Friday, December 24, 2021

2021 NFL Week 16: Packers vs. Cleveland Browns Christmas Day Preview and Prediction

Merry Christmas! May you have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends.

One of our shared Christmas wishes as Packer fans, of course, is for a Christmas Day win over the visiting Cleveland Browns. In looking ahead, though, we need to take a quick look back at last weekend's skin-of-your-teeth win in Baltimore.

It was certainly a much closer margin of victory than most — including the oddsmakers — had projected. Us, too. But the Pack did enough to win, as they have been doing in 11 of the 14 games they have played this season and, in the process, secured the NFC North Division title for the third year in a row and the number one seed atop the NFC for at least the time being.

The Preview

Because this is an inter-conference game, what we know about the Browns is that they are 7-7, have underperformed expectations because of injuries and COVID-19 challenges. They had 19 players on reserve/COVID-19 at the start of the week — including QB Baker Mayfield — with six more players on injured reserve. Their best defensive player, Myles Garrett, is questionable with a groin injury. But if those two players in particular are able to go Christmas Day, this game may be another one of those that goes down to the wire ... especially if the Packers defense plays as they did in Baltimore and special teams continues its problematic performance.

DT Kenny Clark should return to the Packers defense
for the game against the Browns.
(Photo by Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

One boost for the Packers might be the return of Kenny Clark to the middle of the defensive line. He was missed last week, out with the COVID protocols. He was able to return to practice this week, but will likely be a game-time decision. Our guess is that if he's able to go he will, if not fully at least in spot work.

Anyway, it's Christmas Eve as we write let's just get right to the prediction, shall we?

The Prediction

Currently, the Packers are favored by 7-1/2 points at the time of this writing. While the Pack didn't cover the spread last week (8-1/2 points), we think that at home and with retention of the No. 1 seed in the NFC in their own control, the Packers will come away with the win.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Browns 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Ho ho ho ...

Sunday, December 19, 2021

2021 NFL Week 15: Packers vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview and Prediction

First, a quick word about last week's win vs. Da Bearz: interesting. Yes, that's the word. From getting down early, and getting down embarrassingly, the Packers overcame one of the worst special teams' performances in recent memory ... in a season of bad special teams' play, this one took the cake, didn't it? No need for the details. If you saw the game, you know. But the defense and offense kicked it in gear in the second half and came away with a 45-30 victory. So QB Aaron Rodgers — and the Packers — ownership of that team from Chicago continues. Our condolences to their fans, such as our good friend Billy Da Bearz Fan. But as Buddha reminds us, life is suffering. And that's especially true for fans of Da Bearz. So it goes.

The Preview

The Packers travel to the East Coast for today's match up against the Ravens. It's a game that might be perhaps known more for those who are not playing than those who are, particularly on the Ravens side of things. QB Lamar Jackson looks to be out, which is a plus for the Packers. Also a plus is that the Ravens defensive backfield is shorthanded due to injury and Covid protocols.

The Packers defense will likely not have to chase Ravens QB Lamare Jackson
today, as he is reportedly out with an ankle injury sustained in last week's game.
(Photo by Gail Burton, AP)

The Packers will, however, have to face the league's number 1-ranked rushing defense. The Pack's piecemeal offensive line will be challenged against the Ravens big defensive front. Opening running lanes will be difficult. But if the line can hold up against the pass rush, Rodgers could have a big day. Look for WR Davante Adams to likely be doubled-teamed most of the day, which could allow other receivers — including RB Aaron Jones — to have opportunities for big plays.

Bottom line: it seems as if this will be a chess match where weaknesses on each side look to be exploited by the opposing side. In terms of scoring potential, without Jackson especially, the edge goes to the Packers. And while the Pack's defense will be missing NT Kenny Clark up front today, it's in better shape overall than are the Ravens. Barring more special teams' disasters today, the Pack should come out of this game with a win.

The Prediction

The Packers are currently favored by 8-1/2 points at the time of this writing.

We're calling this game Packers 34 - Ravens 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

A Special Nod to The Badgers Women's Volleyball Team

Last evening, the University of Wisconsin's Women's Volleyball Team won its first-ever NCAA Championship. By defeating Nebraska 3 sets to 2 in a hard-fought match, the Badgers accomplished something they had been denied on 3 prior trips to the finals. Congratulations to the squad and the coaching staff! Go Badgers!! On Wisconsin!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

2021 NFL Week 14: Packers vs. Chicago Bears Preview and Prediction

When we last saw our beloved Green Bay Packers, they were dispatching the LA Rams, 36-28, in a game that really wasn't as close as the final score indicated...even though a successful on-side kick in the last minute of play might have made it so.

As it was and is, the Pack went into (finally!) their bye week at 9-3. An opportune time to get QB Aaron Rodgers' broken toe time to recover a bit, without surgery. Also a chance to get some players back for the stretch run into the playoffs. And then to get the gift of Da Bearz coming into Lambeau Field for a Sunday night primetime game. Yes, please!

We hope to see RB A.J. Dillon being congratulated for his efforts again today.
The Packers will want to have a balanced pass-run attack against Chicago tonight.
(Photo by Dan Powers /USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

The Preview

Do we really need to do more of a preview than to repeat what Rodgers said to some Chicago fans after scoring a TD in the last meeting in Chicago? You know, that ownership thing? I think not.

Granted, rookie QB and future hoped-for ChiTown savior, Justin Fields, is back from his rib injury and has been named the starter today. The Packers defense will have to account for his ability to run. But they've handled Kyler Murray and Patrick Mahomes so there is no reason to believe they won't handle Fields. But it wouldn't be surprising if the Packers get a few turnovers today, either.

For the Pack, just keep doing what they've been doing. On both sides of the ball. And do better on special teams. Please.

The Prediction

My good friend, Billy Da Bearz Fan, texted me earlier today with his prediction: 19-18 Bearz. The only thing surprising about that prediction from him is that it might be a score-a-gami type of thing. (Someone look that up, would ya?) So there's that.

Of course, for the more rationally-minded among the readership here, we have to actually consider reality. And the reality is the oddsmakers favor the Pack by either 11-1/2 or 12-1/2 points depending upon who you look at and when you check out such things. That's a big spread. And it's there for a reason. The primary one being that the Packers have Aaron Rodgers and Da Bearz do not. The secondary reason is that, overall, the Packers are just a better team, and better coached, than is Chicago. There may be a changing of the guard in the NFC North at some time, but it isn't now. Or the foreseeable future, for that matter.

We're calling it Packers 31 - Da Bearz 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2021

2021 NFL Week 12: Packers vs. Los Angeles Rams Preview and Prediction

Quick look back...the game in Minnesota didn't quite finish up the way we had hoped, did it, Packers fans? The Pack's defense was not up to its usual level, failing to get pressure on the ViQueens QB, Kirk Cousins, and allowing him plenty of time to find receivers — especially Justin Jefferson — who somehow seemed to roam free most the day. That, and failing to get stops when needed and INTs when presented. And penalties at inopportune times. So ... disappointing on the defensive side. Offense wasn't exactly up to snuff either. And Mason Crosby's problems continued. Oh, and did we mention losing for the rest of the season and beyond all-position-O-lineman Elgton Jenkins to an ACL tear? All together it added up to a loss.


The Preview

Today, the Packers play the LA Rams at Lambeau Field. The Rams are 7-3 and coming off their bye week. Rested, in other words. The Packers are 8-3, beat up, and looking forward to finally having their bye week following this game. QB Aaron Rodgers hasn't really practiced in weeks, first as a result of Covid protocols and most recently with the infamous broken toe. He looked rusty last week. Can we expect better today? Hope so. RB Aaron Jones did practice this week and is listed as questionable for the game at the time of this writing. Having him back would be a definite plus, but RB A.J. Dillon has proven himself capable, as well, both as a runner and receiver. The Rams can be run on, as both the Cardinals and 49ers showed.

The LA pass rush, led by Aaron Donald and the newly-acquired Von Miller, will test the piecemeal Green Bay offensive line. The Pack's running game must find a way to keep that pass rush from going off every time Rodgers drops back. Head coach Matt LaFleur needs to stick with the ground game today to open up the passing game or it could be a long day for Rodgers.

Packers' now-starting LT, Yosh Nijman, will be counted
on today to handle a major Rams pass rush.
(Photo by Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

One of the few positives to come out of last week's game at Minnesota was the break-out game by WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling who had a couple big catches, including a 75-yarder late in the game to give the Packers a chance to come away with a win. His breakaway speed finally combined with a pair of hands that was more reliable than what we've often seen in the past. May it continue thusly.

On the defensive side of things, the Packers pass rush needs to get to QB Matthew Stafford. As we have seen from his many years with the Lions, he's a good QB but if pressured will give the defense opportunities for takeaways. The D-backs have to be in better coverage positions than last week or WR Cooper Kupp could go off the same way Justin Jefferson did last week...which would not be conducive to a Packers victory.

Will the weather be a factor today? Probably not the way Coach LaFleur would have hoped for. No snow forecast, but it will be around freezing at the time of kickoff and in the mid-20s as the game winds down. Winds may gust up to around 20 mph. Whether the warm-weather Rams will be affected by these conditions...doubtful. QB Stafford is certainly familiar with playing in these early winter conditions at Lambeau Field. Although he's not always been successful there, either.

The Prediction

The pundits looking at this game, the Rams coming off their bye and the Pack seemingly limping into theirs, have installed the Rams as 2 to 2-1/2-point favorites, depending upon who are looking at. The Rams are healthy and the Packers are not. It would take a great effort in all phases of the game for the Pack to win this game. The Pack hasn't lost back-to-back games in the Matt LaFleur coaching era. This sets up to be the first time that could happen.

Still, we're calling it Packers 28 - Rams 27.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2021

2021 NFL Week 11: Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings Preview and Prediction

What a great game that was for the Green Bay Packers defense last week, wasn't it, Packers fans? The D pitched a shutout against the Seattle Seahawks, allowing a slightly-off Pack offense to do enough to win, 17-0. There were plenty of miscues, including a missed FG (again) from Mason Crosby and the woeful special teams unit, and missed throws by QB Aaron Rodgers who was coming off a week of Covid protocols. It wasn't the team's best performance overall, but against a struggling Seahawks team, it showed that the Packers defense is ramping up. 

Unfortunately, that same defense experienced a few injuries, including taking out recently-acquired LB Whitney Mercilus for at least 3 games (who is now on the injured reserve list with a bicep injury), and LB Rashan Gary hyperextending his elbow. Not sure how much he will be able to go with a brace today. With all that in mind...let's get on to the game against the ViQueens.

We look forward to seeing the Packers defense
pressuring Vikes QB Kirk Cousins today.
(Photo by Dan Powers/USA TODAYNETWORK-Wis)


This is going to be one of those games that may likely be tight. Minnesota has weapons on offense — Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, and Adam Thielen, among them. QB Kirk Cousins...well, who knows? He's very capable of doing damage to a defense, especially with his receivers. RB Dalvin Cook can also tear up a defense. So the Packers defense will be challenged, for sure. But if they can contain Cook and get pressure on Cousins, there could be a turnover or two available for the taking. That would help today's effort.

If the Pack's offense doesn't click more than in the game with the Seahawks, things could come down to special teams. Oy. Advantage Minnesota.

Head coach Matt LaFleur, after 6-of-9 games on the road and 1 more game yet after today before the team's bye week, did what he could during this week to help keep his team fresh. Physical contact in pads was limited to half a session. Most of the week was walk-throughs. With this game today at Minnesota and next week at home vs. the Rams, the Pack could come away with a 10-2 record if they win both — a great place in which to go into the bye week — or 8-4. Not so great. Even a split, to go 9-3, would be better than dropping both games. Certainly the game against the Rams will be a challenge, so it would be best if the Pack can take care of business — as the better team overall — today.

The Prediction

The stadium will be loud. The game will be the usual physical battle between division rivals. The game could come down to a play being made ... or missed. The oddsmakers have the Packers listed as 1-1/2 point favorites at the time of this writing, attesting to the closeness they see in this contest.

The Packers offense still hasn't clicked on all cylinders, for various reasons. But we think it will be more in sync than last week, despite Rodgers newly-reported toe problem. We also think the number 3-ranked overall defense — without 2 of the top 3 defenders for so long — will hold the ViQueens in check.

We're calling this game Packers 24 - 'Queens 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2021

2021 NFL Week 10: Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks Preview and Prediction

Packers fans, let's get first things first: we were wrong in our prediction of a Packers' win in KC...despite the game being absolutely winnable. While the defense continues to shine, the special teams performance was a debacle (costing points), QB Jordan Love — in his first NFL start — looked meh at best, and head coach Matt LaFleur's game plan did Love no favors. There was plenty of blame to go around.

Still, the Pack enter today's game at 7-2, still far atop the NFC North Division due to the mediocrity of its other teams.

Today, after four out of the last five games on the road (!), Green Bay is finally home at Lambeau Field. And QB Aaron Rodgers will once again be the man under center after clearing the league's Covid-19 protocols yesterday. So, while he participated in all the team meetings via Zoom, he'll be hitting the field with no practice and, hopefully, no lingering effects from the virus. That still makes him a better QB on this day than nearly every other QB playing.

Seahawks' QB Russell Wilson leaves DT Kenny Clark behind in an
earlier game at Lambeau Field. This is not a scene we wish to see play out today.
(Photo by Mark Hoffman, Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The opposing quarterback, coming off a three-week hiatus as a result of a finger issue, is the always dangerous Russell Wilson. So it's hard to tell what type of game he might have. But past history, despite the 'hawks not winning at Lambeau since 1999, teaches us that Wilson can beat you with both his legs and his arm.

Let's look a bit more closely at today's game, shall we?

The Preview

First, it's a bit unknown as to what effect today's wintery weather may have on the game. It's that time of year when yes, Packer fans, we really have to start looking at the weather forecasts. It will be the first time either team has had to deal with snow (it is expected that snow will have tapered off by game time...but...?) and cold, with temps in mid- to low-30s. Winds may also play a role today, as winds are supposed to be around 15 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. One would imagine this might have more of an impact on a QB coming off a serious finger injury in terms of gripping the ball than it would one coming off Covid quarantine. Those conditions may also well impact the kicking game, particularly for the Packers, unfortunately, as there are problems in all facets of special teams right now. If the game comes down to a field goal attempt, how comfortable are you with the prospects of a good snap, a good hold and good protection? Yeah, me neither. I'm not worried about K Mason Crosby, just all the moving parts in front of him which broke down in spectacular fashion in the game against the Chiefs.

The Packers defense has had the benefit, over the last two games, of playing highly mobile quarterbacks, first in Kyler Murray and secondly in Patrick Mahomes. They handled containing both very well overall. That was great practice for what they will need to do again today with Russell Wilson. A day like today would seem to favor a running game more than a big downfield passing game. But one or two explosive passes from Wilson could be back-breakers, particularly if the game is close late. He does like to go downfield so don't be surprised to see the Packers blow a coverage and give up a big gainer. As long as it doesn't wind up in the end zone, the Packers defense has been stout in the last few games. That needs to continue today.

The Pack's offense should be able to run on Seattle today. LaFleur needs to have a balanced attack. And with Rodgers at the helm, the likelihood of having both work effectively always enhances the Packers chances of winning.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 3-1/2 points. It could stay that close for a good chunk of the game. But we think the Packers will be able to do enough, at home, to continue their home winning streak against the Seahawks.

We're calling it Packers 24 - Seahawks 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 07, 2021

2021 NFL Week 9: Packers vs. the Kansas City Chiefs Preview and Prediction

So, anything of consequence happen over the last week or so, Packers fans? Well, first, lest we forget, the Pack beat the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals in the desert on Thursday Night Football way back when it seems, prior to the mini-break that followed. This despite the projections by many that Green Bay just wouldn't have enough to get past QB Kyler Murray and his high-powered offense. Glad to say they, and we, were wrong. Going into today's game in Kansas City, then, the Packers sit atop the NFC Conference with a record of 7-1 by way of the tie-breaker over Arizona, let alone being far atop the NFC North Division where the nearest opponent — the ViQueens — has a 3-4 record.

So ... yay!

What else happened? Oh, QB Aaron Rodgers has Covid-19. Did you hear about that? Kind of flew under the radar. (Note: sarcasm.)

We'll leave aside the pro vs. con vaccination debate. (Although, in the interests of full disclosure, this writer will be getting his booster shot just prior to the start of today's game. Because, well, science > Joe Rogan. Enough said.) Instead, let us move on to what matters as a result of Rodgers, through his personal choices, leaving his team in the hands of his backup QB for this key game against KC.

And what matters is: how will the heir apparent to Rodgers — Jordan Love — perform in his first NFL start? Will he be up to the challenge after only really about a year into his pro development? (Drafted in 2020, Covid shut down much of what Love would have gained in that year.) We're about to find out if the Packers will be comfortable moving on from Rodgers after this season, if that's the case, or whether they will be begging Rodgers to stay.

Today's starting QB and heir apparent to Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love,
gets ready to take a snap during mop-up duty in preseason.
(Photo by Dan Powers, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

The Preview

The preview begins and ends in large measure with how well Jordan Love will play. There is no doubt he has a strong arm or that he is athletic. He is also said to have a calm demeanor and to not get flustered easily, good qualities in a quarterback. But Love was also raw coming out of college, as most young QBs are, and needed a lot of work on his footwork and learning a greatly expanded playbook than what he was used to. Now, don't expect head coach Matt LaFleur to have him run every play available. The game plan had to be re-written on Wednesday when Rodgers became unavailable. While the coaches say Love has progressed by leaps and bounds, to expect him to do what Rodgers does is unrealistic.

Expect a reliance on the running game today to take the pressure off Love. Thankfully, the Packers have two great running backs in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon and a great offensive line, no matter who happens to be in at any given time. Davante Adams and Allen Lazard will also be available as receivers today. Losing TE Robert Tonyan for the season in the Cardinals game was a blow, but there are a couple young tight ends who can step up today.

LaFleur will basically fit the offense to what Love knows and is comfortable with. If he doesn't fumble or throw interceptions (both possibilities, of course), the offense — while likely not as dynamic as with Rodgers at the helm — can and will put up some points. Especially against a suspect Chiefs defense. Opportunities will be there and the Packers and Love will need to take advantage. One area where Love will have an advantage over Rodgers is with his legs. If protection breaks down and no receivers are available, expect Love to take off. Don't be surprised if there is even a designed play or two to take advantage of that.

The Packers defense, on the upswing week after week, it seems, will need to hold KC QB Patrick Mahomes in check the way they did when facing Kyler Murray. If they cover the receivers, and keep Mahomes from breaking contain, the Pack can keep this game close.

The Prediction

The Packers come in at 7-1 on a six-game winning streak. The Chiefs are 4-4, 2-2 at home. The Chiefs have put up more points (208) than the Packers (192), but have also give up more, 220, vs. 167 for the Pack. The Packers, overall, are a better team at this point than the Chiefs, statistically. But the oddsmakers have installed the Chiefs as 6-1/2 point favorites...obviously 3 points for the home field advantage — arguably the loudest stadium in the NFL which will make it difficult for the inexperienced Packers QB and the offense to hear calls — and 3-1/2 points for the lack of Aaron Rodgers.

If we were betting people — we're not — we'd take the Packers against that spread.

And, for some reason, the intuition today is telling us that the Packers are going to "upset" the Chiefs. Jordan Love is going to show us, over the course of the game, that he belongs.

We're calling this game Packers 27 - Chiefs 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Thursday, October 28, 2021

2021 NFL Week 8: Packers vs. the Arizona Cardinals Preview and Prediction

The Green Bay Packers come off a win at Lambeau Field on Sunday. It wasn't the romp that many expected, largely due to Washington's young QB (and Brett Favre and Packers fan as a youngster), Taylor Heinicke, using his legs to extend plays. But he also had a few major errors at the goal line that, had he converted even one, would have put this win for the Pack in significant jeopardy.

But while the Packers offense still wasn't firing on all cylinders, the defense once again came up big. In fact, so big that it did something it hadn't done all season: prevent the opposing offense from scoring a touchdown when in the red zone. Amazing. So, a good win if not necessarily an impressive one. Any win that puts you at 6-1 on the season and up 2-1/2 games in the NFC North Division is a good win.

Unfortunately, it's now followed up on a short week with a game tonight on the road against the 7-0 Arizona Cardinals and the uber-QB of the moment, Kyler Murray. How will things play out?

The Preview

Let's start with the fact that the Packers will be without wide receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard due to Covid-19 protocols and Marquez Valdes-Scantling with hamstring issues. That takes away QB Aaron Rodgers' top three wideouts. Not great when there will likely be a need to put up a lot of points throughout the game.

Still, these seem to be the types of games Rodgers thrives on, with challenges to be overcome. He'll have to rely on running backs Aaron Rodgers and A.J. Dillon to pick up some of the slack, along with Randall Cobb getting more grabs and the younger receivers stepping up when they have the opportunity to do so. TE Robert Tonyan should also feature more prominently in the mix.

Arizona doesn't seem to have a great D-line, and especially so now with DE J.J. Watt out for perhaps the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. So if the Packers can get its running game going and keep Murray off the field for long stretches that would be a real plus. Time of possession needs to be in Green Bay's favor tonight.

The Cardinals also don't have a particularly great O-line, so if the Packers defense can do what the 49ers did when they played Arizona — keep rush lanes solid and also prevent Murray from breaking the pocket and getting outside to either run or throw to his bevy of very fine receivers  — the Packers can certainly stay in the game. And did we mention that the Pack will be without its defensive coordinator for this game? He also tested positive for Covid.

Everyone was expecting a real shootout for this game before all the Covid viruses and injuries took its tool on Packers players availability. With Rodgers at the helm for the Packers, it's never a gimmee for the other team, regardless of the tools he has around him. It will be more of a challenge, certainly. But having said that, what's our prediction?

The Prediction

This is a tough one. It would take a lot of things to go right for the Packers tonight to come away with the win, and only a few things to go wrong to come away in defeat.

The Packers are 6-1/2 point underdogs at the time of this writing, with the over-under at 50-1/2 points.

Either the Packers win a squeaker late or the Cardinals win and beat the spread, perhaps rather easily. This is a toss-up game for us because of the circumstances.

We're calling this one Cardinals 34 - Packers 27. And hope we are wrong.

Looking back at our pre-season prediction, if the Pack does lose this evening they will be right where we thought they'd be, 6-2, through 8 games of the season. But we sure would prefer to see the team come home with a 7-1 record and an extra few days to get ready before taking on the Chiefs in Kansas City on November 7. It doesn't get any easier.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

2021 NFL Week 7: Packers vs. The Washington Football Team Preview and Prediction

Let's just acknowledge the obvious: Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have owned Da Bearz. In Green Bay. In Chicago. Doesn't matter.

With that now out of the way, on to today's game vs. The Washington Football Team (hereafter referred to as, not WTF...WFT. Got it?).

We hope to see a lot of this today: RB Aaron Jones
running over and through WFT defenders.
(Photo by Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

The WFT is 2-4. Despite having four first-round picks on the defensive line, they aren't great overall. Main thing for the Packers O-line is to make sure you know where Chase Young is lining up and keep him from getting to Rodgers. As it is, the WFT has given up more points than any other team in the first 6 games of the season.

And can you even name the WFT quarterback? Taylor Heinicke.

Bottom line: the dysfunction in Washington continues.

The Pack has won the last five games vs. the WFT at Lambeau Field. The last time Washington won in Green Bay was 1986.

Still, the Packers can't view this as a walk-over game. We and they saw in the season opener what can happen when you don't show up to play. The Pack also can't be looking past Washington to the Cardinals whom they will be seeing on a short turn-around in Arizona this Thursday evening. Get up on Washington early and go all gas, no brake.

If the Packers show up and play at the level they are capable of — which is still a work in progress, and not even counting the injuries — they will have a win at home.

The Prediction

We kind of gave it away in that last sentence, didn't we? Sorry.

The Packers are favored by anywhere from 8 to 9-1/2 points depending upon who you're listening to.

We're calling this game Packers 38 - WFT 17.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

2021 NFL Week 6: Packers vs. Bears Preview and Prediction

Before we take a look at today's win in Chicago — oops...did we just give things away??? —  we at least need to acknowledge last weekend's win in Cincinnati. That was ... different, wasn't it, Packer fans? The Packers had to slog it out against a fine Bengals team on the rise. And certainly, the kicking game was of note. As much for the failures and miscues on both sides as well as, thankfully, the final winner from Mason Crosby in OT.

As we know, after setting a franchise record for making 27 field goals in a row, Crosby then went on to miss three in a row. In the last two years, he had only missed ... what was it? Two? Total. So, an off day for our esteemed kicker, along the lines of that game he had in Detroit a few years back. But, now that that's out of the way, he can begin a new streak of field-goals-made. And no better place to do so than in the Mistake by the Lake, the Eyesore on the Lakeshore, Soldier Field in Chicago.

Packers WR Randall Cobb and K Mason Crosby look forward
to once again celebrating a win over Da Bearz.
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Preview

It's a Green Bay vs. Chicago game. And even though the Packers have had Da Bearz number in recent years more often than not, it also seems to always be a slog in Chicago. Weird things seem to happen. And, as usual, Chicago has a very good defense. So the Pack's young O-line will need to be at its best to protect QB Aaron Rodgers and also open those running lanes for running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Assuming they hold up, and Rodgers is able to find his receivers — short, medium and long — the Packers offense will do what it needs to do today. Even though the Pack's defense is missing key parts from its backfield, the front and linebackers should be able to keep rookie QB Justin Fields in check, at least for the most part. Fields won't have the benefit of a running game to help him today as they are down to their third and fourth-string running backs. That doesn't make things a gimme, but it does skew the edge in the Packers favor.

Remember that against a good Cincinnati team last week, it was the first time in franchise history that the Packers had a 300-yard passer, 200-yard receiver, and 100-yard rusher in a single game. That would seem to portend things rounding into good form for the Packers offense. Including converting in the red zone, which has been a challenge for the Pack so far this season unlike last year.

The Prediction

A couple outside predictions today...Hub Arkush, longtime NFL and Chicago analyist said in a radio interview on WTMJ (Milwaukee) this morning that he thinks "the Packers are overrated and the Bears are underrated", that the Packers have more than Da Bearz at this point and will "have enough late to get it done" in terms of a win. Thanks, Hub.

My dear friend, Billy Da Bearz fan, when asked for his prediction, told me it will be 19-18 in favor of Chicago. He will be at the game today. Hope he enjoys the nice weather. Because he won't enjoy the final outcome, despite his prediction. And I say this with love: he's delusional.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Da Bears 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

2021 NFL Week 5: Packers vs. Bengals Preview and Prediction

First things first: the Packers did what they needed to do last weekend vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers: win. The Pack finished the first quarter of the season with a 3-1 record, as we projected in our season preview. So we're on track so far. Yay.

But in the win last week there was also a huge loss: CB Jaire Alexander suffered a potentially severe shoulder injury while making a tackle. He's on the temporary IRL for at least the next three games...or for the season if he needs surgery. Not great. Especially with Za'Darius Smith out for the season, as well. That's two big impact players out for the defense today. Against a burgeoning offense on the part of the Cincinnati Bengals. So...time for the preview...

This is the image we hope to see at the end of today's game vs. the Bengals:
a smiling head coach Matt LaLleur and happy QB Aaron Rodgers.
(Photo by Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports)

The Preview

The Packers come into this game banged up on defense, as noted above, and also on offense where starting rookie center Josh Myers is out with a finger injury, all-purpose swingman Elgton Jenkins is out ... in total, three out of five of the usual starters are out overall. Not great against a good defensive line. Will they be able to protect Rodgers? Will they be able to open running lanes for Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon? The approach needs to be balanced in order to keep the ball and at the same time keep Bengals QB Joe Burrows and his young but very talented receiving corps on the bench.

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

Four out of the next five games are on the road for the Pack. Starting things off with a win in Cincinnati would certainly help in this tough stretch of games. But it's not going to be easy.

The Prediction

We — and many other prognosticators — see this as a game that could go either way. The Packers defense needs to get pressure on Burrows or it could be a long day for the secondary. The Packers duct-taped offensive line needs to protect Rogers, obviously, but also needs to open up running lanes to keep the Bengals defense from continual pressure on Rodgers.

We're calling this game Packers 27 - Bengals 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 03, 2021

2021 NFL Week 4: Packers vs. Steelers Preview and Prediction

First things first: we were wrong in our prediction about the Niners beating the Packers in last week's game. Thankfully so. Glad to be wrong and admit it.

For this week's game, the 2-1 Pack is back home in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field taking on the 1-2 Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers are currently favored by 6-1/2 points at the time of this writing. Seems about right, but more on that later in the prediction.

For now, what do things look like?

QB Aaron Rodgers was aided by a quick-release passing approach
in the game vs. the 49ers. So was his young offensive line. Expect that
approach again today vs. the Steelers.
(Photo by Cary Edmondson, Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports)

The Preview

The Packers, as all good fans know, are coming off an exhilarating last second come-back win against San Francisco. Thirty-seven seconds left, no time outs, and the length of the field to go...or at least a portion of it to get in field goal range for Mason Crosby. Voila!

What we saw in that game may well be the precursor to what will happen again in today's game, minus — it is hoped — the needed comeback in the closing seconds of the game. The Pack's O-line will be without the services of it best lineman, Elgton Jenkins. Which means a young line is likely going to be challenged even more than last week, particularly with the likes of T.J. Watt across from them. But rookie LT Yosh Nijman handled, with a bit of assistance from the tight ends now and then, Niners DE Nick Bosa. The rest of the young line in the middle also held up well as head coach Matt LaFleur went for the most part with a quick-release passing game which meant the linemen didn't need lengthy pass protection times in order to allow the scheme to unfold. Given what Pittsburgh and its front might be able to generate, it would seem that last week's approach would be well suited to today, as well. Unfortunately, the receiving corps will be without Marquez Valdes-Scantling today. He pulled a hamstring in last week's game and will be given time to rest that injury. He's needed going forward so no need to risk him further right now.

On defense, the Packers will be without Za'Darius Smith for the foreseeable future as he had back surgery this week for an injury which cropped up during training camp. Given his contract and salary cap hit for next season, it's likely we won't see him suit up for the Packers ever again. His pass rush will be missed. Still, this opens up opportunities for others. Last week, without Smith, we saw a pass rush that sustained itself at a high level throughout the game. If the defense can muster that same energy today, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger should find himself under pressure a great deal today. At age 39, Big Ben isn't the same QB he once was. That can add up to good things for the Pack.

The Prediction

After losing two in a row after a good start in Week 1 at Buffalo, the Steelers will come into Lambeau looking to get back on track. Home state boy and former Wisconsin Badgers standout (and a should-have-been Packers draft pick, it should be noted) T.J. Watt will obviously want to have a big game. He will be a disruptive force, no doubt, but the Packers can't allow him to take over the game on that side of the ball. For the Pack, they will want to continue the offensive and, especially, defensive schemes evolution that have occurred since Week 1. And there is no reason to suspect that they won't.

We're calling it Packers 31 - Steelers 20.

Go Pack Go!!! 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

2021 NFL Week 3: Packers vs. 49ers Preview and Prediction

The Green Bay Packers did what they needed to do last Monday evening: beat the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. Final score was 35-17. Our prediction was

But it's not about last week's game or prediction, it's all about tonight's battle on the West Coast, as the Pack meets the 49ers. Reminder, too, this is a "short" week for the Packers, plus the travel. For whatever reasons, the Packers haven't had what you'd call a great deal of success on these trips west. Reasons vary. But what about tonight's game?

The Preview

It's about player availability here as much as anything tonight. The Packers will be without LT Elgton Jenkins tonight on offense (not helpful) and Za'Darius Smith again on defense. Those are two key pieces for the Pack. We also just learned that DB Kevin King is out of tonight's game due to illness. This should give rookie Eric Stokes a chance to continue to show that he is the future at that spot; he had a great game against Detroit and, to our point of view, is a clear upgrade over King. So a blessing in disguise here, perhaps.

Conversely, the Niners will be down to about their sixth-string running back. They are hurting, too. Don't need to say any more about that. And expect San Fran to continue shuffling their veteran and rookie quarterbacks, which may present ongoing challenges for the Pack's defenders.

Having said that, we saw in last Monday's game that the Packers offense can, as expected, put up points...even with QB Aaron Rodgers overthrowing a couple long balls to Marquez Valdes-Scantling that would likely have been easy scores. But the Pack's defense continues to be a huge concern, particularly its lack of pass rush. New defensive coordinator Joe Barry's scheme hasn't come together. In apparently an emphasis to stop the run first, it has allowed the opposing quarterback to sit back in the pocket nearly untouched through the first two games. That has to end...soon.

Could special teams make a difference? Rookie running back / returner Kylin HIll has performed well in his returner role. Could he pop one today? Possible. But could the Packers special teams unit also give up a return? Yes. So we can't count on special teams to decide the game.

It will come down to Rodgers doing Rodgers-like things. More than once or twice. Perhaps even with the ball in his hands at the end of the game to determine the outcome. That would be a positive in our view.

The Prediction

The Niners are favored at the time of this writing by 3-1/2 points...a bit more than home field advantage. And given the Pack's historic performances in these contests, a bit surprised the spread isn't more than that.

In our season prediction, we had the Pack going 3-1 in the first four games. While we didn't make game-by-game picks at that time, instead looking at the overall opponents and schedule, this in actuality was the game we most expected the Packers to lose. While we thought the opener against the Saints would be a tough game, we never saw the team not getting off the plane to play.

While we hope we are wrong, we still see the Packers dropping this one, based off recent history as much as anything, plus the problems on defense.

We're calling this game 49ers 31 - Packers 27.

Still ... Go Pack Go!!!

Monday, September 20, 2021

2021 NFL Week 2: Packers vs. Lions Preview and Prediction

Guess what? We were right on the money with our call of 38 points in last week's season opener against the Saints in Jacksonville.

The only problem was it was New Orleans that racked up 38, not the Packers. The Pack got 3 points for writing their collective name on the test paper otherwise that game was a total toilet flush, know what we mean? I think you do.

So...let's move on to tonight's Monday Night Football extravaganza against the Lions at Lambeau Field. Yes, let's.

QB Aaron Rodgers needs to play like
Aaron Rodgers tonight vs. the Lions.
(Photo by Dan Powers/USA Today Network-Wis)

The Preview

The gist of it is that the Pack rarely has two bad games back to back. QB Aaron Rodgers usually comes out blazing after an embarrassing game the week before. The entire Packers team, offense and defense, sleepwalked through that season opener. They won't do that again tonight. Not at home. With fans in the stands for the first time in two seasons. Against a division opponent who always plays the Pack tough regardless of each team's record. And not on Monday Night Football.

Yes, the Packers will be without veteran Za'Darius Smith who is now on the temporary IRL for three weeks with an unspecified, but apparently lingering, back problem. Third-year OLB Rashan Gary will now have to step up. Gary has trended upwards each year with the team, so now is his chance to shine. Ditto for the entire defense in order to give some credibility to the new defensive scheme under coordinator Joe Barry. If they don't show significant improvement tonight after last week's poor showing, even more questions will arise as to why head coach Matt LaFleur hired him given Barry's lack of success in that area before coming to the Pack.

As for the offense, tonight it will all focus on establishing the running game. Look for a steady diet of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon to get the defense out of a strictly drop-and-defend approach as the Saints were able to do last weekend. The Packers need the running game to be credible so Rodgers and the play-action pass can be as effective as it was last season. Oh, and the wide receivers have to do a much better job getting open than in the last game, as well.

Everything that could go wrong last week, did. Tonight, it's time for the Packers to show us what they got, so to speak. They've been hyped all off-season. Now it's time to begin living up to that hype.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 11 (or 11-1/2) depending upon what oddsmakers you are looking at. The Lions had a good comeback effort fall just short against the 49ers in their opener; they were down by 28 points in the fourth quarter and lost by only eight. So the Lions won't quit, that's for sure. The Pack needs to get up early and not allow the Lions to hang close.

We're calling this Packers 34 - Lions 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

2021 NFL Week 1: Packers vs. Saints Preview and Prediction

Alrighty then, Packers fans ... today begins the team's 17-week long trek to the Super Bowl (OK, 18 counting the bye week). We say that every year, don't we? Or at least we think that. And with QB Aaron Rodgers with a chip on his shoulder (he always plays well that way), a full cupboard of offensive weapons, and a defense that should be on the rise albeit under a new defensive coordinator and scheme, there's no reason to believe that Super Bowl hope — and hype — is a fantasy, barring injuries to key players, or course.

But it's one game at a time, as the saying goes. And today's game is against the now Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints. The game was scheduled to be played in the Big Easy, but the recent hurricane that rolled through that area required relocating the game. To Jacksonville. Which should work, despite the heat and humidity, to the Packers' favor as a good portion of the stands will be occupied by Wisconsin transplants. In other words, this could wind up being in effect a Packers "home" game ... or home-away-from-home home game, anyway.

WR Davante Adams in a "Who? Me?" moment.
(Photo by William Glasheen, Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-W)

The Preview

Simple: Packers good (although after a preseason in which only a handful of starters played at all) ... Saints have injury and suspension issues. Should have been a home game for the Saints. Instead, moved to Jacksonville which may make it seem like almost a home game for the Packers with the plethora of Packer fans in the area. The Saints secondary will have problems covering all the receivers the Pack can put out there. And look for the Pack's running backs to contribute not only on the ground but through the air.

The Saints have a new starting QB in veteran Jameis Winston. He can make big plays. But he can also toss up a lot of interceptions. Expect the Packers defense to get at least one pick today. Saints RB Alvin Kamara gave the Pack fits in last season's game, so they will have to find a way to hold him in check. Perhaps running a lot of nickel schemes and shadowing him with either a defensive back or linebacker. The Saints are without their top receiver. And we don't even know who the kicker is...they didn't have one on their roster as late as Friday as their regular kicker is on injured reserve and they released their camp kicker in the last cutdown. So that situation could factor in.

The Prediction

Given the stability and talent on the side of the Packers and the instability at the moment on the part of the Saints, it seems as if the Pack should be favored by more than 3-1/2 points going into this game.

We see the Packers offense, even if they get off to a slightly out-of-sync start (which would be understandable), coming on strong over the course of this game. If the new defensive scheme can make use of the talent on that side of the ball and play even an average game (whatever that is, admittedly), the Packers should get the win in the Florida sun.

We're calling it Packers 38 - Saints 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

It's been a while. But with the 2021 Packers season upon us ...

Hello, Packers fans ... and all who wish they were.

We've had a looooong hiatus...since just before the Packers vs. Bucs NFC Championship Game (the horror ... the horror ...). And there's a lot to catch up on. So we'll ignore such things as the Aaron Rodgers drama, the draft, comings and goings, cut-downs, final roster, etc. You have better things to do with your time now anyway.

Let's just get to the important matters of the moment: the season prediction. We'll do the prediction for Sunday's opener against the Saints (in Jacksonville) in a separate post.

The Season Prediction

Since the start of this blog in 2005 (16 years ago ... crikey!), we have looked at the season preview not game by game but more quarter by season quarter, so to speak. Of course, now with a 17th regular season game, we'll come off with quarters plus one extra. You're smart. You'll figure it out. Home games are in green. Be aware, of course, that the NFL may flex various game times, especially later in the season, so the days/times shown here are as they are now indicated.

QB Aaron Rodgers: the "last dance"???
(Photo by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

1st Quarter of the Season

Week 1: @ Saints (in Jacksonsville) - Sun 09/12 · 3:25 PM CDT
Week 2: Lions - Monday Night Game - Mon 09/20 · 7:15 PM CDT
Week 3: @ 49ers - Sunday Night Game - Sun 09/26 · 7:20 PM CDT
Week 4: Steelers - Sun 10/03 · 3:25 PM CDT

We think it's likely the Packers lose one of these first four games. Despite the Pack being one of the odds-on favorites to make the NFC Championship Game, and, Packer nation hopes, the Super Bowl, and having a loaded roster, we really don't know how it's all going to come together, or how soon. With Rodgers back at QB and the weapons on offense, even if they happen to be a bit out sync, they will still put up points. But in the first year of new defensive coordinator Joe Barry's defense, despite good to great personnel in some spots, we'll have to see how that new scheme gels. Of these first four games, the one that worries us most is the 49ers game. Still, it wouldn't surprise us to see the Pack come out of this sequence 4-0. But 3-1 feels like a safer bet.

2nd Quarter of the Season

Week 5: @ Bengals - Sun 10/10 · 12:00 PM CDT
Week 6: @ Bears - Sun 10/17 · 12:00 PM CDT
Week 7: WashingtonSun 10/24 · 12:00 PM CDT
Week 8: @ Cardinals - Thursday Night Game - Thu 10/28 · 7:20 PM CDT

With three away games in this four-game sequence, including two back to back and the last on a short week after the only home game, we again think the Packers will drop one of these. Expect the Pack to come out of these four games with three wins.

3rd Quarter of the Season

Week 9: @ Chiefs - Sun 11/07 · 3:25 PM CST
Week 10: Seahawks - Sun 11/14 · 3:25 PM CST
Week 11: @ Vikings - Sun 11/21 · 12:00 PM CST
Week 12: Rams - Sun 11/28 · 3:25 PM CST

If you get the sense that the away schedule for the Packers seems to dominate the early part of the schedule, yes, yes it does...including two back-to-back series of games. Take a look at Weeks 5 through 9. There's one home game in there. One. Playing back to back against the Cardinals and then the Chiefs...not going to be an easy stretch of games, to say the least. We could see the Packers going 2-2 in this part of the season.

Week 13BYE

4th Quarter of the Season (+ 1)

Week 14: Bears - Sunday Night Game - Sun 12/12 · 7:20 PM CST
Week 15: @ Ravens - Sun 12/19 · 12:00 PM CST
Week 16: Browns - Christmas Afternoon Game - Sat 12/25 · 3:30 PM CST
Week 17: Vikings - Sunday Night Game - Sun 11/28 · 3:25 PM CST
Week 18: @ Lions - Sun 01/09 · 12:00 PM CST

Depending upon the health of the team going into these last five games, three of which are at home, the Packers could again drop two, to come out 3-2 here.


Looking back at our predictions, we have the Packers going no worse than 11-6. (Many projections have the Pack going 13-4. We hope they are right and we are wrong.) They should handle their NFC North competitors and win the division. We'll worry about the playoff scenarios much, much later on. Lot of ball game left, as the saying goes.

As always, GO PACK GO!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

2020 Season NFC Championship: Packers vs. Buccaneers

I took a deep breath as I began writing this preview and prediction, Packers fans. Because while we have all shared dreams of heading to the Super Bowl this season, and winning it, of course, there remains one little detail that needs to be taken care of first: beating the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a really good defense that dominated the Pack in the teams' first meeting earlier this season. (Deep breath...)

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and his offense will need to up their game today against
a Buccaneers defense that dominated them in the earlier meeting this season.
(Photo by Mark LoMoglio, AP)

Obviously, the main storyline is that of quarterback Aaron Rodgers vs. quarterback Tom Brady. And this will no doubt play itself out throughout the course of the game, perhaps down to the very last play.

In the first meeting, Rodgers threw 2 of his 5 interceptions during the regular season, including a pick-6. He was sacked, if memory serves, 4 times, and was under pressure most of the game. And that was with LT David Bakhtiari. Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles had the Pack's offense out of sync. It was unquestionably the Pack's worst game of the season.

Hopefully, lessons will have been learned. The Packers also need to take advantage of being at home in Lambeau Field. Granted, there may only be a fraction of the number of fans present that would otherwise be there in non-Covid times, but you can be sure all those present will represent Packer fans around the world who are there in spirit today.

In addition to a stout defensive line, the Bucs linebackers are fast. Hopefully, the slower turf — especially in the winter weather of Green Bay — will slow them down a bit.Thankfully, the full complement of the Packers running backs will be available, as will the receiving corps. When opportunities for runs and especially catches are present they need to be made; no drops or turnovers that could take the momentum away and flip the game to Tampa's favor. The Bucs defense is a takeaway machine and, in last week's win over the Saints in New Orleans, their 3 takeaways wound up leading to 21 points ... and, ultimately, the win. The Packers can't allow that to happen today or they could be this weekend's Saints.

As for the Packers defense against the Bucs offense, the defense must hold down the rushing game that serves to open up the passing game for Brady. He doesn't really need any help in that regard, does he? The defense also needs to get to Brady...quickly. While Rodgers is known for how quickly he can get the ball out, Brady is no slouch either. The Pack will need to get pressure on Brady and keep it on, while the D-backs and linebackers will need to be as tight as glue on Tampa receivers.

The Packers defense has been getting better and better over the last half of the season. They've got some mojo going. And a few days ago, Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine made the entire defense watch the replay of last season's NFC Championship game loss to the 49ers, where they played more like the Little Sisters of the Poor than the Green Bay Packers. The effect on those who were part of that defense, which was nearly all of those present, was as desired, according to reports: they were embarrassed, upset...P-O'd. Good. Perhaps that will be a motivator today.

The opportunities to play in championship games with the right to go to the Super Bowl on the line doesn't come along that often. The Pack will have now played in 2 in a row, the fifth in Rodgers career with only 1 winning trip to the Super Bowl to show for all the effort.

With Aaron Rodgers having one of his best season's ever and likely securing his third MVP award, and at age 37, we don't know how many of these opportunities will be there in the future for a Rodgers-led team. As the late Hall of Fame LB and Packers coach Kevin Greene said to a young Clay Matthews during the last Packers' Super Bowl win, "It is time." Indeed.

The Prediction

The Packers have received roughly the home field advantage spread of 3-1/2 points. The over-under has gone up from 51 to 52 or 53 depending upon your info source.

We don't expect the weather to be that much of a factor in today's game. Snow has already fallen this morning. No snow is predicted during the game. Temps will range from about 29° F at kickoff to 25° F at the end of the game. Winds are expected to be light and not a factor. Brady played all his career except this year for a cold weather team, and played his college ball at Michigan, so this weather will have no impact on his game. We can only hope it might have an effect on some of his teammates.

We expect this to be a hard-fought game by the two top teams in NFC. The Packers have experienced heartbreak in their last three trips to the NFC Championship with Rodgers at the helm. With the bad taste of last year's loss in mind (made fresh by Pettine's video session for the defense), and with knowledge gained from the earlier loss in Tampa, we expect the Packers to continue their winning ways today.

We're calling it Packers 31 - Buccaneers 27.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

2020 Season Divisional Playoff: No. 1 Seed Packers vs. No. 6 Seed Rams

Fellow Green Bay Packers fans, today's the day our rested number 1 seed Pack take on the number 6 seed LA Rams at Lambeau Field in the first of this weekend's divisional match-ups.

And a good one it should be. We have the league's number one offense — the Packers — vs. the league's number one defense —  the Rams. Something's gotta give.

The Preview

The Packers have home field advantage, including the added benefit of about 6,000 fans in the stands today, a first of this size for the season. That should help give a little extra juice to the game, something some of the players say they have missed, understandably. The Packers have, of course, the upcoming three-time MVP QB Aaron Rodgers, world-class receiver Davante Adams, a three-headed running game with Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon. There's a downfield threat in the form of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, admittedly a 50-50 proposition, but even one of those plays today could be a difference maker. And the Rams defense has to pay attention to MVS whether or not he catches the ball, which opens things up for other receivers regardless of the coverage on Adams. We also have a top offensive line, albeit without its All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari.

The Packers defense will be counted on today to limit
the Rams time of possession.
(Photo by Dan Powers/USA Today Network - Wis)

In addition, we have seen a defense progress from mediocre earlier in the season to now an actual top 10 defensive unit, including great defensive ends and a nose tackle that can stuff the run and get at the quarterback, serviceable linebackers, and really a great secondary, led by Jaire Alexander, up-and-coming second-year DB Darnell Savage and veteran Adrian Amos. All the pieces are there to take this all the way. If they play up to their ability, of course.

But first, the Packers have to get past the Rams. Their defense, led by DT Aaron Donald and CB Jalen Ramsey, can shut down most offenses. (Of course, we don't have a typical offense in the Packers.) Donald is coming off an injury but will play. Something to keep an eye on during the game. Ramsey is going to be counted on to shutdown Adams; he gave up only 2 TDs all season covering the opposition’s best receiver.

The key for the Rams offense in a few of their latest wins was winning time of possession by converting third downs. The Packers defense, in a few of its most recent games, had a hard time getting third and even fourth down stops. The Rams will want to help their already fine defense by keeping Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines as much as they can. The Packers defense will need to step up its game and not allow that time of possession battle to swing heavily in favor of the Rams by getting those big stops on third and fourth down. If they can stop the run and force LA to go to the air that would seem to work in the Packers favor today.

That's because Jared Goff will get the start for the Rams, a few weeks removed from thumb surgery. He had to come in relief last week after his backup went down in the first quarter and performed well. He led the team to a 30-20 win over the Seahawks, although it was not one of Seattle's better games, to be sure. Don't expect Goff to go deep often because of the thumb issue. But those underneath throws can keep the chains moving. The Packers defense will need to get to him to make him uncomfortable. In pre-game warm ups today it is reported he's wearing gloves on both hands. While the temps are reasonable for this time of year in Green Bay, they are certainly colder than what the LA guys are used to. That might become a factor with a bad thumb still healing.

The Prediction

With about an hour to go before kickoff, the Packers come into this game as 6-1/2 point favorites. We think the oddsmakers have that about right.

We think this will be a hard-fought game start to finish. But the edge has to go to the Packers to outscore the Rams, particularly at Lambeau Field.

We're calling it Packers 27- Rams 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, January 03, 2021

2020 NFL Week 17: Packers vs. Bears Preview and Prediction

Happy New Year, Packers fans! Welcome to 2021. May this year be better than the last. Hard to imagine it being worse. Let us pray...

The last game in 2020 saw the Pack trounce the Titans at a snowy Lambeau Field. Tennessee was supposedly the team that would be the toughest challenge for the the Packers until they (hopefully) reach the Super Bowl. RB Derrick Henry would reportedly run roughshod over a Packers defense that has been less than stellar for a long time against the run. Despite the weather, despite Henry (who was held to under 100 yards rushing), despite it all, the Pack triumphed 40-14. It was not the game we, or many expected. And for that we were grateful.

The game was a coming out party of sorts for rookie RB A.J. Dillon who rushed for 124 yards and his first 2 TDs of the season. QB and soon-to-be three-time MVP Aaron Rodgers threw for 4 TDs and 1 INT, while all-world receiver Davante Adams had 11 catches for 142 yards and 3 TDs. It was also a coming out party for a Packers defense that we hadn't seen in a while. As noted, they shut down arguably the top running back in the league and that left the offense in the hands of QB Ryan Tannehill, who had been having a pretty good season. But against the Pack he was picked off twice, only his sixth and seventh interceptions of the season, and wound up throwing for just 121 yards with a completion rate around 45 percent.

Game, set, match ... Packers.

Now, on to Chicago and our neighbors to the south, Da Bearz.

QB Aaron Rodgers will have to deal the rest of this season and likely
to mid-season next year without starting LT David Bakhtiari. Bakhtiari
suffered a season-ending freak ACL injury during practice on Thursday.
(Photo via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

The first item of note is that starting LT David Bakhtiari is lost for the rest of this season and into the next as a result of a freak ACL injury that occurred during practice on Thursday. Not great. At all. But the Packers O-line has been dealing with injuries throughout the season and is used to shuffling players around. It's likely that Billy Turner will play LT, Rick Wagner will play RT and Lucas Patrick will play RG. Thankfully, starting center Corey Linsley returned last week to return stability to the middle of the line. Elgton Jenkins also give the Pack a lot of flexibility in case anyone else goes down on the line. Let's hope not.

Secondly, with RB Jamaal Williams returning today, head coach Matt LaFleur has indicated that he'd like to find ways to use all 3 running backs — Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon and Williams — on the field at the same time. He even said he'd be challenged not to overdo that formation. So let's see if that happens today. We'd think it would give Chicago's defense fits, as all 3 cannot only run the ball aggressively but can catch the ball, as well. Then throw in the Packers corps of receivers. Can you imagine trying to defend that? Oh, and did we mention that Da Bearz will be without 2 of their starting defensive backs? (In best Seinfeld voice) That's a shame.

Chicago has a good running back of their own in David Montgomery who has already surpassed 1,000 yards on the season. In order for the Packers to enhance their chances for victory today the defense will need to shut down Montgomery the way they did Henry last week. That means  Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary will need to once again protect the edge and funnel things inside as much as possible. That was a key to success last week and will be so again today. Oh, and lest we forget: the Packers signed NT Damon "Snacks" Harrison this week and he was able to practice. It will be interesting to see how much the Packers work him into defensive schemes today and how he plays. He should be a valuable pick up for the playoff run.

Back to Da Bearz. QB Mitchell Trubisky has been having a better end to the season than start. After being benched for Nick Foles, he's responded well to the challenge. But it's also been against so-so defenses, to say the least. The Packers defense has been getting better as the season has progressed. If Chicago's chances rest in his hands...good luck with that.

The Prediction

The Packers are 4-1/2 to 5 point favorites depending upon who's making that call. I consulted my good friend, Billy Da Bearz Fan, to get his take on the game. He told me that I'm not supposed to say that he really thinks the Pack will go up by 3 or 4 touchdowns early and then start resting players. Instead, he says since its in writing, I should say that he's calling it 28-27 Bearz.

So there's one point of view. Or two, if you're counting.

Here's a third. Despite the hard hit incurred with the loss of Bakhtiari, we think the Packers are on a roll right now and things are gelling at the right time. We expect Da Bearz to put up a spirited game — after all, they are playing for a potential playoff spot. But the Pack is playing for the #1 overall seed, a bye, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they play for 4 quarters, they'll win with room to spare. If they let Chicago hang around, well, if it comes down to Rodgers or Trubisky making a play to win the game, c'mon.

We're calling it Packers 34 - Bearz 24.

Go Pack Go!!!