Tag: Aaron Rodgers

Should Packers Ask Aaron Rodgers to Restructure?

Tom Brady restructured and the New England Patriots have been to two Super Bowls since

By: Bill Tewes

Another year goes by and it’s another year in which the Green Bay Packers will be watching the Super Bowl from the comfort of their homes. After the Packers ran into the buzzsaw that was the Atlanta Falcons, many questions are left unanswered as to how the Pack can right the ship and become a contender again.

A popular question in recent days, is whether or not the organization should ask Aaron Rodgers to restructure his contract, so that GM Ted Thompson can sign some top caliber free agent talent and give Rodgers a championship caliber team. Before we answer that, lets take a look at Green Bay’s cap situation heading into the 2017-2018 season.

Green Bay will head into the 2017 season with many difficult decisions that Thompson will have to make, as far as retaining some of his own players. Any Packers fan can tell you that Thompson typically favors his own guys and there has been some embarrassing examples of keeping his own draft picks too long (Brad Jones, AJ Hawk).

With the likely departure of Julius Peppers, Sam Shields, James Starks and most likely Letroy Guion, the Packers will free up over $20 million in cap space with those players off the books. Left guard T.J. Lang will be an interesting case, as he is certainly worth the money and is one helluva tough player. But injuries plagued him all last season and he departed the NFC Championship game with a foot injury. Peppers would be welcomed back with open arms, but only if he takes a veteran’s minimum deal.

In a meritocracy, hybrid linebacker/defensive end Datone Jones would have been gone about a season ago. There is slim to no chance that Thompson brings back Jones, as he has not performed to the caliber a first round pick warrants. Starks will also be gone after posting an atrocious 2.3 yards per carry and never coming back from a concussion sustained in a car accident.

One player, however, that does warrant a contract is linebacker Nick Perry. Perry looked like another disappointing bust following in the footsteps of his peer Jones, but Perry turned it up this past season totaling 11 sacks, a team high. According to Spotrac.com, Perry’s potential market value is in the 8.5 million per year range. I could see Perry fetching more than that on the open market to a team that is desperate for a linebacker. But I see Green Bay being that desperate team and getting a deal done with Perry. Two other players that should receive contracts are Tight End Jared Cook and Hybrid Safety Micah Hyde, as both will hit free agency, but played well enough to earn new contracts with the team.

The 2014 draft class is also something that the team will have to factor in when considering how much money they will be spending in free agency. Pro Bowl safety HaHa Clinton-Dix will most definitely get a contract extension, along with Davante Adams, who posted a turnaround season with 12 touchdowns and came up three yards short of 1,000 yards on the season.

Running back Eddie Lacy’s status with the team is up in the air, as the obvious weight concerns, injury concerns, the emergence of Ty Montgomery at running back and a loaded running back class in this year’s draft will put Lacy in the “prove it deal” category. It would be nice to have Lacy back for insurance purposes and the fact that he was averaging just over five yards a carry before his season was ended with an ankle injury.

With all this being said, Green Bay should be in the $35-40 million dollar range in cap space if the aforementioned cuts, cap rollover, as well as the cap going up to $163-$165 million (up from roughly $155 million in 2016). They will have plenty of money to play with in order to sign a couple players on the defensive side of the ball, adding crucial pieces they desperately need to get Aaron Rodgers another title on his mantle.

It would seem incredibly disingenuous to ask perhaps the best quarterback in all of football at the moment to restructure his contract. Rodgers is not even the highest paid quarterback in the league. Super Bowl bound and likely 2016 MVP winning QB Matt Ryan was the highest paid quarterback to start the 2016 season (Andrew Luck is now the highest paid) and took a team with a pretty average defense to the Super Bowl. The difference is that the Falcons added key free agents in Alex Mack (viewed as one of the best free agent signings this past offseason) as well as role players in Dwight Freeney, Courtney Upshaw and the speedy receiver Taylor Gabriel to compliment superstar Julio Jones.

Ted Thompson has absolutely no choice but to spend some of the cap money the team currently has. Rodgers has three years left on his current contract, which is set to expire at the end of the 2019 season. The only possible way Rodgers would restructure is if he was guaranteed a deal similar to Tom Brady’s back in 2013, in which Rodgers would receive his money differently than his current contract, but with more guaranteed money as well as an extension to the current contract.

However, Rodgers is not 35 and also has no guarantee from management that they have plans to upgrade the team and get him some help. What would be the point of sticking around after his prime years are well in the rear view mirror and the team still has no real change?

The real answer to the restructure question is to look at players like Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb as possible restructure candidates. Matthews has been an essential piece to the defense and the team would struggle without him. But he has trouble staying on the field and has not brought the production to match the contract. Cobb is in a similar boat. Cobb showed some flashes in the post season of his old self, but he has definitely not lived up to contract extension that nets him $10 million per year.

Our next offseason installment will focus on players that Thompson can target in free agency.

 

NFC Championship Predictions: Green Bay at Atlanta

By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce

We are down to the final four of the NFL. In many ways an appearance in the NFC Title game would not have been a surprise to any of us making predictions back in August. The road Green Bay has traveled to get here though is truly remarkable. 60 Minutes will determine if they get a shot at the Super Bowl. Here is what we think will happen.

JIM

PACKERS 38 FALCONS 34

As fans these last two months are ones we will remember for a long time. I believe many of us have a new found appreciation for Aaron Rodgers’ greatness after this eight game win streak. Aaron Rodgers will need to continue to play on an MVP level no doubt, because the Falcons present challenges.

I believe Matt Ryan will win the NFL MVP award this season and it is pretty hard to argue against that. He has really played at a level I did not think was possible after a couple sub par seasons leading up to this one. Julio Jones will be less than 100% but still will provide an enormous challenge to Green Bay’s corners. I expect the two headed monster of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to cause a lot of problems for the Packers defense, perhaps more so as receivers than running the ball. There really is no stopping the Falcons offense from picking up yards, in order to win this game the Packers may need to force a key turnover or two.

Green Bays WR situation is in a bit of disarray as Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Geronimo Allison all appear to be game time decisions. If both Nelson and Adams can’t go it might be too much for the Packers to overcome, though my guess is both will try to tough it out. Jared Cook has been a big part of the offense and will continue to be fed. Randall Cobb is playing how I thought he would in the regular season, with 12 receptions for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns during the playoffs. I think Cobb is going to end up having a big game both in terms of volume and impact.

Last weeks game against Dallas was truly an instant classic and I think we may be in store for another one. This match-up truly feels like a toss up and if Atlanta comes out the victor I will tip my hat to them. Aaron Rodgers looks like a man on a mission however, and I just can not pick against him right now. Green Bay takes a thriller on a late score.

BILL

PACKERS 41 FALCONS 31

It was just after Week 8’s loss to Atlanta that I wrote this article suggesting that Aaron Rodgers was indeed clutch, when the sports world was melting down and questioning if he was losing his touch. The Packers lost to the leagues best offense by one point and were missing the services of Clay Matthews, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Randall Cobb, Jared Cook and Ty Montgomery. All are expected to play Sunday, barring any setbacks, and will help send Green Bay to the Super Bowl.

It appears as if Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison will gut out their injuries in the biggest game of the season. For Adams and Allison, it is the biggest game of their careers and can separate them from many other receivers in the league with big performances. At this point it is safe to assume that Rodgers is going to bring his A+ game to the table, but it remains to be seen if all of our banged up players can do the same.

Matt Ryan had an MVP worthy season this year and has a plethora of weapons at his disposal. The Falcons have a healthy Tevin Coleman to compliment Devonta Freeman and even though Julio Jones is banged up, he is always a threat to go off for 150+. Which makes it even more important that Green Bay’s defense has a much different look and will than when they played Atlanta earlier this season. If Morgan Burnett sits it’ll pose a bigger challenge for Green Bay, but I think he toughs this one out and contributes big on Sunday.

I think Green Bay goes back and forth with Atlanta until late in the game when they go up 10 points and seal a Super Bowl berth. It seems as if things are just going right for Green Bay this year and Rodgers is making the best of his Run The Table campaign. Hard to bet against Green Bay, especially with our defense being as healthy as it has been in quite some time.

MARK

PACKERS 41 FALCONS 34

It seems a lot of times when people predict a shootout it fails to live up to the prediction and more defense shows up than originally anticipated. In this case, I don’t anticipate either of these defenses being able to slow down either potent offense. However, one thing the Packers’ defense does have and what I believe will be the key difference in the game is their ability lately to force turnovers. While Matt Ryan has been brilliant most of the year and rightfully deserves the MVP award for his consistent play, he has shown in the past that he will throw interceptions. Remember that just last year he threw 16 interceptions.

A lot has been written about the Packers and their injury problems this week with the questionable tags on pass catchers Jordy Nelson, Geronimo Allison, and Davante Adams. However, all three are expected to suit up and it’s just a matter of how effective they’ll be. I honestly feel either way Aaron Rodgers and whoever is out there catching passes will be able to move the ball at will on the weak Falcons’ secondary. Simply put, Aaron Rodgers is in a zone and also very comfortable playing in the Georgia Dome, which will give him an edge in a shootout.

The NFL's Deepest Receiving Corps Propel Green Bay Past New York

TEWES

By: Bill Tewes

The Green Bay Packers looked like they were on their way to another lackluster playoff performance, until the deepest receiving corps in the NFL turned up the heat in the frigid cold. Aaron Rodgers and company struck back against a stout New York Giants secondary that had shut them out throughout most of the first half.

The second quarter almost spelled doom for Green Bay, as Jordy Nelson took flight to make what should have been a spectacular catch down the sideline. Instead, Nelson dropped the ball and took a punishing (and illegal) hit from defensive back Leon Hall. Nelson crawled over to the sideline and was down for a long time. It looked like Green Bay’s offense, which at that point was floundering, was completely doomed.

Enter Davante Adams, who became Rodgers’ first read after Nelson went out. The Packers marched down the field after a nice punt return from Micah Hyde and this drive would be all Adams. After getting no traction with Adams throughout much of the first half, Rodgers hit a huge pass to him down the sideline, with Adams shaking coverage en route to a 31 yard gain. The drive resulted in the most important sequence of the game, as the offensive line gave Aaron Rodgers all day. Rodgers, showing legendary pocket presence, took nearly nine seconds to find Adams in the end-zone, who is proving to be Mr. January by coming up big in playoff games.

The true wildcard in this game was Randall Cobb. No one knew how many snaps he was going to get or if he could perform at a high-level after being out for two games with an ankle injury, but he looked none the worse for wear. Cobb’s touchdown grab of Rodgers’ Hail Mary heave to end the half gave the Packers a monumental boost and some nice separation on the score board after a poor start. Cobb would grab two more touchdowns finishing with five receptions for 116 yards and leaving no question as to his importance to this team.

Green Bay’s receivers absolutely outclassed New York’s all game. Odell Beckham dropped multiple catch-able passes and finished up with four receptions for 28 yards, making him the fifth best statistical receiver for New York Sunday afternoon. Tavarres King, who had two catches in all of the games he played in the regular season, hauled in a nice touchdown grab on broken coverage by Damarious Randall. That catch accounted for 41 of his 73 yards. For all the talk of Green Bay’s secondary collapsing and potentially allowing for one of the more dynamic receivers in the NFL (Beckham) to completely trash them, they held their own and held him in check all game. Outside of King, they did not allow rookie Sterling Shephard to find room to work, as he has become a solid red zone threat for New York with eight touchdowns this year.

The Packers also got solid contributions from Jared Cook and Ty Montgomery. Cook was consistently getting open and even though Rodgers overthrew him a couple times, he connected with Cook on multiple second down conversions for 10+ yards. The Packers will need Cook to step up if Nelson as well as maybe even Montgomery miss time. Montgomery added three catches for 41 yards and if he suits up next week against Dallas, will add a short pass threat out of the backfield.

Geronimo Allison was an afterthought all game, catching only one pass for eight yards after having an impressive game against the Lions last week. Allison took a backseat with Cobb coming back, but still offers a dangerous weapon as well as quality depth at a position that is always seemingly deep for Green Bay. They will need all hands on deck to beat Dallas in Jerry World.

dallasvsgreenbay

Taking a look at advance metrics shows Dallas’ secondary ranks 26th in the league according to Pro-Football Reference. There will be plenty of opportunities for Rodgers and this deep receiving corps to do some damage through the air. Dallas’ defense excels in run defense as they are ranked first overall in the entire league, so the Packers will have to find unique ways to utilize Montgomery, Aaron Ripkowski and Christine Michael in the passing game and take what they can get on the ground.

Next Sunday’s game is shaping up to be an instant classic. Will the rookie duo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott keep up their incredible maiden season and down the Pack in Dallas? Or will Aaron Rodgers continue his Run-The-Table campaign with a win in the same building he won his first Super Bowl in?

Wild Card Predictions: New York at Green Bay

By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce

Green Bay is in the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year despite the roller coaster ride of a season. Winners of their last six the Packers welcome a familiar nemesis to Lambeau on Sunday afternoon.

JIM

PACKERS 24 GIANTS 17

The table has been ran and immortalized in song. The Packers, once looking defeated and uninspired, are perhaps the hottest team in the NFL right now. They do not get an easy task though as the 11-5 Giants present some challenges.

The clear reason the Giants have won as many games as they have is their defense. They rank near the top of the league on run defense and have forced 17 interceptions. The Giants brought in some high priced free agents this past offseason that have helped them and have also had some young players such as Landon Collins step up. The Packers offense will be challenged, but the way Aaron Rodgers is playing it’s almost impossible to think he won’t deliver in this game.

Eli Manning has had a bad season by all statistical accounts and the Giants have lacked a running game most of the year. They do have Odell Beckham Jr. though, and he is a threat to take one to the house at any time. Dom Capers no doubt is aware of this and I imagine will have a lot of help sent to whichever side Beckham lines up on. The Packers secondary is hurting, but I think the Packers front seven can wreak enough havoc on the Giants underwhelming line to force Eli into bad throws. As long as Beckham doesn’t turn in an all world performance the defense will hold up against the Giants.

A close, tough game is likely in order but I will take the home team here. Packers punch their ticket to the second round.

BILL

PACKERS 31 GIANTS 20

The New York Giants will be coming into Green Bay without their best pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul. This is a huge loss for New York and will allow for Green Bay to focus on their other pass rushing threat in Olivier Vernon. If Green Bay’s offensive line can give Rodgers even an extra second (which they have all year) he should be able to pick apart the Giants’ secondary even with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suiting up (did not play in Week 5 match).

Playoff games are a perfect environment for players to prove their worth. This is why I think cornerback Ladarius Gunter will step up today and show that he belongs on this Packers’ roster by doing some work and containing Odell Beckham. He will obviously have safety help in Haha Clinton-Dix and I think the Packers have somewhat of a blueprint on how to keep him under their thumb today.

With the temps being so low, we should see a steady diet of run plays to start the game. I would imagine McCarthy will call this game pretty conservatively in hopes of wearing the defense down as well as giving Rodgers adequate play-action opportunities. Jared Cook did not play in the week five match-up against the Giants and will give us a huge option as far as disrupting the secondary. The Giants will do their best to take away Jordy Nelson, so it is of paramount importance for Cook, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison to find some separation.

I have the Packers staying in control of this game, with the Giants making a push late. Ultimately Aaron Rodgers will be just too much for the Giants and Eli Manning will not have a good enough game to doom Green Bay yet again in the playoffs.

MARK

PACKERS 24 GIANTS 20

More times than not good defense comes out on top of good offense by the time that the NFL Playoffs arrive. However, I have a feeling this game will be the exception. We’ve heard all week how great the Giants defense is and the feared NYPD secondary. And while I do believe the Giants possess an above average defense, the Packers’ offense, led by red hot Aaron Rodgers, is simply playing at another level. While Eli Manning has well known playoff success at Lambeau Field, that was when he was a much younger player. Manning is simply too inconsistent with ball placement to trust and I expect the Packers’ defense to be in his face at times especially while going up against an offensive line starting Marshall Newhouse at tackle. Packers’ fans know all too well about him. This is a must win match-up for the likes of Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, and Nick Perry.

While much has been written about how the Packers’ lucked out in the first Giants match-up not having to face a healthy Dominique Rodger-Cromartie and rookie Eli Apple, not enough has been said about how much of an impact the absence of Jason Pierre-Paul will make and how dynamic the Packers’ offense has become since the addition of a healthy  Jared Cook at tight end and the full time switch of Ty Montgomery to RB. Neither of these elements were present in the first meeting. And while the Giants struggled to get after Rodgers in the first game with their pass rush, they might struggle even more without the services of Pierre-Paul. Bottom line is no matter how great of coverage you have, if the offensive line gives Rodgers ample time to survey the field as I suspect, he will make enough big plays with his arm and legs to pull this one out.

 

Week 14 Predictions: Seattle at Green Bay

By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce

The Packers outlasted the Texans (and the snow) last Sunday to get back to 6-6 and inject some optimism back into the fan base. The Lions keep winning though, which makes the upcoming game against Seattle crucial to the teams playoff chances.

JIM

SEAHAWKS 24 PACKERS 23

The loss of Earl Thomas cannot be overstated. The All-World safety of the Seahawks will be out after a bad leg injury last weekend. This will open up some opportunities for Rodgers in the passing game. The Offensive Line has been solid all season, overcoming the loss of Josh Sitton quite nicely in fact. They will need to be on top of their game once again to keep Rodgers clean. I have a feeling Green Bay will need to get a running game going for the first time in awhile to win this one.

The Packers defense has looked better the last two weeks, but I still have reservations about them. They played a slumping rookie in Carson Wentz and perhaps the worst starter in the NFL right now in Brock Osweiler. Russell Wilson’s numbers don’t jump off the page but he is plenty capable of taking the defense apart in the same way Marcus Mariota and Kirk Cousins did. Jimmy Graham could do a lot of damage in this one. Green Bay needs to put the clamps on Seattle’s run game to eliminate play action.

My heart wants Green Bay to win but my mind says this will be a tall order. Getting Seattle at home as opposed to away certainly helps a lot and I suspect this will be a nail biter. Unfortunately the Packers have suffered a lot of heartbreak at the hands of the NFC West the last half decade and I think this may be another game that goes against them in the end.

BILL

SEAHAWKS 14 PACKERS 24

Aaron Rodgers wants us to believe the Packers can run the table and make things interesting in the NFC. Rodgers is trying to light the fire under this team and get everyone believing in the Packers as a force in not only the division, but the NFC as well. Talk is typically cheap, but the Packers have been taking care of business recently, even if their opponents are not up to snuff. This week’s opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, offers a unique challenge to show what this Packers team is capable of.

If the Packers take down Seattle in Green Bay, they will be the hottest team in the NFL (aside from Dallas who still has yet to lose a game since week 1) and will still have a great chance to win the division with all of their divisional opponents left.

I said it the past couple of weeks and I’ll say it again and again. Mike McCarthy needs to find a way to dedicate the run game to Ty Montgomery. I cannot understand why they refuse to trust Montgomery with a larger workload. Starks is ineffective and Christine Michael either hasn’t learned the playbook yet, or just is not getting it done. Green Bay is going to need some balance if they want to decimate Seattle’s secondary and take advantage of their loss of Earl Thomas.

The offense has been clicking as of late and one of the reasons I believe the Packers can hang with Seattle Sunday afternoon. Seattle is a difficult team to figure out, what team is going to show up? The team that blew out Carolina last week and beat the best team in the league (New England)? Or the team that lost to the Rams 9-6 and the Buccaneers where they could only score five points? I’ll take Green Bay with their backs against the wall in a almost must win game at home!

MARK

PACKERS 26 SEAHAWKS 24

The forecast of snow for a second week in a row in Green Bay Sunday afternoon should benefit the Packers and give them a fighting chance to pull this one out.  The Packers have momentum building and it is time they have a statement game against a top flight competitor. The snowy slick conditions should slow down the speed of the Seahawks defense and give Rodgers enough time to make some plays.  It would be refreshing to see the Packers attack the middle of the defense especially without Earl Thomas patrolling the middle of the field. I think some tight end seam routes with Jared Cook could be in order. The running back carousel will be interesting to follow as I expect a hot hand approach. I imagine it will come down to Christine Michael and Ty Montgomery fighting for touches. Montgomery could be especially useful in the short passing game and provide a security blanket for Rodgers against a stifling defense.  However, Christine Michael will no doubt be looking to make a statement and get revenge on the team that gave up on him.

The Packers defense must take advantage of the Seahawks porous and inexperienced offensive line. Russell Wilson is great when he has time and the Seahawks possess playmakers in Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin plus the speedy Tyler Lockett. However, this offensive line is not good and there can be no excuses if the Packers don’t dominate the line of scrimmage. Clay Matthews is reportedly feeling much better this week. I don’t care if he plays in the middle or outside, just wreak havoc. The return of Damarious Randall has settled the secondary to a degree but this one will need to be settled in the trenches if the Packers stand a chance.  Julius Peppers has begun making his presence known again and there is plenty of opportunity to keep it rolling this week.

 

 

Week 13 Predictions: Houston at Green Bay

By Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce

The Packers are finally back home this week to take on a Texans team that has struggled as of late. Like last week the Pack will need to put together a winning performance to keep their playoff dreams alive.

JIM

PACKERS 26 TEXANS 17

Facing an uncommon opponent on a short week can present some challenges, but overall I think Green Bay matches up well against the Texans in many of the same areas they matched up well against the Eagles. QB Brock Osweiler has been one of the worst starters in the NFL this season, which means that even a stud WR like DeAndre Hopkins may have trouble exploiting the Packers secondary. It would certainly be disappointing if the Packers allowed Osweiler to have a big day. RB Lamar Miller has been iffy to play this week, if he is unable to go it would be a big blow for Houston. If he does play he will present some  challenges to the Packers front seven. Overall Houston is not a great offensive team.

The Texans are a good defensive team however, even without J.J. Watt. The Packers will need a big day from the offensive line to keep a possibly limited Aaron Rodgers clean. I could see the Packers struggling at times on offense. Perhaps we will see more Christine Michael this week, James Starks has not been able to get much going on the ground. This is a game the Packers should win as the Texans have struggled immensely on the road against good teams. Once again the season hinges on the team performing up to their potential.

MARK

PACKERS 31 TEXANS 17

It was difficult to take the bold comments seriously after multiple dismal performances in a row but Aaron Rodgers’ remarks about being able to run the table may not be so silly after all. The game against the Eagles was probably the most complete performance the Packers have put together in the 2016 season. It almost always seems dangerous to make predictions about this team, but I believe they regained confidence and I’m forecasting a similar comfortable outcome to last week. The Texans have above average skill players on offense, but Brock Osweiler is playing with little confidence and so the Packers’ defense should have a great opportunity to increase their confidence and get right.

The Texans have an above average defense but will be without OLB Jadeveon Clowney, which is a major blow to their chances.  Aaron Rodgers will be playing with a hamstring injury so we should see a continuation of the short, quick passing game that was was so successful against the Eagles.  The Texans are a blitzing defense and I expect to see plenty against a vulnerable Rodgers without his legs in top condition. This makes it so key that Rodgers gets the ball out quick. The MVP version of Aaron Rodgers made teams pay dearly when they blitzed him in the past. We saw glimpses of that last week and vintage pinpoint throws that seemed to be missing all season. Maybe Rodgers is getting on a hot stretch again, which would back up his bold comments.

BILL

PACKERS 35 TEXANS 14

The Green Bay Packers are going to have to get newly signed running back Christine Michael and hybrid receiver/running back Ty Montgomery more involved, if they want to strike solid offensive balance and make a playoff run. The Packers were able to decimate Philadelphia’s secondary last week, but against a Houston Texans secondary that is top five in the league, the Packers will need an effective run game to be able work off the play action. McCarthy and company are going to have to find ways to exploit Houston’s secondary and a consistent run game is going to be crucial to doing just that.

If Clay Matthews is forced to miss yet another game, I imagine Texans HC Bill O’Brien will look to exploit the middle of the field, utilizing tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz who is having an exceptional year so far. Exceptional, considering Brock Osweiler is the least efficient QB in all of the NFL. The Packers are hurting everywhere on defense, but the linebacking crew has been hit the hardest recently. Blake Martinez, Jake Ryan and Matthews are all questionable and it would be a huge blow to the Packers’ chances to win this game if they all sit.

With that being said, I still think Aaron Rodgers is going to, yet again, find a way to torch this Texans defense. With Davante Adams playing incredible football and Jordy Nelson being a solid compliment (as well as still drawing more attention), Rodgers will have plenty of options to air it out and hopefully they can get Jared Cook more involved again as he has shown he is capable of being a weapon for this team.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Talk of Aaron Rodgers not being clutch needs to stop

By: Bill Tewes

There is a ridiculous notion going around that Aaron Rodgers is not “clutch”. Yes I am referencing the article Bob McGinn wrote this morning referencing a statistic from Pro Football Reference that ranks Rodgers 94th all time in “game winning drives” and also suggesting that Rodgers did not deliver against the Falcons Sunday afternoon.

Where McGinn misses the mark (just like many others) about Rodgers is that he puts the team in positions to win games. Rodgers does deliver, but other variables such as the defense blowing a lead or poor play calling result in Rodgers’ poor fourth quarter comebacks ranking.

If this game is the reason for people to bring up the old (and tired) discussion of Rodgers “clutchness”, then I would have to seriously ask what Aaron Rodgers did to not be clutch yesterday? Was it the final drive where he was asked to drive 40+ yards in 30 seconds? What about the four touchdowns to zero interceptions he threw yesterday? Sounds to me like Rodgers did enough to win the game for the Green Bay Packers yesterday.

About the only thing Rodgers could have done yesterday to win the game was line up in the secondary and prevent an easy touchdown and perhaps maybe shave some more time off the clock for their final touchdown drive. The reality is, at least in this instance, Rodgers did more than enough to win the game. He was asked to come back with less than 35 seconds on the clock and put the team in position to win, no easy task. Green Bay’s defense got shredded and Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is going to have to answer for why plodding linebacker Jake Ryan was covering speedy receiver Mohamed Sanu on the final touchdown drive that put Atlanta ahead.

It is difficult to place value on what being “clutch” brings to the table. What does clutch mean to a quarterback like Kurt Warner who only had nine fourth quarter comebacks throughout his career (according to Pro Football Reference) but is a two-time MVP and won a Super Bowl. Dan Marino on the other hand had 36 total fourth quarter comebacks according to Pro Football Reference and has never won a Super Bowl. Matt Ryan, the quarterback who completed a comeback Sunday against Green Bay has 25 fourth quarter comebacks to his credit but also blew a 17-0 lead in the 2012 NFC title game and Atlanta has been notorious for monumental collapses over the years. Being clutch is extremely subjective and I honestly believe Rodgers has the body of work to prove that his clutch-less performances can be explained away.

Rodgers has shown his clutch ability in many games in which Green Bay was either not expected to win, or faced a difficult comeback. Two specific examples are on the road against the Seahawks in the 2014 NFC Title game as well as on the road against the Arizona Cardinals in 2009 Divisional Round. The Seahawks game was one in which if Green Bay managed the game better down the stretch, we would be talking about what Rodgers did to win us that game in a hostile environment. The Arizona game Green Bay was down 21 points and Rodgers (along with JerMichael Finley) forced overtime.

Last year’s playoff game against the Cardinals witnessed Rodgers pull one out of nowhere with a hail mary toss to receiver Jeff Janis and even though they lost, is further proof of Rodgers’ comeback ability. While the sample sizes are small, I think they still suggest that the clutch “trait” is again subjective and open to a lot of interpretation as to what value it really has.