Sunday, November 29, 2020

2020 NFL Week 12: Packers vs. Bears Preview and Prediction

Sadly, Packer fans, my prediction of a loss last week to the Colts came through. Took overtime to make it final. But a loss it was. After rushing out to a sizable first half lead ... well ... a change of fortunes in the second half and OT. A game there for the taking. But, no.

So instead we look to this evening's game vs. Da Bearz at Lambeau Field for a bit of revenge. In the storied 200-game history of this rivalry, the Pack has won 99 times, Chicago 95, with six ties. Let's make tonight an even 100 wins out of 201 games played, shall we?

Let's hope the Packers defense rises to the occasion and puts
pressure on Chicago QB Mitch Trubisky tonight.
(Photo by Dan Powers/USA Today Network - Wis)

The Preview

What we know is that the Packers offense will score. It hasn't always been as consistent throughout the course of a game as we might like, but it's been good enough to average about 30 points or so a game (4th best NFL offense overall) and help lead the Pack to a 7-3 record and a NFC North Division lead. And it's a good thing that offense has been as prolific as it has been behind QB Aaron Rodgers because the Pack's defense and special teams ... well, not exactly the picture of perfection to this point in the season.

While the state of the Packers defense and its coordinator, Mike Pettine, has been and is a point of much concern among fans, they seem to be able to rise when they have to more often than not. It's not the best approach for winning a Super Bowl, but it is what is right now. The biggest problem for the defense is not, arguably, talent but energy. Doesn't seem to be any vocal leadership this season. The Smith Brothers have been fairly quiet, as opposed to last season. Kenny Clark is double-teamed most plays. Linebackers? The schemes Pettine uses are also questionable, giving offenses too much room underneath, which even head coach Matt LaFleur  acknowledged this week. Let's see if that gets addressed tonight. Facing Mitch Trubisky ("Bisquet" as my friend, Billy Da Bearz Fan calls him) should also offer the defense some turnover opportunities ... he hasn't played in a while so let's hope he's a bit rusty and take advantage of that.

Offensively, it would be nice to see the Packers running game get untracked again tonight. Hasn't been as explosive as early in the season. Recovering that balance would help going down the regular season stretch. Davante Adams and Allen Lazard should factor in tonight, but I'm looking for a good make-up game from Marques Valdez-Scantling. I think he really took the overtime fumble last week hard. And I think he's growing into the role of really being a big-time receiver. He can stretch the field. He can make outstanding catches. He needs to be consistent. That redemption may well start tonight.

The Prediction

The Packers are 9-1/2 point favorites in this game. Big spreads always make me nervous. Still, unless the Packers offense gives the ball away multiple times and the defense comes out totally flat (both of which, admittedly are possibilities although not probabilities), the Packers will prevail.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Da Bearz 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

2020 NFL Week 11: Packers vs. Colts Preview and Prediction

Before the preview and prediction for today's game between the 7-2 Green Bay Packers and the 6-3 Indianapolis Colts, let's just quickly say that last week's game vs. the Jaguars certainly didn't play out as most thought it would. The Packers played one of their flatest games of the season on both sides of the ball in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field. Why the team comes out with such little energy is hard to figure. And if it wasn't for the defense finally rising up to get some key stops down the stretch, the Pack would have had an embarrassing loss at home. Gotta give the Jags credit, though. They came to play, the Packers didn't. Thankfully, talent won out in the end. But ... whew!

Packers fans hope to see a lot of this type of TD celebration
in today's game vs. the Colts.
(Photo from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

Today's meeting is a meeting of strengths: the Packers offense vs. the Colts defense. As good as the Pack's offense is, they have had trouble against smash-mouth defenses this season. The Pack's defense? Middle of the NFL rankings. So ... meh. The team's seeming Achilles heal to this point in the season. Today, they face veteran Philip Rivers behind a very solid pass-blocking offensive line. Rivers isn't mobile, but he doesn't need to be. Particularly against a Packers defense that hasn't exactly been exerting pressure...or generating turnovers.

This is the type of game that makes us nervous. It's a game that, on paper, the Packers should win. But even the oddsmakers aren't comfortable with things, installing the Colts as 1-1/2 to 2-point favorites over the Pack...which admittedly is not quite giving the Colts the full benefit of home-field advantage...but they aren't overly optimistic about the Packers in this scenario, either. A bit of a toss-up.

We're running a bit short on time for a fuller preview of the game today. Sorry. So let's just get right to the prediction, shall we?

The Prediction

Unless the Packers somehow are able to come out of their funk and bring some energy to the field for 60 minutes, they will come home with a loss. As much as we hope we're wrong, and as often as the Packers follow up a flat game with a good one, we just don't like the feel of things today.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Colts 31.

Still ... GO PACK GO!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2020

2020 NFL Week 10: Packers vs. Jaguars Preview and Prediction

The Green Bay Packers have one of their rare meetings — only the seventh ever — with the Jacksonville Jaguars today at Lambeau Field. The Packers are 6-2 and the Jags are 1-7. But as we know, on any given day ... 

More on that in a moment. But first, a word or two about last week's trip to the West Coast to take on the Pack's nemesis from last season, the 49ers. While losing twice to the Niners last season, including in the NFC Championship game, this time around the Pack had the benefit of playing an injury-depleted Niners team. The result was a Packers win, 34-17. Perhaps not a fair test. But a win's a win, thank you very much.

Now, back to today's game.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers should have a big
day against an inexperienced Jacksonville secondary.
(Photo via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Packers will need to bring their own energy to Lambeau today with no fans in the stands, something they failed to do in their last home game against the ViQueens, resulting in a very flat performance and the team's second loss of the season. Hopefully, lesson learned.

This Jaguars teams is young and inexperienced, particularly at quarterback where 6' 6" and sixth round pick Jake Luton is behind center for only the second time this season. He has a big arm and also a very good, fast receiver in DJ Chark, whom he teamed up with last week on a 73-yard TD play. So the Packers secondary is going to have to be sharp, especially since Jaire Alexander and Kevin King will be out again for today's game. The Jags also have free agent rookie RB James Robinson who has had two productive running games coming into today's game. As Packer fans are all too familiar with, the Pack's run defense often leaves much to be desired, especially in a base three-across defense which coordinator Mike Pettine seems to prefer. One plus is that there will be a new center-QB combination today for the Jags, which might also disrupt things on their end a bit, as well as give Kenny Clark an advantage up the middle.

For the Packers offense, QB Aaron Rodgers — despite the strong winds and perhaps sloppy conditions — should be able to do what's needed against an inexperienced Jaguars secondary. The Packers running game should also be counted on today, particularly with the weather conditions. One would think the play-calling by head coach Matt LaFleur would tend towards a pass-run balance. But who knows? He'll take whatever the Jags will give him.

The Prediction

The Packers are 13-1/2 point favorites at the time of this writing. Seems about right, don't you think?

But we'll kick it up a notch. We're calling it Packers 38 - Jaguars 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Thursday, November 05, 2020

2020 NFL Week 9: Packers vs. 49ers Preview and Prediction

Before anything else, Packer fans, lets clear the air...losing to the Minnesota ViQueens at Lambeau Field last Sunday stunk, didn't it? For as on track as they seemed, at least on offense, in the first half, everything just flopped in the second half. The defense is the Achilles Heel of this team. They had no pass rush, no run defense, and looked like a JV team playing the varsity. And it was the Vikes! And another game without any takeaways from the defense. C'mon, man!

Enough about that horrible game. And a chance for quick redemption tonight in San Francisco ... or Santa Clara, to be more geo-precise.

Packers RB Dexter Williams may well get the lion's share of
handoffs in tonight's game against the Niners.
(Photo by Dan Powers, Dan Powers/USA Today Network-Wis)

On a short week, and traveling to the West Coast to boot, the good news is that the Packers will be taking on a decimated 49ers team. Depending upon who you listen to, the Niners will have only three starters from last year's NFC Championship game on the field tonight. They have been hit extremely hard by injuries. Of course, the Pack has its own set of important players who either won't be playing tonight or are likely not to play. They are especially short-handed at running back as Aaron Jones is still listed as questionable. Jamaal Williams is out, as is A.J. Dillon. Dexter Williams may be the featured running back tonight.

One bit of good news on the receiver front is that Allen Lazard was on the team plane yesterday; he hadn't travelled recently as he was recovering from his injury. Head coach Matt LaFleur said yesterday that Lazard was "very close" to returning. Even if just running occasional routes as a decoy, that might help open up Davante Adams a bit. And, let's be honest, none of the other receivers have grasped the brass ring of opportunity during Lazard's absence. So his return to the field would be a boost, for sure.

On the defensive side of things for the Pack, the Niners schemes on offense seem to work no matter who they have at running back, quarterback or receiver. San Fran has defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's number. Complicating matters is the Pack's lack of depth right now at inside linebacker. Along with no pass rush, no tackling and no turnover capability.

But when push comes to shove...

The Prediction

When push comes to shove, the Packers still have Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams on the field. They don't play defense, granted, but we have to believe that as off as the Packers are in terms of personnel availability they still have more right now than do the Niners.

Apparently, the oddsmakers agree, favoring the Packers by 7 points. We never like these big spreads as it seems as if the Pack nearly always underperform in such situations.

With much trepidation, we still see it going Packers 24 - 49ers 17.

Go Pack Go!!!