Sunday, September 25, 2022

2022 NFL Week 3: Packers vs. Buccaneers Preview & Prediction

 As we begin, let us acknowledge that the Packers did what they needed to do last weekend: beat Da Bearz at Lambeau Field in their home opener. Yay. As Elvis would say: TCB, baby! Takin' care of business!

Which leads us to today when the Pack takes on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the late afternoon heat and humidity of Florida. Ewww. Plus, that Tom Brady QB guy. Double ewww.

The Preview

This game is being hyped, as expected, as perhaps the last meeting between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Brady and Aaron Rodgers. This is likely Brady's last season and as for Rodgers, who knows? But as much as fans are interested in this aspect of the game, this is a contest in which the defenses may have more of an impact than the offenses. Who'd ever imagine saying that in a Brady vs. Rodgers game? But here we are.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers hoping to improve today on his record
vs. the Buccaneers against whom he is just 2-4, 1-3 in Tampa.
(Photo by Jason Behnken, AP)

Tampa's defense is arguably the best in the NFL right now. The Packers' defense was expected prior to the season to be a Top 5 defense. A bit of the air in that balloon went out in the opening loss to the ViQueens. Last weekend's game vs Chicago helped a bit, but still a lot of missed tackles. But, after all, it was Chicago so we can't read too much into that, can we?

The Bucs offense, despite being led by Brady, will be down a few receivers today: Mike Evans is suspended, Chris Godwin is out for the third straight week and Julio Jones is questionable. The running game also isn't quite at full strength, according to reports. Brady isn't as mobile as he once was and without his usual weapons, the Packers defense should have the upper hand. Should.

The Packers offense is still a work in progress. The O-line got RT Elgton Jenkins back last week. This week, word is that LT David Bakhtiari will play today. We'll see how well he is able to hold up against the Bucs defense in his first game back after his long ACL recovery. Rushing will be a challenge against this defense which, in normal times, one would look upon as a cue to rely on the pass. Except that the Pack is also down a few receivers right now. The team placed Sammy Watkins on the IR, a place where he has, unfortunately, spent a good portion of his once-promising career. This is a game where Rodgers may need to rely more on TE Robert Tonyan and work on building his trust with his rookie receivers, particularly Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson. And if the Pack can get RBs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon touches out of the backfield that can help open things up a bit, too.

The Pack will need to control the clock today, avoid turnovers and special teams mistakes, and — cliche as it is — make the plays they are supposed to make. Oh, and pressuring and getting at least one turnover against Brady and the Bucs' offense would help a great deal, as well.

The Prediction

This is projected by the oddsmakers as a relatively low-scoring game with the over-under set at 42. Tampa is favored by 1-1/2 points.

To us, this seems almost like a pick 'em type game. Both teams have question marks, both teams have great QBs, but the Bucs are at home. In the heat and humidity (it's supposed to feel like 101 degrees F right about time of kickoff...and that's not even the on-the-field heat), Tampa players should be more well adapted to the conditions. Not the frozen tundra, but rather the sweltering swamp.

As much as we hope the outcome is otherwise, we see this one going the way of Tampa Bay in a close one. (Please let us be wrong!)

We're calling it Buccaneers 20 - Packers 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

2022 NFL Week 2: Packers vs. Bears Preview & Prediction

OK, Packer fans ... last week's opener at Minnesota didn't quite turn out the way we hoped...more like the way we feared. As in not ready. (Sigh)

So let's just turn the page on that one, shall we? Instead, as the late Paul Harvey would say, "Page Two...".

Which brings us to the Packers home opener vs Da Bearz this evening in prime time on Sunday Night Football.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers reflecting on how many ways
he has owned Da Bearz over the course of his career.
(Photo by Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

The Preview

Chicago is coming off a slopfest win at home over the 49ers last weekend. Meh. The Packers, as noted, were on the losing end of things vs. the ViQueens. And yet, the Pack are listed as 10-1/2 point favorites at the time of this writing. Sounds about right.

As disjointed as the Packers' offense was last week — with the growing pains of young receivers, a makeshift offensive line, an underperforming defense, etc. — they are still the superior team on the field tonight. As long as they play like it, that is.

For the defense, the Packers should have a bounce-back game after being shredded in their zone pass coverage by Justin Jefferson. Chicago does not have an equivalent, but the d-backs still have to be in at least the same zip code as the receivers to avoid those errors again. The other aspect of the defense that is key tonight is keeping Chicago QB Justin Fields in the pocket. You don't want to let him beat you with his feet, as they say. And that means pressure. Lots of it. While the Pack had some pressure on Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins at times last week, he had too much time to find Jefferson running free. If the Packers can keep contain on Fields, and get to him repeatedly, the Packers will win this game regardless of how much the offense might sputter.

What? The Pack's offense sputter? We don't believe we'll see what we saw last week, regardless of the offensive line makeup. Rodgers will have had another week to get on the same page with his receivers, which should help a bit. But, based upon what head coach Matt LaFleur said after the loss in Minnesota, and all week, expect more touches by the running backs tonight. It has to happen to keep Chicago's defense from just going off on Rodgers the way Minnesota did last week. An indicator, perhaps, of the team's commitment this week to the running game (and passes to the running backs) the team activated RB Patrick Taylor off the practice squad so 3 running backs will be available throughout the game. Good choice. Taylor played a number of games for the Pack last season, knows what to do, and has the trust of the coaches when they call his number.

The expectation is that there will be more balanced run-pass play-calling tonight...more along the lines of what was expected last weekend. If that happens, the young receivers make a few plays, and the defense lives up to its preseason billing, the Packers will get their first win of the 2022 season. And against Da Bearz. Which is always sweet.

The Prediction

As noted above, a number of "ifs" come into play this with every game, really. The big ones here are: getting past last weekend's season-opening loss; maximizing the energy from the home opener on Sunday night; and channeling the history of the Green Bay - Chicago rivalry.

The pundits have installed the Pack as 10-1/2 point faves, as noted earlier. That should be right, although some are noting that historically these are often slugfests between two old division rivals, regardless of relative talent levels. Regardless ... 

We're calling it Packers 24 - Da Bearz 13.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2022

2022 NFL Week 1: Packers vs. Vikings Preview & Prediction

 At long last, the new NFL regular season finally gets underway with the Green Bay Packers meeting NFC North divisional rival the Minnesota Vikings ... otherwise known among many as the ViQueens. The game will take place in Minnesota.

As others have pointed out, most teams don't play many of their starters during the three preseason games so this first regular season game is essentially a continuation of the least for those starters who sat out most or all of the preseason games. The Pack and the 'Queens will be working out kinks, especially on offense, for this game and likely a game or two beyond. Expect defenses to dominate. As it is anticipated that the Pack's defense will wind up being a Top 5 defense when all is said and done, this is something Packers fans should welcome.

Head coach, Matt LaFleur, is set to begin his fourth season at the helm of the Packers. Has achieved record-setting regular season win-loss records during his first three years, but significant playoff and Super Bowl wins have eluded him ...
so far.
(Photo by Samantha Mader/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

The Preview

The Packers will be without LT David Bakhtiari today and probably at least through next week against Da Bearz, as well. RT Elgton Jenkins is questionable, and WR Allen Lazard is doubtful for today, the latter leaving an already questionable receiving corps even further shorthanded. But the Packers still have QB Aaron Rodgers commanding the offense. And head coach Matt LaFleur and his brain trust have had plenty of time to scheme a new offense sans Davante Adams. Even without the arguable number one receiver in Lazard, the Pack still has considerable weapons on offense, particularly in the form of the two-headed running back monster comprised of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. The game should revolve a bit more around that phase of the game — both rushing and pass-catching — than we have seen in a while. But that doesn't mean that Rodgers will be limited. With veterans Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins, along with rookie receivers Christian Watson and training camp darling Romeo Doubs, Rodgers will have targets downfield and across the middle. And don't forget the return of TE Robert Tonyan who was lost for most of last season. He gives Rodgers a great and reliable red zone target. The offense will put up points, perhaps just not in as much of a flurry as we are used to, at least not early in the season.

The defensive unit will be more high-powered this year than last, along the line, across the linebackers, and especially in the defensive backfield. The defense will be called upon early to keep the Packers in games...and perhaps even to win one or two early. Let's feel good about that.

As for the Packers special teams ... it can't be worse than last season. A new coach, new personnel — including some starters — and perhaps even new schemes should move the Pack up from the bottom of the pile where this squad has languished for far too long...and which has cost the Packers in the past. That has to change this season. Will see how things look today.

As for the ViQueens, the Packers defense will get a good test in this first outing taking on the likes of QB Kirk Cousins (not horrible), Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson. A definite test right out of the box for the Pack's D. On the flip side, former Packers linebacker Za'Darius Smith is out for revenge as he has been proclaiming how badly he was treated last season by his former team. So he'll have an extra little motor going today, no doubt.

Overall, the 'Queens have a new head coach, new schemes, etc. Will just have the same annoying horn and skol sounds as background noise.

The Prediction

Minnesota gets the home field advantage, shaved just a bit, as 2-point favorites at the time of this post. Basically, expect this to be a toss-up type game as they so often are. We just don't know what kind of team we have yet in any phase of the game. Wouldn't surprise us if the Pack came up just short. But also wouldn't surprise us if they pull out a close one.

We're calling it Packers 24 - ViQueens 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2022

With the 2022 Packers season upon us ... Our season prediction.

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

We've had a looooong hiatus...since just before the 2022 NFL Draft, to be exact. A lot of water under the bridge before and since then: comings and goings (most notably and regrettably, of course, WR Davante Adams), injury updates, cut-downs, final roster, etc. Too much to cover here and you know it all already anyway.

So 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 ViQueens (in Minnesota) in a separate post. We invite you to please check back for that.

The Season Prediction

Since the start of this blog in 2005 (17 years ago ... 17!), we have looked at the season preview not game by game (those are done individually at the relevant time) but more quarter by season quarter, so to speak. With a 17th regular season game in place for the second consecutive year, we'll have quarters plus one extra game...and the bye week, too, resulting in 18 weeks to examine. 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.

QBs Aaron Rodgers and Kirk Cousins will meet
in the first game of the 2022 season.
(Photo by Associated Press)

1st Quarter of the Season

Week 1: @ Vikings - Sun 9/11 · 3:25 PM CDT

Week 2: Da Bearz - Sunday Night Game - Sun 9/25 · 7:20 PM CDT

Week 3: @ Buccaneers - Sun 9/26 · 3:25 PM CDT

Week 4: Patriots - Sun 10/02 · 3:25 PM CDT

We think it's likely the Packers lose one, and perhaps two, of these first four games. Despite the Pack being once again one of the odds-on favorites to make the NFC Championship Game, and, Packer nation hopes, the Super Bowl, and having a talented roster, particularly on defense, we really don't know how it's all going to come together, or how quickly. With Rodgers back at QB and coming off two consecutive MVP season and the weapons on offense, you know that the team will always be in the game in terms of point potential. But with his wide receiver security blanket, Adams, now gone to Las Vegas, and a slew of young and untested receivers, the offense might not be as high-flying as we've been accustomed to especially early in the season. We expect perhaps a more even split between downfield throws and runs and touches out of the backfield. The two-headed monster that is Aaron Jone and A.J. Dillon will be used in new and impactful ways. Will be fun to watch. It will be good to have TE Robert Tonyan back in the mix particularly in the red zone. The new receivers, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, as well as veterans Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins, will also have to have an impact early and often. During this first quarter of the season, but especially down its stretch later in the season, the defensive unit will be called upon to limit the points put up by opponents until the offense finds its footing. And special teams? Can't be worse than last season. Even a modicum of improvement there will help. So, it would seem if the Pack could come out of these first four games 2-2 it would be satisfactory. Not great, but OK, setting the stage for better things moving down the road.

2nd Quarter of the Season

Week 5: Giants - Sun 10/9 - 8:30 AM CDT (technically the home team atTottenham Hotspur Stadium, London)

Week 6: Jets - Sun 10/16 · 12:00 PM CDT

Week 7: @ Washington - Sun 10/23 · 12:00 PM CDT

Week 8: @ Bills - Sun 10/30 · 7:20 PM CDT

This quarter of the season starts with the Pack's first international game in London against the Giants, in which the Packers will be technically the home team. There will be a large contingent of European Packers fans on hand. If the team can handle the jet lag, they should be able to come away with the win there. In looking at the other teams in this quarter, the Bills are the team to worry about, as they showed in their season opener by man-handling the Super Bowl champion LA Rams in LA. Some pundits are projecting a possible Packers-Bills Super Bowl match-up. Long way to go before we get there. But, on a whole, the Packers should come out of these four games with a 3-1 record.

3rd Quarter of the Season

Week 9: @ Lions - Sun 11/6 - 12 PM CDT

Week 10: Cowboys - Sun 11/13 · 3:25 PM CDT

Week 11: Titans - Thursday Night Game - Thurs 11/17 · 7:15 PM CDT

Week 12: @ Eagles - Sun 11/27 · Sunday Night Game - 7:20 PM CDT

The first game of this quarter of the season sees the Packers play the third of three consecutive away games. Oy. Fortunately, it's against the Lions, albeit in Detroit. To be fair, the Lions might be an improved team over what we have come to know over so many years of futility. By roughly the mid-point in the season, we'll have a good idea of who they are. The Cowboys, Titans and Eagles round out these four games. Given the three straight roads trips and the opponents, we can see the Pack going 2-2 in this stretch.

4th Quarter of the Season (+1)

Week 13: @ Da Bearz - Sun 12/4 - 12 PM CDT

Week 14: BYE - Sun 12/11

Week 15: Rams - Sun 12/19  - Monday Night Game - 7:15 PM CDT 

Week 16: @ Dolphins - Christmas Day Game - Thurs 12/25 - 12 PM CDT 

Week 17: Vikings New Year's Day Game - Sun 1/1/23 - 3:25 PM CDT

Week 18: Lions Sun 1/8 - 12 PM CDT

The bye week comes in Week 14. Not ideal, but hopefully can get guys rested a bit for the final stretch of four games, three of which are at Lambeau Field. If the Pack is healthy, here's where the stretch run to the playoffs and Super Bowl gains steam. Given the opponents and being able to finish at home, we see the Packers going 3-2 over this span of games, including the bye.


Looking back at our predictions, we have the Packers going no worse than 10-7. (Many projections have the Pack going 13-4 or 12-5. We hope they are right and we are wrong.) They should handle their NFC North competitors and win the division once again. 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!!!