When Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers crumpled to the ground in a heap on Sunday, what’s the first thought that ran through your head?
My thoughts consisted of only one word: Why?
Why do I care so much about the Packers? Why do my wife and I invest three hours every Sunday into watching the Packers? Why do I have butterflies in my stomach before, during and after Packers games? Why does a silly game like football play with my emotions like this? Why did I just spend the last four months religiously following the Packers, only to see it all blown up on one play? Why am I not getting another beer? Why? WHY? WHY?!?!?!?!
Then Rodgers strolled back out in the third quarter, led the Packers to victory, and all my “why” questions were answered.
I care so much because of moments like that. Yes, football is a silly game played by millionaires who have very little in common with people like you and I. It’s hard to explain why I care so much, but I do, and I’m glad I do.
It’s fun to follow this team. Every now and then, it’s amazing.
Speaking of amazing…
On to the Packers Stock report:
J.J. Watt is a helluva player, but if Rodgers doesn’t win NFL MVP, you might as well name the award something else. Winning the NFC North title game while playing an entire half on one leg is one of the most MVPish things I’ve seen in quite some time.
I’ve been saying this since the New England game and I’ll say it again: If the Packers offensive line keeps playing like it’s playing, the Packers will win the Super Bowl.
When Cobb is picking up yards after the catch, the Packers are hard to stop. Think about it: When the Packers offense sputters, the opposing defense usually does a good job of tackling the Packers wide receivers right after they catch the ball. As Cobb’s YAC goes, so goes the Packers offense.
He’s been catching just about everything thrown his way, even when he’s not open. Part of the reason the Packers offense did nothing against Detroit in week three was the weak play of their tight ends, both in the passing and run-blocking game. That was a totally different story on Sunday.
Burnett’s tackling and toughness near the line of scrimmage will be much needed if the Packers hope to beat the Cowboys and Seahawks and their physical running games.
How many times have we seen the Packers suffer an in-game injury, and McCarthy continues calling downfield passes? I thought McCarthy adjusted beautifully to Rodgers’ limitations and once again guided the Packers though the season’s ups and downs to a division title.
Why is Jones still getting playing time? Put Sean Richardson or Jarrett Bush at middle linebacker if you have to. Jones shouldn’t see the field again.
The Packers are much better at protecting Aaron Rodgers this season, but now they can’t stop teams from blocking kicks. Seven blocked kicks in a decade is a lot, let alone a single season.
I stand by what I wrote in Sunday’s “5 reasons” game preview: The NFL would be better off without the Lions.
The NFL is the greatest sport on the planet. But you know what would make it even better? If the Detroit Lions didn’t exist.
Hell, if the NFL proposed replacing Detroit with another team from Chicago or Minnesota, I’d be all for it as long as it meant never having to watch, hear or read about the Lions ever again.
In professional wrestling — the second greatest sport on the planet — marquee grudge matches sometimes include a stipulation that the loser must leave town. These loser leaves town matches are great. An already intense rivalry is heated up even more by the drama of one wrestler possibly seeing his career come to an end if he loses.
If I were Roger Goodell, I’d not only make Sunday’s Packers vs. Lions game for the NFC North title, I’d make it a loser leaves town match. This is Goodell’s opportunity to get rid of the Detroit Lions — an embarrassing skid mark on the drawers of the planet’s greatest sport — once and for all.
How great would it be if we never had to tolerate the Detroit Lions again after Sunday? No more stomps. No more groin kicks. No more Suh. No more pudgy Matt Stafford. No more Calvin Johnson single-handedly making the Lions relevant. No more face-palms when bringing up the Jim Schwartz era. No more guilt over Barry Sanders being stuck on the Lions his entire career. No more Detroit Lions. Ever again. Period. Exclamation mark!
The only thing we’ll preserve from the Lions mostly-forgettable history is this play, when Brett Favre hit Sterling Sharpe late in a 1994 playoff game to beat Detroit and earn his first playoff victory. Oh, I suppose we can keep this newspaper clipping as well. It details how the Packers held Sanders to minus-one rushing yard in a 1995 playoff victory at Lambeau Field.
Some of you might be saying, “Whoa! Hold on a minute, hot shot. What if the Lions beat Green Bay and the Packers have to leave town forever. It’s not worth the risk. Don’t do it!”
The Lions beat the Packers ?!?!?! In a loser leaves town grudge match?!?!?!?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! Never going to happen. Here are five reasons why:
Lacy and the line
Eddie Lacy and the Packers’ offensive line are playing at a whole new level compared to when the Lions beat the Packers in week three. During that awful game, the Lions sat with two deep safeties and shut down Lacy with only seven players in the box. It’ll be tough sledding for Lacy against the Lions admittedly great run defense, but I can’t see a repeat of week three happening again.
Back in week three, the Packers’ offense was mostly the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. Snap it to Rodgers, he drops back, looks deep, runs around and tries to make a play. Since then, the Packers have mixed in their tight ends, gotten Davante Adams somewhat involved, lined up Randall Cobb in the backfield, run more “big” sets and added a few other wrinkles to create some more diversity to the offense. The Packers aren’t the same ‘ol offense and won’t be shut down by the same ‘ol cover-2 defense.
Death of the G-Force
It appears that the G-Force has finally, mercifully, been put out to pasture. Instead, the Packers have run a “Get Loud Lambeau” campaign all week. I think all “campaigns” to get fans to cheer at games are silly, but anything that gets rid of the hoky G-Force gets a pass in my book. The elimination of the G-Force does nothing but improve the Packers’ odds of winning.
Remember when Stafford threw for 300 yards just about every game? Those days appear to be over. Stafford has never been all that great despite his gaudy passing yard stats, but even his yards are down a bit this season. When a big throw needs to be made, do we really think Stafford will be able to make it at Lambeau?
The Packers’ defense has stonewalled the Bills and Buccaneers offense in recent weeks. Yes, it’s the Bills and Buccaneers, but is the Lions offense that much better? Detroit managed to score just 36 total points against the Bears and Vikings the last two weeks. The last time the Lions faced a really good defense — Arizona on Nov. 16 and New England on Nov. 23 — they managed six and nine points, respectively. I think the Packers defense falls somewhere between the likes of New England/Arizona and Chicago/Minnesota and is more than capable of holding down the Detroit offense, much like it did in the week three loss.
In loser leaves town matches, sometimes the bad guy wrestler cheats to win. He hides and object in his trunks, then whacks the good guy with it to score a cheap victory. Or sometimes his bad-guy buddies interfere when the ref isn’t looking to steal the match. If the Lions win later today, they’ll likely have to cheat to do so, bad guy wrestler style. Here’s how:
The way to slow down the Packers’ offense is to get on the nerves of their wide receivers. That means grabbing, poking, holding and bumping them downfield — straddling the line between illegal contact and good defense, then hoping the refs let it go. When teams go this route, and the refs oblige, the Packers seem incapable of overcoming it.
As Green Bay Packers fans, we tend to always look at the big picture. If the Packers beat a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-3, we’re happy about the win, but we’re a little concerned about “only” scoring 20 points and what that might mean for the offense heading into the postseason against stronger teams.
We’re also happy about being 11-4 heading into the season’s final game with an opportunity to win the division, secure a first-round bye and play at least one home playoff game. But we’re also concerned that the Packers haven’t been dominant for the last 10 quarters and if that might lead to an early exit against a quality playoff opponent.
Three’s nothing wrong with looking at the big picture and peeking ahead. I do it all the time and it’s part of what makes following the Packers and the NFL so much fun. But the NFL is a week-to-week league, especially this season. Or at least a month-to-month league.
Heck, just this season I think the Broncos, Patriots, Seahawks and Packers have gone through stretches where the experts pegged them as the obvious Super Bowl “favorites.” Even Philadelphia and Indianapolis have been mentioned as Super Bowl “favorites” at some point. Most recently, Dallas has joined that list.
Any team that survives the ups and downs of a season like this one to be in the mix for a division title and a first-round bye on the season’s final day is rising. It’s an added bonus if, like the Packers, that team has an MVP quarterback and an offensive line playing at the top of its collective game.
There’s a lot to be excited about on this Packers team. There are also a few areas of concern. Regardless of how you look at this team as January approaches, it’s been a fun ride.
On to the Packers Stock Report:
What a bounceback season for Burnett. He seems to be playing closer to the line of scrimmage, which gets him involved in stopping the run and even rushing the quarterback every now and then. For a guy left for dead after last season’s disaster, it’s been quite the transformation.
Anyone who completes 78 percent of his passes and throws for 318 yards with the flu on a bum leg makes the rising category in my book.
Ever since taking more snaps inside, Matthews has been steady. His play on Sunday elevated him back into the rising category. I love this new hybrid role for Matthews. Stick him inside if teams start gashing the defense up the middles, then put him on the edge in obvious passing situations.
He blows up at least a couple of plays per game. A lot of us pegged Daniels as one of the keys to the Packers season and, with the exception of the opener in Seattle, he’s delivered.
Jordy should probably be in the rising category, but I’m still kind of mad at him for dropping that pass in Buffalo. My favorite thing about Nelson is his ability to make a big play when the Packers are spinning their wheels. It’s like he says, “Ok fellas, ya’ll are playing like horse manure, so I’m gonna go ahead and make a ridiculous catch and see if that gets us going.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Lang has graded positively in six consecutive games and led the team with a 4.8 grade on Sunday. Overall, the offensive line has been tearing it up. We’ll see how they hold up against strong fronts like Detroit and Seattle, but if they keep playing like this, it’s hard to see the Packers losing.
If Perry would step up just a little bit, this defense could take another step forward. Perry doesn’t need to morph into Lawrence Taylor, just play a little better than he is now and fill the void on the edge if Matthews moves inside.
Mason Crosby/Tim Masthay
Listing both the kicker and punter as falling might be a little harsh, but both need to play better heading into the postseason. Crosby has missed a few makable kicks and Masthay’s punts have been shaky. Remember when the Packers beat the Bears in the NFC title game during the 2010 season? Masthay neutralized Devin Hester and pinned the Bears deep in their own territory often. The Packers will need their kicker and punter to be at the top of their game in the coming weeks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Not only is the team awful, but the stadium was half full of Packers fans. Not a good situation going on in the other Bay.
I’ve been thinking real hard this week, and I can’t remember ever seeing the Green Bay Packers play well in Tampa Bay. I know they’ve only won once in Tampa, but I don’t remember that win and I don’t really remember any losses where the Packers came up short, but at least played well.
All I can ever really remember about the Bucs are their so-bad-they’re-awesome sherbet orange uniforms with the pirate holding a knife in his teeth on the helmet. Talk about a classic look and a killer logo. If the Bucs weren’t the Bucs and actually backed up their awesome uniforms with some victories, we’d probably be talking about Tampa Bay as America’s Team instead of the stupid Cowboys and their lame star on the helmet.
Too bad Tampa ditched those unis for whatever it is they throw on their bodies today. Combine their boring new uniforms with that stupid pirate ship at their stadium (and the annoying commercial where they turn that dumb fan’s living room and backyard in a Bucs’ shrine) and Tampa Bay deserves all the misery it’s had to endure in recent history.
As bad as the Bucs are today and have been in recent years, they’ve handled the Packers in their house. Here are five reasons why that won’t be the case again this afternoon:
Angry after a loss
Don’t get in Aaron Rodgers’ way after a loss. In three games following defeats this season, Rodgers has amassed 963 yards with 13 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 138.9 passer rating. Be afraid, Tampa Bay. Be very afraid.
It doesn’t sound like Eddie Lacy is very excited about the possibility of wearing goggles to protect his injured eye, but I think he needs to embrace the new look. What if the goggles give him special powers? What if they provide an extra burst to truck defenders even harder than he already does? What if they give him x-ray vision so he can oogle at the fine ladies of Florida in the stands when the offense is resting? What if the goggles allow him to shoot lasers out of his eyes? Eddie needs to accept the goggles for these possibilities alone.
Another weak secondary
Unlike Buffalo, the Bucs are mostly weak in the secondary, especially at safety where the once hard-hitting Dashon Goldson appears to have been neutered and Bradley McDougald is just a guy. Whenever the Packers have come up against a weak secondary, they’ve usually shredded it this season. I see no reason why that won’t happen again against the Bucs.
The strength of Tampa Bay might be its defensive line, but with stud Gerald McCoy out, that strength might not be much of a strength at all.
I like how Mike McCarthy has already put the Packers into playoff mode. He adopted a similar mindset in 2010, when the Packers had to win their final two games to get into the postseason, then rode that wave all the way to the Super Bowl. The circumstances are a bit different today, but the Packers still haven’t clinched anything. And if they win out, they’ll have no worse than the No. 2 seed and a home playoff game. Nothing wrong with naming “playoff captains” two weeks before the playoffs if it helps the team get into the proper mindset.
Surprisingly, the Bucs have managed to win games despite their boring new uniforms. If they continue their run of good fortune against the Packers in Florida, here’s how it might go down:
Bucs’ wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans are the real deal. Remember what Julio Jones did to the Packers a couple of weeks ago? Either Jackson or Evans is more than capable of doing the same. Of course, the caveat is quarterback quality. Josh McCown is nowhere near as good as Matt Ryan, but he’s capable, especially if Evans and/or Jackson start going off.
Every season during the Mike McCarthy era, the Green Bay Packers have a post-Thanksgiving game where they take a giant dump on the field.
On Dec. 23, 2007, the Bears beat the Packers 35-7 at windy Soldier Field. Brett Favre threw zero touchdowns, two interceptions and appeared to be frozen.
In 2008, the Packers lost five straight, four coming after Thanksgiving and culminating in a rough Monday Night loss to the Bears on Dec. 22.
On Dec. 20, 2009, Ben Roethlisberger torched the Packers for 503 passing yards as the Steelers snapped Green Bay’s five-game winning streak.
Of course, you all remember Dec. 12, 2010. That’s the day the Lions beat the Packers 7-3 and knocked out Aaron Rodgers with a concussion.
I’m guessing you all also remember Dec. 18, 2011. That’s when Kyle Orton, aka the Packers-killer, and the Chiefs ruined Green Bay’s hopes for an undefeated season with a 19-14 shellacking at Arrowhead Stadium.
Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, saw the Packers lose to Christian Ponder and the Minnesota Vikings, 37-34. The loss cost the beat-up Packers a first-round bye.
Last season’s meltdown came on Thanksgiving with the Lions stomping Green Bay 40-10.
And, of course, Rodgers decided to play one of the worst game of his career last Sunday as the Bills humbled the Packers in Buffalo, sending Green Bay tumbling all the way to the No. 6 seed if the playoffs began today.
Late-season missteps happen. They’re hard to watch and they seem to incite increased levels of panic because everyone is eyeing the playoff picture right now.
Instead, let’s try to keep an eye on the big picture. Despite Sunday’s meltdown, the Packers are still rising.
We might not ever see Rodgers play as poorly as he did on Sunday ever again. We hopefully never see Packers’ receivers drop eight passes again. The Packers’ special teams are bad, but hopefully they’ve now bottomed out and can improve in the season’s final weeks.
Despite an injury to Bryan Bulaga, the Packers remain healthy, the most healthy they’ve been in a long, long time.
I like the Packers’ chances at beating the Bucs this week and the Lions the following week. That would mean the No. 2 overall seed and at least one playoff game. We’ll see what happens from there.
For now, on to the Packers stock report:
Why list a player as rising when he exited the previous game early with an injury? Because both times Bulaga has left a game injured this season, his replacement has surrendered a game-altering sack. On Sunday, Mario Williams got around J.C. Tretter for the strip sack on the Packers’ final possession. Perhaps the key to the Packers entire season is making sure Bulaga never has to leave injured in the middle of a game again.
There were several times Lacy rumbled through a gaping hole up front, picked up steam on the second level, then leveled some poor sap in the secondary to cap off a nice run. Too bad he only got 15 carries. Who knows what kind of damage he could have caused with 20-25?
It was another solid game from Matthews. We haven’t seen Matthews take over a game lately, but he’s been good all around for the last six weeks or so.
The only wide receiver who managed to get a little separation against the Bills was Cobb. He also took part in the drop party, but his miscues weren’t as egregious as a few of the others (*cough* Jordy Nelson *cough*)
Ideally, the Packers would like someone bigger and stronger than Guion to try and slow down the other team’s power running game, but with B.J. Raji out, Guion is what they have. Guion might not be the stout man in the middle this defense needs, but he’s athletic and shoots through a gap at least once or twice per game to make a play.
Perhaps someone needs to sit down with young Mr. Adams and explain to him that he can’t live off his big game against New England the rest of the season.
The Packers played a lot of base defense on Sunday, which meant more snaps for Hawk. He held up ok, until the game’s final drive where he was an obvious liability.
In a couple of hours, the Green Bay Packers will play the Buffalo Bills and try to win at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time in team history.
I don’t know why bad things have happened to the Packers the six times they’ve played Buffalo on the road. It makes no sense. The Bills are terrible, the Packers are not.
Here are five reasons why the Packers will finally put one in the win column in Buffalo:
If you think you’re annoyed that the Packers’ defense melted down in the second half against Atlanta last week, imagine how the players feel. Guys like Clay Matthews and Mike Daniels will want to nip the “here we go again” sediment in the bud before it creeps further into the defense’s mindset.
Buffalo’s biggest strength is its pass-rushing defensive line. Since losing to New Orleans, one of the Packers’ biggest strengths has been their offensive line. This will be the Packers biggest test up front since early season matchups against Seattle and Detroit. Things didn’t go well for the Packers o-line in those two meetings, but I think they’ve turned it around and will prove so against the Bills.
Q and RichRod
While Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb get all the hype, tight ends Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers have been coming around. Having a tight end to throw to comes in handy against a team with a strong pass rush like the Bills. That’s especially true if the Bills take away the running back checkdown like Atlanta did in the second half on Monday.
Only one quarterback — Tom Brady in week 6 — has passed for more than 300 yards against the Bills at home this season. Sounds like a challenge for Aaron Rodgers, one he’s more than capable of completing.
It’s the freaking Bills
C’mon. Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith aren’t going to magically take the field on Sunday. The Bills are toast.
Don’t get too cocky. Remember back in 2011 when crappy Kyle Orton ruined the Packers’ undefeated season in Kansas City? His team very well could throw a wrench into the Packers’ machine of 2014 as well. Here’s how:
It’s not rocket science. The way to beat the Packers is to generate a pass rush with your front four and sit back in coverage. Actually, that’s the recipe for beating any team, but it seems especially effective against the Packers in the Rodgers/McCarthy era. Unlike most teams, the Bills have the defensive personnel to actually pull it off.
My throat is scratchy. My nose is runny. I’m sneezing every 8 minutes and the bags under my eyes are turning a weird shade of black and purple.
Do I have a common winter cold, the same affliction that knocks down most of us for a few days when the weather turns cold? Or do I have something much more serious? An illness only contracted by Packers fans called “Capers-itis.” Capers-itis sets in when the Packers’ defense starts playing like it’s 2011 all over again.
Symptoms of Capers-itis include the following happening to your favorite football team’s defense:
- Sam Shields getting completely out-physicaled on deep passes.
- No pass rush.
- One player (see: Jones, Julio) does whatever he wants up and down the field without repercussion.
- Brad Jones actually plays defensive snaps.
- Defensive backs peeking in the backfield and getting burned deep.
I’ve been to several doctors, none of which have given me a diagnosis yet. They all said to wait until after Sunday’s Packers vs. Bills game. If Kyle Orton stands in the pocket and throws for 300 yards, or Sammy Watkins catches 10 passes for 198 yards, I probably have Capers-itis. The only way to get rid of it is to drink large quantities of beer.
Personally, I think I just have a cold, not Capers-itis. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are really good. What they did to the Packers on Monday night, they also did one week earlier against Arizona, a team most people say has a legitimately good to great defense.
The Packers also might might have just checked out for a bit to start the second half, and by the time they woke back up, they were in a fight.
Either way, you don’t want to deal with a potential case of Capers-itis this late in the season. Hopefully it’s just a common cold and we don’t have to start talking about quarantines or anything like that.
To help me recover from whatever is ailing me, let’s knock out this week’s Packers Stock Report:
As long as he keeps doing what he’s doing, I’m going to keep putting him in the rising category. Over his last five games, Rodgers has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,560 yards, 16 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a QB rating of 127.1. If I do have Capers-itis, Rodgers might be the cure instead of beer.
Any time you let Nelson run freely off the line and into the secondary, you’re asking for trouble. The Falcons found that out the hard way on the Rodgers-to-Nelson 60-yard touchdown Monday night.
I can’t pick just one offensive lineman so I’m going to cheat and just list the entire o-line as rising. I’ve been saying it the last two weeks and I’ll say it again: If the Packers offensive line continues playing this well, the Packers will win the Super Bowl.
Let’s hope Lacy’s hip bruise is nothing to worry about. Like he did last season, Lacy is rolling now that the weather has turned cold. He’s also catching passes, making him that much more dangerous.
The run defense has been much better with Matthews inside. Matthews also registered the Packers only sack on Monday night. I like how Dom Capers is using Matthews in this new hybrid role. It takes advantage of Matthews’ explosiveness and frees him up more often. When Matthews only rushed from the outside, sometimes he’d repeatedly just bang into double teams and not really get anywhere.
Shields looked like he should’ve sat out last night after missing an entire week of practice. But really, he hasn’t played all that well over the last month or so. Hopefully, he pulls it together down the stretch. Otherwise, McCarthy should’t hesitate to use more of Davon House.
Does the NFC South winner really have to play in the playoffs? Can’t we send them on a nice all-expenses-paid vacation somewhere instead?
Only teams like last season’s Green Bay Packers should be allowed to win a terrible division with a mediocre or bad record and qualify for the playoffs.
The Packers had to deal with their best player, Aaron Rodgers, missing half the season with a broken collar bone. Once Rodgers returned, the Packers were a legitimate team, deserving of a playoff berth, as demonstrated by their road win over Chicago and last-minute loss in the wild-card round.
This year’s Falcons? Pfffffft. They’re worthless and don’t deserve the opportunity to stumble into the playoffs at 6-10 and possibly pull a wild-card win out of their you-know-where.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to step in and do something to stop the NFC South winner from making the playoffs. Goodell has no problem just making up rules whenever he feels like it, so why not?
Instead of letting the crappy Falcons into the playoffs (or whatever bumbling team wins the NFC South), Goodell should award an NFL playoff berth to TCU, the college football team who was jobbed out of a spot in the new four-team college football playoff.
It’s only fair. The Falcons don’t deserve to play in the postseason. TCU does. Make it right, Roger. You have the power.
Meantime, here are five reasons why the Falcons will get run out of Lambeau tonight:
Have a picnic
The Falcons’ pass rush is so poor and the Packers’ pass protection so good that Aaron Rodgers should be able to have a picnic in the pocket before throwing the ball. The Falcons are 31st in the NFL with only 14 sacks. That’s led to the Falcons having the worst pass defense in the entire NFL.
If the Falcons are going to pull the upset, they’ll have to force a couple of turnovers. Is that really going to happen against Rodgers, a quarterback who hasn’t thrown a pick at home in over two years? Doubtful.
Atlanta’s strong safety is a play-action, rollout, throw-it-deep-for-a-Jordy Nelson-touchdown waiting to happen. Moore is tough as nails and tackles well, but he has no chance in coverage against Nelson, Cobb, or anyone for that matter. If Mike McCarthy can scheme a few plays to match up a Packers receiver against Moore, buckle up.
We’ll win next week
After the Saints got throttled at home on Sunday, the Falcons will still hold down first place in the awful NFC South regardless of what happens on Monday night. Perhaps the Falcons will be like, “Meh. We’re in Wisconsin. It’s cold. The Packers are good. I smell bratwurst. Let’s just throw in the towel tonight and try to win next week against some team that isn’t as good as the Packers.” Unfortunately, this probably won’t happen. Mainly because if it does, Falcons coach Mike Smith could get canned.
(Lack of) power runng
The once-great Steven Jackson rumbled for 101 yards last week against the Cardinals. Uh-oh. The Packers usually get run over by power runners. We should be worried, right? Nah. Jackson’s outburst last week was the first time an Atlanta running back topped 100 yards in 36 games. I don’t see it happening two weeks in a row.
While Packers fans are talking about earning the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC and MVP discussion has focused almost exclusively on Aaron Rodgers, the Falcons are fighting for a fluke division title and have a few weapons in Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. If the Falcons humble the Packers tonight, here’s how it might happen:
Ryan to Jones
It’s been a while since a wide receiver went completely crazy on the Packers in a Michael Crabtree or Reggie Wayne kind of way. Julio Jones is totally capable of torching the Packers by himself, and Matt Ryan is a quarterback capable of helping him do it. Last week, Ryan was a perfect 3-for-3 on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield. Sam Shields might be out, Tramon Williams has looked a bit shaky in coverage lately and Davon House has been up and down. If you’re in your fantasy football league’s playoffs, make sure you don’t accidentally leave Jones on your bench this week.
If you listen to the Boston homers employed by ESPN, you’d think the Patriots dropped 10 touchdown passes and had 14 pass interference penalties mistakenly called against them during Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers.
They’ll tell you the Patriots just had an off game, that a few bounces in the other direction and a call here or there would have resulted in a Pats’ victory.
Nonsense. The Patriots were lucky the game was as close as it was.
If Green Bay scored touchdowns while in the red zone instead of field goals, the game’s a blowout. If Davante Adams doesn’t drop an easy touchdown pass, the game is more of a blowout. If Aaron Rodgers doesn’t misfire on a couple of early throws, the rout would’ve been on. If Mason Crosby doesn’t whiff on a late field goal, the margin of victory would have been wider.
Despite what the Boston homers at the Worldwide Leader would have you believe, it was the Packers, not the Patriots, who kept shooting themselves in the foot.
Of course, I’m not saying the Packers are head and shoulders better than New England. If this game is played 10 times on a neutral field, the Packers probably win six times and every game would be a nail-biter.
Unfortunately, we’re not going to see these two teams play each other 10 times this season. But we might get a chance to seem them square off again in February. On a neutral field. In a little game called the Super Bowl.
The best player in football. There’s really nothing else to say about him. Tom Brady is still a great quarterback, but Rodgers has without a doubt passed him by. That’s not a knock on Brady, he very well could eat the Packers’ lunch should these two teams meet again the Super Bowl, but Rodgers is the man now.
This piece from Greg Bedard at Sports Illustrated summarizes how I feel about McCarthy perfectly. The No. 1 people forget about when discussing McCarthy is his role in resurrecting the end of Brett Favre’s career and helping shape Aaron Rodgers into the quarterback he is today.
Yeah, I’m probably putting Barrington in the rising category prematurely, but how nice was it watching a middle linebacker wearing Packers’ colors delivering big hits to running backs as they try to explode through a hole? Barrington delivered a couple of shots on Sunday to the Patriots’ power runners. If this kid can learn the defense and operate inside without being told where to be and who to cover all the time, watch out.
This is another controversial selection, but hear me out. Yes, Williams got beat a few times in pass coverage, but he made several open-field tackles that prevented big plays and kept Patriots’ receivers short of the first-down marker. Remember when Williams wanted no part of tackling anybody a few years back? Those days are long gone. He’s now a willing tackler. On Sunday, he was willing and effective.
The way to contain Tom Brady is to pressure him up the middle. Daniels has been solid all season, and delivered interior pressure all day on Sunday before finally getting home and sacking Brady on the Patriots’ final offensive play from scrimmage.
Cobb line up here, there and everywhere on Sunday. He managed to get open from all angles, and even sealed the game on a catch from Rodgers before the two-minute warning where he really wasn’t that open.
The BS was flowing off of Revis Island after the game. Revis said Nelson pushed off on his 45-yard touchdown catch. Wah. Wah. Wah. You got beat, Darrelle. Badly. Man up and stop with the excuses.
I was at Lambeau Field on Sunday to see the Packers beat the Patriots. What a game. I’m not sure there’s much more to be said about the win that hasn’t already been said, but I’ll try and offer up a few more nuggets on what I observed from my seats in the south end zone, section 138, row 44, seat 18.
- Before packing up our tailgating supplies and walking to the stadium, a middle-aged guy approached us and asked if we had any lobster or marijuana. Unfortunately, we had neither.
- Not saying I told you so, but…..well, I told you so. Sam Barrington can play. Barrington delivered more hard hits in one game than A.J. Hawk has delivered in three years.
- Eddie Lacy misses some obvious holes. Too often, he chooses to bounce outside instead of making a hard cut and hitting the lane. Part of me wonders if he’s a little hesitant to put his head down and plow every single carry because of past concussions.
- I have no idea why teams don’t sit with two deep safeties against Green Bay 100 percent of the time. Whenever there’s only one safety deep, it’s not just Aaron Rodgers who gets excited. The entire stadium starts buzzing. It also feels like so much more of a struggle for the Packers against two-high safeties, even if they’re moving the ball.
- There was a middle-aged gentleman sitting in front of me who was about 100 pounds overweight and whose mustache connected directly with his nose hair. His family also referred to him as “Pud.” Heckuva nice guy. We high-fived after the Rodgers-to-Rodgers touchdown. Now I can tell people that I high-fived a guy named “Pud.”
- Rob Gronkowski is unbelievable to watch in-person. He’s unguardable. On a play deep in Packers’ territory, Gronk lined up wide one-on-one against Morgan Burnett, and before the ball was snapped, I knew what the result would be. Sure enough, Gronk beat Burnett, then ran over like eight Packers after the catch. Somehow the Packers dragged him down before he stomped into the end zone.
- If the Packers’ offensive line continues playing like this, Green Bay will win the Super Bowl.
- Hats off to Mike McCarthy. He really worked hard to get favorable matchups for Cobb and others and it showed. However, the first time Cobb lined up in the backfield, Darrelle Revis followed him and stood in the middle of the defense, waiting to track Cobb wherever he went. It spooked Aaron Rodgers, who called a time out. But Revis never followed Cobb out of the backfield again. Strange.
- Watching the Packers’ defense pre-snap reminds me of watching pre-schoolers during snack time. Just complete chaos and confusion. Everyone is pointing, yelling, moving, looking around, scattering. But hey, it worked, so perhaps all that chaos is by design.
- Tramon Williams blew a couple of coverages, but also made some great open-field tackles. Speaking of tackling, that was the best I’ve seen the Packers tackle against a quality opponent in a long time.
- Unfortunately, we could not hear Tom Brady’s barrage of F-bombs from our seats.
- The vibe in Lambeau was off-the-charts. People were amped up for this game, and rightfully so. During the Packers’ final drive, the offensive line and Jordy Nelson had to admonish the fans for cheering too loud.
- My wife and I have had the privilege of seeing Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady all play at Lambeau Field and get beat by the Packers. We’ve also seen the Packers beat Vinny Testaverde, Shaun Hill, Kyle Orton and Joe Webb at Lambeau. The one quarterback the Packers couldn’t beat with my wife and I in the stands? Christian Ponder. Go figure.
That’s all for my thoughts from the south end zone. Now where’d I put my lobster and marijuana…