Friday, December 12, 2014
Sunday, the Green Bay Packers travel to the east coast to pay a visit to the Buffalo Bills in a pivotal match. The Packers need a win to stay ahead in the NFC North, and keep pace with the Arizona Cardinals for the number one seed in the NFC. The Packers have looked like the best team in the NFL, and have been the class of the NFC since October. But all of that could be undone with one loss in a tight race. If the Packers want a win on Sunday they're going to have to focus on three major things that could control the outcome.
1. Stop The Run:
It's not hard to realize that the Bills game plan will be to keep the ball away from Aaron Rodgers and co. How will they play keep away? By running the ball of course. It's no secret the Packers main weakness on defense is stopping the run. Bills running-back Fred Jackson could be one of the most underrated backs in the last five years. He has missed some time due to injury this year, but still poses a threat to the Packers defense. Jackson is an all-purpose back who can catch and run with the ball. He is the type of back the Packers have trouble with. The defense will need to work on their tackling, which has been the achilles heel so far this year. The secondary will have to step their game up as well.
2. Shut Down Sammy Watkins:
The whole Packers secondary with embarrassed by Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones last week. Jones did most of his damage in the second half, but burnt the Packers for 259 yards. That is the most this young secondary has ever given up. Jones is an elite receiver no doubt, but it just seemed way to easy the way he was ripping apart the secondary. Everyone gets the blame between Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Morgan Burnett, and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. This week doesn't get any easier with rookie sensation Sammy Watkins lining up for the Bills. Watkins is a possession receiver who also possesses top flight speed, and is a threat to run after the catch. Sam Shields will most likely be assigned to Watkins, because I don't think Williams possesses the ability to stop Watkins. Capers will need to make sure there is safety help over the top. That was missing when Jones was running wild. Shields will have to redeem himself from last week so I look forward to him having a solid game. The offense will have to do their part too.
3. Keep Running The Ball:
Last week the Packers controlled the game with a balanced run game. The duo of Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for 207 total yard and 3 touchdowns. Lacy is undoubtedly the workhorse of this offense, but he injured his hip towards the end of the Falcons game and isn't 100%. Lacy should be able to play Sunday, but he'll have his carries split with Starks and there's nothing wrong with that. The two headed monster of Lacy and Starks could be a big part of this offense going into the post season. It's important to get the run game in a rhythm these last three games. The Bills have a very stingy rush defense, but the run game will have to take some pressure off Aaron Rodgers.
This game on Sunday could possibly be the toughest test for the Packers in these last three weeks. Going to Buffalo and winning is no easy task. They have one of the better home-field advantages in the NFL. One good sign is that the weather is supposed to in the 40's come Sunday so that bodes well for the Packers explosive offense. If the offensive line can hold up against the Bills talented defensive line then the Packers have a good chance of pulling this one off. In the end I think the Packers win a close hard fought battle, and continue their stride towards the number one seed and a NFC North title.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
The Green Bay Packers will be ready for some home cooking when the Atlanta Falcons visit Lambeau field on Monday night. The frozen tundra will live up to its moniker as the temperature will be in the mid 20's by kick off. That is perfect Packer football, and could give the team more of an advantage over a dome team. Don't doubt the Falcons though. Although they have been underwhelming this season they are still dangerous team. The Packers are coming off one of their biggest wins in franchise history against the New England Patriots last week. Last weeks win cemented the Packers as an elite team, but now they'll have to deal with the hype. There are three things the Packers will have to do to ensure victory on Monday night.
1. Keep The Passing Game Hot:
The Falcons come into this game with the 32nd ranked pass defense. That stat right there has to have MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers chomping at the bit. Although the weather may be cold on Monday night Rodgers should still be able to carve up the Falcons secondary. The emergence of rookie receiver Davante Adams last week against the Patriots makes the Packers passing game even more dangerous. If Rodgers is able to get in his normal groove at home it could be a long night for the Falcons. Look for Rodgers to get all of his receivers involved as well as the tight ends. If this team is going to make a run their going to have to get the tight ends involved more. Rookie tight end Richard Rodgers seems like the best candidate. He's shown flashes all season, and can stretch the field when needed.
2. Get Lacy Ready For January:
The Packers have ran the ball well since their slow start in September. But if they want to be serious contenders they're going to have to really establish a run game going forward. We all know the Packers have had recent playoff struggles because of their lack of a running game. Teams are able to focus on Rodgers, and shut the offense down. Lacy was brought in to make this team one of the most balanced in the game. The Falcons are 21st in rushing defense so there's no reason Lacy shouldn't go over the 100 yard mark. I expect one of the Packers more balanced games on Monday night. Don't forget Lacy has also emerged as a good pass catching back this season. Look for the Packers to start building Lacy's confidence up on monday night.
3. Stay Hungry On Defense:
Ever since the bye week the Packers defense has been very aggresive. You could make an argument that this is the best the defense has looked since the 2010 Super Bowl run. Some have said the change in defense is due to Clay Matthews III moving to the middle, but I think it goes deeper than that. The change in defense is due to Dom Capers switching up the personnel packages. AJ Hawk has had a cut in play time and deservedly so. Young LB's like Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington have given a shot to this defense. Add a veteran like Julius Peppers in the mix who has become this defenses leader, and it seems to be the perfect mix. Expect the Packers to blitz Falcons QB Matt Ryan heavy on Monday and force him into errors. He's known to crumble under pressure. The secondary will have their hands filled with a talented duo of receivers like Julio Jones and Roddy White. If the blitz's are effective look for the Packers secondary to create a few turnovers through the air.
This game could be close through the first quarter, but in the end I believe the Packers will pull away and stay far away from the Falcons. The Packers seem to be functioning at a high level right now, and with this game being at Lambeau I don't expect a let down. If there are no major injuries this could be a game where the Packers are bringing in Matt Flynn in the third quarter. Look for the Packers to continue to stay hot, and win a laugher on Monday Night.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
In what could shape up to be the game of the year, the Green Bay Packers welcome the New England Patriots to Lambeau Field. This game provides one of the best QB duels in NFL history that surprisningly has never happened before. Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady is a battle of the past and the present of the NFL. Both are playing at a high level this season, and are competing against eachother for the MVP award. This game isn't just about the quarterback matchup though. This game could prove that the Packers do belong with the NFL elite. This game is a measuring stick for the Packers season. We will see how far they have come, and if they are legit Super Bowl contenders. Here are a few things the Packers will have to do to prevail in this potential Super Bowl preview.
1. Packers Must Stop The Run:
The Packers run defense has been hit or miss each game this season. They currently rank 30th in rush defense, but were dead last a few weeks ago. They started out the season being horrible against the rush. They worked to strengthen the unit until Mark Ingram rushed for 172 yards against them. It seems like this team has a tough time with aggressive runners. The Patriots bring two aggresive runners into this matchup in the form of Jonas Gray and Lagarette Blount. Blount who was just signed last week by the Patriots has given the Packers fits in the Past. Linebackers must wrap up and bring these guys down before they get to the secondary. They can't allow the Patriots to be an even keeled team. Brady will light it up through the air so the run must be stopped.
2. Establish The Run:
It'll be a game that the Packers will have to play keep away from the Patriots and Brady. Normally teams are trying to play keep away from the Packers offense. For the Packers to do this they will have to establish the run. Eddie Lacy is playing some great ball these last few weeks with his catching and running abilities. His rushing will be needed on Sunday. Lacy is coming off of his best rushing performance of the season with a 125 yard effort against the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday. Lacy iced the game against the Vikings by picking up the last two first downs needed to milk the clock. If the Packers can get a run game going and accompany it with the explosive passing game then the Packers will be unstopable. The Patriots rank 15th against the run which isn't terrible, but it defiinetly suggests that they can be run on. The Packers offensive line may have to play one of their more aggresive games on Sunday.
3. Respect The Patriots Secondary:
The New England Patriots boast one of the more talented secondary's in the NFL. With Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner they pose probably the biggest threat against the Packers talented set of receivers. When teams have been aggresive with Jordy Nelson he hasn't looked his best. Revis and Browner are two of the most pshyical corners in the game. And it gets better for the Patriots with Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung playing safety. Aaron Rodgers is one of the more safer quarterbacks in the league when it comes to turning the ball over. This trait will come in handy on Sunday when Rodgers will have to play chess on the field against this secondary. Rodgers holds the record for most passing attempts without an interception at home, but will he be able to keep the streak alive on Sunday? I believe so.
Confidence is at a maximum for the Green Bay Packers after their slow start to the season. The same could be said for the New England Patriots who had famillair struggles early in the season. If this game was in Foxborough I think it would be wise to go with the Patriots. But this game will be played at Lambeau, and I think the Packers could be one of the best homefield teams in the league this season. The Packers will pull this game out on Sunday, and continue their quest for the number one seed in the NFC.
Green Bay Packers: 31
New England Patriots: 28
Thursday, November 6, 2014
It doesn't get much better than this. The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will renew their historic rivalry Sunday night at Lambeau Field. This will be the second matchup between the two this season. Both teams come into this game in much different situations than they were for their week 4 matchup. The Packers are 4-1 in their last five, and the Bears are 1-4. Going into the week 4 matchup. Aaron Rodgers assured the Packers faithful to "R-E-L-A-X" and it seemed to work as the QB went on a tear, and is in the middle of one of his best seasons. The Bears probably wish their fans and Chicago media types alike would take Rodgers advice. But to do that they'll have to beat the Packers on Sunday night. At this point I think it's very possible, so the Packers will have to be play like they have been on offense, and continue to improve on defense.
The Packers must not overlook the bears who are very desperate for the a win at this point. Here are a few things they'll need to do to pull off a prime-time dvisional win.
1. Health: The Packers seemed to have shaken off their bad luck with injuries this season, but then they went to New Orleans. The Packers left the Super Dome in week 8 a beat up team. Even after the bye they seem to still have some lingering injureis that could be an issue on Sunday. Guards Josh Sitton and TJ Lang both had significant injuries that have kept them out of practice all week. Sitton tore ligaments in his big toe, and Lang suffered some ligament damage in his ankle in New Orleans. With offensive lineman their legs and feet are a big part of their position. They must be quick off the snap of the ball, and be able to react quickly on their feet. It seems that both will likely miss the game due to the nature of their injuries. In their absence Lane Taylor and J.C. Tretter would step up, and start their first games in the NFL. Taylor played a good portion of the Saints game, and struggled in run-blocking. He'll need to step it up. Tretter will be making his season debut. He was slated to be the teams center, but fractured his knee in training camp. Rookie Corey Linsley has a strangle hold on the center postion at the moment so Tretter will get his shot at guard. Rodgers and McCarthy have a lot of confidence in Tretter. The line must protect Rodgers so look for the offense to be a little more fast paced than usual with the injuries at hand.
2. Defense: During the 4 game win streak the Packers enjoyed much success on defense. They were able to create turnovers, which was a big problem last season. They were getting pressure on the opposing QB, and most importantly stopping the run. All of that was undone with one sour performance against the Saints. Drew Brees carved the Packers secondary through the air, and Mark Ingram gashed them for 172 yards on the ground. The Packers can only hope that this was a small hiccup in the process of fixing a poor defense. The Bears bring a potent offense that has been relatively quiet over the past 5 games. With receiving options like Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Martellus Bennett it could make for the long night for any opposing secondary. Matt Forte is an elite running back who had a massive game against the Packers in week 4. But the Bears offense lives and dies with QB Jay Cutler. Cutler's issues with turning the ball over alway seem to surface against the Packers. The Packers defensive line must shut down Forte, and force Cutler to pass. If Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews can pin their ears back and blitz it could be a long night for Cutler against an injured Bears offensive line. If they're going to force Cutler to pass though it'll be on the secondary to create turnovers. There can be no miscues against Marshall, a psychical threat, and Jeffery, a speed threat.
3. Run The Ball: The forecast for Sunday night calls for a high of 37 and low of 29. That's December football in November. The Packers wanted to build themselves into a team that could play in the winter weather. The addition of Eddie Lacy gave this team that separate dimension to be able to play deep into January at home. The run game has been decent at best so far this season, but as the second half of the season starts it'll be a great opportunity to get the run game going. With the offensive line being beat up it'll be key for the Packers to run the ball to take some pressure of Aaron Rodgers as well. Lacy put up his best game as a pro against the Bears at home last season, and it'll be important for him to build on this home success against the Bears. The Bears defense is in the middle of a rough patch, and the Packers should be able to take advantage of some of the weaknesses. Look for Lacy to put together a solid performance under the lights on Sunday night.
I'd be more worried if this matchup was in Chicago due to the desperate nature of the Bears to get a win, but being at home there's no reason the Packers should not be 6-3 by the end of Sunday. Most people will predict that this game could be a rout, but it'll be the opposite. Look for a close tough fought game as I believe both offenses will be quieted by the weather condtions. In the end the Packers are just the better team at this point, and Aaron Rodgers is playing some of the best ball in his career.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Sunday, the Green Bay Packers travel down south to take on the New Orleans Saints in a primetime matchup that is sure to provide all the drama of a shoot out. The main matchup that everyone will be watching will be the quarterback duo of Aaron Rodgers vs. Drew Brees. Head to head Rodgers is 2-1 against Brees and has out-dueled him in every matchup besides the loss; a 2008 matchup in New Orleans during Rodgers first year as starter. Rodgers has grown into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL since the debacle in the dome. Rodgers actually comes into the game with 1 interception, and hasn't thrown one since week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks. From an efficiency standpoint this could be Rodgers best season thus far. And it should only get better on Sunday. The Saints have the leagues last ranked pass defense.
It's a matchup that has to have Rodgers and the offense foaming at the mouth. Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb have all stepped up their game during the Packers recent four-game win streak. The trio of receivers could be the best the in the NFL at the moment, and could be a nightmare for the Saints weakened secondary. The Saints could also put much emphasis on stopping the pass, and forget about the Packers talented run game. Eddie Lacy has ran much better during the recent win streak, but still has a lot to improve on. This could be a game in his home state where he can show America that he isn't experiencing the sophomore slump. Apart of it seems to be lack of holes for the second year running back. He is breaking 3 tackles each run, but he's just at the line of scrimmage due to lack of holes opening up. The Packers offensive line could push around the Saints defensive line if they're on their game. And if Lacy doesn't get it going? James Starks will be ready to go. Starks and Lacy make a great tandem that could prove to be too much for the Saints inept defense. But can the Packers defense quiet Drew Brees and his explosive offense?
The past few years the Saints have reminded me a lot of the Packers. Top offense, but weak defense. This season however it seems that the Packers defense has turned a corner. The secondary is finally playing up to its potential. Sam Shields will most likely miss his second game due to a knee injury suffered in week 5. Shields being out shouldn't hinder things that much though. The secondary held their own against Cam Newton last week, but Brees is definitely a cut above Newton at this point. Brees has many weapons at wide receiver that include Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks, and Kenny Stills, but it's not the receivers the Packers should be worried about. Elite tight-end Jimmy Graham poses the biggest threat to the Packers defense. Historically tight-end's have always been a problem for Dom Capers defense in Green Bay.
The middle of the field will be tested, and that's where the Packers are at their weakest. Inside linebackers AJ Hawk and Jamari Lattimore lack the speed and coverage skills to keep up with Graham's talents. They're going to have to find a way to take Graham away from Brees. Pressure on Brees will be a key component in stopping this potent offense. Forcing the Saints to run the ball will be another big key to victory for the Packers. But in the intense atmosphere of the Super Dome it may spell the end of the Packers four-game win streak.
In the end I think the Packers offense will hold their own, and compete in a shootout with the Saints. But the Saints being, at home, a desperate team may be far too much for the Packers to handle on defense. Brees and the Saints will run away with this game late, but it won't spell doom for the Packers season. You can't win them all, and it doesn't seem like the Packers will pull this one out.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will be taking their talents to South Beach to take on the Miami Dolphins. This matchup provides some excitement, and a decent test for the Packers going up against an uncommon AFC opponent. The Dolphins are also coming off of a bye and sit at 2-2 which is good for third place in the AFC South.
The Dolphins were winners of their last contest against the Oakland Raiders which was played in London. In that game Dolphins QB Ryan Tannenhill had a breakout game throwing for 271 yards and 2 TDs. That doesn't seem like that great of a game, but compared to struggles Tannhenhill has had after a week 1 win against the Patriots, it seemed to be a huge step in the right direction. The Packers can't take the Dolphins offense lightly. Although they haven't lit the scoreboards on fire, they are ranked 5th in rushing yards and 15th in total yards. That is troubling for a Packers run defense who ranks dead last in the league at defending the run.
Dolphins running-back Lamar Miller has carried the load while starter Knowshon Moreno has been out with an elbow injury. The Packers defensive line must build off the success they had last week against the Minnesota Vikings. They held Vikings running-back Matt Asiata to 72 rushing yards, and it is the only time they've held an opposing rusher under 100 yards this season. Mike Daniels and LaTroy Guion had great performances against the Vikings. Both were great at stopping the run, and accounted for 1.5 sacks. Along with that Julius Peppers also seems to be having a comeback season. He fits in perfectly as a 3-4 linebacker. Peppers intercepted an easy pass, and showed some great athletic ability in returning it for a touchdown last week against the Vikings. He's proven thus far that there is a lot left in the tank. Look for him and Clay Matthews to tee off on Tannenhill all game when he's passing. If the Packers can control the line of scrimmage and take Tannenhill off his mark early then it'll bode well in the long run for the Packers. Then there's the red-hot Packers offense.
after the Packers lackluster 1-2 start, their offense and mainly their quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been unstopable. They didn't punt against the Chicago Bears in week 4, and literally ran away with the game last week. Eddie Lacy finally seemed to get on track last week, and it was much needed. In the rain Lacy ran for 105 yard and added 2 touchdowns. In the process he was putting his head down and laying the wood to defenders trying to tackle him. This really set the tone for the rest of the game as the Packers had their way with the Vikings.
It'll be interesting to see if Lacy can continue the success against the Dolphins 12th ranked rush defense. If Lacy and Rodgers are both on point then this offense is one of the more complete units in the league. Rodgers will look to continue his success after a somewhat slow start to the season. The Dolphins pass defense is ranked 9th, so it will be tough sledding for the Packers talented receiver duo of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Nelson leads the league in receptions and yards and Cobb leads the league in receiving touchdowns. The Packers have one of the best receiver duo's in the league, but they are very undderated. This will be the most talented quarterback, and receiver combos the Dolphins have played thus far. If the offensive line continues their success and gives Rodgers time it could be a long day for the Dolphins, but if the offensive line falters in the heat we could be looking at Rodgers being rushed all day. That never bodes well for the Packers. Look for rookie receiver Davante Adams to get more involved in this game. Rodgers is on record saying Adams is open quite a lot on film, and he just has to find him. If Rodgers can build that trust up then this offense will only flourish.
In the end I think this game will be close early, but look for the Packers to escape Miami with a close win.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Thursday will cap off a short week for the Green Bay Packers as they welcome their rival, the Minnesota Vikings, to Lambeau field. This will be the Packers third straight NFC North divisional game, and their first Thursday night game since the 2012 season. The Packers and Vikings are both coming off of impressive wins against the Bears and Falcons respectively. The Vikings seem to be catching fire, and are clearly better than their 2-3 record says. The Packers have to keep their offense rolling if they want to get to 3-2 and 2-1 in the North.
The short week may prove costly for the Packers defense. The run defense ranks dead last in the NFL, and Mike McCarthy admitted on Tuesday that they look "run down," and that doesn't bode well going into a game on 4-days rest. Most would think the Vikings pose little threat running the ball without the best running back in the game, and Packer killer: Adrian Peterson. Peterson was suspended after week 1 when he was brought up on child abuse charges. Peterson will most likely miss both matchups against the Packers this season, but they still bring a strong running game to the table. Former fullback Matt Asiata is the type of bruising runner that gives the Packers fits.
The Packers defensive lacks the toughness to keep hard-running running backs bottled up. Marshawn Lynch and Chris Ivory have already made the linebackers and safeties look like children. And to switch it up the Vikings have rookie running back Jerick Mckinnon. Mckinnon is a speedy back who can run between the tackles. He posted 135 yard on 18 carries against the Atlanta Falcons in week 4. The other factor that kills the Packers defense is speed. The Vikings pose the perfect threat to rip the Packers apart. The Packers must get psychical if they want to stop the Vikings now underrated running game.
This psychicality starts upfront with Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd, and Latroy Guion. Guion, a former Viking, may have some extra motivation coming into this game. He has to perform better than he has the past four weeks. DT Mike Pennell got a chance last week against the Bears, but he failed as Matt Forte shredded the defense. Jammari Lattimore and AJ Hawk have also been pushed around way too much in the last few weeks. The inside linebackers must get stronger on their run defense, and get that inside pressure on the quarterback. It's been clear thus far that Hawk has lost a step this season. I look for the Vikings to exploit this weakness on Thursday. But the Packers can't overlook the Vikings passing game either.
Rookie Teddy Bridgewater made his first start against the Falcons in week 4, and he lived up to expectations. Bridgewater threw for 317 yards and rushed for a touchdown. He didn't turn the ball over, which goes a long way in showing that he's not your average rookie. Bridgewater seemed to build a rapport with receivers Jarius Wright and, Former Packer, Gregg Jennings. They also have the explosive Coradelle Patterson who can score anytime he touches the ball. Bridgewater showed pin point accuracy, and elusiveness in the win against the Falcons too. The fact that he showed elusiveness should worry the Packers defense. Elusiveness quarterbacks have given the Packers fits since 2011. They must keep a spy on Bridgewater, and try to confuse him with some exotic blitz's.
Dom Capers can never put a great gameplan togegther to confuse rookie quarterbacks. It's maddening to watch rookies, and inadequte QB's alike tear the Packers defense apart. This is going to be even more of a tougher test for the defense though after seeing a full game out of Bridgewater last week. Bridgewater did sprain his ankle in the win, but it seems as if he play on Thursday. The Packers best defense could be their offense though.
If the Packers can get a complete game out of their offense on Thursday it will be a long night for the Vikings. In both wins this season, Aaron Rodgers has been on fire, but the running game was lacking. Last week against the Bears, Rodgers put on an air raid, and basically controlled the game through the air. Eddie Lacy struggled again to break tackles and get to the next level of the defense. With rain in the forecast for thursday the Packers will need to get the run game going. The struggles aren't all on Lacy though. It doesn't seem like the offensive line is getting a good push or holding their blocks long enough. Everytime Lacy gets the ball he's surrounded instantly. You can't expect him to break 4 tackles at a time on every run.
If the run game doesn't get going though, I think Rodgers found his groove last week, and will continue to light it up. The Packers did what they needed to do last week: get all the receivers involved. Plays were called for Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. They opened up the playbook and looked like themselves. Rookie tight end Richard Rodgers even contributed, and looked a little like Jermichael Finley. The Packers need to get that tight end presence felt as they move forward. I think the Vikings secondary is somewhat strong, but Rodgers should be able to have a lot of success if he's given time. Adams needs to be a bigger part of this offense as well. He flashed a lot of signs of great talent against the Bears, and this confidence needs to carry over against the Vikings.
The Packers special teams have also enjoyed a great run recently against the Vikings. In 2011, it was Randall Cobb who returned a punt for a touchdown, in 2012 Jeremy Ross put on a clinic at kick returner, and last season Micah Hyde returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown. Could the Packers weak special teams be poised to break out on Thursday?
I believe being at Lambeau, this game should swing the Packers way all night. It'll be close early, but look for the Packers to pull away late in the third quarter.