Sunday, November 30, 2014

Patriots/Packers Final Prediction

My final prediction for today's Patriots/Packers game:

Score: Packers 38, Patriots 27
I don't expect there to be much defense in this one, but the Packers will still probably win.

Basically just because of the home field advantage. I know that's kind of an akward reason, but I think we can all agree that if this contest was in New England instead, we'd see things a lot differently. 

Hopefully I'm right about that, but then again, the Patriots are still good. I wouldn't be shocked if they found a way to come out on top, as much as I don't like to admit so.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Preview: Patriots at Green Bay Packers

It could be below freezing at game time but all the snow it going to be cleared away. Even for QB Aaron Rodgers, the extreme cold takes away some of his accuracy.
While Football Outsiders has currently ranked these two teams overall as the No. 2 and No. 3 teams, I'm expecting one of them to establish themselves and take control of the game. As good as the Patriots have been playing lately, the Packers have been playing great football too. Either one of them could emerge, and both teams have the offensive firepower to stage a comeback. No lead will be safe.

When I've had doubts about the Packers this season, they've usually shown up with a dominant game and proved me wrong. But I do see two particular problems with the Patriots.

Rob Gronkowski. Don't spend too much time reading the articles on how to cover him. The short answer is that's nearly impossible. The guys who can run with him are too small and the guys with size can't keep up. The Patriots have had a lot of trouble in pass protection this season, though they've been playing better in recent weeks. The best way to stop Gronkowski is to pressure Tom Brady. The Packers will need big games from their top pass rushers: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Daniels.

Jonas Gray/LaGarrette Blount. Actually, any running back who steps onto the field for the Patriots. Their run game hasn't been that effective this season (ranked No. 20 by Football Outsiders) but they lined up RB Jonas Gray and a sixth offensive lineman early and often against the Colts and ran it down their throat. The Packer run defense has been better lately as some teams haven't had the luxury of being able to run the ball while getting blown out (Bears, Eagles) but I don't take that as a sign that they've solved their run defense problems. It can't hurt to have Clay Matthews at inside linebacker, but they need him to line up outside and rush the quarterback too. I don't have any faith in their run defense to get a stop.

I have no prediction because this game could go either way, but the Patriots have a couple of edges that the Packers don't seem to have. However, the one major edge the Packers have is home field advantage, which cannot be taken lightly. I'd lean Patriots on a neutral field, but their two losses this season came on the road and the Packers are a completely different team at home and that's why they'll win on Sunday.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Packers Injury Updates: Adams, Bostick Probable for Patriots Game

Some Packers injury updates for Sunday's game against the Patriots, courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
  • OLB Nick Perry (shoulder) questionable
  • WR Davante Adams (heel) probable 
  • CB Jarrett Bush (groin) questionable 
  • RG T.J. Lang (ankle) probable
  • LG Josh Sitton (toe) probable
  • TE Brandon Bostick (hip) probable
Speaking to the media today, team Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Perry is "making progress", and that more information on him will come tomorrow.

Perry has 12 tackles this season, the third of his career. He had 20 all of last year, so a good last five games could certainly give him a new personal best. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Cobb: Packers and I May Negotiate New Contract During Season

While it's been the popular opinion all year that the Packers and Randall Cobb won't negotiate an extention until the season ends, the latter has come out and said otherwise.

"I think that [the Packers and my agent] could have conversations right now," Cobb recently told Cheesehead TV. "That's on them. That's the business side. He can handle all that. I've told him, hopefully things work out for the best, and I would love to stay here next year and be a part of this organization. But it's a business, and I understand that, and it works both ways. At the end of the day, (I) just have to make the decision that I feel is best for me, and the team is going make the decision that they feel is best for the team."
Cobb is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, but considering the way the Packers have treated Aaron Rodgers, Clay Mattews, and Jordy Nelson recently, it seems unlikely he'll leave them. 
Let's hope that observation is right.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Packers Listed as 3-Point Favorites For Sunday's Patriots Game

The Packers have been listed as three point favorites for Sunday's game against the Patriots.

The Packers have won seven of their last eight after starting the season 1-2, including their last two contests at Lambeau by 30+. However, last week in Minnesota they didn't look too great, limping their way to a 24-21 victory. 

The Patriots, meanwhile, have a similar story. beginning the year roughly before going on a hot streak. They're currently 9-2 after being 2-2, and are 3-2 on the road.

Nonetheless, since the Packers are the ones with the home field advantage here it seems more likely they'll find a way come out on top, as tough as New England is.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Predicting What the NFC Playoff Picture Will Look Like With Five Games to Go

Why not? Let's guess what things will look like:

1. NFC North:
The Packers clearly have control of the North right now, having a winnable five games ahead of them. The Patriots may give them problems, as is the case with the Buccaneers and Bills (the two road teams they still have to play), but nonetheless, I expect them to eventually come out on top with a 13-3 record, beating the Lions in Week 17.

2. NFC South:
This division's terrible, with the Saints and Falcons currently leading it at 4-7 each. 

Still, since somebody has to win it I'll take the Saints at 8-8, as they seem to have the easier schedule.

3. NFC East: 
I'd like to see the Eagles take this one, but as long as Mark Sanchez is starting against the Seahawks, it just doesn't seem likely. Expect the Cowboys to claim it at 12-4.

4. NFC West:
The West will go down to the wire, but in the end, I see the 12-4 Cardinals emerging as its champs. The 49ers will be right behind them at 11-5, while Seattle will fall to 9-7.

Wild Card Teams
The Eagles, Lions, and 49ers will all be 11-5, so two of those three. I'm not sure exactly how they would decide that, so I'll just leave it there.

Leave your thoughts below.

The Ongoing Musical Chairs At Linebacker

The linebacker core is the one unit that always seems to be undergoing some sort of shuffle. While Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews have excelled this season, it's been terrible times for Brad Jones, Mike Neal and A.J. Hawk.
In my recap of the win over the Vikings, I wrote that it was a quiet game for Matthews, who seemed a step slow as he played and practices through a groin injury. It looks like he's feeling better now, but in case his groin injury remains a problem, they'll need DE Mike Daniels and Peppers to make plays against the Patriots.

According to the ESPN playing time breakdown, rookie Jayrone Elliott was given some meaningful snaps for only the second time this season, without making much of an impact one way or another. Unfortunately he was only taking away snaps from Matthews outside, as Neal played as many snaps (59) as he's played in any game this season and received his worst game grade of the season from Pro Football Focus. Hopefully Nick Perry feels better this week and can take away snaps from Neal.

It was interesting that Brad Jones played his first meaningful snaps (13) on defense since a terrible performance against the Dolphins a few weeks ago. Against the Vikings, he received a slight positive grade from Pro Football Focus, which is a massive improvement for him. I'm not expecting too much from Hawk, but he's looking slow in coverage against the tight end, and it's forced them to reconsider Jones, who has the potential to be their best linebacker in coverage though he's been awful this season. The Patriots rely heavily on their tight ends and the Vikings game might be a prelude to a bigger role for Jones next week.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rodgers Admits He Didn't Mean to Throw Unusual Touchdown Pass to Richard

The unusual touchdown one-yard touchdown pass Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw to TE Richard Rodgers might've been cool, but that doesn't mean it was intentional.

Aaron admitted so to the Green Bay Press-Gazette yesterday.

"Well, that was a little bit of freestyle, if you will," he said. "The play is not designed that way. It's a play-action with (Andrew Quarless) as the first look in the right flat and there's only two guys in the route. Richie is the other option."

That's too bad, as it's fun to think that something like that could be on purpose. 

Still, the play was pretty unique, as the ball is said to have traveled 39.4 yards through the air on it.

Recap: Packers Hold Against The Vikings, 24-21

It was a very close game but the Green Bay Packers never trailed either. The best the Vikings could do was hang around. It never felt like the game got away from them.
The Vikings had a good game plan on defense. Their safeties played deep which allowed their cornerbacks to play tight coverage all over the field, knowing they'd have safety help deep if they got in trouble. It did leave them vulnerable against the run. Despite RB Eddie Lacy's illness, he was effective rushing for 5 yards per carry and dangerous as a playmaker who scored two touchdowns. They weren't able to get a lot of pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers either, who had an efficient game with a high completion percentage and no turnovers. It wasn't one for the highlight reel, since the Vikings did their best to take the deep passing game away, but he did took what the defense was giving him.

On offense, it was another game to learn from for LT David Bakhtiari, who struggled against DE Everson Griffen (as many have this season) and it also was a learning experience for WR Davante Adams, who isn't always on the same page as Aaron Rodgers. The Packers struggled early when Lacy wasn't as effective on the ground and WR Jordy Nelson was battling the Vikings's physical corners, so they might have sustained more drives if Adams could have gotten himself more involved in the passing game.

QB Teddy Bridgewater struggled badly with accuracy early on but he was able to sustain two long first half scoring drives with an effective running game (mostly when he scrambled) and some costly penalties. The Packers had been averaging 5 to 6 penalties per game this season, but they had eight in this one, including a costly hold by Micah Hyde that negated an INT. It was a quiet game for both Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews (no sacks, one QB hit for Matthews) though the Vikings struggled in pass protection the previous week against the Bears. Hyde ended up redeeming himself with a sack and an INT later in the game, and they needed that because he was the only stand out playmaker against the Vikings on defense.

I'd worry about a performance like this with the Patriots coming up next week, but the Packers are a different team at home this season. Just as the giant blowouts at Lambeau only count for one win, the same can be said for the close road victories. This one pushed them into the NFC North lead and the No. 2 seed for the playoffs (and the one seed moved closer because of Arizona's loss in Seattle). This was a very good weekend to give them some momentum before they face one of the best teams in the NFL next week.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reaction: Packers Road Struggles Continue vs. Vikings, But They Still Win

The Packers didn't play that well today in Minnesota, but still, they won 24-21. Here are my takeaways from it:

1. Road Struggles:
They're not an illusion. This team is just not the same outside of Lambeau, and they need to fix that.

2. Eddie Lacy Can Make Big Plays:
On the last drive of this one, Lacy carried the ball five times in a row, and picked up the necessary two first downs to run out the clock. Not bad.

3. First Place:
With this and the Lions' 34-9 loss to the Patriots, the Packers are in sole possession of the top spot in the North for the first time this season. Finally.

On to the Patriots. 

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.

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,'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. 

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.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Forecast Predicts 30% Chance of Snow For Sunday's Game is reporting that there is a 30% chance of snow for Sunday's Packers/Eagles game. 

As for the temperature, the site also said that Green Bay's high for the day is just 29 degrees, while the low is 16. 15-mile-per-hour winds are also expected around kickoff, which was moved from noon to 3:25 earlier this month. 

In other words, it will be pretty cold during the contest, so make sure to wear plenty of layers if you're going. You don't want to be at Lambeau when it's freezing out, regardless of how much the Packers are winning.

Preview: Packers Host The Eagles On Sunday

If you've forgotten last season's game when the Packers hosted the Eagles, it's probably for the best. The Packers lost 27-13 and it never felt like they had a chance to win. It was the first career start for QB Scott Tolzien, who looked OK but struggled to maintain drives (obviously, this won't be a problem on Sunday) and it was one of QB Nick Foles's near perfect starts that he had in his magical 2013 season (which isn't going to happen again either since he's out with a broken collarbone).
I feel like the Eagles are distracting the entire NFL with their shiny Chip Kelly led offense, when the truth is that their offense hasn't been very good this season. QB Mark Sanchez is probably a down grade from Foles (not by much) but their big problem this season has been the injuries/suspensions on their offensive line, which shouldn't be a problem for them on Sunday. Though Todd Herremans is out for the season, the other four-fifths of their starting offensive line have returned. But they aren't back to their 2013 season form; Jason Kelce didn't think they were clicking yet last week against the Panthers. Overall their offense is ranked No. 17 this season by Football Outsiders. Sanchez only completed 54% of his passes and RB LeSean McCoy only ran for 19 yards last week against the Panthers. The Packers's defense will have some success against them.

The strength of the Eagles is their defense, which is ranked No. 6 overall by Football Outsiders and is excellent against the run and pass. Their defensive unit is playing about as well as the Seahawks this season, and the Packers had little success against them in Week 1 (though they also had to rely on RT Derek Sherrod in that game, which was a bad idea). The Packers's offense has been playing better in recent weeks, but it's something to be concerned about if they can't run the ball and the Eagles can pressure QB Aaron Rodgers.

The breakout star for the Eagles this season might be their special teams. RB Darren Sproles is having a monster year as a returner, and overall their unit is clearly the best one in the NFL this season. The Packers are about average, ranked No. 15 overall by Football Outsiders, but they're not very good on kick and punt returns, and they just allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown last week. Maybe that touchdown return was a lapse because it was near the end of a blowout against the Bears, but this will be a major concern against the Eagles.

It's taken me a while to settle on a score, but if the Eagles don't commit to shutting down WR Jordy Nelson and Sanchez helps out with a turnover or two, the Packers should win by a score of something like 31-24.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rodgers: My Back Feels Tight From Standing Around So Much Sunday

Aaron Rodgers doesn't seem to want the Bears to feel any better.

He showed so during his Milwaukee radio show earlier this week, when he claimed that he stood around so much during Sunday's victory that his back is actually stiff right now. It's a safe bet Rodgers is just joking here, but nonetheless, this story is interesting.

Here's Rodgers' quote, courtesy of's Rob Demovsky:

"My low back was actually hurting…I think I attributed that to standing around the entire time as the second half went on, not [from] anything that happened on the field…The guys took really good care of me on the field. I barely got touched all game, but my back actually got a little tight on the sideline…I forgot what a strain that can be to stand there and watch."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Packers Listed as 6 Point Favorites for Sunday's Eagles Game

The Packers have been listed as six point favorites for Sunday's Eagles game.

The Packers are coming off Sunday's 41-point blowout of the Bears, and currently sit at a perfect 4-0 at home. The Eagles, meanwhile, are 2-2 on the road. 

Green Bay was seven point favorites for last week's game against Chicago, making this line a little strange. The Eagles have too been playing well lately, beating up the Panthers Monday despite having to start Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez is also expected to play this week, something that should give the Pack the advantage if their defense can dominate again.

Jordy Nelson Is Number One, But Spreading The Ball Around Has Made The Packers Offense Better

Sam Monson has written the definitive post about the Green Bay Packers first game with Clay Matthews at inside linebacker (don't call him an inside linebacker!) and should be read by anyone interested in his new position/role on defense.

Another interesting point raised this week was that QB Aaron Rodgers threw two of his six touchdown passes against the Bears to tight ends, which doubled the number of touchdown passes thrown to tight ends this season. He has been throwing more passes in general to TEs Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers in recent weeks and he's been spreading the ball around to the benefit of the offense.

Below are the number of targets to their top receivers so far this season, pro-rated out to 16 games in the next column, and compared to the number of times each player was targeted in 2013.
Receiver 2014 Targets 2014 Projected 2013 Targets
Nelson 84 149 126
Cobb 60 107 46
Lacy 30 53 44
Adams 37 66 0
Quarless 27 48 54
Richard Rodgers 14 25 0
Jones 0 0 93
Boykin 8 14 82
Finley 0 0 34
One interesting note is that overall the Packers haven't run as many offensive plays this season. So when you combine the projected number of targets to Quarless and Rodgers (73) and compare that to the total targets in 2013 to Quarless and Jermichael Finley (88), it's down but overall the number of plays are down anyway.

The number of pass attempts to Eddie Lacy is up slightly, and passes that last year went to James Jones and Jarrett Boykin (so much for his breakout season) have gone to a healthy Randall Cobb and rookie Davante Adams, though not as many. However, the one player that jumps out is Jordy Nelson.
29% of all pass attempts have been targeted at Nelson, which leads the team by a wide margin. Early in the season, Nelson was targeted 40% of the time, so he's actually been less featured in recent weeks. He's also had to play against two teams (Lions and Saints) who were very determined to shut him down with double coverage.

Whatever they're doing this season its working in the passing game, Aaron Rodgers moved ahead of Peyton Manning in ESPN's QBR this week, so this is not a complaint. I'm just tracking how the passing game is being used as the season goes on.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Packers to Wear Throwback Uniforms Sunday

The Packers will wear throwback uniforms in Sunday's game against the Eagles, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tyler Dunne reports.

The jerseys, which are navy blue with a yellow circle in the center containing the player's number, will be accompanied by an all-yellow helmet. The Packers also wore those last year when they blew out the Browns in Jermichael Finley's infamous neck injury contest.  

In previous seasons, though, the Packers have usually stuck with the brown ones pictured above, which are meant to simulate old leather helmets. As Dunne notes, they first dawned the set in a 2010 meeting with the 49ers. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Packers ST Coordinator Slocum: Boykin's "Forced Fumble" A Blocked Punt in My Opinion

Packers Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum thinks Jarret Boykin's forced fumble from yesterday should've been considered a blocked punt.

The unusual play featured Boykin somehow kicking the ball before Bears' Punter Pat O'Donnell did, resulting in a turnover. Boykin never touched it with his hands, technically taking the block factor out of his effort.

Nonetheless, Slocum isn't having it. Here's his full quote, courtesy of's Rob Demovsky:

"In my opinion, it's a blocked punt. We're moving forward. Whatever they want to do statistically, they can do. We'll go in the room Wednesday and say, 'Great job on the blocked punt, now let's get ready for the Eagles.'" 

Reaction: Packers Blowout Bears in Week 10

My thoughts after watching the Packers blowout the Bears yesterday:

1. Aaron Rodgers is a Legitimate MVP Candidate: 
Not many people seem to want to admit it, but it's perfectly clear. Rodgers is having another great year right now, and at the very least he deserves to be considered for the honor.

2. The Bears aren't Turning Their Season Around:
Not that I wanted them them to, but yeah, they're done at this point. They're just not good enough.

3. Playing at Lambeau Will Win the Packers the Division By the End of the Year:
It might not be easy, but nonetheless, it looks bound to happen. 

Let's hope I'm right.

Packers Easily Defeat The Bears: 55-14

If it wasn't clear before the Green Bay Packers crushed the Bears at Lambeau, the Packers are a lot better at home than on the road this season. Since they got off to a slow start in their home opener against the Jets, they've dominated their visiting opponents. Though they've also played four home games against four teams who probably won't make the playoffs (Jets, Vikings, Panthers, Bears). They'll get a test of their home field dominance next Sunday when the Eagles come to Lambeau.

It's also clear that teams who don't double cover WR Jordy Nelson (or cover him at all in the Bears' case) are going to lose. The Lions and Saints put a safety over the top and a corner underneath of him for most of their two games and they held him to his lowest performances of the season (59 and 25 yards, respectively, and no touchdowns). The best way to beat the Packers is to take Nelson out of the game and put as much pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers as you can, and the Bears didn't come close to accomplishing either of those tasks on Sunday night.
They have to keep pace with the Cowboys, Seahawks, and Lions, and that is what they did with the win. It'd be nice if one of those teams would slip up and open up a playoff spot for the Packers right now, but if they keep winning, it will happen eventually.

The major analysis has to be the decision to move LB Clay Matthews to inside linebacker (though he did line up outside as a pass rusher on several obvious passing downs). This is a really good idea and it worked very well in Game One of the experiment (he led the team in tackles and had a sack).

Ideally, this is not what I had in mind this season. Ideally, Clay circa 2010-2012 would be on the outside and GM Ted Thompson would have drafted another inside linebacker who is like Desmond Bishop circa 2010-2011 to play alongside him.

Moving Matthews inside, letting him watch the play develop in front of him instead of having him guess (usually incorrectly this season) at the line of scrimmage, should take advantage of his relentless pursuit while not running him out of the play altogether. He's good at dropping back into coverage and he can run sideline to sideline. He should be a very good inside linebacker and they'll still be using him occasionally as an outside rusher and inside blitzer.

This hopefully means more playing time for LB Nick Perry, who's been having a good 2014 season with limited snaps. Replacing one of the disappointing inside linebackers (Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore) with Mike Neal isn't a big help (Neal's provided next to nothing as a pass rusher), but more snaps for Perry alongside Matthews would effectively replace his 2014 performance while solving their problems on the inside.

This was a really great game for the Packers and a historically bad one for the Bears (the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons?) but it only counts as one win. Now they'll immediately have to start looking ahead to the Eagles.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Bears/Packers Final Prediction

My prediction for tomorrow's Bears/Packers game:

Score: Packers 38, Bears 14
I see this contest going the same way as the Panthers one did a few weeks ago. The Packers will get off to a quick start, pull away early, and then put Matt Flynn in for the fourth the quarter. In the end, the Bears will get a little closer due to Aaron Rodgers' abscence, but still, they'll lose by a lot.

Because the Packers are simply the better team here. In recent weeks, Jay Cutler has really struggled, while Rodgers, with the exception of the Saints' game, has excelled. I think we can all agree that makes for an obvious advantage for the home team.

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

Friday, November 07, 2014

Rodgers Expected to Play Sunday

The Packers expect team QB Aaron Rodgers to play in Sunday's game against the Bears, ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde reports.

Rodgers apparently did "everything" in Green Bay's practice Monday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy told Wilde. 

McCarthy then said today that Rodgers, whose Pack currently sit at a somewhat mediocre 5-3, feels good and is ready to go.

The 30 year-old three-time division champion suffered a hamstring injury in Week 8's loss in New Orleans. It has not been made known whether he would've been able to take the field with it if the Packers had had a game last weekend.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Cutler Offers Bad Explanation When Asked Why He Struggles Against Packers

Bears QB Jay Cutler doesn't seem to want to talk about his struggles against the Packers.

He showed so earlier today, telling's Michael C. Wright this when whether a common denominator has contributed to his 1-10 career record against his team's rival.

"Different coordinators, different teams," Cutler said. "It’s different circumstances every time." 

Yes, Cutler, that must be the problem. Sure, there's some things that are always changing, but others, like maybe the quarterback, usually aren't.

Basically Cutler, you've got to take some responsibility here. It looks bad when you try to downplay your role in divisional losses. 

Should We Be Concerned About The Packers Offensive Line?

Injuries really become a problem for NFL teams when they hit multiple players at the same position. So the timing of injuries to LG Josh Sitton and RG T.J. Lang could leave the Packers in a bind when they play the Bears on Sunday.
I wouldn't count either of them out until game time, but it sure is possible they could miss the game. Sitton is once again their best offensive lineman for the umpteenth season in a row. Lang played poorly against the Seahawks in the opener, but he's been very good since then.

Their replacements would be JC Tretter (who hasn't played a snap this season and just came off of I.R.) and Lane Taylor (who's clearly their worst lineman now that Derek Sherrod's been released). Tretter's been worked mostly at center over the past two seasons and played tackle in college, so it's safe to assume he's least familiar with the guard position. It's likely to be a big step down from Sitton and Lang to Tretter and Taylor.

Unfortunately the Bears could be in good position to take advantage of it. 9.5 of their 20 sacks this season have come from their interior lineman while Stephen Paea and Jeremiah (Jay) Ratliff are currently ranked by Pro Football Focus as their two best pass rushing defenders. Ratliff has looked impressive this season and shaken off the problems that kept him off the field for the Cowboys back in 2012 and 2013. If their tackles can provide a consistent pass rush, they could disrupt the entire offense, as the Lions did back on September 21st when they held the Packers to seven points by stopping the running game and forcing QB Aaron Rodgers into a lot of quick passes because of pressure.

To answer my own question; I'd be very concerned if Sitton and Lang couldn't play on Sunday.

Packers Listed as 7 Point Favorites For Sunday's Bears Game

The Packers have been listed as 7 point favorites for Sunday's Bears game.

So far this season, the Bears have struggled mightily, starting the year just 3-5 for the worst record in the NFC North. However, when on the road this fall they've actually played pretty well, going 3-2 with those wins coming over the 49ers, Jets and Falcons.

So, while the Packers are clearly the better of the two here, don't be surprised if the visitors find a way to make it close this weekend, especially since Green Bay may be a little sluggish coming off of their bye.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Mid-Season Review: Packers Currently Miss The Playoff

If the season ended today, the Packers are currently out of the NFC playoff picture (the tie-breaker goes to the Seahawks) so there is reason to be concerned about their playoff chances. On the other hand, almost every advanced stat indicates that the Packers are better than most of the NFC, and it seems like only a matter of time before the Packers either move ahead into a playoff spot. Home field advantage hasn't helped the Packers at all in two of the last three years, so the most important thing is that they just make the playoffs in any way they can.
He did something to his hamstring during their last game against the Saints, but he seems over it. His health and playing time is the most important factor going forward. Here's how he ranks compared to other NFC quarterbacks based on ESPN's QBR, where each of their teams stand in the playoff race, and how each of their teams are currently ranked overall by Football Outsiders:
QB QBR Playoff Standing FO Ranking
Rodgers 81.6 7 5
Romo 77.8 5 15
Brees 74.4 4 11
Palmer 70.1 1 16
Wilson 60.9 6 4
Stafford 60.5 2 12
Kaepernick 52.7 8 20
Bridgewater 44.1 9 27
The Philadelphia Eagles are the one team (and quarterback) missing above. QB Mark Sanchez has a 53.4 QBR after one game, which is about what I would expect from him for the rest of the season, but I'm leaving him out of the discussion since that's a small sample size to evaluate. I'm expecting they'll win the NFC East.

Rodgers is comfortably ranked as the best QB in the NFC and his lead over QB Tony Romo should widen if Romo's back injury(ies) linger. Though QB Drew Brees is probably going to improve his ranking now that TE Jimmy Graham is healthier. It would be surprising if the best QB in the NFC isn't on a playoff team.

While the Seahawks are now rounding into one of the best teams, they've moved ahead of the Packers in overall team rankings this season according to Football Outsiders. The Top 3 teams are in the AFC, so the Seahawks and Packers are clearly the elite of the NFC at the moment. All the other teams are a clear step behind; the Saints at No. 11 overall have half the team DVOA ranking of the Packers while the Packers and Seahawks are statistically neck-and-neck. That makes it look like the Packers and Seahawks should be considered the favorites for the Wild Card spots or winning their respective division.

I've also listed the 49ers and Vikings, who are currently the two teams right behind the Packers in the playoff race, to see if either one is a candidate to move ahead of them. It might be a surprise to see the 49ers with a 4-4 record, but the stats above indicate that they've earned it. QB Colin Kaepernick is not playing great and overall their team is in the bottom half of the league according to Football Outsiders. The situation is even weaker for the Vikings, where QB Teddy Bridgewater's QBR of 44.1 is just below the QBR for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was just benched by the Texans this week. The Vikings's defense is above average, but it's not strong enough to overcome one of the weaker offensive attacks in the NFL.

Bottom line; the Packers are playing like one of the best teams in the NFL, though their record doesn't look like it. It's going to be a tough November for the Packers, with two division games (Bears, Vikings) and two home games against two of the best teams in the NFL (Eagles and Patriots). Playing three of those four games at home will help, but it's not going to turn them into easy match-ups. The Packers have to start playing up to their advance stats over the next month.

Rodgers a Fan of McCarthy's New Extension

Unsurprisingly, Packers QB Mike McCarthy is a fan of Mike McCarthy's new extension. 

"It'd be something to play with the same team your entire career, and then also start for the same coach," Rodgers said Tuesday on his weekly ESPN Milwaukee radio show, via The Green Bay Press Gazette. "And, if Ted [Thompson] was able to stick around, have the same general manager. That'd be something right there. I think that would definitely speak to consistency there."

Rodgers, since he became the team's starter, has never been coached by anybody else. So yeah, his reaction here isn't that unusual, but still, it's news. We might as well here about it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

McCarthy's Gotten Paid and Derek Sherrod Is Released

I think it was a gimme that the Packers would extend Mike McCarthy. There's been no reason to let him walk, and there's no obvious replacement in sight either. Two of his possible replacements have left in recent years, Ben McAdoo is off to a great start with Eli Manning and Joe Philbin's Dolphins have been outstanding over their last five games (with only a last second loss to the Packers as the exception), and I have no interest in seeing either of their current coordinators (Tom Clements and Dom Capers) become their next head coach.
The big roster move was the release of former 1st round pick Derek Sherrod. This was a simple move to make. They needed to open a roster spot for JC Tretter to return from IR and Sherrod was clearly their worst lineman this season. The fact that Tretter played tackle in college, and is more likely to play guard than center at this time for the Packers, probably helped make the move easier because of the flexibility he provides. They could have released RG Lane Taylor instead, who's been just as awful this season as Sherrod in fewer snaps, but I don't have a problem choosing Sherrod over Taylor.

I do wonder what is going to happen with Sherrod. He's still got impressive size and looks like a NFL mauler. In some ways, 2014 is like a rookie season, because he missed 2012 and 2013 due to injuries. He's a developmental project, but he looks healthy and he might have better luck developing with a different franchise.

One side note was the addition of LB Joe Thomas and RB Rajion Neal to the practice squad. Both players were making noise in training camp before they were both injured in the first preseason game. I was very interested in watching Thomas last preseason, but he only got a few snaps on special teams. I'm not expecting to see either of them on the field this season, but I'm glad they're back in the fold for possible returns in 2015.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Packers Give McCarthy Multi-Year Extension

The Packers have signed Head Coach Mike McCarthy to a multi-year contract extension, the team's official website announced earlier today.

McCarthy, 50, has worked for the Packers since 2006, leading them to six playoff appearances (four division titles and two wild card berths) during that time.

Along with those accomplishments, obviously, is the win over the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, which surprisingly came after the team went just 10-6.

In total, McCarthy has 93 victories as the head of Green Bay, the third most in its history. Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi top that list with 212 and 98, respectively.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Week 11 Packers/Eagles Game's Start Time Pushed Back to 3:25 p.m.

The start time for Week 11's game between the Eagles and Packers at Lambeau Field has been pushed back to 3:25 p.m.,'s Rob Demovsky reports.

The network which will air the contest, FOX, originally protected it in order too keep it from switching to primetime, but the league has gone ahead and done so anyway, Demovsky writes.

The league also moved the Vikings/Bears matchup of the same day from FOX to CBS in a related move, just in case you were wondering. It is too set to start at noon, where it will justifiably stay.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Packers No Longer Favorites to Win NFC North, According to

The Packers are no longer the favorites to win the NFC North this season.

Or at least that's what the analysts of think. According to them, the Lions, who currently lead the Pack by one game in the division's standings, now have the better chance of playing at home this postseason, in spite of the fact that the Pack don't seem to have another hard contest left on their schedule:

The site's full numbers:

Lions (6-2): 56 percent chance to win the division; 77 percent chance to make the playoffs.
Packers (5-3): 37 percent chance to win the division; 60 percent chance to make the playoffs.
Bears (3-5): 4 percent chance to win the division; 8 percent chance to make the playoffs
Vikings (3-5): 3 percent chance to win the division, 8 percent chance to make the playoffs. 

Agree? Disagree? Leave your thoughts below.