretch will see the Packers go 3-1.

3rd Quarter Overview: The Packers play entirely within the NFC North Division in this quarter of the season, bookended with home and away games against the Lions. In between, the Pack plays at Minnesota and at home against Chicago in primetime on Thanksgiving night. Oh, in case you haven't heard, that game is also the game at which Brett Favre's number will go up on the Ring of Honor inside Lambeau Field. And, as if that isn't enough, Packers legendary quarterback and former head coach, Bart Starr, may also be on hand depending upon his recovery from his strokes (say a prayer for Bart, please). The Packers first goal as a team is to win the Division. So, here we go. It's the heart the season. By the end of this stretch, the Packers will be done with Da Bearz and the Lions, with only the final home season game against the ViQueens remaining against a Division opponent. The Packers need all of these games. Despite an improved Minnesota team and an always dangerous Lions team (although now one without the Mad Stomper Ndamukong Suh)...

Prediction: The Packers will go 4-0 in this stretch.

4th Quarter Overview: The Packers begin and end these final four games of the regular season at home, with back-to-back away games in-between at Oakland and Arizona. First up at home will be a game against the Cowboys and Wisconsin native QB Tony Romo. The Pack ends the regular season, as noted earlier, at home against the ViQueens. Both Dallas and Arizona should still be in the playoff hunt. Oakland? Still a bottom feeder. This is going to be a tough slog and injuries may be coming into play (for many teams, admittedly) at this stage of the season. But the Pack will want to finish strong. They do.

Prediction: The Pack will go 3-1 down the stretch and be well positioned to make a deep run in the playoffs.

Overall Season Prediction: Given the above, we see the Packers going 13-3 and winning the NFC North. From there...Super Bowl or bust, baby!

Go Pack Go!!!

Reminder: Packers Flag Giveaway Contest
Don't miss your chance to win a FREE Packers house flag from PackerFansUnited.com, courtesy of CollinsFlag.com. See our prior post for full details. All entries must be received by kickoff time (noon CT) of the Packers vs. Bears game on Sept. 13, 2015.

C'mon! Get your entries in!!!

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

It's Packers vs. Bears Week! How 'bout a contest to make things interesting???

Packers fans (and those who wish they were)...we're pleased to announce our first-ever Packers House Flag Total Points Giveaway Contest! Otherwise known as the PHFTPGC for brevity. That rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? We thought so, too.

The flag is provided to us -- and, ultimately, one of you lucky readers! -- courtesy of CollinsFlags.com It's a great Packers flag as you can see from the image above. Any true Packers fan would love to have this streaming in front of their home, garage, party tent, RV...whatever.

Da Rules
A Total Points Giveaway Contest is exactly what the title implies: one based upon total points scored. A-duh. In this case, the total points scored between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears in the 2015 NFL season opener in Chicago on Sunday, September 13.

Just email your total points guess for this game to packerfansunited@yahoo.com using the subject line "CONTEST" with what you think the TOTAL POINTS SCORED (the combined score for both teams!) will be for this game. Whoever comes closest to the actual final total score without going over...WINS!* Your email address will not be used for any other purpose than for contacting the winner.

You have until kick-off (Sunday, September 13, 2015, 12 p.m. CT...Note: Central Time) to make your guesses. There are no extra points for Tweeting/blogging about this giveaway but we’d love it if you helped spread the word. As the Lama told Carl Spackler as he was about to stiff him, "...but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So you got that goin' for you, which is nice.

*In the event of ties, the tie-breaker will go to the first person to guess per the rules (according to email time-stamp), so make your guesses early! Only one entry per person, please. Continental U.S. shipping addresses only, sorry.

Once the dust settles (it may take a while depending upon the number of entries...and we have lives, too), we'll be in contact with the winner for shipping information. CollinsFlag.com is responsible for providing and shipping the flag to the winner.

So...what are you waiting for? Put on your prognostication hat and figure out how many points the Packers are going to roll up on Da Bearz in Chicago along with the few Cutler and crew might scratch out. What could be easier?

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Packers 2015 final roster cuts; now await practice squad designations

Along with all the other teams in the NFL yesterday, the Green Bay Packers had to make some tough choices about who to keep on the final 53-man roster and who to let go. There were only a few surprises along the way.
Second-year player and WR Jared Abbrederis was one of the cuts.
Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

RB Rajion Neal was perhaps the biggest surprise cut given his very good performance during preseason. In the end, though, the Packers decided to go for more of a power back behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks than the third-down-type back which Neal is. Given that the Packers also kept two fullbacks on the roster, veteran John Kuhn and rookie Aaron Ripkowski, it was a crowded backfield.

Another cut, although perhaps not as surprising, was Wisconsin native and former UW Badger WR and returner Jared Abbrederis. Seeing his first live action during a game since college because of injuries, the deck against Abbrederis was not stacked in his favor given a deep receiving corps, even with the season-long absence of Jordy Nelson. It is hoped by many, including likely the Packers given how much head coach Mike McCarthy seems to like his potential, that Abbrederis will clear waivers today and be able to be signed to the Packers practice squad.

As for all the cuts, here's the list:
  • DL Khyri Thornton
  • LB Carl Bradford
  • WR Jared Abbrederis
  • DL Christian Ringo
  • RB Rajion Neal
  • RB John Crockett
  • WR Larry Pinkard (waived/injured)
  • WR Ed Williams
  • TE Justin Perillo
  • TE Mitchell Henry
  • OL Matt Rotheram
  • OL Garth Gerhart
  • OL Andy Phillips
  • OL Jeremy Vujnovich
  • LB Joe Thomas
  • LB James Vaughters
  • LB Jermauria Rasco (waived/injured)
  • CB Tay Glover-Wright
  • CB Ryan White
  • S Jean Fanor
The Packers also placed DL Datone Jones and DL Letroy Guion on the reserve/suspended list, with Jones getting one game and Guion three per NFL rulings. This means, of course, the Packers roster will change after the first game when Jones returns and after the third game when Guion comes off suspension; a couple players will have to go or be placed on the practice squad and one or two of those players released.

The Packers can begin assembling their practice squad at noon central time today once all released players clear waivers. Sometimes seeing who makes the practice squad is nearly as exciting as who gets the final spots on the 53-man roster.

Stay tuned, kids...more to come.

Go Pack Go!!!

Packer Flag Giveaway Contest!
Keep checking back, Packers fans, because we'll be announcing the details of our first-ever Packers flag giveaway contest soon! It's a beauty (as shown below). Don't miss out on the chance to get in on this!

Friday, September 04, 2015

Packers beat Saints in final 2015 preseason game, 38-10

After a slow start to a game once again, down by 10 points early, the Green Bay Packers' second, third and etcetera-string players rallied to score 38 unanswered points and beat the visiting New Orleans Saints by a final tally of 38-10 in the last preseason game of the 2015 NFL season. Yay.

Even more "yay" that it seems as if for at least last night the Pack escaped without another injury to a key player. Perhaps that was because few key players actually saw any action. QB Aaron Rodgers was once again in sweats along the sideline, as was his entire starting offensive line...well, maybe not all in sweats but along the sideline. You get the point. The Pack's top two running backs, Eddie Lacey and James Starks, were also not exposed to possible injury before the first game. FB John Kuhn, DE Mike Daniels and OLB Mike Neal were actually and factually the only regular starters seeing action. So it went. The night, instead, was given over to the backups. Many young men were playing if not for their football careers at least for their place on the final 53-man roster or, perhaps, the practice squad or a team elsewhere.
Packers rookie QB Brett Hundley continues to impress during last night's game against the Saints.
Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Hundley impresses again
One of the clear standouts in last night's action was rookie QB Brett Hundley. While Scott Tolzein is Rodgers' primary backup, the performance of Hundley in these preseason games confirm what the Packers braintrust knew about him in the draft. That's why they traded up in the fifth round to get him, amazed that he was still there. Head coach Mike McCarthy said, "We knew when we drafted him there was a lot there to work with. He has a lot to learn, but it's been exciting watching him get off to a good start." You bet. He had a passer rating of 142.4 against the Saints, pushing his four-game mark to 129.7 which, by the way, is one of the best in Packers' history. The young man looked very poised, in control, and -- dare we say -- Rodgers-esque at times in his movement within the pocket and his scrambling ability.

Other positives
  • WR Jeff Janis continuing to progress and perhaps develop (quickly, we hope) into a serious downfield threat that can somewhat mitigate the loss of Jordy Nelson for the season.
  • WR Myles White making a strong case to be part of the receiving corps again.
  • RBs Rajion Neal and John Crockett having strong performances once again...although Crockett may be a casualty of too many good backs ahead of him when cut-down time comes.
  • Solid play from the backup offensive linemen.
  • A much-needed good punting performance by veteran Tim Masthay.
  • Another good outing by undrafted DB LaDarius Gunter, making a strong case to be on the opening day roster.
  • Finally getting to see former Wisconsin Badger Jared Abbrederis take the field in the game both as punt returner and wide receiver. He only had once catch, but averaged more than 11 yards per return on punts...with -- oh-oh -- a fumble (recovered by the Packers). Coach McCarthy likes him, but he's more likely a candidate for the practice squad than the 53-man roster just because he's missed so much training camp with the concussion sustained in the first practice of camp. Let's also remember he missed all of his rookie season with an ACL injury sustained during last year's camp. He could bring a lot to the table, but he's got to stay healthy enough to actually be on the field. (Can you tell I'm rooting for him?).
Note that I haven't said much about the defensive line or the linebacking corps. That's because we really haven't seen much of the starting defense. With all the players that the Packers are trying to look at, it's a bit of a crap shoot on that front right now. But it will get sorted out in short order, that's for sure. The season opener against Da Bearz in Chicago is only about 9 days away. The Pack will be ready. Oh yeah.

Keep checking back for details on our Packers house flag giveaway contest!
Within the next few days we'll post the details for our first-ever Packers flag giveaway contest. So keep checking back or follow us on Twitter @packfansunited.

The flag's a beauty, as you can see in this image.
The contest will be run in conjunction with CollinsFlags.com.

So...stay tuned! In the meantime...Go Pack Go!!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Final 2015 Preseason Game Preview: Packers vs. Saints

In about 20 minutes from now, the Green Bay Packers will play their final game of the 2015 NFL preseason at Lambeau Field. The New Orleans Saints will be the opponent, which seems fitting given the heat and humidity currently present in the area.

What can we expect this evening? Little if any play from many of the regular starters, of course. Lots of young men battling for a spot on the final 53-man Packers roster or, barring that, to make enough of an impact in the game to get a call from another team after the Saturday cut-down. We also hope that whoever is on the field emerges without any injuries, something that hasn't been the case the last few weeks, sad to say.

Beyond that, it's anyone's guess. The coaches and most starters, one assumes, are focused not on tonight but rather on the first game of the regular season on Sept. 13 against Da Bearz in Chicago.

Speaking of Da Bearz: We're Having a Contest!

We're running a special -- and first ever! -- PackerFansUnited.com contest in conjunction with the upcoming season opener. We'll be giving away a flag similar to the one shown here courtesy of CollinsFlags.com.
Be sure to keep checking back here at PackerFansUnited.com for the rules and deadlines, or follow us on Twitter @packfansunited. We'll tell you more in the days ahead.

For now...Go Pack Go!!!