Tag: Green Bay Packers

The Aftermath: What Needs to Happen For Brett Hundley to Succeed

The Packers season was dealt a major blow but here is how they can survive

As Aaron Rodgers was carted off the field on Sunday afternoon it felt like the 2017 season went along with him. No one denies that Rodgers is a hall of fame player and the main reason for Green Bay’s success over the last decade. The Packers can not dwell in the past though, the injury happened and it is what it is and opponents are not going to let up on the Packers. Brett Hundley is the man going forward whether we like it or not. We have not have seen much of Hundley over the years so it is difficult to know what to expect. Here are a few things the team can do to help Hundley succeed.

Good Protection

Green Bay was finally able to see their starting line in action in Minnesota, but boy it did not last long. David Bahktiari, Bryan Bulaga, and Lane Taylor were all sidelined by the games end. The extent of the injuries is unknown but this is the biggest concern going forward. Brett Hundley may or not may not be a good quarterback, but he has no chance if he’s getting crushed on every pass attempt. In Minnesota Hundley was under constant duress which no doubt hurt his final line which included 3 interceptions. The Packers need to find a way to get healthy and give Hundley time to go through his progressions. If not, Mike McCarthy needs to scheme a way to get the ball out of Hundley’s hand quickly. Otherwise he might be joining Rodgers in the trainers room.

Skill Players going above and beyond

The Packers have a wealth of talent at wide receiver and these players will need to play at an extremely high level to help Hundley. Jordy Nelson was around when Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn took snaps in 2013 and still finished with solid numbers. He along with Randall Cobb and Davante Adams will need to get open and be the dependable targets Hundley needs. The receivers do not worry me, however the running backs could take a huge load off Hundley by being effective. Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones, and the offensive line absolutely needs to be productive and maintain offensive balance. The Packers can not ask Hundley to step in and win games on his own the way Rodgers can. Martellus Bennett also needs to ramp up his production and give Hundley a reliable target in the middle of the field.

Time For The Defense To Step Up

If the Packers are going to stay in the playoff hunt they will need their defense to play well. There really should be no excuses for Dom Capers group at this point. The Packers defense is stock full of high draft picks. There are five first round picks alone among the starting 11. Many others were selected in rounds two through four. It is time for these players to play at the level they are capable of. The defense did keep the Packers in the Vikings game by forcing two turnovers in the 2nd quarter. Overall they did not break as the Vikings were limited to 23 points, but the next two games are against Drew Brees and Matt Stafford. Brett Hundley can not get into a shootout against QBs of that caliber, the Packers defense will need to make impact plays and get off the field on third down.

Final Outlook

There is no point denying reality, the injury to Rodgers is bleak. With him the Packers were looking at home field advantage, now it’s fair to wonder if they will make the playoffs. Brett Hundley has a great chance to help the team as well as himself. If he plays well he could be traded next offseason and start for another team. As fans we can only cling to hope right now. Maybe Hundley plays well enough to win the Packers some games. Nonetheless he will need help from the rest of the squad. Football is the ultimate team game, that is never more apparent than now.

 

The X-Factor: Aaron Jones Could Take The Packers To Another Level

The Green bay packers offense is already good. Aaron Jones could make it elite.

The NFL season is well underway as we enter week six and the Packers are off to a good start. Among the top teams in the NFC, some things have gone as expected. Aaron Rodgers continues to be an elite QB and the WR group is producing. One of the main storylines coming into the season was Ty Montgomery and the running game. Montgomery has proven to be a dynamic player, but the traditional running game had struggled through the first three weeks. The Packers did play several good defensive fronts to go with their own injuries upon the line, but Montgomery barely eclipsed three yards per carry. This is where Aaron Jones enters the equation.

Montgomery was off to a solid start week four but unfortunately sustained an injury. Later that game Aaron Jones entered after yet another injury, this time to Jamaal Williams. What has happened in the game and a half since has been extremely encouraging. Jones has rushed for 174 yards on 32 carries and added 2 touchdowns. Against Dallas the rookie put up 125 on 19 carries, showing great patience and vision as he was able to set up his blocks and generally keep the offense in favorable down and distances. While it is a small sample size there is reason to believe the Packers may have found a keeper in the 5th round pick out of UTEP. If Jones is the real deal, pairing him with the pass catching threat Montgomery could take the offense to a new level.

offensive balance

The Packers draft strategy did not involve spending a high pick on a running back. Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon were both on the board when Green Bay opened up the 2nd round and neither got the call. Ted Thompson did not want to put all his eggs in one basket with a high pick instead taking three players in the later rounds. Not a bad idea by any means, late round running backs can be successful. Jordan Howard, for example, was 2nd in the NFL in rushing in 2016 as a 5th round pick. Aaron Jones’ college tape showed a dynamic player who dominated his competition. In an offense led by Aaron Rodgers the pass will always be the first option. Nonetheless the Packers need a good running game if they want to be serious contenders.

While the Packers have been consistent playoff contenders in the Rodgers era, they have been at their best when balanced. During the Super Bowl run in 2010 James Starks was used heavily in the playoffs. His 123 yard performance in the Wild Card game was crucial that season. In 2011 the Packers running game struggled. When Rodgers and the receivers had an off day against the Giants the season was over. 2014 brought us the strongest Packers team since the Super Bowl victory. Aaron Rodgers was league MVP but they also had Eddie Lacy running for over 1200 yards. Jones, Montgomery, or any other player may not get enough carries to put up those kind of individual stats but the Packers could put up huge numbers as a team.

Conclusion

Aaron Jones will be an exciting player to watch for the rest of the season. Coach McCarthy has always preferred to use multiple backs, so he should receive plenty of carries even with Montgomery healthy. Both runners offer the ability to be receiving threats as well. This will make Green Bays offense less predictable and should allow Aaron Rodgers to exploit defenses even more than he already does. Time will tell if the Packers got a day three steal with Jones, if they did the rest of the NFL should watch out.

 

 

Green Bay Packers Preseason: Why You Should Watch

Preseason marks the return to the hallowed grounds.

The games don’t count but they are still important.

Preseason football can be a drag. We are happy to see the games return after a long offseason, yet almost immediately we long for the regular season. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson will not be on the field much if at all. Players are not familiar with their teammates and ball security issues tend to dominate. Play can be sloppy and the outcomes don’t matter. So why even bother watching these exhibition games? Here are a few reasons.

the rookies

The NFL draft is almost an American holiday by now. As our favorite teams announce their picks we begin to have visions of these players making plays on the gridiron. Preseason is our first chance to see those visions become reality. Vince Biegel and Montravius Adams are out with injuries but Kevin King and Josh Jones are healthy. Expectations should always be tempered with rookies, and King had a couple rough moments in the first preseason game. We hopefully will see some splash plays from the pair before the month is over.

Running back is a position to watch this August. Three rookie runners are vying for spots on the roster. Jamaal Williams seems to be the leader, but Devante Mays and Aaron Jones will receive plenty of opportunities. Which of these runners will separate themselves and become a big part of the offense in 2017? Ty Montgomery is the starter but the others will be needed for the Pack to be successful.

Preseason position battles

Ted Thompson will have no choice but to cut one or two good receivers. Beyond the locks like Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams there appear to be seven players fighting for four spots. Trevor Davis and Deangelo Yancey made nice plays against Philadelphia that stood out. Jeff Janis scored a touchdown and Max McCaffrey was targeted numerous times. Have you heard of Michael Clark? An intriguing prospect who also scored against the Eagles. The Packers simply won’t have room on the roster for all these players and competition will be fierce.

The cornerback and safety positions feature a lot of depth behind the starters. The corners are especially interesting, as any number of players could move into a starting role with a solid camp. Also worth watching is QB Brett Hundley, he isn’t going to take Rodgers job, but a solid showing could land him a starters role elsewhere. Packers fans should be used to this by now, Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, and Aaron Brooks are players who proved their value in Green Bay before starting with other teams.

it’s football

Be honest here, you want to watch football even if it is preseason. Heck, use it as a tune up for yourself. If you haven’t grilled in awhile fine tune your skills so you are ready for Week 1. Practice some clever insults for the officials that will make your friends laugh. Enjoy the return of football, the team is on the field again and will be until February if all goes well!

 

The Other Guys: Packers 2017 Free Agency Review

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The Packers did not make the big splash, but they still helped themselves in Free Agency.

The longstanding criticism of Packers GM Ted Thompson has been his unwillingness to dip into free agency. While some of this criticism is unwarranted there are instances where it would have been helpful to look at available veterans. In the NFC championship loss in Atlanta the Packers had 14 rookies on their active roster. This inexperience can be dangerous in big games and it has burned the Packers the last several seasons.

The Packers faced a lot of uncertainty heading into the 2017 off-season. Several familiar faces departed for other teams. It appears Thompson finally reached a point where he realized the roster could not be filled solely through the draft. The Packers added some quality depth to the roster and were prudent in doing so. Here is a look at some guys who will help when injuries inevitably hit.

DEFENSIVE DEPTH

A vast majority of the defensive additions were made through the draft. The Packers added speed and versatility to the defensive backfield in Kevin King and Josh Jones. However they made two depth signings that could come in handy. Davon House returned after a two year stay in Jacksonville to compete for a spot at corner. It was obvious that Cornerback needed to be addressed given the struggles of Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins last season. House is far from a sure thing, but he is an option with some upside. Considering his meager contract that signing could pay dividends.

I really like the signing of Ricky Jean Francois. He has been a useful NFL player for a while now and should provide key depth in the defensive line rotation. Adding Francois should allow the defensive linemen should remain fresh deep into the 4th quarter.

NEW ELEMENTS ON OFFENSE

Tight End is a position the team clearly wants to emphasize in 2017. The Packers were a different offense when they had Jared Cook on the field. Cook will not be back but the Packers look as strong at that position as they have in years. While he may not accumulate the statistics he did during his time in Chicago, I expect Martellus Bennett to be very effective working with Aaron Rodgers. Lance Kendricks has had an inconsistent career but should be a more than capable second Tight End. He also offers insurance in case of an injury to Bennett. A big plus with both of these players is they are willing blockers. With both on the field the defense will have a tough time predicting whether a run or pass is coming.

REPLACING A MAINSTAY

The biggest lost the Packers suffered was T.J. Lang departing in free agency. There was no one available in free agency or the draft who could come in and be the same player Lang has been the last half decade. It was a smart move nonetheless to acquire Jahri Evans when he became available. While no longer the Pro Bowl player he was in his prime, Evans still provided a solid season for the Saints in 2016. At 33 he should have enough left in the tank to fill the void for this season. Players at that age always carry some risk, but it was a weak draft class for Guards. Evans also provides more experience and consistency than the guys currently on the roster.

CONCLUSION

Ted Thompson is fairly predictable at this stage of his career, but on paper this looks like one of his better off-seasons. The Packers lost more players than they usually do which could be problematic, but Thompson added solid depth players. Thompson will still receive the maximum amount of compensatory picks in 2018. I am also a fan of Thompson’s strategy in the 2017 draft. Between the rookies and new veteran faces there should be quite a few battles for roster spots in training camp. Hopefully this results in a stronger 2017 Green Bay Packers.

 

 

Another Monday Morning Hangover in Playoffs for Packers

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By: Mark Prott

If you are a die hard Green Bay Packers fan like me, it was probably difficult for you to get out of bed Monday morning following the 44-21 drubbing handed down to the Packers by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game. You might have even woke up in the the middle of the night thinking what’s bothering me? And then reality sets in and you remember. Oh yeah, at this point you are getting very familiar with that sick to your stomach feeling after your team gets bounced from the Playoffs. It’s becoming a yearly tradition in Green Bay.

Look I already know what the common narrative will be regarding the Packers’ 2016-2017 season. Boy, that team really came together after being 4-6, went through another injury riddled season and somehow made it within 60 minutes of reaching the Super Bowl. What grit and fight they possessed. And that’s all fine and dandy. I admit it was a blast following the Packers on their eight game winning streak following Aaron’s famous “run the table” phrase. Any Packers fan also knows how pleasurable it was to knock out the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys from the NFL Playoffs. Call me pessimistic or half glass empty guy, but I’m gonna remember this season in another way. Another blown opportunity to achieve greatness in what seems like a never ending cycle for the Packers in the playoffs. So who or what is to blame and how can this team get over the final hump?

Too Much Reliance on Youth

What has stood out to me most as I have followed the Packers in the playoffs over the last few years is that they simply are too enamored with the draft and develop philosophy and as a result count to much on young inexperienced players to deliver in big time moments. Just off the top of my head I think about a rookie Micah Hyde dropping a sure fire Colin Kaepernick interception that likely would have won a playoff game in 2014. Or rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix looking helpless as Russell Wilson completed a Hail Mary 2 point conversion over his head in the NFC Championship collapse of 2015. Just last year rookie Damarious Randall blew coverage on Larry Fitzgerald which led to another playoff loss in overtime.

Notice a theme here?  Rookies and in general young, inexperienced players laying eggs in crunch time. There was plenty of inexperience showing in these playoffs as well, particularly in the secondary. The Packers took a big gamble back in March 2016 when they let Casey Hayward depart to the San Diego Chargers on a very reasonable 3 year $15.3 million dollar contract. While Hayward was not a great player by any means he was a proven starter. Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins had their moments as rookies but both took a step back in their sophomore campaign.

The point is that a team that prides itself in winning championships cannot afford to take the amount of risks on youth like the Packers do. Randall, Rollins, and Gunter had no chance against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons passing attack. It would have been nice to have a veteran presence like Hayward in a big time game like that. I do not want to suggest that Rollins and Randall are busts and hopeless to get better. I think there’s a good probability that at least one of them proves to be a good player. However, as we found out this year, you just cannot afford to count on substantial improvement from within as a given.

More Talent Needed In Addition to NFL Draft

Maybe it was the fact that we just played the New York Giants in the playoffs but I just could not help myself ponder what a difference a signing of a big name free agent such as cornerback Janoris Jenkins would have made for this team this year as I watched the secondary of the Packers fall apart against the Falcons. Sure he received a huge contract from the Giants but guess what it worked. The Giants statistically now possess one of the best defenses and all it took was adding a few key free agent pieces. We once did the same thing signing Charles Woodson back in 2006 and it transformed the defense into a Super Bowl caliber unit.

Those type of players are out there every year but the lack of free agency activity by Packers General Manager Ted Thompson makes it almost a certainty that no major additions will be made. What makes his inactivity most years even more puzzling is that when he does make a signing it generally works out. No way do the Packers knock out the Dallas Cowboys without the services of free agent acquisition Jared Cook at tight end.

Shakeup Needed in Front Office

While the draft is and should always be the prime source of talent acquisition, the Packers are missing out on Super Bowl opportunities because of the lack of activity acquiring talent from other sources such as free agency and trades. Aaron Rodgers will likely go down as one of the top quarterbacks ever to play in the NFL but at 33 he only has one Super Bowl appearance and title to show for his career. And he has taken notice. “We’ve just got to make sure we’re going all-in every year to win. And I think we can take a big step this offseason,” said Rodgers following the loss to the Falcons.

Was this a subtle message from Rodgers to Ted Thompson that he needs more help? Likely so, and now that Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst, the Packers’ top two personnel executives under Ted Thompson, signed new deals to stay in Green Bay and pass on a GM opportunity with the 49ers, there is a slight glimmer of hope. While current Chiefs GM John Dorsey would be ideal to replace Ted Thompson, sources indicated to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Bob McGinn that Dorsey is under contract through 2018.

That is too much time for Thompson’s current lackadaisical approach to drain away two more years of a prime Aaron Rodgers. Perhaps President Mike Murphy will wise up and make the necessary decision that needs to be made sooner rather than later. Time for an ultimatum. Either it’s time for Ted Thompson to step down into a lesser role with the organization or finish out your current contract while giving more control and responsibility to the likes of either a Wolf or Gutenkunst to make independent decisions regarding personnel including the free agency avenue. Both men are wanted commodities in the NFL and it’s only a matter of time before they leave the organization for a better opportunity.  Give one or both an opportunity to see if they are the future top decision maker and in the process hopefully end the continuous cycle of Moday morning playoff hangovers currently haunting the organization.

NFC Championship Predictions: Green Bay at Atlanta

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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.

Wild Card Predictions: New York at Green Bay

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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 17 Predictions: Green Bay at Detroit.

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Week 17 Predictions: Green Bay at Detroit 

By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott & Jim Boyce

The Packers have won five straight to set up an NFC North championship game in Detroit. This is what being a fan is all about.

JIM

Packers 34 Lions 30

At 4-6 I figured this team was done, they looked sloppy or worse in all three phases. Aaron Rodgers had other ideas though and is on one of the hottest five game stretches of his illustrious career. That shouldn’t change in Detroit even with Darius Slay playing for the Lions. I expect the Packers offense to move the ball pretty well, as long as there are no dumb turnovers they should hit 30 plus points for the 4th consecutive week.

They may need all of those points because the Packers secondary is still pretty shaky. Matt Stafford has not looked right since breaking a finger, but the Lions have receiving options that can do damage. As always the key here will be for the front seven to create havoc and prevent Stafford from having time to throw.

If the Redskins win on Sunday then this becomes do or die for both teams. Tensions will be running high but I expect the veteran Packers to be able to handle the environment. Experience with big games could come in handy in this one.

MARK

Packers 37 Lions 24

Five down and one to go. No motivational speech should be needed for this showdown at Ford Field on Sunday night. Regardless of the outcome of the Redskins game, this one is for all the marbles. The Lions are on a downward trend while the Packers could be the hottest team in the playoff tournament with a win on Sunday night. I find it difficult to believe that doubt hasn’t started creeping in the back of the heads of Lions players. They let the Packers back into the equation when they could have wrapped up the division long ago and now they will pay.

I expect a back and forth high scoring first half in this ballgame. However, I see the Packers, the more experienced big game team, coming out in the 2nd half and taking control. I think the Packers will want to run the ball more in this one than last week but I still see the best approach for the offense to let Aaron Rodgers do his thing and air it out to the suddenly wide variety of weapons at his disposal. I expect the Packers to test the hamstring of Darius Slay early and often. How about back to back go routes to open up the game regardless of whether you throw the ball to that receiver or not. However, even if he is healthy, I don’t see the Lions secondary sticking with the Packers’ receivers on a fast playing surface.

On defense, the Packers simply need to learn to bend but not break. If Clay Matthews continues to play like he did last week, Matt Stafford could be in for a long day. The Packers also limited the snaps of Julius Peppers all year long to save him for games likes this. The hand injury of Stafford has limited his accuracy and even despite the sometimes shaky play of the secondary I expect the Packers defense to get their hands on the ball especially in the second half.

Packers 41 Lions 20

The penultimate game leading up to a potential playoff berth is going to be massive for both of these teams. The crazy part is that both teams will know what they need to do in order to make the playoffs. If Washington is eliminated, both teams will make the playoffs regardless of who wins the division tonight.

Aaron Rodgers has put his money where his mouth is and has propelled this team back to the heights everyone thought they were capable of to start the season. The offense is clicking like 2010-2014 and Green Bay has a semblance of a run game again (even with a somewhat shaky outing against Minnesota). I think the tight end of Jared Cook is going to be crucial for opening up the field as the Lions defense has been gashed for 800 yards and 10 touchdowns to opposing tight ends.

I want to see Mike Daniels getting constant pressure and dominate Detroit’s offensive line. The Lions will most likely be be without center Travis Swanson which will give Daniels more opportunities through the middle which will hopefully result in some sacks or at the very least some solid QB pressures.

I have the Packers winning big in Detroit as their final statement game of the 2016 regular season and proving that they are a true contender in the NFC and should be taken seriously with the likes of Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle.

Week 15 Predictions: Green Bay at Chicago

By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce

Bears week needs no introductions, but it does need predictions. See what we think about the upcoming game below.

JIM

PACKERS 24 BEARS 14

If you have not heard already it is going to be frigid in Chicago on Sunday. The weather will no doubt have an effect on how the game is played and this could help Chicago to an extent, if only because on a picture perfect day the Packers are a much better team. Nonetheless I would be surprised if either offense moved the ball in big chunks and this could be a prime day for a defensive or special teams score to provide the spark.

The Bears best offensive weapon at this point is rookie RB Jordan Howard, who since the last time these two teams met has been pretty dang good at churning out yards. If I was Dom Capers I would stack up the box and see if Matt Barkley can throw in the bad weather. The Packers could and should pick  off a couple passes and give the offense short fields.

I am a little worried about Rodgers and his calf, it was clear in the Seattle game he was not going to move from the pocket. The offensive line will need to continue their stellar play and keep that pocket clean. As long as he has time to throw, Rodgers can still eat the Bears secondary alive no matter how cold it is.

BILL

PACKERS 31 BEARS 17

Without running the risk of being labeled a Ty Montgomery fanboy, I think it is safe to say that this week of all weeks in the season would be an appropriate time to unleash the man at running back. With Starks out with a concussion from an unfortunate car accident nad Cristine Michael being himself, it is time for Montgomery to get 20+ carries, especially in a game that might be difficult on Green Bay’s pass attack.

The Chicago Bears have been decimated on both sides of the ball, but their defense has been gutted by injuries and suspensions. They will be without free agent acquisition Danny Trevathan after being placed on IR earlier this season as well as linebacker Jerrell Freeman who was suspended for PED usage. The Bears pose absolutely not threat to Green Bay on the defensive side and even with the weather being an obvious concern for both teams, I think Aaron Rodgers has proven he can still be extremely surgical not matter what the conditions are.

I think Green Bay will get out to an early lead and then decimate Chicago. Even with the Bears getting Alshon Jeffrey back, the only other real weapon they have is Jordan Howard and that will not be enough to keep them in contention with a Packers offense that has been clicking for a few weeks now.

MARK

PACKERS 31 BEARS 15

In all actuality the Packers are playing their fourth straight win or go home game. While not an easy road into the playoffs, if the Lions slip up today against the Giants or next week against the Cowboys, the Packers are in if they win out and will be feared by all as the hottest team in the tournament, Rodgers calf/hamstring injury not withstanding. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. While this battle tested road could pay dividends down the stretch the Bears will certainly be chomping at the bit to knock the Packers out of contention. They almost knocked off the Lions last week and it is apparent that this squad has not given up on Head Coach John Fox. However, the Packers simply have more to play for and being bone chilling cold has a way of making some teams look they want to get out of the stadium as quick as possible.

The guess here is the Packers will jump out to a quick lead and kill the Bears hopes and desire to be out there in the frigid temperatures. Matt Barkley has been much better than expected but the Packers defense is hot and I don’t see that changing today. The key will be getting that early lead and taking surprising Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard out of the game and making Barkley win with his arm. On offense I expect a heavy dose of Ty Montgomery both out of the backfield and running the rock.

 

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.