Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 NFL Week 17: Packers vs. Vikings Preview & Prediction

Happy (almost) New Year, Packer fans! And what will make it very happy is if the Packers get a win in Min! Gotta get this game against the ViQueens to keep slim playoff hopes alive.

What could go wrong? Well ... it begins with "d" and ends with "e". Specifically, defense, as in even more specifically, the Pack's defense. What a train wreck it has become especially over the last half of the season.

That has been particularly true when facing rookie and iffy quarterbacks, whom the Packers defense have made look like MVPs these last three weeks. The tales of woe in this regard are well known among Packer fans so no need to rehash here. Other than to say two players on defense that would be helpful in today's game against Minnesota's very good receivers — Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes — will not be playing. Alexander because of his well-documented error in judgement at the time of the coin-toss against Carolina, resulting in his one-game suspension by Brian Gutekunst, and Stokes because of a hamstring injury which now sees him on the IR list, which has been the bane of the Packers existence this season across many players. Oy.

Yet again today, the Packers defense will face a rookie QB, Jaren Hall, who is very mobile. And you know how mobile QBs do against this Packers defense, right? Yeah: have career games. Let us pray ...

Anyway, let's just get on with the prediction, shall we? No preview needed. We have New Year's celebrations to get to (along with the game, of course!).

The Packers offense will need a big game from QB Jordan Love
today to overcome expected lapses by the Packers defense.

The Prediction

Minnesota is currently favored by 1 to 1-1/2 points depending upon what source you are looking at. So, basically, a pick 'em game.

Both the Packers and ViQueens come into this game at 7-8. The Packers offense, statistically, have scored more points over the course of the season than have the Vikes. But Minnesota's defense have given up 32 fewer points over the 15-game span than have the Packers. In fact, the Packers offense has only scored 2 points more than its defense has given up. That helps explain our meh record at this point in the season. To the Packers advantage, statistically, is that Minnesota has a 2-5 record at home and 5-3 on the road; the Pack is 3-5 away from home. So...hmm. What to make of that?

If the Packers defense can get back to its early season form, and create at least one turnover today, they should pull off a tight win. If it once again makes a MVP out of a rookie QB, and doesn't get lights-out play from the offense, playoff chances for the Pack will go from slim to none.

Still, we're going to wear the green 'n' gold glasses yet again. We're call this game Packers 27 - ViQueens 24.


Saturday, December 23, 2023

2023 NFL Week 16: Packers vs. Panthers Preview & Prediction

So-o-o-o-o...for the second straight week...looking back...the Green Bay Packers disappointed fans with poor performances. Coming off two great wins no less. Up and down. The story of a young team. But at some point, as even head coach Matt LaFleur acknowledged, that "young" bit doesn't hold water any more.

The season is 3 games from being over. Either the team wins out against poor to so-so teams and keeps their now-slim playoff chance alive, or we start looking to next season. We have said for the past couple weeks that each game was a must-win. Well, if the upcoming Christmas Eve day game vs. the lowly Carolina Panthers isn't a must-win, then Santa is just a fat ol' man. And we know that's not true!

Of course, the Pack have seemed to nearly always make a looser into a winner. Check the performances of the last two winning opponent quarterbacks, for example. Oy. The biggest problem in the last two losses, of course, has been the Joe Barry-led defense. Or, as The Onion declared in a headline following the most recent defensive debacle, "James Webb Telescope Finds Evidence Of Packers Secondary Lined Up 20 Million Light Years Off Receivers".

Let's hope we don't see this Packers secondary coverage scheme any longer.
(Image via

The Preview

Do we really need one at this point, Packer fans? We know the Pack is a toss-up team at this stage of the season. When they show you who they are, as the saying goes, believe then. They have shown us that they are a 6-8 team. Meh. So close and yet so far. Yes, they are/were "young". Yes, they've had a lot of injuries at key positions (btw, will Jaire Alexander ever see the field again for the Packers???). Next man up. And with 8 first-round picks on defense as we were reminded ad nauseum this week in the aftermath of the defensive meltdown vs. Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers. Time for these guys to step up. Especially the defense. If going against rookie QB Bryce Young isn't an occasion for feasting on sacks and turnovers...check please. You know what we're saying.

The Panthers are 2-12 for a reason, just as the Packers are 6-8 for a reason. The Packers have better talent on the field. But in sports, especially football, commitment to show up and perform to the best of one's capability is all on the field. This will be a telling game for the Pack. Will they show up and perform? Or have they already packed it in, so to speak (no pun intended), especially on the defensive side of things? We will find out shortly.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 4 points. They have won something like 7 straight Christmastime games. Matt LaFleur is 16-2 in December since becoming the head coach of the Packers. This is a game the Packers should win. But we've said that the last 2 weeks and where did that get us? Up the creek without a paddle.

So now what? We're sticking with the Packers because of the "should win" part of the prediction equation. We're calling it Packers 27 - Panthers 17. Confidence level? Take a guess.

Still ... GO PACK GO!!!

Sunday, December 17, 2023

2023 NFL Week 15: Packers vs. Buccaneers Preview & Prediction

The Packers had it...then didn't.

How many times have we said this over the course of the 2023 season? More than we'd like.

And it was the case yet again last Monday night against the Giants. Snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. In a game where the opposing offense was starting a third-string quarterback and with a line that had given up 69 (?!) sacks going into the game, the Packers defense didn't get one sack. Not one. And it allowed a QB that still lives at home with his parents to beat them with his legs throughout the game and hit a few throws down the stretch that allowed for a winning field goal. C'mon, say it with me: "Thank you, Joe Barry. Once again." SMH

Of course, the offense and special teams performances left much to be desired, as well. QB Jordan Love was off his game, turning the ball over twice with one fumble on an ill-advised run and one interception...his throws were off most of the night because, as he admitted after the game, his footwork and mechanics were not the same as they had been during his hot streak. And head coach Matt LaFleur's play-calling was not the best. How many times do you run a wide receiver (i.e. Jayden Reed) end-around before the defense knows exactly what you are doing? Oh, and Keisean Nixon, you're great. But when you muff a punt, get on it and stay down. A horrible decision to try to advance the ball after the muff. And you knew it immediately. But by then...well, only a few plays later...the damage was done in the form of 7 points going to the Giants. An early Christmas gift. Oy.

Anyway...time to turn the page. The Packers are back home at Lambeau Field for a noon  (CT) game Sunday vs. Tampa Bay. Is it yet again the Battle of the Bay of Pigs? No. At least, we don't think so. But let's have a look, shall we?

This is a look from QB Jordan Love that we hope not to see
after the game vs. the Buccaneers.
(Photo by Seth Wenig, Associated Press)

The Preview

This comes across as a pick-em game. The Packers are sitting at 6-7, as are the Buccaneers. The catch is that in the train wreck that is the NFC South, Tampa is basically in a 3-way tie for first while the Pack — with the same record — is in 3rd place in the NFC North.

Bottom line, though, is both are playing for playoff spots. Tampa currently sits in 4th place while the Packers are in the 7th and final spot for a wildcard. According to the latest projections, if the Packers beat the Bucs Sunday, they have a 71% chance (in some models) to make the playoffs; lose and that goes below 30%. With the Vikings loss Saturday to the Bengals in an epic 4th quarter collapse, they are sitting at 7-7. The Packers need to win this game to keep apace.

Both teams come into Sunday's game without key personnel. The Pack will likely be without one if not both of their starting running backs. Aaron Jones may be back — or not. A.J. Dillon, we learned after the Giants game, has a broken thumb on the hand with which he carries the football. Not ideal. In a game where the rushing attack is key to helping take the pressure off QB Jordan Love and open up the passing game, the Packers may be down to their back-up backs. So it goes. WR Christian Watson will also likely not be available. Again. On the flips side, the Buccaneers will be without some of their top defenders which should help a short-handed Packers offense.

That only matters if the Packers offensive line does a better job protecting Love than they did in the Meadowlands. And if the Packers defensive front can get to Tampa QB Baker Mayfield, who has been known to toss a few INTs in his 2 prior visits to Lambeau. Oh, and Packers special teams need to be special.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored in this game by 3-1/2 points at the time of this writing. If they play the way did in their wins against the Lions and the Chiefs, they can beat anybody. If they play the way they did vs. the Giants (and others) they can keep things close but still wind up losing.

We're putting the green-n-gold colored glasses back on and hoping the Pack have worked out at least some of the issues — in all 3 phases of the game — that led to their defeat on Monday.

We're calling it Packers 24 - Buccaneers 20.

Go Pack Go!!!

Monday, December 11, 2023

2023 NFL Week 14: Packers vs. Giants Preview & Prediction

The Green Bay Packers are on a roll. A sweet roll. And it is most yummy indeed for us Packers fans (sorry for the sweet roll pun). But after taking down the Lions in Detroit and the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs at Lambeau Field, the Pack find themselves in the hunt for a wildcard spot in the playoffs at 6-6 after winning 3 out of their last 4 games and 4 out of their last 5. We really didn't see that coming earlier in the season now did we? (Although, looking back at our pre-season prediction, we had them finishing with a 10-7 record ... still in play!)

Still, Green Bay's playoff odds are now set at roughly 72% after a run of thousands of future game simulations by the New York Times. If the Pack wins their remaining 5 games, beginning tonight against the Giants in the Meadowlands, their chances improve to 100 percent. Nice. Drop one? Still good.

But this playoff run starts in earnest tonight. So let's have a look, shall we?

Packers QB Jordan Love has been the talk of the NFL
for the last month or so.
(Photo via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Preview

Perhaps we should begin with a look at tonight's weather and field conditions. The rain and winds that impacted the East Coast over the weekend supposedly will be gone by kickoff. Expect a temp in the upper 30s and winds around 10 mph. Artificial turf. Acceptable December conditions.

The Pack will be without the services once again of RB Aaron Jones, CB Jaire Alexander and WR Christian Watson. Also appears as if LB Quay Walker will be on the sidelines. The Packers have been dealing with key injuries all season and finding ways for the back-ups to step in and make plays...which they have been doing. Yay. Tonight's yet another occasion.

The 4-8 Giants have a backup QB, Tommy DeVito, starting, and a so-so offense apart from RB Saquon Barkley, who could single-handedly deal the Packers a loss if the running game defense doesn't find a way to contain him more often than not. And while DeVito's passer rating is actually slightly ahead of Jordan Love's over the same stretch of last 3 games, he hasn't had to face the kind of pass rush the Pack can bring.

The Giants defense isn't great either. It is ranked 26th in the league in points allowed per game. But that's a bit deceiving because they are in the top 10 in opponent passer rating. So Love will have to continue his sharp ways tonight. And get continued high performances from his receivers and support from RB A.J. Dillion and others, not the least of which is the offensive line who have been performing at a high level during this turn-around.

The Prediction

The Packers are 6-point faves tonight, only the second time they have been favored all season.

We see them continuing their winning ways this evening. We're calling it Packers 24 - Giants17.

Go Pack Go!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2023

2023 NFL Week 13: Packers vs. Chiefs Preview & Prediction

OK, Packer fans ... first things first. The last few weeks, we have not predicted Packers wins. As noted in those predictions, we have said that the team needed to show up in all phases of the game for a full four quarters to help us believe once again. On Thanksgiving Day, in Detroit, the Pack finally put it all together in defeating the Lions. It set a good tone for the rest of the holiday, didn't it? And that was with a LOT of starters missing from action. The backups showed up. Big time. A great win that actually puts Green Bay back into a playoff wildcard race. Long way to go, but at least it's positive. And we believe.

Tonight will be another test for this young team: the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs come to Lambeau Field. Let's consider what might be at play in this game.

It may not be Vince Lombardi leading the way for the Packers against
Hank Stram and the Chiefs tonight, but the pride and history of both teams
will be on full display, with much at stake for both.
(Photo via the National Football League)

The Preview

Can QB Jordan Love and the Packers continue their recent trend of game-by-game progress? Or will there be drop off after the huge win against the Lions? For the Chiefs, will QB Patrick Mahomes recapture his magic performances? And will the KC defense continually blitz to throw off Love's timing with his budding receiving corps, especially given that Packers RB Aaron Jones will again not be on the field and give the offense a way to mitigate the blitz? Will the Packers defensive line be able to contain and pressure Mahomes the way they did Jared Goff in Detroit? Will the defense for the Packers be as stingy and turnover-generating as against the Lions?

So many questions. And we will have to wait to learn the answers. It's why they play the game, as the saying goes.

The good news for Packers fans is that the team has won three out of its last four games. Love is performing at a high level. His young receivers are learning where they need to be and, hopefully, that part of the job is catching and holding onto the ball no matter what. Head coach Matt LaFleur is gaining confidence in his young QB and offense and starting to open the playbook. Finally. We've also seen defensive coordinator Joe Barry's defense improve itself. It is still somewhat unpredictable in terms of stopping the run, but if it plays with the energy and determination it did against Detroit, they can stop anyone. Even Kansas City. Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark, Preston Smith et al need to once again dominate.

And if the defense can create a turnover or two, all the better.

Oh, and perhaps Packers special teams can pull off a return that helps turn momentum. That would be good. Very good.

In a game such as this, a turnover or big return can be the difference between a win and loss, especially for the Packers.

The Prediction

The Chiefs come into Green Bay tonight heavily favored, but the line has decreased since earlier in the week. KC went from 7-point favorites to 6-1/2 and are now listed as 5-point faves.

This time of year, we also have to start looking more and more at the weather forecasts. The weather shouldn't be much of a factor tonight. Both teams are accustomed to the early December Midwestern conditions. While the snow this morning (about 2 inches in Green Bay as of 9 a.m. CT) should end well before gametime, things will still be seasonable: temps in the low to mid-30s are expected. Wind shouldn't be a problem despite a wind advisory in place until about 3 p.m. So, as the natives in these parts say, "It's a bit brisk". Or, "Perfect football weather" ... depending upon one's point of view, of course.

On a related note, this will really be Packers rookie kicker Anders Carlson' first cold weather game. As Packers great, LeRoy Butler said in his preview prediction, he's gotten a bit nervous whenever Carlson comes out. Carlson has been good for the most part, but has missed some kicks, too, including PATs which is never a good thing. We don't want a missed PAT to decide a game like this. Let's hope that the PAT and FG unit has worked outdoors this week because you know KC will be really looking to get a block or two, if possible.

So, where do we go with our prediction? We're going to call it an upset tonight. We think the Pack will keep ascending. They know that they can play with any team if they come together and play at a high level for a full 60 minutes. But it will be tight, as we should expect from head coach Andy Reid and his team ... and Matt LaFleur and his.

We're calling it Packers 26 - Chiefs 24.

Go Pack Go!!!