Month: November 2016

Week 12 Predictions: Green Bay at Philadelphia

By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce

The Packers lost yet again, and with their playoff hopes sinking look to stop the bleeding in the City of Brotherly Love.

JIM

PACKERS 27 EAGLES 24

The Packers are a dumpster fire right now. Giving up yards and points over the last four weeks in ways that haven’t been seen in decades. Nothing really points to Green Bay winning on Monday, and yet I feel as if this might be one they pull off. The Eagles are dealing with a bit of a slide themselves, as they now sit at 5-5 after a 3-0 start.

One thing that gives me some hope for a Packers victory is that the Eagles do not appear to have the passing game to expose Green Bay’s secondary the way the Redskins did. Carson Wentz has played well for a rookie, but has clearly been asked by the Eagles coaches to not take any risks. The Eagles receivers are a pretty pitiful group. Jordan Matthews is a decent option, but Dorial Green-Beckham and Nelson Agholor have reached the point in their careers where they need to do something or they might be out of the league within a couple seasons. The Packers secondary might actually be bad enough to let this group do some damage, to me this the key for Monday.

The Eagles front seven is good enough that they might derail the Packers offense entirely, but if Rodgers can get some time to throw he should be able to exploit the cornerbacks. I said last week that the offense needed to get off to a fast start and it’s true again this week. If the Packers open with three straight three and outs we likely will be in for a very long night.

MARK

EAGLES 27 PACKERS 23

The Packers and Eagles appear to be pretty similar teams right now on paper. Both are struggling mightily over the past month and their respective playoff chances are all but dead barring some sort of remarkable season turnaround. Neither team is all that inspiring on either side of the ball.  The main reason I’m going with the Eagles is because they are at home and head into Monday Night Football with a 4-0 home record this season.

Carson Wentz has had a decent rookie year and looks to have a bright future.  While I don’t see him lighting the Packers defense up in the same way Cousins or Mariota recently did, I predict he can make his share of plays with the trio of Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, and the seemingly ageless Darren Sproles. The Packers have been showing a leaky run defense lately, which they can ill afford. Even though I’m hopeful the return of Damarious Randall and Jake Ryan should help to some degree, I’m still not confident the defense can prevent the big plays from happening, which has been their achilles heel of late.

In a pleasant surprise, the return of Jared Cook seemed to add another dimension to the Packers offense last week. It will be interesting to see if Rodgers and Cook can build on their performance from last week or if more inconsistency will again plague the offense. The guess here is the inconsistent play will result in field goals instead of touchdowns, which will prove costly. Christine Michael was reportedly impressive in practice this past week but that means nothing if it doesn’t translate to the field. The Packers desperately need to find a running game.

Draft and Develop: Trying to Make Sense of the 2016 Packers

By: Jim Boyce

The Green Bay Packers entered 2016 as a popular pick to win the Super Bowl, at the very least just about everyone assumed another playoff appearance was on the way. Yet the Packers are 4-6 and face nearly impossible odds of making the playoffs. Injuries are the easy scapegoat but there are more issues than just the inactive list.

GM Ted Thompson lives by a draft and develop philosophy which has proven effective over the last decade. Avoiding the risks that come with a high priced free agent bust, something that happened too often when Mike Sherman was GM, the Packers have never found themselves in trouble due to cap limitations. However it seems that in recent years the team has not been getting the returns out of the players drafted that they did earlier in Thompson’s tenure. I believe this may be the root of Green Bay’s current struggles.

When Green Bay won their last Super Bowl they were carried by young players. Aaron Rodgers had developed well beyond what most had expected. Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, both 2nd round picks, had huge performances against the Steelers. One of the teams biggest hits that season was the loss of Tight End Jermichael Finley, a 3rd round pick in 2008 who brought a blend of size and speed to the position. The Offensive Line featured a young Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang as well as a rookie Bryan Bulaga.

The defense was led by second year linebacker Clay Matthews, who finished second in Defensive MVP voting that season. The secondary featured undrafted Tramon Williams and Sam Shields as well as a former 2nd round pick in safety Nick Collins. Notice a trend here? Players anywhere from two to five years into their career made game changing plays in the Super Bowl as well as the playoff run leading up to it.

Beginning with 2012 only a few true difference makers have developed. Mike Daniels has unquestionably gone above and beyond and is likely Thompson’s best pick of the last five drafts. Nick Perry is finally having a productive year in his 5th season but still disappears for stretches. If the Packers want to bring him back next year, they will likely need to overpay.

For two seasons Eddie Lacy looked like a game changing back. Then he battled weight issues and injury and is likely finished in Green Bay. David Bakhtiari was a great find by Ted in the 4th, and still has a chance to develop into a Pro Bowl player. Outside of the guys mentioned from 2012-2013, many are no longer on the team or have not developed into anything more than roster depth.

The same can be said about the last three draft classes, though I will not mention the 2016 class as I feel more than ten games is necessary to draw conclusions. Ha-Ha Clinton Dix has had a good start to his career, but will need to continue developing to reach the level of a Nick Collins. Davante Adams has had a nice rebound season, but does he have the speed to ever become a threat the way Jennings or Nelson were? Richard Rodgers was a 3rd round pick, and for that price simply has not become the starting caliber Tight End you need to find there.

One thing that is apparent about the 2016 Packers is that they lack play makers on defense. Damarious Randall has shown a penchant for getting his hands on the football. His interception against the Lions truly the definition of “forcing a turnover” as he ripped the ball out of the receivers hands on what should have been a completed pass. Those kinds of plays change games and have been sorely missing over the last month. Quentin Rollins has been disappointing in his second season after a good rookie season. Jake Ryan, Ty Montgomery, and Aaron Ripkowski all have roles on the team, but will any become Pro Bowl level players?

2016 might be a lost cause, but for 2017 and beyond the Packers desperately need more guys drafted throughout the last three seasons to develop into difference makers. Thompson’s drafts are what fueled the run of success from 2009-2015. The Packers still have Aaron Rodgers but one man can not win games on his own. It is time for the young players to step up and become game changers as opposed to just guys.

Week 11 Predictions: Green Bay at Washington

By Bill Tewes,  Jim Boyce & Mark Prott

Losers of 3 in a row, the (4-5) Packers are fresh off a humiliating beat-down and will look to salvage their season on Sunday night against the Redskins (5-3-1)

MARK

REDSKINS 31 PACKERS 20

The Packers might play in a lousy division but if they don’t come out with a win Sunday night, the doctor might as well come in and pronounce them dead. If last week was any indication, this is a below average team that fooled people for a few weeks earlier in the year. I expected a spirited effort last week but all I saw was a team that lacks fight and looks finished. Has Mike McCarthy’s message finally gone stale after 11 years? Can family conflict cause an MVP quarterback to regress? Can we just blame injuries again? Perhaps it’s a mixture of all these issues and more.  Regardless, the Packers need a win in the worst way to silence all the noise.

When I look at this game on paper I don’t see the Packers defense, which has looked truly awful, bouncing back and preventing a team from breaking the 30 point barrier for a 4th week in a row. While I still view Kirk Cousins as more of an average quarterback, the Redskins are absolutely loaded in weapons at both wide receiver and tight end. Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis for that matter had to be smiling all week when they watched tape of Delanie Walker destroy the Packers defense last week. I’d say Clay Matthews should make a difference but he has to play for 4 quarters for that to happen, which is obviously not a given.

On offense, I think the Packers would be wise to pound the rock with James Starks and hopefully find success with the play action passing game. The Redskins defense is in the bottom half of the league in stopping the run and Starks looked like a legitimate running back last week with fresh legs in his first game action in over a month. The return of Jared Cook will be a positive development for the fact alone that it will mean less of the plodding Richard Rodgers on the field.

JIM

REDSKINS 34 PACKERS 27

Are the Packers officially in crisis mode? It sure seems so after being non-competitive against the middling Titans. The Packers desperately need a win this week to stay in the NFC playoff picture, but there is little on the field to suggest that a turnaround is on the way.

The Redskins are not a particularly good running team, but they should have no troubles airing it out on Sunday night. The middle of the field has been a constant problem for the Packers defense as opposing teams’ Tight Ends have put up good stat lines all season. Jordan Reed might be the best TE the Packers have seen thus far, he could be in for a monster night. Good for fantasy owners, bad for Packers fans. This defense has not stopped anyone (I will not even count the Matt Barkley led Bears) since the Giants game, and I doubt that will change this week.

In order for the Packers to win they will need to outscore Washington. Starks at least gives them a real running back, and on paper the passing attack has done well the last month or so. The problem is the Packers do not seem to get moving until they are down double digits. That’s not winning football. Green Bay needs to start fast and score on their opening possession to give the defense some relief. Avoiding three and outs will be critical to the Packers chances of winning. We’ll see if Aaron Rodgers has a vintage performance in him.

BILL

PACKERS 31 REDSKINS 24

A must win game for Green Bay will force Mike McCarthy’s hand to get more creative on the offensive side of the ball. The defense is banged up, but there has been no excuse for the Packers’ offense to sputter like it has the past two weeks. It’s obvious Green Bay cannot afford to lose this game and if last week was not the wake up call the team needs, then Im not sure what will wake them up.

There has been a lot of negativity surrounding reports that Aaron Rodgers refuses to speak with his family and there have even former players coming out to speak about his leadership qualities. I hope this serves to light a fire under Rodgers and he proves the doubters (Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings etc) wrong about how well he can lead this team.

The Packers will get an alleged boost if Clay Matthews does indeed suit up tonight. Green Bay’s pass rush has been non-existent and one can argue Matthews’ missed games is the reason for that.

Washington posts the 6th most sacks in the league, so Rodgers will have to be on his A game as far as sensing pressure and finding the open receiver, instead of holding onto the ball and hoping someone is open downfield. Jared Cook might be on snap count, but his return will be huge as far as having another weapon at Rodgers’ disposal. The Redskins offense is also a mixed bag as their run game is almost invisible and Kirk Cousins is not having nearly as impressive of a year as he had last season.

Green Bay MUST WIN this game to save their season.

Week 10 Predictions: Green Bay at Tennessee

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By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott & Jim Boyce

The Packers are on a two game skid coming off an embarrassing home loss to the Colts. They head to Music City to take on the 4-5 Titans, can they get back to winning ways?

JIM

TITANS 23 PACKERS 19

The last time these two teams played it was a laugher. Those days feel like ancient history right now, as the Packers are coming off a game in which they looked like they didn’t even want to be on the field. Getting beat down by a 3-5 Colts team at home was about as low as the Packers have ever been in the Rodgers era. The offense was stagnant until the Colts, already a bad defense, let their guard down when it was 31-13. James Starks might be back to give Green Bay an actual running back, that could help. In the end though Rodgers will have to play like a premier player for the Packers to win, a proposition that’s been hit and miss this season.

The Titans offense is lead by it’s running game and a rejuvenated DeMarco Murray. Green Bay’s defense has been good against the run, but this will still be a huge test and I do not expect them to completely shutdown Murray. Marcus Mariota is a bright young QB who has played very well over the last month. The Packers will have to account for him on the ground as well as through the air. Delanie Walker should feast in the middle of the field as the Packers haven’t shown much of an ability to stop Tight Ends this season. Clay Matthews is out again, and the secondary won’t be in any better shape than it has been the last couple weeks.

The Packers are 4-4 and have looked every bit as average as that record indicates. For a team that was a preseason favorite it has been a pretty disappointing first half. A win would keep them afloat in what is suddenly a bad NFC North, but after what we saw last Sunday I can’t give them the benefit of the doubt.

MARK

PACKERS 26 TITANS 24

After watching the Packers train-wreck performance against the Colts last week, it is again becoming apparent much like most of last season that the Packers are vulnerable to lose any week no matter the opponent. They are simply too up and down on both sides of the ball and special teams now for that matter to be trusted with any confidence anymore. The Titans sitting at 4-5 have also had their good and bad moments this year but one thing’s for sure, they are building their talent base and seem to be headed in the right direction.

Marcus Mariota is as talented as can be at quarterback and has made a jump this year in production. The Titans have wisely used two first round picks in recent years on bookend offensive tackles in Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin to fortify an above average offensive line, which will be blocking for two above average running backs in Murray and Henry. I could see the Packers defense having their hands full against this ground and pound offense of the Titans as the defense has looked very average since Clay Matthews has been sidelined. Don’t forget Mariota is a major run threat too.

The Packers offense still looks stagnant and in search of an identity. It seemed like the passing game was headed in the right direction with the short passing game approach until they faced the Colts and laid a stinker. Aaron Rodgers numbers didn’t look awful last week but that was more due to garbage stats against a soft Colts defense trying to preserve a lead. How about for once Mike McCarthy, Rodgers, and the rest of the offense come out of the gates in the first quarter with the same urgency that they seem to so often possess when they’re down 14 in the fourth quarter?

If the Packers want to make any noise this year and salvage the season they need to play the Titans with a punch-em in the mouth mentality. The Titans possess a vulnerable secondary but that’s on paper. The receivers still need to do a better job of getting open and Rodgers needs to actually connect when they’re open. I see this game going down to the wire and a last second field goal could prove to be the difference in what is a must win game for the Packers.

BILL

PACKERS 24 TITANS 20

The Green Bay Packers are facing a Tennessee Titans offense that is ranked 4th overall in the entire NFL. It is usually the other way around, that the Packers are ranked top five in offense and typically dominate their opponents. The Packers face a unique challenge this week, as the Titans have picked up some serious traction with running back DeMarco Murray showing that his 2014 rushing title was no fluke. The Packers still boast the top run defense in the league, but face a unique challenge as the Titans run game is going to be the best they’ve faced since Ezekiel Elliot and the Cowboys a few weeks ago.

As far as injuries are concerned, the Titans are about as healthy as any team could be 10 weeks into the season. Green Bay on the other hand can barely scrap together enough players to field a team. Clay Matthews will miss another game (his 4th this season) and corner back/safety Micah Hyde is questionable and that normally would not be a huge concern, but with starters Sam Shields and Damarious Randall out, we will need every backup corner on this roster.

If Green Bay loses this game, I think it is safe to say the nail will be 3/4th of the way into the coffin. Marcus Mariota, while impressive, is still only in his sophomore season and there is no reason for anyone to believe that Titans’ head coach Mike Mularkey will out-coach Mike McCarthy. But even with all of that being said, this game will be ugly. I think Green Bay will barely win and improve to 5-4, but only if they are able to contain Murray (under 100 yards) and get some pressure (please, any pressure) on Mariota.

 

 

 

Week Nine Predictions: Green Bay vs. Indianapolis

By: Mark Prott, Bill Tewes, & Jim Boyce

Coming off a tough loss in Atlanta, the Packers look to get back on track with a home game against the struggling Colts.

JIM

PACKERS 34 COLTS 20

Pass rush, pass rush and more pass rush. That is the key to Sunday’s game. Andrew Luck, while a fantastic QB, has been sacked 31 times in 8 games which is the most in the league. The Packers secondary is obviously banged up and was exposed in Atlanta. The Colts have weapons on the perimeter that can do similar damage, which is why it is very important for the Packers front seven to impose their will and get Luck to the ground.

The Colts, despite having offensive weapons, are not a good team right now. They are 3-5 and typical struggle on the road. One of the main reasons for their struggles is that their defense has been a mess for most of the season. Just last week they let Nick Foles air it out on them. If Aaron Rodgers is as sharp as he was in Atlanta the Packers will put up 30 plus points easily. A win here is very important to Green Bay, at 5-3 they would still be in good shape in the NFC playoff picture. Going 4-4 with a loss at home to the Colts and one would have to question if the Packers are more than an average team.

BILL

PACKERS 45 COLTS 20

The words “Game Time Decision” is the key phrase for this weekend. For the Packers, it looks like they may be without receiver Randall Cobb, but also gain Ty Montgomery back from his sickle-cell scare. Clay Matthews is questionable, but is expected to play. The Packers may also get some secondary help with the return of Quinten Rollins, but he appears to also be a game time decision. With all of the injury concerns, I still expect the Packers to pummel the Colts Sunday afternoon.

Andrew Luck has done everything imaginable to carry this team to their three victories this season. Their defensive is absolutely atrocious and will be down starting safety Mike Adams and may very well be without Vontae Davis if he is not cleared by a second independent neurologist. Indianapolis’ offensive line has played a better this year, but Luck is still taking too many sacks. If Green Bay does not get a pass rush against Indy, I doubt they will be able to get a pass rush against anyone else this year.

Aaron Rodgers will throw all day as the Packers still have yet to find any traction in the run game. Even with Montgomery back, I think the Packers will ease him in to action and see how his body responds to the discovery of sickle-cell trait. Expect Davante Adams to have a huge game and it would not shock me at all to see Rodgers throw for over 400 yards. I’m also looking for the defense to show up and come up with a defensive score, as Luck will give us some opportunities to take one to the house.

MARK

PACKERS 38 COLTS 24

With 2 premium NFL quarterbacks again on display in Rodgers and Luck and the Packers still trotting out a banged up secondary, it will not be a shock again to see a shootout not too different from last week against the Falcons. However, my guess is the Packers come out on top due to the sheer difference in talent. The Packers hold a substantial advantage over the Colts in both the offensive line and front seven defensive personnel. Quarterback pressure will be key and it was shocking to see last week how different the defense looked last week without Clay Matthews. His return is pivotal to the success of the defense lacking depth in the secondary.

Add in the home field advantage with the always rowdy Milwaukee crowd that comes up for the gold package games and I see a relatively comfortable win for the green and gold. Ty Montgomery back in the backfield will provide Aaron Rodgers with a security blanket and look for the all of a sudden rookie sensation Trevor Davis to make another splash play or two.