Saturday, October 31, 2020

2020 NFL Week 8: Packers vs. Vikings Preview and Prediction

Packers fans, the universe (at least the football version) was in balance once again this past week. After their 38-10 loss in Tampa Bay coming out of their bye week, the Pack resumed their winning ways in Houston last Sunday by a score of 35-20. And they looked fairly good doing it. 'Nuff said. Oh, except Da Bearz lost, so the Pack resumed their first place standing in the NFC North. There's that, too. Yay!

The Preview

The ViQueens make their annual visit to Lambeau Field. The 'Queens will be without their top 3 cornerbacks which, under normal conditions, would seem to make it an arial field day for QB Aaron Rodgers and his receivers, especially Davante Adams who had a huge receiving game in the season opener in Minnesota. The problem is the weather forecast calls for windy conditions, 25 mph, with gusts even higher. That may well affect the downfield passing game. But against the 'Queens defense, the short and medium passing attack should be able to keep the chains moving and the score increasing.

Conversely, Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins has had his issues with interceptions this season even under good weather conditions. He's been intercepted 10 times, including once by Packers CB Jaire Alexander.
Packers CB Jaire Alexander grabs an interception off Vikings QB
Kirk Cousins intended for WR Adam Thielen in the season opener.
(Photo by Dan Powers/USA Today Network-Wis)

In game conditions such as these, the ground game for both teams will be key. Minnesota will have RB Dalvin Cook back and will no doubt hope he can take over the game and keep Rodgers and company off the field. The Packers defense will have to see to it that doesn't happen. Stopping the run will be key, as will getting to Cousins and forcing him into a bad throw or two with interceptions the result. The Pack D has to start generating turnovers and playing against Cousins could be just what the doctor ordered.

The Packers will unfortunately be without RB Aaron Jones, who is out with a calf injury. Still, Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon will handle the running game just fine against a suspect defense and give Rodgers just enough flexibility to keep the 'Queens on their heels.

An area of real concern is the availability of kicker Mason Crosby who missed some practice time this week with a left calf and back injury. He's currently (at the time of this writing late Saturday), listed as questionable. If he can't go, backup plans call for either using punter JK Scott in that role or signing rookie kicker Nick Vogel, who had a tryout Friday. Not a great situation under good weather conditions, let alone what's expected Sunday in terms of the havoc that wind conditions can have on punters, kickers and long snapper. Let's hope that the game doesn't come down to that. It shouldn't.

Other Packers listed as questionable at this moment are LT David Bakhtiari, RB Tyler Ervin, safeties Darnell Savage and Raven Greene, DL Tyler Lancaster, and TE John Lovett.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 6-1/2 points coming into this game. The over-under is set at 50. We see the Pack continuing its domination of the NFC North.

We're calling it Packers 31 - Vikings 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

2020 NFL Week 7: Packers vs. Texans Preview and Prediction

A quick look back ...  


Before we look at the upcoming game against the Texans in Houston today, we need to acknowledge that things didn't go as planned in last week's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, did they, Packer fans? After rushing out to a quick and relatively easy 10-point lead, the Pack proceeded to give up 38 unanswered points. An ugly performance on both sides of the ball that saw the Pack fall from the ranks of the undefeated and, for a time anyway, cede first place in the NFC North to Da Bearz (ewwwww!).

The Bucs defense had constant pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers throughout the game, leading to two uncharacteristic interceptions, two within three passes actually (including a pick-6 return), while the Pack's D let a non-mobile Tom Brady go by nearly untouched. The offense couldn't get going and the defense seemed lethargic and out of position constantly. Example: why was DT Kenny Clark dropping into coverage? Who knows. Either out of position or a badly designed scheme. But anyway, that's done. First loss of the season. On to Houston.

One of the things that has been in short supply this season for the Packers has been
turnovers. Here, safety Adrian Amos gets an interception last season against the Bears.
The defense needs to start generating takeaways. (Photo by Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

The game at Houston will pit a potentially explosive offense (Texans) against an actually explosive offense (Packers)...despite the latter not actually being so in last week's game, this year's Packers have been known to put up points. Thankfully, the Texans defense ranks at or near the bottom of the league in terms of defense, which sets things up nicely for the Packers to get back on track after the stumble against the Bucs.

Despite not having LT David Bakhtiari for today's game, perhaps not having RB Aaron Jones (supposedly a game-time decision), and going against all-world (and Wisconsin native) DE JJ Watt, this game sets up well for the Packers offense to put up points.

On the other side of the ball, the Packers defense — which clearly has some of its own issues to resolve — will be going up against the type of quarterback in Deshaun Watson that has typically given them fits over the years. Yes, a different year and set of players. But for the last few years, the same defensive coordinator and scheme. Watson is dangerous when flushed from the pocket. He will be hard to corral and sack. And if he is able to get around the end he can either open things up downfield for a pass or scamper to keep the chains moving.

The Prediction

The Packers come into this game (at the time of this writing) as 3-1/2 point favorites. The Packers need to get the running game going today to not allow Watt and company time and opportunity to get after Rodgers the way the Buccaneers did last week. As noted earlier, it's not clear at this time whether Jones will be active in the backfield today. So Jamaal Williams, A.J. Dillon and other backs, such as Dexter Williams just activated off the practice squad (perhaps a sign that Jones won't be available today), will have to carry the load. If they can do so successfully we should see the offense we saw in the first four games of the season, not the last one. Of course, it would help if the defense could generate a turnover or two, as well, something that they've only done three times in five games so far.

We're calling it Packers 34 - Texans 27.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

2020 NFL Week 6: Packers vs. Buccaneers Preview and Prediction

Hope you enjoyed the Week 5 Bye Week, Packer fans. Always a time to ... I dunno ... what does one do when the Pack isn't playing? A mystery to me still.

Seems like years ago — instead of just two weeks — we took down the Falcons at Lambeau Field by a score of 30-16. (By the way, our prediction, for those watching such things, and which you can find in the prior post here, was Packers 30 - Falcons 20 ... not bad, eh?)

Anyway, today we find our beloved 4-0 Green Bay Packers heading down to Tampa and a meeting with veteran QB Tom Brady and a very good 3-2 Tampa Bay team.

Two future Hall of Fame Quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers meet up today for
only the third time in their playing careers. (Photo by USA Today Network - Wisconsin)

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 1 point going into the game. Earlier in the week, the Bucs were favored by 1-1/2 points. But as it became clearer that the Pack would be getting a few of their key players back today, chief among them WR Davante Adams, the odds changed.

We're not going to go into details today. Getting a bit late for that anyway. But we will say that the Packers will likely be challenged on both sides of the ball in ways they haven't been yet this season. And they certainly haven't faced Brady, who has been as magical over his career as has Rodgers in close games. With six Super Bowl wins to his credit he knows how to get things done. And understatement, to say the least. But Rodgers is looking like he hasn't in years, and with weapons galore — even against a stout Bucs defense — the odds favor the Pack going to 5-0 today.

That's why we're calling it Packers 34 - Buccaneers 30.

Go Pack Go!!!

Monday, October 05, 2020

2020 NFL Week 4: Packers vs. Falcons Preview and Prediction

The Green Bay Packers come into tonight's primetime game against the Atlanta Falcons at 3-0, looking fairly dominating in their performances to date, especially on offense. But before we say more, first, let's take a moment and raise a toast to that win in New Orleans last week. A great team win. We won't take the time to rehash it here. 

Back to tonight's game ... The offensive domination has been especially impressive given the team's top receiver, Davante Adams, hasn't played basically in the last 2 games and most likely will be held out again tonight despite his Tweet of early morning today indicating his frustration with that decision being taken out of his hands by management. The Falcons? Zero wins so far. Two 4th quarter lead collapses of epic proportions. But, they have weapons, including WR Julio Jones who is dressed and on the field right now for warmups. He seems to always have big games — of the 100-yard-plus variety — against the Pack. And they have QB Matt Ryan who can always go deep to receivers who can cover a lot of ground quickly.

Tonight will be a bit different for the Pack. QB Aaron Rodgers will be throwing to the B-squad receivers tonight. In addition to Adams being out, so will be Allen Lazard after a huge coming out game. It's likely there will be some other guys out, perhaps even Center Corey Linsley and, on defense, Jaire Alexander, to name just two.

So the Pack will not be firing on all cylinders tonight. Will the Falcons? And even if so, in what is a real desperation game for them (to avoid going 0-4), can they still beat the Packers?

The Prediction

The Packers come into this game favored by 7 points ... which always makes us nervous. So does the coming bye week, which can sometimes set up the current game as a trap game. Expect the Falcons to score points, expect them to go deep more than once, and likely score off those opportunities.

But the Packers have Rodgers, a creative play-caller in head coach Matt LaFleur, a versatile running back in Aaron Jones, and young tight ends who are coming on. Yes, they don't have their best wideouts in this game. But one or more of those young players will step up tonight and make a name for themselves. The Pack activated former CFL standout Reggie Begelton from the practice squad today so we may get a chance to see what he can bring to the field, too.

We think there will be a fair amount of points put up by both teams. But the Packers, unless they really are already checking out for the bye week, will put up more. And in the end, that's what matters. Let's hope the Pack can get up early and take some of the steam away from Atlanta. If that happens, the Pack will be 4-0 going into the bye.

We're calling it Packers 30 - Falcons 20.

Go Pack Go!!!