Sunday, November 24, 2019

NFL Week 10 Review of Packers win vs. Panthers, NFL Week 12 Preview vs. 49ers — Yes, still another twofer

If it's seemed as if it's been a while since we've checked in, Packers fans, it's because it has been. Note the headline: a week 10 review and a week 12 preview. What? What happened to week 11??? That was our bye week, kids. Well, not "ours" but the Pack's. So, since it was so long since our last post, let's just remind you, dear reader, that the Packers beat Carolina 24-16 in that game.

Let's just mention two key aspects of that game, although there were certainly more. One was Panthers head coach "Riverboat" Ron Rivera going for the 2-point conversion early in the 4th quarter and failing to convert. He had no need to do so. But we're glad the miss kept his team in a position where it would have had to have both gotten another TD and 2-point conversion just to tie. As it was, the Panthers almost got the touchdown. Almost. This was the second key play we wish to point out: with 4-seconds left on the game clock, Carolina put the ball in the hands of its best player, RB Christian McCaffrey. With only a couple yards to go, the Packers defense rose up and stopped McCaffrey just shy of the goal line. WHEW! Game over. Packers win, Panthers lose. The Pack headed into their bye week with a record of 8-2 and a game against the now 9-1 San Francisco 49ers on the horizon.

This photo from the 2018 meeting between the Packers and 49ers
pretty well portrays what will likely be a similar battle today.

(Photo: Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis)

49ers Preview & Prediction

The Niners have the best record in the NFC not by coincidence. They are solid performers on offense and particularly on defense. Highly ranked. The counter to that record standing is that they haven't hit the hard part of their season yet. In fact, the Packers begin a real tough portion of the 49ers' schedule.

While there aren't many perceived weaknesses, QB Jimmy Garoppolo is subject to interceptions; he has 10 interceptions on the season, with interceptions thrown in all but two games. In the last two games, he's had three interceptions. So if the Packers defense can get some pressure on him, it will certainly increase the likelihood of a pick...or two...two would be good.

The Niners have a good rushing attack and can pressure a defense over the middle particularly if TE George Kittle plays today. He's been battling knee and ankle problems but is expected to play today. As Packers fans know, over the middle has been a soft spot all season for the Pack's D; they need to figure out a way to limit the potential damage Kittle and others might cause running free.

There's a lot more that could be said, of course, but let's just get on with the prediction, shall we?

We see this as an extremely tight game. The Packers are the healthier of the two teams, but the 49ers are playing at home, giving them the upside on a 3-point spread at this writing. The rankings would tell you that the 49ers are the better team. But the Packers have the better quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. He also has some rushing and receiving weapons that enable him to spread things around, which will hopefully keep the San Fran defense a bit off guard now and then.

This seems to be a pick 'em type of game, perhaps one where the team that has the ball last wins. The Pack's defense has experience with making big, last minute (or second) stops. We think Green Bay's QB and bend-don't-break defense will be able to do just enough to come away with the win and the #1 slot in the NFC rankings. Which, oh, by the way, means a first round playoff bye and home field advantage. Long way to go in the season yet, but wouldn't that be a nice gift at the end of tonight? Yes, yes it would.

We're calling it Packers 24 - 49ers 23.

Go Pack Go!!!

P.S. A guest prediction of sorts...from my wife...who hails from the Bay area: 49ers in a close one...27-24 over the Pack. No doubt the in-laws would join her in that view.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

NFL Week 9 Review of Packers loss to Chargers, NFL Week 10 Preview vs. Panthers — Another twofer

Packers fans, what can be said about last Sunday's loss in LA? Not the Rams, but the Chargers. Ewww. It stunk from the get-go. Not good in any aspect of the game. But give the Chargers credit. They played to a Lambeau West crowd the way many thought they were capable of playing all season long. Let's hope that a lesson was learned by some of the Packer players: you have to show up with your "A" game every Sunday (paraphrasing head coach Matt LaFleur and QB Aaron Rodgers on that one). Moving on...

The Panthers Come to Town

The Carolina Panthers roll into Green Bay this afternoon minus QB Cam Newtwon, out for the rest of the season. That's a plus for the Pack. Unfortunately, the Panthers do still have both potential MVP candidate RB Christian McCaffrey as well as TE Greg Olsen. McCraffey has been tearing it up this season while Olsen is still Olsen. The two key offensive weapons for Carolina just happen to be at the positions that have given the Packers defense problems nearly all season, running back and tight end.

Keeping Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey in check today
will be one of the keys to a Packers victory.

(Photo: Jim Dedmon / USA TODAY Sports)
As Packer fans know all too well, what started off the first few games looking like a real strength of the team, the defense over the majority of the season has had issues, shall we say. Things like, oh, covering receivers, tackling runners, getting a sustained pass rush...that sort of thing. Generally, except really for last Sunday, it's been a bend-don't-break approach, giving up at times explosive plays by the opponent but then holding teams to field goals in the red zone seemingly as often as not.

Of course, the Packers defense also has someone on the offensive side of things that can often cover up some of its deficiencies: one Aaron Rodgers to be exact. And a Rodgers with weapons can make anything happen.Yeah, he has those.

The Prediction

While we were way off on our prediction for last week — thinking the Pack would continue its generally solid play and come away with a sizable win — we think that embarrassment, being at home and in the first real "cold weather" game of the season, plus wanting to go into the bye week with a win before heading out to San Francisco to play the as yet still undefeated 49ers will give the Pack enough motivation to get it done today. But it could be a close one.

The Packers are favored by 5-1/2 at the time of this writing.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Panthers 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 03, 2019

NFL Week 8 Review of Packers win vs Chiefs, NFL Week 9 Preview vs. Chargers — We're on a twofer binge!

Looking back at last week's game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers displayed some magnificent offensive firepower in coming away with a 31-24 win ... which, by the way, was exactly the score that we predicted in our pregame prediction (is that redundant?).

Anyway, the Pack had some explosive plays, which they haven't had many of this season. Aaron Jones is solidifying himself as a true threat both running and receiving. Fellow RB Jamaal Williams isn't too shabby in that department either, making an epically-good-highlight-reel-corner-of-the-endzone catch that really helped the Packers nail down the win. WR Jake Kumerow also made a nearly impossible catch at a critical point in the game. The offense was humming. And, still, WR Davante Adams was on the sidelines. So the Packers are good at offense, particularly with the best QB in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers, at the helm.

Packers RB Aaron Jones had a big day vs. the Chiefs.
(Photo: Charlie Riedel, AP)

But, to be honest, there are still issues on the defense, particularly in the secondary. KC receivers were open far too often with no Packer defender in sight. This has been nearly a season-long issue, although it seems to have gotten worse in the past four or five games. What will turn that around? If you have an answer, mail it to 1265 Lombardi Ave., Green Bay, WI. Still, the defense has been doing enough, at the right times, to keep the Pack in the win column. At least there's that. And, really, that's all that matters when the play clock strikes zero.

Packers will be playing the Chargers at Lambeau Field West today

While this is a home game for the 3-5 Chargers, it's LA and Los Angelinos haven't exactly warmed to the San Diego transplant or its temporary home at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. The expectation is that the stadium will probably be more like a home game for the Packers than the Chargers. The chargers head coach (whoever it is) said that they really don't play for the fans anyway so that won't matter. We'll see. Not exactly a great way to attract fans. Of course, if they wanted to do that they would have stayed in San Diego. Just sayin'.

It is agreed, however, that the game is played on the field. The Packers are apparently as healthy this week as they have been pretty much all season, listing only 2 players with injury designations for today's game: WR Davante Adams and TE Robert Tonyan were both listed as questionable. Rookie TE Jace Sternberger was activated yesterday off the injured reserve list, although whether he will be active for the game today remains uncertain at the time of this writing. A decision was still awaited on S Ibraheim Campbell who was also on the injured reserve list. The Pack comes into this game at about as full strength as they can get, whether or not Adams is active. Yay.

The Chargers are going to be missing a few players on defense, with one DL already out and 3 other defenders listed as questionable. That should bode well for the Packers long as Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari can handle the excellent edge rushing tandem of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. This is a tough challenge for Bulaga and Bakhtiari, perhaps especially so for the latter who has been getting flagged more than usual recently for holding penalties. Let's hope that doesn't come at a critical time in today's game.

The Chargers do have weapons in the form of QB Philip Rivers, of course, and RB Austin Ekeler who takes what Aaron Jones does up a notch. He is going to be a lot to handle, particularly in the receiving area. You don't want him tearing things up, but given recent coverage tendencies, the expectation is he is going to cause some damage in the Packers defense. And let's not forget former Wisconsin Badger standout RB Melvin Gordon, who seems to just be kicking off the rust from his unsuccessful contract holdout. Gordon can also cause problems for a defense.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 3-1/2 points. We see the Packers continuing their offensive roll, with the defense continuing its bend-don't-break trend. Combined, that's a win.

We're calling it Packers 38 - Chargers 23.

Go Pack Go!!!