Sunday, October 30, 2022

2022 NFL Week 8: Packers vs. Bills Preview & Prediction

So, first things first: for the first time in the Matt LaFleur coaching era, the Green Bay Packers not only lost back-to-back games but back-to-back-to-back games, dropping 3 in a row beginning with their second half collapse in London vs. the underdog Giants, losing at home to the Jets, and most recently the debacle in Washington against a back-up quarterback. This team is badly out of sync, with no receivers to loosen up an opposing defense and inexplicable offensive coaching decisions taking the ball out of the hands of the best offensive weapon the Packers currently have, i.e., RB Aaron Jones.

The result: the Packers are sitting at 3-4 at the near mid-way point of the season. And for comic relief, the NFL schedule has the Pack playing arguably the best team in the league this evening on the road. What are the odds of the Packers winning this game? Not great. In fact, pundits have the Bills as anywhere from 10-1/2 to 11-1/2 point favorites at the time of this posting. Recall, by the way, that the Packers were favored in all three games in the current losing streak. Apparently the pundit good will has finally run out; no more benefit of the doubt ... now just doubt. In fact, Aaron Rodgers has never before in his career as a starter been a double-digit underdog. Yet, here we are. It's f-ugly out there, Packer fans. No other way to put it.

A Packers receiver, Sammy Watkins in this case, in a familiar position:
being a missed target on a throw by QB Aaron Rodgers.
(Photo by Geoff Burke USA TODAY Sports)

The Preview

As we said way back in our season prediction, "In looking at the other teams (in this stretch of games), 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." We also noted, "Some pundits are projecting a possible Packers-Bills Super Bowl match-up." The first part of that season prediction is certainly being manifested ... the second part? Not so much. Oh, the Bills still have a great possibility of being in that game, but the Packers? It would take a monumental turnaround ... a miracle of Biblical proportions ... to even get this team competitive once again the way they are playing.

Having said that, here's what the Packers will face tonight: the league's best offense, defense and special teams and a quarterback with the makings of an MVP season. The Packers, first of all, would have to show us something that they haven't yet this season: a complete game in all phases. They haven't done that in a single aspect of the game yet and we expect them to do it in all phases tonight? Not. Going. To. Happen.

On offense, the Packers will be without WR Allen Lazard and Christian Watson — he of ongoing bad hamstring — is questionable. LT David Bakhtiari...who knows? Rodgers seems to be off, putting it mildly. LaFleur, for an unknown reason, takes the ball out of Aaron Jones' hands once he seemingly gets close to more than a handful of touches. And with a 245-pound RB in A.J. Dillon, on 4th-and-1s, the call is to toss a short pass behind the line of scrimmage rather than give it to Quadzilla to make something happen. 'Tis a puzzlement indeed.

On defense, the Packers show up for the first half, usually, but don't in the second. With the money that has been spent on that side of the ball for years and years, the expectation is that this should be a Top Five defense...which it was in the preseason prognostications. So much for that. And while special teams has arguably improved over the last few seasons' performances, the continuing miscues and turnovers by returner Amari Rodgers, in particular, has cost the team games.

There are no simple fixes here. And looking to get turned around by shuffling off to Buffalo tonight isn't what the doctor ordered.

The Prediction

Based upon what we've seen since the London game, the injuries, the lack of offensive weapons, the lack of output, the lack of motivation, the mental mistakes, the penalties, the miscues, the coaching name it, this all adds up to very low expectations for this game by the Packers. We hope we are wrong.

We're calling it Packers 17 - Bills 38.

Go Pack Go

Sunday, October 23, 2022

2022 NFL Week 7: Packers vs. Commanders Preview & Prediction

 A quick word about last week's game, Packers fans: blech!

Moving on...

Packers WR Sammy Watkins has been reactivated for today's game.
He was becoming a trusted target of QB Aaron Rodgers prior to his
last injury. With Randall Cobb out 4-6 weeks, Watkins is a much-needed
addition in the offensive scheme.
(Photo via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

With the Pack at 3-3 after losing back-to-back games for the first time during head coach Matt LaFleur's tenure, to say today's game vs. the Washington Commanders is a must-win is a conversation starter, for sure. Polls of many fans indicate the majority think it is. We are among those.

Now fully through a third of the season, the Packers still have yet to play a complete game. The offense has scored 10 points in the last 6 quarters. The defense, particularly in the second half of games has, if not collapsed, certainly not lived up to preseason expectations of a Top 5 defense. Not even close. Opposing teams, as with the statement by the Jets coaches last week, know they just have to keep punching the Pack's offense in the mouth and they will fold, while on defense the obvious way to succeed is to go over the middle where it seems receivers are wide open all season long. These are both situations which should have been corrected by now. But...not.

With the Packers receiving corps still missing in action for the most part, the loss of Randall Cobb for 4-6 weeks with the ankle injury suffered last week and Sammy Watkins returning today but still relatively questionable, the receivers are Allen Lazard, Romeo Doubs, Watkins, Amari Rodgers and Samori Toure being activated today. This is who Aaron Rodgers has to throw to. Not a great position to be in at this stage of the season, but someone has to step up.

In addition, it has been announced that LT David Bakhtiari is inactive for today. So after practicing all week as a unit, the offensive line will again be shuffled. Doesn't help. Compared to past seasons, where there were a number of players who could be inserted at nearly any position along the line, not quite the case this year. Sure, players will be plugged in, but performance? We should expect Aaron Rodgers to continue to be under pressure as he has been all season.

Part of relieving the pressure on Rodgers can come from sticking with the running game more than has been the case, especially during the losses. LaFleur has been far too quick to take the ball out of Aaron Jones' and A.J. Dillon's hands. Of course, as LaFleur said in his press conference the day after the loss vs. the jets, if the O-line doesn't block better nothing good is going to happen ... whether in the running game or the passing game.

We don't really even want to take space here to talk about Washington. You can find that analysis elsewhere. Our focus is on the Packers because, ultimately, it begin and ends with those players on the field...and the coaching decisions that are made regarding them.

This is a game the Packers should win, even on the road. But that's been the case in the last two losses, as well. The team has just not shown up. If they don't today, the issues that have been present all season to this point will likely continue on over the rest of the season. Or so it seems.

The Prediction

The Packers are 4-1/2-point favorites at the time of this posting. This is based upon the relative talent of the two opposing teams. The strength of the the Commanders is their defensive line that ranks first in the league in QB hits. Not great given the Pack's penchant for allowing Rodgers to get hit a lot this season. Washington will also have a backup QB under center today, although he ran to daylight quite a bit in last season's game at Lambeau Field; Taylor Heinicke can compete and keep Washington in the game, particularly if the Packers offense continues to struggle and the defense continues its mediocre play.

Until the Packers show us otherwise, we think this game will be close.

We're calling it Packers 20 - Commanders 17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2022

2022 NFL Week 6: Packers vs. Jets Prediction

Hello, Packers fans. Well, after last Sunday's collapse in London vs. the Giants...what can be said? Play another team from New York, apparently, and hope for a better result. Welcome to Lambeau Field, J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.

Because of constraints on time and the fact we will not even be able to view the game live this Sunday, we are skipping the usual preview of the game and going straight to the prediction. Hope that works for you.

Packers head coach, Matt LaFleur, needs to get a full game out
of his team...and coaches.
(Photo from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Prediction

The Packers are currently 7-1/2 point favorites at the time of this posting. Both teams are 3-2. Whether the Pack can play more than a half of football on either or both sides of the ball yet remains to be seen. Perhaps if the Pack runs the ball more ... and occasionally blitzes ... and has man-to-man coverage in the secondary more often ... Let us pray....

We're calling it Packers 24 - Jets 13.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, October 09, 2022

2022 NFL Week 5: Packers vs. Giants Preview & Prediction — The London Edition

Cheerio, Packers Fans! This week we find our beloved Green Bay Packers playing the New York Giants...across the jolly ol' London. Enough cliches for you?

Let's acknowledge, first, another close win for the Packers, this one over the Patriots at Lambeau Field, to go to 3-1 on the season. Our preseason predication had the Pack coming out of the first quarter of the season at 2-2...which it quite easily could have been. But wasn't. So we're ahead of the game at this point. Let's keep that rolling early tomorrow, shall we?

"Green Bay Invades London" is not only the reality but the message 
on a fan's commemorative T-shirt at a London pep rally on Friday.
(Photo by Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

While both teams are 3-1, that's about the only comparison that fits. The Packers are deeper than the Giants on both sides of the ball, despite the Pack's defense not yet living up to its preseason hype. Still, they have done what they needed to do to get stops as the Packers offense is still trying to work out its kinks...which seems to be starting to come into shape.

The Giants have arguably the best running back in the league right now with Saquon Barkley off to a fantastic start. QB Daniel Jones seemed questionable after suffering an ankle injury in last week's game, but word is that he will play. The ankle injury should stifle one of his best attributes, however: his scrambling ability. That probably means even more reliance on Barkley. If the Pack's patchy run defense through the first four games doesn't tighten up it could be a long day. At least Jaire Alexander will once again be in the defensive backfield to help the pass defense.

The Packers offense seemed as if was starring to get into sync last week. WR Romeo Doubs is gaining Aaron Rodgers' trust and Christian Watson, according to Rodgers' own words this week, is open more than Rodgers realized until he looked at the film. All in all, the Packers depth — particularly with 7 Giants out tomorrow — should make the difference.

Still, there's no telling how the travel, venue, et al may affect the teams' play. What might normally be the case is, well, not normal in this instance. Don't be surprised if we see another close game, although hopefully one that does not go down to the wire or, worse, overtime.

The Prediction

At the time of this writing, the Packers are favored by 7-1/2 points. The over-under is set at 41-1/2 points. Apparently a shoot-out is not anticipated.

We're calling this game Packers 27 - Giants 20.

Go Pack Go!!!


Sunday, October 02, 2022

2022 NFL Week 4: Packers vs. Patriots Preview & Prediction

Before we begin our current game review, if you haven't yet exhaled from the Packers hold-on-to-your-hats win in Tampa last weekend, you can now do so: Packers 14 - Buccaneers 12. Whew!

It was a much closer game than it needed to be or should have been. The Pack would have all but sealed things up early on if RB Aaron Jones had been able keep possession of the football as he was tackled just shy of the end zone. That would have given the Packers 21 points in the first half. But...not. Still, thanks to the defense and special teams (who would have imagined ever saying that?!), the Pack held on to go to 2-1 on the young season. Yay.

The Preview

Today, Green Bay takes on the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field. The Pats' starting QB, Mac Jones, will not play today leaving instead veteran QB Brian Hoyer as the man under center. Advantage: Packers. Still, this is a Bill Belichick-led team. He will do the best to scheme with who he has. Particularly on defense. It will be a bit of a chess match at the outset, perhaps, as the Packers offense, especially with the young receivers, attempts to outwit Belichick's defensive calls. Look for rookie WR Romeo Doubs to continue to shine. TE Robert Tonyan could also resume his key-play role for the offense. The platooning of LT David Bakhtiari and Yosh Nijman that worked well last weekend in its first iteration will likely continue today with equally good results.

Packers rookie linebacker, Quay Walker, has already shown his
value as part of the Pack's defense. He's a playmaker.
(Photo by Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

We should feel good about where the Pack's defense is right now. It is ascending. And so is its young talent.

Certainly, being able to stifle Tom Brady and the Bucs last weekend has to bolster a unit which already possesses a good deal of confidence in its abilities. Whether or not DB Jaire Alexander is able to play today, the defense knows it can handle whatever comes its way. Rookie LB, Quay Walker, has been making plays like a veteran since the first game. He is an impact player. There are quite a few of them on this side of the ball right now. That means if the offense can do what it is capable of doing, the defense can close out games.

The Prediction

The pundits have put the spread at anywhere from 8-1/2 to 9-12 points, depending upon when and what source you are looking at (bad grammar there, sorry). These same oddsmakers have put the over-under at 40-1/2 points. So, clearly, looking at just these numbers, the Packers are viewed as definite odds-on favorites.

The Pack's defense should hold a so-so, Brian Hoyer-led Patriots offense in check. The only question is whether the Packers offense is able to put together a complete game and not shoot itself in the foot. That, and whether the special teams can hold its own which so far has been the case.

With all that being said, we're calling this game Packers 27 - Patriots 13.

Go Pack Go!!!