Wednesday, September 27, 2023

2023 NFL Week 4: Wait, what happened to Week 3? Plus Lions Preview & Prediction

Hello, Packer fans! Well, well, well. Some of you may have been wondering what happened with our preview and prediction for NFL Week 3: the game last Sunday vs. the Saints. Funny story. I was traveling. Attending a high school class reunion, to be exact. One of those major ones. Was so great to be back among old friends. And I do mean old. Crikey! Time marches on. As does the 2023 NFL season.

But the other interesting part of things is that had I had the occasion to post a preview and prediction for that Saints game, you know what? I would have actually predicted a lackluster performance by the Packers for the first 3 quarters of the game leading to them being shut out, but...then rallying for a dramatic 4th quarter comeback to win 18-17. Really. No doubt about it. And if you believe that ... I've got some choice swamp land for sale for you in Florida. (Come to think of it, I wouldn't do that to you; it's Florida. Ewww...)

Anyway, on to the quick turnaround Thursday night game vs. the Lions at Lambeau.

The Preview

The Lions and Packers both come into this game sitting at 2-1 with the early lead of the NFC North in play. Both teams have some young players already making a mark in the NFL and some injuries to key players. The teams seem pretty well matched at this point, but at the time of this writing Detroit is favored by the pundits by either 1 or 1-1/2 points depending upon who you're reading. The over-under is set at around 45.

As Packer fans no doubt recall, the Lions knocked the Pack out of the playoffs at the end of the 2022 regular season by dealing them a loss at home in the final game in an uninspired effort by Green Bay. Detroit had nothing to play for. The Packers did. And Detroit won. Not great. It was former QB Aaron Rodgers' last game as a Packer. And his last pass was an interception. Just like his predecessor, Brett Favre, as a matter of fact. Football weirdness.

The Lions have a rookie running back in Jahmyr Gibbs and rookie tight end Sam LaPorta that can both do damage if given the opportunity to do so. QB Jared Goff has seemingly found himself, so to speak, in Detroit. RB David Montgomery is also supposed to be back for Detroit. The lateral running game — getting the backs to the edge — has been a challenge for the Pack's defense going back to last season. What the Falcons did to the Packers in Week 2 this season is a likely template for other teams wishing to take advantage of the lack-of-edge containment ... at least until the Pack can prove they can consistently hold that edge.

And let's not forget WR Amon-Ra St. Brown. He seems to step up against the Packers. He can be particularly dangerous in the slot, creating coverage challenges for the Packers. Do they put Jaire Alexander on him no matter where he lines up or keep Alexander on the outside only and allow Keisean Nixon to cover St. Brown when in the slot? Will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Joe Barry decides to arrange the coverage and adjusts throughout the game.

The Packers pass rush will be key. Goff can get the ball out of his hands quickly, and with the Lions' good offensive line, getting to him will be a challenge. But necessary ... or it may be a long night for the Packers' defense.

Packers QB Jordan Love celebrates the team's 18-17 comeback win
vs. the Saints on Sept. 24 at Lambeau Field.
(Photo via

On the Packers' side of the ledger, they are coming off an improbable 4th quarter comeback win against the Saints, which should boost their confidence that they can overcome a lot of their own mistakes, in particular, to do what they need to do to win. QB Jordan Love continues to impress and so do his young receivers. The offensive line is banged up, as it has been since the first game. But Love has no problems using his legs if the situation calls for it. What hasn't been impressive so far has been RB A.J. Dillon. With RB Aaron Jones out the last few games with a hamstring issue, Dillon has been called upon to carry the load. As much as fans love Dillon for his love of Green Bay, Door County and Wisconsin, that doesn't gain yards, smash through holes, or move the pile when needed. With word out as we write this that Jones might once again miss action Thursday night, Dillon needs to step up. It is time, as a famous saying goes.

While second-year WR Christian Watson said on Tuesday that he will play Thursday (for the first time this season), he is still listed right now as "questionable" on the injury report. So he is once again an unknown. But his absence through these first three games has provided opportunities for the other young receivers to get time and make plays, in some cases, big plays. So there's that.

We also have to give kudos to rookie kicker Anders Carlson who is perfect with his field goals and PATs so far this season, including from long distance. May it continue thusly.

The Prediction

With all that being said, and considering the short turn-around time for both teams, the injuries, et al, and the home field advantage for the Packers (which the oddsmakers still aren't fully factoring in), we're calling this game Packers 27 - Lions 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, September 16, 2023

2023 NFL Week 2: Packers still own Da Bearz, Plus Falcons Preview & Prediction

Well, well, Packers fans. Glad to say our win prediction for last week's regular season opener in Chicago came true. Not even as close as expected: 38-20. Yay. The Pack still owns Da Bearz. Won't see them again until an end-of-season game in Lambeau Field. We'll certainly know the tale of these two teams after a long season then. As it stands, and as most national media also opined, Chicago has a lot more work to do than do the Packers.

The new owner of the Chicago Bears: Packers starting QB
Jordan Love had a spectacular opening game vs. Chicago.
(Photo via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

But for this week, against the Falcons, what do things look like? At this stage of the season, do we still really know anything much about either the Packers or Atlanta? Both 1-0. Both young. Heard one pundit say that both teams are actually fairly similar. So where do we go from here?

While it's encouraging to hear that RB Aaron Jones and WRs Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson participated in walk-throughs Friday, Jones and Watson are both listed as questionable on the injury report at the time of this writing. So is LT David Bakhtiari, but that will probably be the case for most of the season, it would seem. While we won't know the final status of these players until 90 minutes before Sunday kickoff, we do know that if the key players on offense are out or limited it will certainly impact the game plan. Conversely, LB Quay Walker got out of concussion protocol and will play, which is certainly a boost to the defense.

And that will be needed as the Pack defense will have to keep speedy rookie RB Bijan Robinson in check, along with tight end Kyle Pitts. There's enough there to present challenges, particularly if it's a tight game.

In a game such as this, a special teams play either way, for either team, could be the difference.

Still, we know that Jordan Love is not one to get rattled easily. He's playing behind a very good O-line. If Aaron Jones can't go, A. J. Dillon will need to step up. He had a bit of a down year last year and didn't show well in the first game. It's a contract year for him, so now would be a good time for him to return to his form of a few years as Quadzilla.

OK, not much of a preview, but for now...good enough.

The Prediction

The Falcons are currently favored by 1.5 points; recall that Da Bearz were favored by 1 last week against the Pack. So, basically the same...not even getting the full home field advantage. The over-under is set at 40.5 points right now; a low scoring event, in other words. To which we say: maybe.

We like the vibe of this young Packers team. They are talented and maybe they just believe it. This is a pick-em type game. And we will.

We're calling it Packers 24 - Falcons 23.

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, September 09, 2023

2023 NFL Week 1: Packers vs. Bears Preview & Prediction

Here we go ... 

It's always interesting when Packers-Bears week arrives. Especially when it arrives Week 1 of the season. In Chicago. With a new starter QB ... for the Pack. Without a team's top deep-ball threat ... for the Pack. And the youngest (by age) roster in the NFL ... for the Pack. Toss in a coaching regime change ... for Da Bearz. And a new and proven receiving threat ... for Da Bearz. Interesting, indeed.

Packer fans had hoped to see 2nd-year WR Christian Watson stretch
the field against Chicago. Unfortunately, he's been ruled out for Sunday's game.
(Photo by Megan Briggs, Getty Images, via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

You basically got the overview in the paragraph above. The fact of it is: no one really knows — especially in the first game of the season — what either of these teams actually can bring to the field. The Packers feel good about who they are and where they are at, albeit without their deep-ball threat, Watson. It's also possible that second-year WR Romeo Doubs might also be held out of the game, also with a hamstring injury. Taking your top two receivers out of the mix in the first game of the year is not a plus. A-duh. When Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was asked about Watson's absence for this game, he indicated that the team had basically had all week to plan around that. Probably have planned for either limited or no action by Doubs, too. The rookie receivers and tight ends will be called upon to step up. There's talent there, just not the experience you'd like to have out there. It is what it is.

We may expect as a result that there is a heavy reliance on the running game with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon called upon to take some of the pressure off the receiving game, although we could likely expect that Jones, especially, may be used in screen and outlet passes. It's going to be interesting to see the adjustments that will be made before and during the game. New starting QB Jordan Love is a confident young man and if he can limit mis-reads in the early going, there may be opportunities to take advantage of Chicago's defense.

Conversely, the Packers defense — with its eight 1st-round draft picks — needs to finally earn its keep. They were highly touted going into last season and were a let down. They played soft and defensive coordinator Joe Barry seemingly was unable or unwilling to make adjustments. The run defense was porous and defensive backs often were not even in the same zipcode as the guys they were supposed to be defending, whether near the line of scrimmage or downfield. Especially with the youth of this team on offense, and whether or not the defense could actually win a game, the defense must contain Chicago QB Justin Fields who can and will run at any time and change the complexion of the game. Chicago management also gave Fields a bona fide receiving threat in DJ Moore who will probably give the Packers secondary fits.

The Prediction

At the time of this writing, the oddsmakers have basically made the game a toss-up (Bears -1). In other words, they really don't have special insights to offer either. The over-under was 43-1/2 points, which seems about right for this game under these circumstances.

Whether the Packers continue their dominance of Da Bearz ... we'll see.

While we wouldn't be surprised to see Chicago pull out a close one, we think the Pack will come out on top .. in a close one.

We're calling it Packers 21 - Bears 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

With the 2023 Packers season upon us ... Our season prediction. Crikey!

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

Well, we've had a looooong hiatus, haven't we? Since April, as a matter of fact. Before OTAs, summer training camp, roster cuts, you name it. Now, it's game time (almost). Too much to cover here and you know it all already anyway. So we'll get on with what we see in store for this season. A very different season than the past 18. Ol' #12 is now in New York City (New York City!). We hope he plays at least 65% of the snaps AND that the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets have a dismal record so the Packers get a higher draft pick as part of the trade deal.

But let's just get to the important matters of the moment: the season prediction. We'll do the prediction for Sunday's opener against Da Bearz (in Chicago) in a separate post. We invite you to please check back for that.

2023 first game scrum between the Packers and Da Bearz.
(Photo via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

A Quick Season Overview

In the big picture of things, as every fan of the Packers knows, and likely most NFL fans, as well, given all the news and kerfuffle about the youth of the team, the new starting quarterback, etc., etc., expectations for the Pack this season are...basically unknown, but skewing shall we say...meh.

Most teams would be hard pressed, given the circumstances, to be about .500 for the season. That may well be the case when all is said and done here. But, while young at certain skills positiions, i.e., receiver, the Packers are a talented team. In addition to one of the best running back tandems in the league with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, an experienced and good offensive line, first-time starter QB Jordan Love — with 3 years sitting behind ol' #12 — is not the same as a rookie would be. Assuming his young receivers step up, Love will have opportunities to put points on the board. He is as much of an unknown at the start of the season to defensive schemers than those schemes are to him. I give the advantage to Love. Defensively, the Packers have 8 1st-round draft picks on board; it's well-past time they showed up as the 1st-rounders they are.

A big unknown in this whole overview is the kicking game. There's a new long snapper, a new rookie punter and a new rookie kicker. What could go wrong? Lots. Strong legs count for a lot. But so does accuracy and experience. We would anticipate probably losing at least 2 games because of kicking issues which would indeed change our final win-loss tally. Not great. Part of the growing pains that we have to accept will likely be part of things this season.

The Season Prediction

Since the start of this blog in 2005 (18 years ago ... 18!), 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 third consecutive year, we'll have quarters plus one extra game...and the bye week, too, resulting in 18 weeks to examine...not exactly a straight quarterly set-up but 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.

1st Quarter of the Season (+1)

Week 1: @ Da Bearz - Sun 9/10 · 3:25 PM CDT

Week 2: @ Falcons - Sun 9/17 · 12 PM CDT

Week 3: Saints - Sun 9/24 · 12 PM CDT

Week 4: Lions - Thurs 9/28 · 7:15 PM CDT

Week 5: @ Raiders - Mon 10/9 - 7:15 CDT

Note, to begin with, that we have added the extra game into this first "quarter" of the season. Seemed to make sense as the following week is the bye.

Da Bearz are favored by not even the usual home field advantage point spread of 3; instead, they are 1 to 1-1/2 point favorites at the time of this writing. Because the fact is, Chicago is also an unknown under a new coaching regime. Yes, QB Justin Fields is a talented athlete, more so as a running threat than as a passer so far. But Chicago did acquire some receiving help for him. So who knows how that will play out on game day? For the Packers, WR deep threat Christian Watson is likely out because of a late arriving hamstring problem. Not helpful. WR Romeo Doubs was also limited late in the week with a hamstring issue. (What is it with the Packers and hamstring issues seemingly year after year???) So, it would seem the oddsmakers likely have this game figured out as well as anyone...which is...a toss-up.

All in all, without getting into a breakdown of each game at this point, we see the Packers going 2-3 in this stretch leading up to the bye. A lucky bounce here and there (including, perhaps, off a goal post) and the Pack could be 3-2 at the bye.

2nd Quarter of the Season

Week 6: BYE - Sun 10/15

Week 7: @ Broncos - Sun 10/22 · 3:25 PM CDT

Week 8: Vikings - Sun 10/29 · 12:00 PM CDT

Week 9: Rams - Sun 11/5 - 12:00 PM CDT

This stretch of 3 games after the bye should be quite telling as the schedule hits the mid-way mark. Depending upon injuries, of course, and how well the offense and special teams, especially, have gelled, we could have 2 scenarios possible: a team beginning to rise toward a second half push towards playoff eligibility, or a team stuck in neutral. We see the Packers going 2-1 here.

3rd Quarter of the Season

Week 10: @ Steelers - Sun 11/12 - 12 PM CST

Week 11: Chargers - Sun 11/19 · 12 PM CST

Week 12: @ Lions - Thanksgiving Thursday - Thurs 11/23 · 11:30 AM CST

Week 13: Chiefs - Sun 12/3 · Sunday Night Game - 7:20 PM CST

A gauntlet, at least from this far down the road. We would be happy to see the Pack go 2-2 in this stretch. Anything more than that is gravy.

4th Quarter of the Season (+1)

Week 14: @ Giants - Mon 12/11 - 7:15 PM CST

Week 15: Buccaneers - Sun 12/17  - 12:00 PM CST 

Week 16: @ Panthers - Christmas Eve Game - Thurs 12/24 - 12 PM CST 

Week 17: @ Vikings - New Year's Eve Game - Sun 12/31 - 7:20 PM CST

Week 18: Da Bearz  - TBD

With only 2 home games in the last 5 of the regular season, including 2 away games on Christmas Even and New Year's Eve, and with the last 2 against NFC North Division opponents, this is the series of games that, if the Packers have been holding their own as a young team, can seal their fate one way or the other. We see the Packers going 3-2 in this final stretch.


Looking back at our predictions, we have the Packers going no better (or worse) than 10-7, which would surprise many. As fans know, many projections have the Pack going 6-11 or, at best, 9-8. Lots of unknowns this season.

But it seems as if the love for Love among many sports pundits has been trending upward recently. And, if #10 stays healthy — along with his O-line, running backs and receivers — we see this team putting up points, if not initially, as the season goes on. And if the defense can remain consistent — good consistent, that is — we think this team could surprise some folks. While last season's team underperformed on many levels, we think the opposite may be true this season. Let us pray...

As always, GO PACK GO!!!