Sunday, October 28, 2018

2018 NFL Week 8: Packers at Rams Preview & Prediction

How are we feeling today, Packers fans? Yeah, me, too. We know the Pack can play better than we've seen through their first six games, sitting at a middling 3-2-1 and coming off their bye week. They have yet to really play a complete game on either side of the ball.

Will they have been able to get healed up a bit during the bye? And will head coach Mike McCarthy's seeming magic coming out of the bye week, where he has gone 9-3 during his tenure, play out today agains the 7-0 LA Rams? How will the team handle not only what may well be the best team in the league at this moment, but start off a five-game gauntlet that could well determine the team's season?

Lots of questions. Answers -- at least a few -- will be revealed just a few hours from now.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers give WR Randall Cobb
a big hug after a TD reception.
(Photo: Rick Wood/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
As for our guess...the Packers have their work cut out for them today. A-duh, right? But if they wish to make a statement, this would be a good time to do so. In the Pack's favor, QB Aaron Rodgers has had an extra week to rest up his ailing left knee. That helps. It also helps that both veteran wide receivers, Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison, are ready to go this week, while Rodgers had time over the last few games during their absence to become more comfortable with a couple of the rookie wideouts; in short, a bigger talent pool to rely on in the passing game than he started the season with. The Packers will also get back CB Jaire Alexander to give some much needed help in the secondary.

Questions, of course, surround the running game. Not questions about the talent there, but rather about why RB Aaron Jones isn't given the ball more and why the running game in general isn't being used to take some of the pressure off the passing game. In today's contest, it might be best to consider approaching the game plan as most teams do against the Packers: the best defense is to keep the opposing team's offense off the field as best you can. Because, to borrow a phrase, that LA offense will mess you up!

The Packers defense has been a squad of two halves so far this season: ranking near the bottom of the rankings for first half performance and nearer the top in the second half. The defense needs to play well in both halves today for the Pack to have a chance in this game. If it gets out of hand early, some of those last minute comebacks we've seen might not be quite as possible today.

The Prediction

We could do further breakdowns, but really this game is going to come down to whether the Pack is able to play a complete game for the first time this season. If so, the game could turn into a shootout and, if so, the Packers may not only beat the 10-point underdog spread, but may also come out with an upset win. If the Packers, on the other hand, continue to play the way they have before the bye ... say bye-bye to this game.

Still, we think despite all the offensive firepower of the Rams, the Packers have some of their own in that regard. We think the defense will step up. Yes, Green 'n' Gold-colored glasses, perhaps. But what can we say?

We're calling it Packers 37 - Rams 34.

Go Pack Go!!!

Monday, October 15, 2018

2018 NFL Week 6: Packers vs. 49ers Preview & Prediction

A few words about the Detroit game...

Doesn't it always seem as if something goofy happens when the Packers play at Detroit? Whether for or against the Pack, something odd always seems to occur. In last week's disappointment, the Packers racked up all sorts of offensive stats, but still wound up losing. While the loss can't all be pinned on K Mason Crosby's five missed kicks (that is not a typo -- 4 field goals and a missed extra point)...yes, even just a few of those would have been the difference in the game...what about the play calling? QB Aaron Rodgers' two fumbles? Dropped passes? No pass rush? The blame is across the board. OK, good, now that we've got that out of our systems, let's move on to tonight's game at Lambeau Field against San Francisco, shall we?
Mason Crosby (right) walks off with Hunter Bradly
after missing one of his five field goals at Detroit.
(Photo by Paul Sancya, AP)

The Preview

The Packers are favored by 9-1/2 points going into this game. Pundits are universally picking the Pack to win and win big. That's if the offense can get off to a faster start (they have been outscored 42-13 in the first quarter this season), play without penalties (averaging 8 for more than 80 yards per game) and turnovers, and score TDs when they get into the red zone, all of which have been a challenge so far in this 2-2-1 season.

Otherwise, it could be another game where the Packers clean up statistically and somehow still lose the game. Certainly, the Niners are not the calibre of Detroit, and have had 17 players on the injury report this week. But the Packers are missing key players, too, including wide receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison. If they fall behind early as has been the case this season, the game plan goes out the window and you're trying to play catch up. There's no need for that. Especially this evening.

The Prediction

This is a game, coming off last Sunday's debacle and heading into the bye week, that the Packers should win and -- yes -- need to win.

We're calling it Packers 31 - 49ers 13.

Go Pack Go!!!

Also, Go Brewers!!!

RIP Jim Taylor

We were saddened to learn over the weekend of the passing of legendary Packers fullback, Jim Taylor. He was always one of my favorite Lombardi-era Packers. He was one of the toughest running backs to ever play the game, rushing for more than 8,000 yards in far fewer games than go into a season these days. He was also the first of those Lombardi Packers to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Thanks for the memories, Jim. They are many.

Packers legendary FB Jim Taylor
(Photo by Ernest W. Anheuser, Milwaukee Sentinel)

Sunday, October 07, 2018

2018 NFL Week 5: Packers vs. Lions Preview & Prediction

That was a nice shutout last weekend of a Buffalo team that just the week before had whomped the Minnesota ViQueens, wasn't it, Packers fans? You bet. 22-0 is nothing to sneeze at, even while QB Aaron Rodgers wasn't happy with the offensive performance and made that feeling known. He and head coach Mike McCarthy are, though, according to the latter, both on the same page. Good to know.

That will be important in today's game against the Lions in Detroit because the receiving game may be, how shall we say, challenged. That's because WR Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison are out and Davante Adams is questionable in reality if not officially. As such, rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling, J’Mon Moore and Equanimious St. Brown will have to step up. If that becomes shaky, the Packers running game will need to step up the pace. RB Aaron Jones -- who needs and deserves the ball more -- along with Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery can fill the bill. If McCarthy lets the running game get more reps, that is. The offense will always run through Rodgers, of course, as it should. But if the receiving corps is shorthanded today, let's hope the rushing attack gets its fair share of play calls.

The Packers defense needs to get to Lions QB Matthew Stafford
today just as it has done in the past.

(Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
Defensively, we saw a more aggressive scheme -- or at least, performance -- last week than in prior weeks. Let's hope that approach and energy continues today. The Packers will need to get pressure on Lions QB Matthew Stafford because if given too much time he will pick apart a defense. Under pressure, he'll give you an opportunity for turnovers. The Pack will need at least one today to help make the difference. The Lions may have only won one game so far -- against the Patriots...go figure -- but they are an explosive team. You really don't know what to expect. But with the Packers at 2-1-1, we can really say pretty much the same about them right now, particularly with the injury situation.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 1 point at the time of this writing with the over-under at 51 points, so the oddsmakers are expecting a high-scoring and close game. We do, too.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Lions 24.

Go Pack Go!!!