Sunday, November 26, 2017

2017 NFL Week 12: Packers vs. Steelers

OK, Packers fans...due to a variety of circumstances of interest to no one but yours truly, this post is being made only about 15 minutes before kickoff. As a result, we're going to do something different to save time and space: i.e., get to the point.

Tonight's game will not be pretty. The Steelers are 8-2 and the Packers are 5-5. Pittsburgh is a 14-point favorite. While the Packers defense has shown some signs of life, the offense under backup QB Brett Hundley is moribund (look it up).

The Prediction

So let's get to that aforementioned point. We're calling this one Packers 13 - Steelers 31.

We really hope we're wrong. Because if we're not, the Pack will have jumped the shark this season and we can start looking to the offseason.

With that...Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

2017 NFL Week 11: Packers vs. Ravens

First, let's just acknowledge that the Green Bay Packers did what they needed to do last weekend in Chicago: win. In doing so, the Pack stopped a three-game losing streak and beat a team that -- with or without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback -- the Packers should beat. They also kept alive playoff hopes, staying alive at 5-4 and two games behind the ViQueens in the NFC North. In doing so, we also perhaps saw some glimpses of what QB Brett Hundley can least occasionally. But the Packers also lost two running backs, Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones, as well as their starting right tackle, Bryan Bulaga.

Which brings us to today's game at Lambeau Field against the Baltimore Ravens. It's a bit of a mixed bag meets a bit of a mixed bag. That's because, like the 5-4 Packers, the 4-5 Ravens have a little bit of this going for them and a little bit of that, too.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco isn't having a great year, but he still has a great arm and, lest we forget, is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. In short, against a porous secondary and a defensive front without a pass rush, Flacco could display the arm that sees him earning the big -- and some would say, overpaid -- bucks.

Damarious Randall and the rest of the Packers secondary
will have to play exceptionally well today to keep
Ravens' QB Joe Flacco and his receivers in check.
(Photo: Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
The Ravens defense, especially coming off a bye week, is a good one and will certainly throw everything it can at the still-inexperienced Brett Hundley. The Packers will need Jamaal Williams, the now starter at running back, and Devante Mays -- getting his first NFL carries -- to take pressure off Hundley with a solid rushing attack. At the same time, Hundley will need to be more decisive early in the game than he's shown to date. It seems that in his first outings as starting QB, Hundley does better in two-minute drills and pressure situations. A sense of urgency needs to kick in much sooner or this could be a game that gets away from the Packers early.

The Prediction
The Ravens are favored by 2 points at the time of this writing. We do think this is a toss up game. The Packers are inexperienced in the offensive backfield and the Ravens big defensive front and experienced secondary would seem to be able to cause enough problems for both the running and passing games of the Packers.

But...if the Packers are able to keep this game close, we think that they will make one more play than will the Ravens.

We're calling this Packers 20 - Ravens 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

P.S. How 'bout them Wisconsin Badgers?! 11-0! Go Badgers! On Wisconsin!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

2017 NFL Week 10: Packers vs. Bears

This is it, Packer fans. We're back to the days of saying, "If we can only win two games (or one, in this case today), let it be against Da Bearz." And today, folks, is one of those days when it matters perhaps more than other times.

After losing QB Aaron Rodgers (likely for the season, in our view) and the game at Minnesota, the Pack have gone on a three-game losing streak -- losing at home to both New Orleans and Detroit -- and now sit at 4-4, just one game ahead of the bottom-feeding Chicago Bears in the NFC North. Packers backup QB Brett Hundley has so far shown us...well...not much. Part of that might be head coach Mike McCarthy's game plans for him, as well as perhaps overrating Hundley's ability. Part of that might be Hundley himself and this is going to be as good as he gets...which isn't good enough to help right the ship and keep the Packers in the playoff hunt this season.

But, perhaps a bigger issue than the lack of offensive production we've seen with Hundley at the helm -- which is certainly bad enough, granted -- has been the collapse of the Packers defense time after time and especially on third downs. The defense's inability to stop the opposition on third down, to execute a pass rush of any kind, and to muster any kind of mojo lies both with the players as well as defensive coordinator Dom Capers.

Packers defensive end Mike Daniels hasn't had a QB sack in 5 games.
The entire Packers defense must play at a high level today against Chicago.
(Photo: Jim Matthews/USATODAY NETWORK-Wi)

In the latter regard, local sports writers are starting to opine -- perhaps for the first time since Capers has been on staff -- that his job may be on the line. Finally. Head coach Mike McCarthy is extremely loyal to his staff, and seemingly to Capers in particular. But if the defense does not get turned around, this may be Capers' swan the delight of Packer fans near and far who have wanted to see him gone for years. With all the draft picks that GM Ted Thompson has provided on defense over Capers' tenure, to see the same results year after year is maddening. Wait, what? The Packers have been winning and going into the playoffs, right? Yes, but perhaps what we are all now seeing is just how much the play of Aaron Rodgers has covered up some glaring weaknesses in other areas of the team. When Rodgers is under center, you always have a chance to score points and win...a chance to overcome bad play by your defense. When Rodgers is gone...? Not. So. Much.

Coach McCarthy publicly called out his team this week saying that since Rodgers went down no one on the team has stepped up their play. Some pundits are even speculating that players, again, especially those on defense, may no longer be listening to their main man, Capers. Today would be a good day for at least a few players on each side of the ball to play with some passion. To show that they don't want to flush this second half of the season down the toilet, but at least try to win enough to stay in the playoff hunt. If the Packers don't somehow win today against Chicago, the likelihood of being able to get to even 9-7, let alone 8-8, dims significantly.

The Prediction

While we would normally feel good about going into Chicago and getting a win against a not-very-good Bears team, particularly one with a rookie quarterback, these are not normal times for the Green Bay Packers. Da Bearz defense could well pose problems for Hundley and the Packers' sputtering offense. While neither Chicago's QB or receivers are much to be worried about based upon stats, the way the Packers defense has been a sieve gives us the sense that the Pack could make these guys look like All Pros by the end of the game. Chicago does have a good running back combo and that could create enough problems on its own given the Pack's level of play recently.

Still, even with all that, and playing in what might very well be sloppy weather conditions, our heart of hearts (as opposed to our gut of that a thing, btw?) tells us that somehow, someway, the Packers are going to win this game. It won't be pretty. And we expect it to be close, despite the oddsmakers favoring Da Bearz by 5-points at the time of this writing. We hope and believe that there is some measure of Packer pride left that will do just enough to come away with a win today.

We're calling it Packers 20 - Bears 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Monday, November 06, 2017

2017 NFL Week 9: Packers vs. Lions

Coming off a two-game losing streak (at Minnesota and home against the Saints) following the likely season-ending loss of QB Aaron Rodgers and the team's bye week, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has declared that the team is prepared with a game plan on both sides that will put its players in a position to succeed. Bottom line: Packers will win this game at Lambeau Field vs. NFC North Division rival Detroit.

That's the head coach's view. You wouldn't expect him to say anything else. The oddsmakers favor the Lions by 2 points at the time of this writing.

How are you feeling, Packers fans? Be honest. Probably not great. With Rodgers out, it seems as if the Pack becomes just another one of the teams that perhaps will be fighting to be .500 by the end of the season. Perhaps be able to roughly split their games and sneak into the playoffs somehow at 9-7. But that's all for later. For now, the team has to find a way to win with Brett Hundley at quarterback against Detroit.

The Packers will need QB Brett Hundley to step up big time in order for the Packers to beat Detroit tonight.
(Photo: Steve Apps, State Journal Archives)

Here's hoping that a couple weeks of practice and coach McCarthy figuring out ways to actually help Hundley use his abilities might give the Pack a shot tonight. Going back a few years, OK, decades, the Lions are 25-1 at Lambeau Field. On the other hand, Detroit QB Matthew Stafford has thrown 15 touchdown passes at Lambeau, the most of any opposing quarterback, but is still only 1-5 overall on the Frozen Tundra.

Voice of the Packers Wayne Larrivee was just on radio giving some interesting stats about the Packers before and after Rodgers and it wasn't pretty. The Pack was 4-1 with Rodgers at quarterback. They scored something like 24+ points per game, while holding opponents to an average of about 22 points a game. With Hundley, they are 0-2 (technically 0-1 as Hundley has only started 1 game so far, coming in relief in the Minnesota game). The Pack has only averaged a little more than 13 points per game in those two losses while giving up almost 25.

Regardless of how the offense is doing, it's clear that the biggest factor in the Packers' season-sans-Rodgers is the defense. So far this season -- and how many other seasons now??? -- the defense has been in about the bottom quarter of the league statistically. The defense may got some new production out of rookies Montravius Adams and Vince Biegel, both of whom may seems some action this evening.

If the defense doesn't hold Stafford and some of his fine receivers in check tonight, and the offense sputters as it did against the Saints (despite a second straight huge running game courtesy of rookie Aaron Jones), this game could be over before it gets started. We certainly expect more out of Hundley than we've seen so far. But until he has a break out game, you have to look at which sideline the better quarterback is on. And tonight, that's on the Lions' side of the field.

The Prediction

That last paragraph above gives a good lead-in for our prediction tonight. And we hope we're wrong.

But we're calling this game Lions 31 - Packers 20.

Go Pack Go!!!