Sunday, October 27, 2019

NFL Week 7 Review of Packers win vs Raiders, NFL Week 8 Preview vs. Chiefs — Yes, another twofer!

We're now at the halfway point of the NFL season, Packers fans. Sitting at 6-1, things are looking pretty good. Let's be honest, better than likely many expected. 

The Raiders Leave Lambeau with a Loss

Last Sunday, we saw the Pack beat the Raiders 42-24 in a game in which QB Aaron Rodgers had a perfect quarterback rating, throwing for 5 touchdowns and running for one. He received help from 8 different receiving targets, if memory serves correctly. It was a great game from an offensive standpoint. Defensively, the Packers still are giving up too many explosive plays particularly through the air in the secondary. Seemed as if in many cases there wasn't even a defensive back in the same zipcode as the Oakland receivers. Somehow, someway, that has to be tightened up. But they also seem to make enough plays at the right time, goal-line stands, etc., that have been making wins possible. So there's that.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on his way to a perfect QB rating
and win vs. the Raiders on Oct. 20, 2019 at Lambeau Field.
(Photo: Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Kansas City, Kansas City Here We Come

But what about now? What about tonight's game in Kansas City? In this rematch (in name only) of the teams in Super Bowl 1, the Packers are favored by 4-1/2 points at the time of this writing. The Chiefs will be without their MVP QB, Patrick Mahomes, as well as reportedly about 5 other starters. That likely helps explain the Pack being favored. Arrowhead Stadium is arguably the loudest stadium in the NFL and opponent offenses often have to rely on hand signals to make their calls. Not an easy place to play so getting the Chiefs with so many missing parts right now is a bit of a gift. 

While still without WR Davante Adams, the Packers have been winning as other receivers have begun to step up in his absence. The Pack's running game also has to be respected with the two-headed threat of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.

We have to believe that a Rodgers-led Packers offense will get it done against a Mahomes-less Chiefs. The biggest challenge for the Pack's defense will be to somehow minimize the damage that wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, along with TE Travis Kelce, can do. The secondary, as noted, as had its issues this season, and covering good tight ends — of which Kelce is among the best in the league — has also been a challenge. But if the defense can keep these weapons in check and the offense does what it's capable of doing, the Packers are likely to leave KC with a win.

The Prediction

We already gave it away in the last sentence above, didn't we, Packers fans?

We're calling it Packers 31 - Chiefs 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Self-Check at the Midway Point of the Season

We'll revisit this after today's game, but taking at look back at our Preseason Preview, we had the Packers coming through the first half of this season at 5-3. Depending on what happens against the Chiefs, the actual record will either be 7-1 or 6-2. Either way, glad to know we underestimated this team. Better and deeper than earlier looks indicated.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

NFL Week 6 Review of Packers win vs Lions, NFL Week 7 Preview vs. Raiders — Again with the twofer!

It's sad, isn't it? Not that the Green Bay Packers keep winning, but that we can't seem to get out of this combo Review-Preview kick. Sorry about that, dear readers. But, as we heard so well from the White House this week, "Get over it!".

With that out of the way, let's take a quick look at the Pack's win over the Lions.

Wow. That. Was.Close.

The Packers beat the Lions 23-22 on a last second field goal by K Mason Crosby. It wasn't the prettiest of games. The Pack went down 13-0 early on a couple of big plays by the Lions. But that score begins to tell the tale of the game: a TD and 2 FGs...the first 2 of 5 by the Lions kicker. Yes, just 1 touchdown given up by the Packers defense. Extreme bending, but no breaking.

As for the Packers offense, down to back up receivers deep on the depth chart, a potential new target for QB Aaron Rodgers showed up big time: Allen Lazard. If not for some of his catches, including a spectacular over-the-shoulder TD catch, the Pack would not have won the game. There were 3 turnovers by the Packers that kept the Lions churning. And there were some questionable hands-to-the-face penalties against the Lions at crucial times that kept the Pack drives going, including the last game-winning drive. Being able to run out the clock with just under 7 minutes left on the clock? Oh, yeah, that was key as well. Part of that was RB Jamaal Williams having the presence of mind to go to the ground instead of going into the endzone to keep the clock running. Just so many moments, big and small, in this game that allowed for the Pack to get to 5-1 and increase their lead in the NFC North.

Packers OLB Za'Darius Smith (ground) celebrates a sack against the Lions.
Such celebrations may be curtained a bit in the future, but hopefully the sacks
will continue.

(Photo: Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis)

The Raiders visit Lambeau Field

As you may recall, there was a preseason game between the Packers and Raiders this year. In Winnipeg. Remember that? There were problems with the field so some on-the-spot rules were made up to accommodate a shortened field. It was...odd, on many levels. So that game tells us nothing as no starters played.

The Packers, as noted earlier, are 5-1 coming off a short week (having played Monday night) with the Raiders at 3-2 and coming off a bye after their game and win against Da Bearz in London.

The Pack are injury-riddled at wide receiver and tight end. The team did add veteran WR Ryan Grant this week to boost weapons for Rodgers, but don't expect much of an impact at this point. He could, however, prove valuable as a much-needed slot receiver. The Raiders come in on three straight road games, winning against both the Colts and Da Bearz.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 5-1/2 points at the time of this writing. We have a sense this game could look a bit like the game against the Lions (hopefully without the turnovers), with the offense getting just enough production out of its running backs and receivers to stay on top. That's if the defense continues its winning ways. Which we expect they will. Although it would be nice to minimize those big plays over the top that have been the defense's real weak spot this season.

We're calling this game Packers 27 - Raiders 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Monday, October 14, 2019

NFL Week 5 Review of Packers win vs Cowboys, NFL Week 6 Preview vs Lions — Yes, Another twofer!

We've fallen into a thoroughly revolting pattern, Packers fans. No, not the Pack...they're doing pretty well, thanks. We refer to our now season-long trend of doing combined posts about the last game and the one coming up. Sorry. But it is time efficient, isn't it it, for both you — dear reader — and yours truly? Yes, yes it is. So without further ado...a very quick look back at the win in Dallas.

Packers Beat the 'boys in Big D

It's always a pleasure to beat the Cowboys, especially in Dallas. Something QB Aaron Rodgers has been pretty good at over time. Last weekend was no different. Racing off to a fast start, with RB Aaron Jones turning in his best game of the young season if not one of his best as a Packer, and the defense holding Ezekiel Elliot in check and generating turnovers. The 'boys made a late run and it got a bit concerning there for a while (admit it), until a late fourth quarter field goal attempt "doink" off the upright really put an end to Dallas' comeback dreams. Final score: 34-24. Sweet.

This was game we and many others thought the Packers would drop. So glad we were wrong as that win left the Pack at 4-1 and atop the NFC North Division.

QB Aaron Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur are still working on their
new relationship. But at 4-1, it seems to be working just fine.
(Photo JSOnline,com)

The Lions Visit Lambeau Tonight

Once upon a time, Detroit couldn't buy a win in Wisconsin. Was years...decades...centuries...something like that before they finally pulled one out. But the Lions have now won four straight (home and away) against Green Bay, including the two games last year by a combined score of 62-23. Now, to be fair, within this four-game streak Rodgers was injured and out of the game for either all or part of the game in two of them and in a third K Mason Crosby uncharacteristically missed 5 field goal attempts. Really, what are the odds of that?

The Lions are 2-1-1. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur says they are one of the scariest teams he's seen on tape. They are, to our view, hard to figure out. They tied the Cardinals in the first game of the season, barely beat the Chargers, just sneaked by the Eagles in Philly (the same Eagles, as you know, who handed the Packers their lone loss on home turf), and then narrowly lost to the very good Kansas City Chiefs. Now, factor in that the Lions have had 2 weeks to prepare for this game against Green Bay and this game is no gimmee, that's for sure.

Detroit has a defense-oriented head coach that concentrates on stopping the run. Expect that to be the formula again. With WR Davante Adams still sidelined with turf toe, other receivers are going to have to step up. Adams was out last week, too, and Rodgers only completed 4 passes to his wide receivers. Whether that was due to their failure to get open or good coverage...? Fortunately, Rodgers was able to work his tight ends and backs in the passing game. Not big yards, and not even a TD pass if memory serves, but effective. And if the Pack needs to do that again, so be it. As Rodgers said after the game, "It's about the Ws" not the stats. The Packers will be without one of their tight ends tonight, though. Robert Tonyan, who sustained a hip injury in last week's game, is out for tonight.

If the Packers can do what they've done so far this season, getting out to a fast start and a big lead, have the defense put pressure on Lions QB Matthew Stafford to generate a turnover or two, have JK Scott boom his field-position-changing punts, it all should be enough to carry the day. If.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 4 points in this game. There will be a Fall evening low of about 34 degrees. Good NFC North football weather. The Lions, unfortunately, have experienced recent success against the Packers which will make them a confident team coming in. The division lead is on the line.

We're calling this one Packers 31 - Lions 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, October 05, 2019

NFL Week 4 Review of Packers Loss vs Eagles, NFL Week 5 Preview vs Cowboys — Another twofer!

The 34-27 loss by the Green Bay Packers at home to the Philadelphia Eagles a week ago Thursday dropped the Pack from the ranks of the undefeated. It was another surprisingly sieve-like performance by the rush defense.

Conversely, the Packers rush offense was dealt a blow early when RB Jamaal Williams took a direct hit to the helmet that saw him being carted off the field. Luckily, the injury wasn't severe, although he will still be out this weekend because of precautionary measures. Attempts to get untracked with the run were unfruitful.

Anyway, bottom line, albeit with a late goal-line tipped pass for an Eagles interception that should have been a pass interference call (along with another earlier), offensive and defensive deficiencies cost the Packers the game. It's usually how it goes in such situations, right?

Our preseason prediction for where we felt the Pack would be after the first quarter of the season was 2-2; instead, the team is 3-1. We'll take that.

Let's move on.

The Cowboys

The Cowboys also come into this game in Jerry's World at 3-1 following a loss to the New Orleans Saints in their last game. The 'boys have weapons on offense – RB Ezekiel Elliott and QB Dak Prescott in particular.  Elliott had one of his worst games in the loss to the Saints, rushing for only 35 yards on 18 carries. You have to believe he's licking his chops to scorch the Pack's defense. And let's not forget that Prescott can run as well as pass. So lots for the Packers' D to worry about.

Can the Pack pull this game out? Of course, QB Aaron Rodgers always seems to come up big in Dallas. He'll be without his number one receiver, Davante Adams, who is out with a turf toe. That means the other receivers, and especially TE Jimmy Graham, will need to step up. So, too, will rookie RB Dexter Williams, who will be the number two back behind Aaron Jones.

The Prediction

The Packers are 3-1/2 point underdogs at the time of this writing. This is a critical game for both teams: one will emerge at 4-1 and the other will fall to 3-2. While neither record guarantees success or failure going forward the rest of the season, it may foretell directional fortune for a few games, shall we say. The Packers will come home for two games, against the Lions and the Raiders, and then play two away at the Chiefs and the Chargers. How do you read those future games? They will be much better if the Pack pulls out a win in Dallas.

Despite having 10 days to fix some issues, we think the absence of Adams and Williams on offense will prove to give the 'boys just enough room to eek out a win.

We're calling it Cowboys 27 - Packers 23.

Still...Go Pack Go!!!