Wednesday, November 22, 2023

2023 NFL Week 12: Packers vs. Lions Preview & Prediction

We're happy to note, Packers fans, that our prediction for last Sunday's game vs. the Chargers in Green Bay was incorrect. Or "wrong" as some have gently put it. Whatever.

The youngsters on offense came through in the clutch, taking the lead 23-20 with less than 3 minutes to go on a great pass from QB Jordan Love to Romeo Doubs in the end zone. In the remaining time, they could have held onto the ball once more and not given the Chargers a chance to tie or win outright if only head coach Matt LaFleur had not been so conservative in his play calling (run 3 times and give the ball back to a team with timeouts remaining and Justin Herbert at QB?). Thank goodness, the defense rose up and saved the day.

For a team that had lost 4 of their 5 games going into Sunday by a combined total of 11 points, this was a huge win. A record of 4-6 is a lot better than 3-7, let's be honest.

However, this win over the Bolts came at a cost. Both RB Aaron Jones and his backup Emanuel Wilson were lost to injury. Jones wound up with a sprained MCL, although it looked much worse at the time. Wilson wound up with a shoulder injury and has been placed on the IR list. After the game, TE Luke Musgrave reported a stomach injury. Turned out, he spent the night in the hospital where it was determined he had a lacerated kidney (likely from falling on the ball after a catch). He was also placed on the IR list and will be out at least 4 weeks. A sad turn for the rookie as he was just starting to come on and be not only a good blocker but a receiver Love could look for.

So the Packers have made some roster moves to replenish the squad, including re-signing RB Patrick Taylor; A.J. Dillion can't do it all. In fact, he's listed as questionable for the game, as well, with a groin injury. The Pack also signed veteran RB James Robinson.

This is not the way you want to go into Detroit on a short week. Not at all.

Running backs are in short supply for the Packers
going into the Turkey Day game at Detroit.
(Photo via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

With the running backs in short supply, and Detroit ranked 5th in the league against the rush, expect the offense to run mostly through Love. Good thing he had the best game of his young starter's career against LAC, throwing for 2 TDs and more than 300 yards.

Love will need a career game against the Lions in order to allow his team to have a chance at pulling out an upset win. But In addition to Musgrave, TE Josiah Deguara is listed as doubtful with a hip injury, so rookie Tucker Kraft will no doubt get a lot of snaps. It will also mean that the troop of rookie and 2nd year receivers that have begun to step up their games must take another step Thursday. Putting the bulk of the effort into the passing game (likely), the offensive line will also have to give Love time against a tough Detroit defense. Let's not forget: the Lions are 8-2...8-2! Who'da thunk it?

The Packers defense has been sieve-like for the most part against the run. Which doesn't set up well against Detroit...or any team, for that matter. Oh, and the Lions have a not-so-horrible QB in Jared Goff, despite one of his worst games on Sunday. With Packers defenders CB Jaire Alexander, LB De’Vondre Campbell and S Rudy Ford listed as questionable, and S Darnell Savage out for his fifth straight game, Green Bay's defense will also be put to the test.

It's not shaping up favorably for the Packers.

The Prediction

Detroit is favored by 7-1/2 points at the time of this writing. We hate to say it, but we think all of the injuries, on a short week, on the road, is just too much for the Pack to overcome.

We're calling it Lions 31 - Packers 17.

We were wrong last Sunday and we hope we are again.

Go Pack Go!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

2023 NFL Week 11: Packers vs. Chargers Preview & Prediction

Despite it arguably being QB Jordan Love's best game last weekend vs. the Steelers, and the Packers really being in it till the end, the defense's impression of a sieve against Pittsburgh's running game ultimately led to yet another disappointing loss. We and many others predicted it, which offers no satisfaction whatsoever. As we've said for a while now, until the Pack can show us that they can click in all 3 phases of the game, we're hard pressed to be optimistic.

So what does that mean for Sunday's game against the Chargers? Let's see.

The Packers offense will need to score and score often in order for
the Packers to have a chance at beating the Chargers.
(Photo from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

Every preview you read will say that this is the best QB the Packers defense will have seen to this point in the season. The Chargers are number 7 in scoring in the league. They are averaging nearly 27 points per game. If the Packers defense plays the way it did last week, well, the same result can be expected.

Yes, the Packers offense got some things clicking against the Steelers last week. In large part, it might be argued, because RB Aaron Jones was back on the field and involved. A lot. That always bodes well in terms of giving the Pack a chance. RB A.J. Dillon also had a good performance. If the two of them can establish a ground game this weekend and keep LA QB Justin Herbert on the sidelines, that will help. Control the clock. Please.

Jordan Love looked confident last week, made some nice throws, but also missed a few he needed to have, especially in the closing minutes. Let's hope he learned from the mistakes and kicks his game up a notch, as Chef Emeril might say. Need to find a way to close out a game with a W for a change instead of the L.

But it was the Packers defense, particularly against the run, that failed miserably. Two down lineman? How often did we see that scheme? Without adjustments? The Joe Barry approach. Oy. And still the Pack had a shot.

This game vs. the Chargers, who may be as vulnerable as the Steelers on defense, seems like one in which it will come down to how the Packers defense shows up. They have the talent. But, at least to this writer, they don't have (and haven't had for a few seasons now) the defensive coordinator to put them in position to succeed more often than not.

The Prediction

Despite the game being played at Lambeau Field, the Chargers come in at the time of this writing being 3-point favorites.

We hate to say it, but — once again — until the Packers can show us that they can show up in all phases of the game — for all 4 quarters — we don't see this game going the Packers' way against the Chargers offense. Hope we are wrong.

We're calling this game Chargers 34 - Packers 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2023

2023 NFL Week 10: Packers vs. Steelers Preview & Prediction

OK, Packer fans: we finally got a win last week over the Stafford-less LA Rams. We'll take it. Definitely. It showed what could be possible given the presence and performance of RB Aaron Jones. Also showed what could happen when a young defense flies around with some energy. What are the lessons that can be drawn for today's game against the Steelers? Let's see.

The Preview

Unfortunately, it appears as if CB Jaire Alexander will once again be missing from the playing field. Not good when the Steelers will have a receiver the calibre of George Pickens coming at you (btw, the Pack selected Christian Watson ahead of Pickens in last year's draft). On the other hand, Pittsburgh also has a young QB, Kenny Pickett, running the offense. So if the Packers defense can get pressure on Pickett and hold down Pickens ... well, both would be good. (Thank you, Captain Obvious!)

Rookie safety Anthony Johnson Jr. had a big day
against the Rams. He may or may not see the field today
if Rudy Ford is able to play.
(Photo by Mike De Sisti / The Milwaukee Journal)

The Packers will also likely be without LB Quay Walker and have listed as questionable DL Kenny Clark, S Rudy Ford, C Josh Myers, LT Yosh Nijman and RG Jon Runyan.

The latter three are concerning because the Steelers have a servicable defensive front, led by edge rusher T.J. Watt (remember that draft where the Pack could have picked him and instead went with DB Kevin King? Yeah... "Hulk sad.") The Packers offensive line has been a problem area all season, with very little continuity because of injuries. This has led to a plethora of pre-snap penalties and pressures on QB Jordan Love, who needs all the help and time he can get to connect with his equally young receivers. If Aaron Jones can replicate his game of last week and take pressure off Love, and the O-line can hold its own and minimize the pre-snap mistakes, the Packers have a chance today, despite being on the road.

The Prediction

The Packers and Steelers have both had their challenges this season. The Pack are 3-5 despite having chances to pull out at least 1 or 2 more wins. The Steelers are 5-3 despite, as Ryan Wood notes in his prediction for the game (see here) "an offense that ranks 28th in yards gained and a defense that ranks 31st in yards allowed. Both marks are worse than the Packers (24th offense, 11th defense). The Steelers have one of the few NFL quarterbacks with a lower passer rating than Jordan Love (Kenny Pickett is 26th in the NFL with 81.6, Love 25th with 81.9)." Wood also notes that Steeler head coach Mike Tomlin seems to always put his team in a position to win despite their deficiencies, which are more than they have had in past seasons, it seems.

So it seems as if the game is close, the Packers have tended to not get it done while the Steelers somehow find a way. Pittsburgh is at home and with a crowd that can get into the game if you let them. Neither are to the Pack's benefit.

Pittsburgh is favored by 3 at the time of this writing. Yup, home field advantage.

We're calling this Steelers 20 - Packers 17.

Still ... as always ... GO PACK GO!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2023

2023 NFL Week 9: Packers vs. Rams Preview & Prediction

Remind me again: who did the Packers lose to last week?

This has been a recurring question for a few weeks now. Extremely slow starts by the offense, penalties, injuries ... it's been a dumpster fire ... that just won't go out. We said in our brief (and, unfortunately, correct) prediction last week, that "... until the team shows up … in all 3 phases of the game … for all 4 quarters … we regrettably see this game going in the loss column."

So, did anything change in that point of view from last week to this? You tell me. Plus, add into the mix that one of the leaders on the defensive side of the ball — DB Rasul Douglas — was traded to the Bills for a 3rd round pick in next year's draft...along with a 5th round pick for the privilege. Didn't seem to make sense to many, including this writer.

But it is what it is. The season is bumpier than anticipated by far, perhaps even by the team's general manager and coaching staff ... which is perhaps also a red flag about where the Packers are headed not only this season but next, as well. That's a whole other conversation.

It's time for Packers QB Jordan Love to raise his game.
(Photo by Tork Mason, USA Today NETWORK-Wisconsin)

The Preview

You know what the read on the Pack is: issues. Lots of issues. The offensive line play has been inconsistent at best and abysmal at worst. And, due seemingly largely to Aaron Jones' ailing hamstring, the running game and much of the offensive schemes have been stuck in neutral over the course of this now four-game losing streak. Play-calling by head coach Matt LaFleur has been uninspired. Defensive schemes ala defensive coordinator Joe Barry have been hit-and -miss. Still it must be said that, generally, the defense — while not creating turnovers — has usually done enough to keep the Pack in the game ... if there was any semblance of an offense, that is.

Any opposing team knows that if they can put pressure on QB Jordan Love, which has been the case give the spotty O-line play, they have a great chance of winning the game. With the anticipated return of Jones against the Rams, that should help open things up a bit more for the Pack. We'll see.

The big question for the Rams today really centers around whether or not QB Matthew Stafford will play. He injured the thumb on his throwing hand in last week's game and his ability to grip the ball will likely be the determining factor as to whether he plays or not. A game-time decision, no doubt. Despite notable weapons on offense and defense, Stafford's absence would be a plus in terms of increasing the chances for a Packers win as LA's backup QB isn't a game-changer. Or at least, hasn't been.

The Prediction

As some others are doing ahead of the game, we're going to offer two predictions: one if Stafford plays and the other if he doesn't. Seems fair.

If Stafford plays, we're calling it Rams 24 - Packers 13.

If Stafford does not play, we're calling it Packers 17 - Rams 14.

Either way, Go Pack Go!!!