Sunday, September 27, 2020

2020 NFL Week 3: Packers vs. Saints Preview and Prediction

The Green Bay Packers play the New Orleans Saints down Louisiana way tonight in the Pack's first primetime football game of the season. More on that in a moment.

But first, let's just quickly acknowledge the Pack's second straight division win of the young season last weekend vs. the Lions at Lambeau Field. Not your usual home opener with the dearth of fans due to Covid-19 restrictions, except for the fact that the Pack did to the Lions what they have usually done over the years: win. The Packers doubled up the Lions, 42-21 on a spectacular offensive performance, particularly by RB Aaron Jones (we rightly also need to acknowledge a good defensive effort). Jones rushed for a career high 165 yards and contributed significantly in the passing game as well, to finish with a load of all-purpose yardage to his credit. The downside was that WR Davante Adams, who just the week before against Minnesota tied legendary WR Don Hutson's Packers record of 14 receptions in a single game, left early in the game with a mild hamstring injury. That injury may keep him out of tonight's game, as well. Early reports are that he will be a game-time decision, but you can't imagine the team exposing him to longer-term injury if they can get by without him tonight. Better with him, definitely, but can't risk a season-long loss, either.

What about tonight against the Saints?

The oddsmakers give the Saints the home field advantage of 3 points to win. They also figure this to be a high-scoring game, with a total over-under of 52.5 points; given the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks and both teams' potent pass and rush schemes, that's quite understandable. The Pack has sure been prolific in their first two games.

Given that both teams will likely be without their top receivers — Adams for the Packers and Michael Thomas for the Saints — expect both teams to exploit their running games to open up the passing game even more. The Saints will have to try to contain not only Jones on the Packers side of things but also Jamaal Williams.

Packers RB Jamaal Williams breaks away during the game at Minnesota.
He offers a powerful and explosive counterpoint to Aaron Jones,
giving the Saints a lot to worry about.
(Photo by Dan Powers, Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis)

We think that both teams' defenses will be challenged, despite how good they each are in their own ways. They each have their weaknesses, too. If Packers DT Kenny Clark is able to get on the field tonight that will certainly aid the Pack's defensive efforts.

The Prediction

We think that the Pack has just a bit more than the Saints across the board at this stage of the season. Taking away the crowd that brings such an advantage to the SuperDome means Rodgers and crew will be able to get their play calls made without the usual difficulty. So that is a plus for the Pack.

Still, wouldn't you expect a shootout?

We're calling it Packers 34 - Saints 31.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2020

2020 NFL Week 2: Packers vs. Lions Preview and Prediction

The Green Bay Packers have their season home opener today at historic Lambeau Field against the Detroit Lions. More about that in a moment. But first, a quick review of last week's game vs. the ViQueens.

Recap of win at Minnesota

The Packers won at Minnesota last weekend 43-34. The final score was closer than the actual tone of the game, which was basically a result of the Packers' defense not closing things out in the 4th quarter: with every Packers' score there seemed to be a subsequent score by the Vikes ... 3 TDs plus 3 consecutive 2-point conversions.

On the field for just 49 defensive plays thanks to the time of possession domination by the Packers' offense, the D seemingly picked up where they left off from the NFC Championship Game vs. the Niners by giving up a ton of rushing yards. One could argue that the second half defensive problems were the result of DT Kenny Clark leaving the game with an injury (and who, by the way, will not see action today). But it just seemed that what was exposed against the Packers in that Championship game was also attacked by Minnesota. We could expect that to continue until the Packers figure out a way to shut down the run.

Having said all that, the Pack came away with a win largely due to — shocking! — the stellar play of QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams, who tied the nearly 70-year-old game receptions record (14) of legendary receiver Don Hutson. Rodgers looked in mid-season form. If he keeps this up all season, other teams should be very afraid.

Packers WR Davante Adams making one of his 14 record-tying receptions against
the Vikings last week. Expect him to continue his stellar performance against Detroit.
(Photo by Dan Powers / USA Today Network - Wis)

But on to today's game against the Lions...

According to the Packers Game Day program, the Pack come into this game on a 6-game regular season win streak going back to last season. The Packers have won 7 straight home openers and since 2007 are 12-1 in their home openers. The Pack also have a 17-3 home opener record vs. the Lions since 2000. As fans will recall, the Packers swept Detroit in 2019, although the 2 games were decided by a total of 4 points. Crikey!

Today, while the Pack will be without RG Lane Taylor who was lost for the season in last week's game and Clark, as mentioned earlier, Detroit will be without three of its starters, including corners Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant in the defensive backfield. Expect Rodgers and the WR corps to exploit that weakness. If the running game is able to provide balance (and probably, even if it isn't), this should be another game with a solid offensive performance led by the air game.

The defense...ah, the defense. Without Clark in the lineup it's likely that Tyler Lancaster and Kingsley Keke will share time at the position. Montravius Adams might also see action in his return from a toe injury. They and the entire defense will also not want to overlook the return of veteran RB Adrian Peterson who often, in ViQueens colors, literally had a field day when playing at Lambeau. Where the Packers had problems last week was when runs were bounced to the outside. No doubt the Lions will test that early and often. If you don't contain Peterson, and don't pressure QB Matthew Stafford, it could be another close game.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 6-1/2 points at the time of this writing. Seems reasonable. We think it will be a game similar to last week where the Packers can get out to an early lead and the defense will allow the Lions to keep hanging around. Still, the Packers have more than Detroit, are at home — albeit without the home crowd advantage — and will win to go to 2-0 in the division.

We're calling it 38-27 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

2020 NFL Week 1: Packers vs. Vikings Preview and Prediction

With less than an hour before kickoff in Minneapolis, we're going to skip a game preview ... just too many unknowns for us — other than the usual Pack-Vikes rivalry, Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, the Smith Brothers, etc. ... and go straight to the prediction.

The ViQueens are favored by 2-1/2 points, basically a shade under the home field advantage. Because there will be no fans in the stands, although probably that stupid horn will be blowing, it's hard to know what advantage there will be.

We figure this will be a close game. Lots of weapons for both teams on each side of the ball. But whether the offense or defense of either team dominates at this point, without benefit of any preseason play at all...???

We'll take the Packers (shocking, right?) 27-24.

Go Pack Go

Packers 2020 Season Prediction

Happy Kickoff Sunday, Packers fans!

It's finally arrived ... albeit among Covid-19 et al. Not sure whether there will be a full season for the Pack or not. But, with game time fast approaching (and with such a gap between posts...sorry!), let's just do what we've always done before the start of a season: make a season prediction. Today's game prediction vs. the ViQueens will be in a separate post.

We've always predicted a season using a quarters system rather than individual games. So let's break down the season quarter-by-quarter and give you our take on how the wins-losses looks to us...without benefit of any preseason looks, of course.

2020 1st Quarter

There are two home games and two away games, starting with the Vikes away, the Lions at home, Saints away and Atlanta at home. We're calling this quarter at 2-2. Basically, this first month is the preseason. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it's loaded with good teams who will also be working out the bugs. It's 50-50 here.

2020 2nd Quarter

The 2nd quarter of the season begins with the bye week in week #5. Yeah, not ideal. But after the bye comes two away games, at Tampa (vs. Tom Brady) and Houston, and then the Vikes again at Lambeau Field. We're going 2-1 here.

2020 3rd Quarter

As with the 1st quarter of the season, the Pack alternates away and home games, beginning with a road trip against San Francisco (revenge!), then Jacksonville at home, Indianapolis on the road, and Da Bearz at Lambeau. We'll go 3-1 here.

2020 4th Quarter (Extended)

Because of the bye week in week #5, this final (extended quarter, we call it) has 5 games, three at home -- Philadelphia, Carolina and Tennessee — and two on the road against NFC North Division opponents Detroit and finishing the regular season against Chicago. We'll go 3-2 here.


If the final math is correct (add, subtract, divide by 100, carry the 1...) we predict the Packers will go 10-6. Whether that wins them the NFC North or is good enough for a wild card, we expect the Packers to be in the playoffs.

How the season, if played in full plays out given this bizarre set of circumstances in which all the teams, and we, find ourselves remains a huge question mark.

But no matter... GO PACK GO!!!