Saturday, November 22, 2014

Packers/Vikings Final Prediction

My prediction for tomorrow's Packers/Vikings game.

Score: Packers 34, Vikings 17
I've learned my lesson here. The Packers are better than good, and will play as such. They might not necessarily win by 30, but still, this one won't be close.

Why?
Because the Vikings just aren't a proven offensive threat. Since the Packers defense tends to struggle on the road, I wouldn't be surprise if they puts up 21+, but that still doesn't mean they'll win. The Packers will score at least 35, and that's being generous.

Leave your thoughts below on how accurate you think mine are.

Packers OL Tretter Fined $16,537 For Leg Whip Vs. Eagles

Packers Offensive Lineman J.C. Tretter has been fined $16,537 by the league for his leg whip late in Sunday's game against the Eagles, The Green Bay Press-Gazette's Weston Hodkiewicz reports.

Tretter swung his leg at Eagles LB Trent Cole with four minutes left to play Sunday after apparently missing a cut block. The move knocked Cole over, and drew a 15-yard penalty for unecessary roughness.

However, the league doesn't seem to think that that punishment was enough, taking away 56.8% of Tretter's weekly salary. Tretter, though, is expected to appeal.

This is the second time this season a Packer has been fined for an in-game incident. The first came back in Week 2, when Andrew Quarless was punished for grabbing the face of the Jets' Sheldon Richardson. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Matthews: I'll Play Without Limitations Sunday

Packers LB Clay Matthews said that the groin injury that's limited him in practice this week shouldn't affect his involvement Sunday.

"I was a little sore after the game in regards to the injury with my groin and everything," Matthews told The Green Bay Press-Gazette today. "I was able to do a lot more today than I was yesterday and obviously we don't work on Friday, that's our rehab day. I feel good. So, I don't think there were will be any limitations going into this weekend."

Hopefully that statement is true, as Matthews has collected 13 tackles and two sacks in the team's last two games. He's also recorded three assists, helping the Packers stay undefeated at home.

What Should The Packers Expect From Teddy Bridgewater?

According to Football Outsiders, the Vikings offense is currently ranked No. 29 overall, which probably would be a whole lot worse if you pro-rated out an entire season's worth of QB Christian Ponder's performance for the Vikings in Lambeau back on October 2nd. QB Teddy Bridgewater has played in seven games this season, but this will be his first start against the Packers.
According to ESPN's QBR, Bridgewater's ranking for the season is a bad 40.9 but (not surprising from a rookie) he's been very inconsistent. He was very good in three games this season (Falcons, Buccaneers, and Team From Washington) and very bad in three others (Lions, Bills, Bears) with his game against the Saints in the middle. It's probably no coincidence that his three good games came against three of the four worst pass defenses according to Football Outsiders, though he stank last week against the Bears's 28th ranked unit.

The big problem for Bridgewater is that he's been struggling in the deep passing games. He missed a couple of potential big plays against the Team From Washington. It doesn't help him that the Vikings had to go with a conservative attack against the Bears last week because they can't pass block. It wasn't until former Packer draft choice WR Charles Johnson got active in the second half did Bridgewater get his wide receivers involved in the game plan at all. A short passing attack, which might be necessary if Clay Matthews is constantly running unblocked around the left tackle, isn't going to get it done against the Packers. Ponder averaged only 5.0 yards per attempt in their last meeting and it led to blowout.

The Vikings do have an effective running attack (Matt Asiata averaged 4.8 yards per attempt in their last meeting, with one fumble) but injuries to Asiata and Jerick McKinnon have forced them to claim Ben Tate from waivers as they search for a healthy body at running back. And Tate's been awful, averaging 2.2 yards per carry over the past few weeks for the Browns. I don't expect Dom Capers will show any sign of respect to their running game unless the Vikings can prove it's deserved. So there should be even more pressure on Bridgewater to move the ball through the air while the Packers are lining up an extra back or two in coverage.

Bridgewater might be fortunate to lead the Vikings on a meaningful scoring drive or two before the fourth quarter rolls around and it's Matt Flynn time. Even if that happens, Bridgewater hasn't shown the ability to lead the Vikings in a shoot out against a non-awful defense at any time this season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Packers Listed as 9 1/2 Point Favorites for Sunday's Vikings Game

The Packers have been listed as 9 1/2 point favorites for Sunday's game at the Vikings.

The Packers have won six of their last seven, including each of their last two by 30+. However, they are just 2-3 on the road this season, with that pair of victories coming over the Dolphins and Bears.

The Vikings, meanwhile, have gone 4-6 this year, and 2-2 at home. They were blown out by the Packers at Lambeau 42-10 back in Week 5, but didn't have Teddy Bridgewater available to start that  contest.

Nonetheless, it's still unlikely that they'll find a way to come out on top this time around, regardless of how interesting Bridgewater may make things.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Packers Work Out Former Giants TE Travis Beckum

The Packers have worked out former Giants TE Travis Beckum, ESPN.com's Rob Demosky reports. 

Beckum, a native of Milwaukee and graduate of the University of Wisconsin, hasn't appeared in a meaningful game since Super Bowl XLVII, a contest in which he tore his ACL. That injury caused Beckum to miss all of 2013, before he hitched a ride with the Saints this past preseason.

Since then, Beckum has also worked out for the Bears and Jaguars. With the Packers, he'll look to get a job as their third-stringer, a role they need to fill right now due to the wound Brandon Bostick suffered in Week 10.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rodgers Assures Media After Victory Over Eagles: "This Isn't Easy"

Many would agree, though, you make it seem so.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers told the media after yesterday's 53-20 blowout of the Eagles that what he and the team are doing right now isn't easy.

"This is not easy," he assured the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "This is a tough job. A lot of preparation goes into it, a lot of guys working together. It takes all 11."
Be that as it may, Rodgers is clearly one of the more important ones on the field. In Green Bay's last two games alone, he's thrown 9 TD and 0 INT, helping the Pack out-score their opponents 108-34.
Basically, the stats don't appear to support his modesty here, as necessary as it is.

Recap: Packers Rout Eagles 53 to 20

I was expecting a tougher game from the Eagles, but the Packers brought their "A game" while the Eagles must have left it back in Philly.
This two game stretch, with blowout wins against the Bears and Eagles, reminds me of the 2010 season (Super Bowl year!) when the Packers crushed the Cowboys and Vikings in consecutive home games and both teams fired their head coaches after the game (Wade Phillips and Brad Childress). Though I think Chip Kelly is safe (I'm not sure about Trestman).

I thought the Eagles would have some success, as I wrongly thought about the Bears too, pressuring QB Aaron Rodgers up the middle. Though LG Josh Sitton and RG T.J. Lang are unable to practice with their toe and ankle injuries, they're showing no signs of pain during the game. The Eagles couldn't get any pressure on him and their cornerbacks couldn't cover the Packers's receivers in single coverage. Aaron Rodgers is proving that when he has time to throw and his receivers are getting a step ahead of their defenders, he's unstoppable.

The move of Clay Matthews inside has seemed to rejuvenated him, though some of his biggest plays actually came when he was lined up outside. Instead of crashing down the line on one running play, he read the QB rollout for a sack, and forced a field goal attempt. On another play, he read Mark Sanchez on a pass out to the left flat and knocked it down even though Sanchez tried a pump fake. Matthews hadn't been making big plays like those earlier this season. Adding the true Claymaker to Julius Peppers's great season, along with their play making cornerbacks (Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward), has helped turn an inconsistent defense into a dominate unit over the past two weeks. Lets hope they can keep it up.

The Packers host three division leaders in their last three home games (Patriots, Lions and Falcons-I know the Falcons suck, but they lead their division) and I expect the Packers to be favored in all of those games. The Patriots are certainly capable of matching the Packers toe-to-toe, but that's the least important of these anyway since an AFC match-up has no bearing on playoff tiebreakers. On the road, where the Packers have struggled this year, they'll face three teams unlikely to make the playoffs (Vikings, Bills and Buccaneers). It's a manageable schedule and they'll be favored in all of those games.

The Packers pushed themselves into the discussion of whether they're the best team in the NFL, but more importantly they've moved themselves into a playoff spot because of Seattle's loss in Kansas City. With a 7-3 record in hand, a manageable upcoming schedule has made their path to the playoffs clear.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reaction: Packers Blowout Eagles to Move into First Place Tie

The Packers walked all over the Eagles 53-20 today in a fashion most probably didn't see coming. Here are my takeaways from it:

1. The Packers are the best team in the North:
After today, that seems clear enough. I know Mark Sanchez was starting, but wow, 53 points.

2. Mason Crosby:
I know the Packers won here by 33, but that doesn't mean Crosby looked particularly sharp. He barely made two short attempts, missed a usually-automatic 50-yarder, and had an extra point blocked. Might be something to think about.

3. Now the Road:
If this team is as elite as they seem, they'll do this same thing next week in Minnesota. Just getting a close victory would prove they're only good at home.

Leave your thoughts below.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Eagles/Packers Final Prediction

My final prediction for tomorrow's Packers/Eagles game:

Score: Packers 31, Eagles 21
I've liked Mark Sanchez' play in recent weeks, but since the contest's still at Lambeau I just can't see his team winning. I think they'll make it close, but in the end, the Packers will end up emerging victorious for the second week in a row. 

Why?
Because Aaron Rodgers has been great lately and the defense has shown a lot of improvement. I expect Clay Matthews to record at least one sack, and for Green Bay to intercept at least one pass. Again, this one'll be close, but I just can't see the Packers suddenly losing on their home field.

Leave your thoughts below on how accurate you think mine are.