Saturday, August 31, 2013

Packers 53 Man Roster Prediction

By: Matt Bove

Well it is that time of the year again and the day that the Packers roster is announced is always one of the most interesting days on the calendar. Predicting what Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy will do is no easy task, but I will give it my best shot here.

Quarterbacks: (2)

Aaron Rodgers, Vince Young

This is an easy position. Rodgers remains one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and was solid in his limited preseason action. Young had a rough game at Kansas City, but McCarthy and Thompson remain intrigued by him. B.J. Coleman did nothing to take the job from Young.

Running Backs (5)

Eddie Lacy, Alex Green, James Starks, Jonathan Franklin, John Kuhn

Lacy is now the unquestioned #1 running back with the season ending knee injury to DuJuan Harris. Lacy is a clear cut above the running backs on the rest of the roster. Harris' injury allows both Green and Starks to stay. Also helping both Green ans Starks keep their jobs is the disappointing performance of Franklin. Franklin has been terrible in pass protection and has made no explosive plays. It does not look like he will see the field much this year.

Wide Receivers: (5)

Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Jarrett Boykin, Jeremy Ross

Cobb and Nelson overcame injuries during training camp and it appears both will be fine to go for the opening game at San Francisco. Even though the Packers are weaker at the #4 and #5 wide receiver spots this year, the top three of Cobb, Nelson and Jones is about as good as it gets in the NFL. Boykin has established himself as the clear #4 receiver. Ross did enough on Thursday with three catches for 50 yards to earn the fifth spot and he should be the Packers' kickoff and punt returner. Tyrone Walker and Myles White were impressive in camp but just miss out on a spot.

Tight Ends: (4)

Jermichael Finley, Matthew Mulligan, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick

The tight end spot position is easily the toughest position to pick this year. Finley is obviously a lock, while I also think Mulligan is a lock for his blocking and Taylor is for special teams. I don't see them keeping five, so it will come down to Bostick, Andrew Quarless and D.J. Williams for one spot. I do not think the Packers would be able to sneak Bostick through waivers again and he has too much potential to risk losing. Quarless could be the second best tight end on the team if healthy, but Thompson has not shown much patience lately for players who cannot stay on the field. Williams just has not shown enough to merit a roster spot.

Offensive Line: (7)

David Bahktiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse Greg Van Roten

Quite frankly only six offensive linemen have proven to be deserving of roster spots and keeping seven is a low number to begin with. With the injuries to Bryan Bulaga and Derrick Sherrod the depth here is egregious. Newhouse is a fine third tackle, but Van Roten should not the first backup at the guard and center positions on any team. The Packers have to be looking at offensive linemen who are cut by other teams. While everybody has been focusing on Bahktiari and Barclay this summer, they have looked a lot better than Dietrich-Smith and Lang on the inside in the preseason games.

Defensive Line (7)

Datone Jones, B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Mike Neal, C.J. Wilson, Johnny Jolly, Mike Daniels

This is the best defensive line group that the Packers have had under McCarthy and Thompson. Unfortunately, Jones has slowed down ever since his ankle injury. It would be nice to see him healthy again. I list Neal here since that is where he is on the depth chart, although he will be spending a lot of time at OLB. Despite not being a flashy player, Wilson is a great player against the run. I never in a million years thought I would be writing Jolly's name down here, but he is a lock and has earned it. Daniels has been one of the most impressive players in camp for the Packers this summer.

Outside Linebackers (4)

Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Andy Mulumba, Dezman Moses

This number is really five with Neal being the top backup. He has looked much better than I expected at OLB. As long as he is not in coverage he should be fine. Mulumba has shown some good pass rushing ability and Moses has been unimpressive, but he will get another year after a solid rookie season.

Inside Linebackers (6)

Brad Jones, A.J. Hawk, Robert Francois, Terrell Manning, Sam Barrington, Jamari Lattimore

Under normal circumstances six would be far too many for this spot but all of these players are deserving All four backups are key special teams players with potential to become to develop into better defensive players. Francois has had an excellent camp and if all things were equal he would be challenging Hawk for playing time. Manning and Barrington are extremely athletic players who are not afraid to lower the boom.

Cornerbacks: (6)

Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Heyward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush

This a very deep and talented group of cornerbacks. Williams appears healthy after his interception in Kansas City. Shields has had a very solid camp. Hopefully, Heyward can overcome his hamstring injury to get back on the field and play like he did last year. Hyde has been one of the most impressive players in camp with his instincts, ball skills and blitzing ability off the edge.

Safeties: (4)

Morgan Burnett, Jerron McMillian, M.D. Jennings, Chris Banjo

Safety is a very thin position, especially if Burnett's hamstring injury is serious. Banjo has really come on at the end of camp and has earned a spot. Neither McMillian or Jennings has separated themselves from one another.

Specialists: (3)

Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, Brett Goode

Crosby survives after coming on strong at the end of camp. However, with his new restructured contract he will have a very short leash this year. The Packers will not be afraid to replace him.

Overall, this roster is much deeper on defense than on offense. That has been evident in the preseason, as the offense did not generate much of anything with Rodgers, Cobb and Nelson spending a lot of time on the bench. Part of the reason for this is that Thompson has drafted a lot more defensive players recently than offensive players. The Packers better hope that their offensive starters stay healthy. The offense will be one of the best in the league if they do, but depending on which starters go down it could be a problem.

On defense the Packers are extremely deep at defensive line, linebacker and at cornerback. The only position that is thin is safety. Offensive line and safety are really the two positions that the Packers should look to add to from other rosters, with the offensive line being almost crucial that they do.

This roster has enough talent to be a championship caliber team if things break right, which is all you can really ask for.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Final Observations of a Railbird

Observations of a Railbird, Tuesday, August 27, 2013
 by Ted Verges

I find it hard to believe but today’s Packer practice is the last one open to the public.  Because of the heat, it was a very short practice with almost all of the work focused on the kicking game and the reserves. What I’d like to do today is take you through the practice in chronological order.

Practice always starts with a team-stretching period. However, today only the defense stretched. The offensive players were inside the Don Hudson center, out of view from the public.  Just wondering, were they installing some new stuff for the 49ers?

The 2-minute drill was next on the agenda. Coleman and Young took all the snaps at QB.  The rest if the offense was made up of all reserves except for the running backs. They all rotated through the drill so it was hard to tell who would be the starter.  The offense did move the ball, but it was hard to determine the amount of effort from the defense.

The next drill was the half line running plays drill.  They do this every day in practice. The right side of the line runs plays to their side and the left side does as well. They both go against a defense that is pretty much live except for tackling. While one side is running a play, the other side huddles up for its next play.  They get a lot of work done in a short amount of time.  Alex Green was the most consistent of the running backs, but Jonathan Franklin made one eye-opening cut. Starks was criticized for “being too high”.  Rodgers and the starting line and receivers were not involved in this drill.

Team kicking was the next thing up.  Alex Green got most of the work as the kickoff return man and looked good.  They rotated the punt returners so it was hard to tell who will get the work on this in the Chief’s game.  While the kicking session was going on, the quarterbacks were working on an interesting drill that develops footwork and throwing accuracy while being on the move. The quarterbacks take a snap, drop back and then have to move left or right upon command and have to step over bags while doing so.  They then have to throw the ball into a target on a net about 20 yards away.  Rodgers was 3 for 3 hitting the target while Young and Coleman were each zero for three.

Field goal kicking against a 90 % rush was the next activity. Crosby was, by far, the most accurate kicker. If he missed any, it was only once. He gets the ball up quicker and has the strongest leg. I think he hit one from about 60 yards that was aided by a little wind. They also kicked into the wind. There is no question about Crosby being the better kicker. The job is his.  While that was going on, Nelson and Cobb were working with a coach on their routes and catching the ball.  That happened right in front of me. Both receivers were running full speed and made full speed cuts.  No problems.  They both looked good and will be fine for the 49ers.  On the other end of the field, the quarterbacks were working on their deep sideline throw.  They dropped back and had to throw at fishing net 50 yards down the field on the sideline. Young had a “maybe” that was a wobbly duck; Coleman had none; and Rodgers had a clean one in the net.  Just for information sake . . . Rodgers always used to beat Favre at this drill!

Team offense was next on the agenda.  Coleman and Young split all the snaps at quarterback.  Both moved the team.  I noticed a couple of things today that I’ve seen at other practices.  Coleman seldom looks off his receiver and almost never goes to a second receiver.  Rodgers does these things naturally.  Young is a much more accurate thrower when throwing across the middle than he is when throwing to the sideline.  He needs work on his throwing motion, as he tends to push the ball rather than throwing it. He really could have used McCarthy’s quarterback camp!

Team defense was the next drill. Would you believe Rodgers was quarterbacking the scout team?  While running Kansas City plays, Rodgers put some hurt on our secondary.  He passed for numerous touchdowns . . . particularly deep passes.  I just don’t think our secondary will see passes Thursday night that will be as accurate as what they saw today.

Following some more field goal competition, practice ended with the players going along the grandstand giving “high five’s” to the fans.  It was a nice thing.  I noticed that Raji and Pickett, in particular, seemed to enjoy it.  They both were full of smiles and were joking with the people.

Just a few more observations that have nothing to do with practice sequence . . . Ted Thompson was on the practice field, as he always is. However, today he wasn’t conversing with people except for a couple of comments to Eliot Wolf.  He didn’t talk with McCarthy, which is unusual.  I think he had things on his mind!  In a previous “Railbird Observation” I had commented on Sherrod favoring his right ankle as he watched practice.  He didn’t do so today.

Today’s practice only lasted 1 hour and 10 minutes. It was hot and a little bit sticky. Perhaps that’s the reason why.  So that ends the “Railbird” practice observations for this year. I hope you enjoyed coming along to practice with me. It’s been fun for me; I hope it was for you too.  GO PACK!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Packers Roster Moves

By: Matt Bove

It was a very anticlimactic day for Packers cuts.

The only player actually released from the Packers was newly acquired kicker Zach Ramirez after he went 6 for 16 field goal attempts in practice today.  The other other moves consisted of placing players on IR and moving players from active PUP list to the reserve PUP list.

Players placed on IR:
RB DuJuan Harris
WR Kevin Dorsey
T Bryan Bulaga
LB Jarvis Reed

Players placed on reserve PUP:
S Sean Richardson
DE Jerel Worthy
T J.C. Tretter
T Derrick Sherrod

The only surprise here is DuJuan Harris going on IR. With Harris out for the season Eddie Lacy will mostly likely be the Packers' lead running back.

The Packers will have to reduce the their roster 53 players by this Saturday. Stay tuned in the upcoming days for my 53 man roster prediction.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

After 3 Games.... The Packers 2013 Season Outlook

By 68md

Another year and here we are after 3 pre season games again. Let me preface this article by saying I watched and rewatched all 3 pre season games and used a couple sources for my camp grades. Coach V Railbird reports and my very good friend Greg H whom I have relied on for years at camp.
Both Coach and Greg have extensive football back rounds and I prefer to use them and my own grading process rather then what the media writes and tweets. With that said I base this not on a half empty or half full basis but a "it is what it is basis".

The first thing that jumps out at me and everyone else is the OL and once again the lack of consistency. From game to game to practice to practice this group can't gel and work as one.

Both Barclay and Bakhtiari are being victimized by the inside power moves, part of this is reps but if you watch carefully on tape their feet and hips are just god awful in pass pro at times. The interior of the line also fails to work collectively and in the first 3 games all 3 starters just plain stunk for periods. This group as it was last year is a huge issue going forward.

Our WR really are a mystery in that we have not seen much of Jordy or Cobb. Past experience says that IF they get healthy we are fine, but the timing won't be great and sharp until game 4 or 5. After  Boykin the drop off appears steep so long term injury during the season must be watched at WR.

RB is an area where a ton of players took a few reps. We know if healthy Lacy is the real deal and Franklin can be a good 3rd down back and ST player. Harris has the skills but maybe on the PUP list early.

That leaves a battle between Starks and Green. I am not a fan of these two players for a lot of reasons but given the choice I'll shock people and keep Starks. He gives you more in the inside zone run then Green and if you limit his reps can still be effective. Kuhn sticks because of his ST play and FB play.

Last but not least the TE group. Finley is the far and away best player here and it's not close. Yes he has a habit of dropping a few balls but he manipulates the other teams zone coverage and completely changes how the other teams DC calls the game.

After Finley it's a toss up. No one really looks fantastic on tape and this group has the same kind of consistency issues as the OL.

I won't talk QB as #12 is our man if he goes down we all know it's huge issue regardless who the back up is.


DL play is improved from the aspect of getting a push on tape yet the last 2 games teams have still been getting to the second level  in the running game. It appears on tape that at times our OLB and DE just get whipped at the point of attack.

Two men who stand out on DL are Johhny Jolly and Raji  both of whom graded out high for me. I really think the group is better but the run defense is still a concern.

LB as a whole outside of Clay are very hot/cold. I really think this is due to a ton of players getting reps rather then poor play. GB was shuffling players all over in pre season so to be honest this group gets an incomplete from me right now.

DB/S is also somewhat incomplete. Lots of players getting reps whom can't stay on the roster makes it tough to grade out. I thought Burnett had a solid camp as did Sam Shields. Both players improved this off season. McMillian is a guy who seems solid in coverage but who I saw repeatedly standing around the pile shying away from tackling. ( problem)

MD Jennings still tends to get lost in coverage from time to time but loves to tackle. We need one of the two to put it all together.
Micah Hyde is this years gem.  He is a football player not a all pro guy but he plays almost like Leroy Butler to me. Solid ...Great kid who should be around awhile.

ST Briefly on this is our kicking game. Crosby looks to be the guy but if he falters early would not be surprised if he gets the hook. Punting is solid again.

Overall this years Packer team appears to again be a competitive group that can go far but for two factors. Consistency and depth will be the the factors for this team in 2013.

Can we put 4 quarters of football together each week on offense and defense ? If the injury bug hits hard do we have the depth to over come it ?

If yes then we have a great shot of being in NY for the super bowl.

My take is an 11-5 football team and another NFC  North title.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Packers-Rams Review

It was a preseason game, but it was nice to see the Packers go out and win 19-7 on the road.  We probably could have scored a lot more, but we wanted to give the kickers some field goal attempts after not having any last week against Arizona.  Lets look through the positions and see who stood out.


Rodgers looked sharp like always, he missed a 20 yard pass to Finley that would have put them deep into the red zone, ended up going 10-12, 134 yards.  The other incompletion for Rodgers was a Jones drop.  The next best passer was Harrell, he ran an efficient no huddle, stepped into some throws and tried to get the ball moving downfield.  Rams still played first team defense against him quite a bit.  Young and Coleman both looked pretty bad.  Young was staring down receivers, mainly Myles White, and Coleman's passes were just not the most accurate, even though he had a pretty touchdown through to Jake Stoneburner, a young UDFA TE from Ohio State.

Running Back

Lacy again was clearly the most impressive.  Had a few where it seemed like he didn't know which cut to go through, but that could have just been bad blocking.  When he gets going down field and those legs are churning, it is tough to get him down.  Had several touches where we needed 10 yards and he got another first down, both running and receiving.  No one else really looked that good.  Green had a good 13 yard run, but the other 4 carries were for 2 yards.  Franklin struggled in pass protection, which means he could struggle to get playing time this year.  Starks had a fumble that probably should have gone the other way, but the defender was out of bounds before he grabbed it, and it was against the 3rd string of the other team.  Pease had 2 carries for -8.  Ouch.

Receiver and Tight End

The person who caught the ball the best was Jermichael Finley.  4 for 78.  He was running well with the football and Rodgers had him as the main go to guy.  Boykin also impressed me with some good route running and no drops, I think he is likely to make the team again after making it last season.  Jones had a couple catches, and 1 drop.  Not a lot of consistency after that.  Bostick looked good with a few catches from Harrell.  If we let Finley go after the season, it is because Bostick is probably that good to be our second tight end right now.  Williams, mainly a blocker, had a few good catches, but I just wasn't that impressed by White, Hines, Walker, or Gillett.  I liked our tight ends much more than our receivers in this game.

Offensive line

Bak was the victim to give up the only sack of the night, a statistic you never want to be known for.  He was beat on the inside by Robert Quinn.  In general, the line did a good job of giving pass protection to anyone who was playing quarterback.  EDS was healthy enough to play, so we didn't get to see Van Roten with the starters like we thought could happen.  One player that I was disappointed in was Lane Taylor, he had a peel back block that was completely unnecessary and was a 15 yard personal foul.  Also, he had another holding penalty, and both of those would have been drive killers.


If you would have told me the two players that were going to get INT in this game were Johnny Jolly and Jarrett Bush, I probably would have given you a dumb look.  But Jolly was instrumental in both of them, getting his arm in front of a Clemens pass and Bush came under the ball.  In the red zone, Jolly backed up in zone coverage, #35 Loyce Means deflected a pass, and Jolly caught it!  The other player that looked great tonight was Micah Hyde.  He had his ups and downs throughout the game, but he looked like he was playing a role similar to Charles Woodson during our championship season.  He would cover the primary, cover the nickel, blitz, and basically do a little bit of everything.  His low point would have been the long 57 yard completion to Chris Givens, but he still tackled him right in front of the end zone.  Thought we were aggressive in coming after the quarterback.  Brandon Smith had an awful game though.  In punt return team, he had the ball bounce off of him so that it was Rams possession.  He got called for defensive holding in the red zone on a fourth down.  He also gave up the only touchdown of the game to Nick Johnson, and he got beat on a double move, and just stood at the ten yard line like, oh well.

Special Teams

Crosby looked better than Tavecchio in the game.  Crosby made all of his field goals, while Tavecchio missed a 50 yarder wide left, when it started on the right hash.  Also, Tavecchio couldn't kickoff out of the end zone, which left us open for returns.  Crosby had a field goal blocked that went through the uprights from 30 yards out, which was very odd to see.  If you had to pick a winner from this game, it would be Crosby.  No kick returns, and the longest punt return was by Micah Hyde.

I am glad there are 4 preseason games, if the only reason is that the Packers don't look like they would be ready to play next week in the regular season.  We still have a lot to improve on from what we are trying to do.  Felt good not to get shutout, and we have the Seahawks in our preseason game next week.  It is on CBS at 7 PM on Friday the 23rd.  And the 3rd preseason game is always the most important one, because we see more of the starters in that one than in any others.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Packers-Rams Preview

Here are five things to watch for the Packers' second preseason game in St. Louis tonight.

1. The Offensive Line: The Packers' revamped offensive line will get a huge test tonight in St. Louis. The Rams boast a great defensive line in Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford. Long (11.5 sacks last year) and Quinn (10.5 sacks) form one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL, and Brockers (four sacks) was a pass rushing force from the inside in his rookie season. They are buoyed from playing in the very loud Edward Jones Dome as well.

David Bakhtiari was very impressive in his preseason opener and he will look to continue that in a tough matchup against Quinn. Marshall Newhouse and Don Barclay will continue to  battle for the starting right tackle spot against one of the best pass rushers in the game in Long. If either Newhouse or Barclay show something against Long it could go a long way into who wins the job.

Evan Dietrich-Smith sat out practice on Thursday with a toe injury, and if he is unable to go Greg Van Roten would get the opportunity to start. Backup center is one of the biggest question marks on the team, so it would be interesting to see what Van Roten would do with the starters.

2. Eddie Lacy's Debut: Lacy missed the preseason opener vs. Arizona due to a hamstring injury, but he is expected to make his season debut tonight. Lacy looked awesome in the Family Night scrimmage, but Mike McCarthy says he still considers DuJuan Harris the starter, so Lacy still has some work to do to win the starters job outright. Harris will not go tonight, so this will be a great opportunity for Lacy.

No running back distinguished themselves at all in the first preseason game, which was good for Lacy. I still think that he is the best running back on the roster and will end up being the most productive Packers back. They have not had a downhill power running back like Lacy in a long time. With the offensive line's run blocking still being a question mark, Lacy's ability to always fall forward and to make something out of nothing is huge.

3. Backup Quarterbacks: Graham Harrell was absolutely atrocious against Arizona, as he was 12-19 for 76 yards with one interception. Harrell did not test the Cardinals down field at all and showed bad pocket presence. It was pretty much what we saw from him in the last preseason. In his fourth season he may know the offense well, but he certainly has not shown the ability to execute it, which is really what counts.

With Harrell struggling, the opportunity is there for Vince Young to win the backup quarterback job. Young looked o.k. in limited action vs. Arizona. The Packers kept it simple for him and gave him plays that he was comfortable with. Young was at his best win rolling and making plays outside of the pocket. Look for him to do more things tonight and hopefully take another step forward.

4. Mike Neal the Outside Linebacker- Mike Neal will get his first ever game action at outside linebacker. The reports about him from practice this week have been positive, but we really have no idea what he will look like at outside linebacker in a game or if he can play the position. It will at least be intriguing to see how he looks at his new spot. Having Neal at outside linebacker would allow Dom Capers to do more creative things with Clay Matthews, although I doubt we would see a lot of that tonight, as preseason defenses tend to be pretty vanilla.

5. The Kicking Battle- Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio did not receive any opportunities against Arizona. We have not seen them kick in a game setting since the Family Night Scrimmage, which is more of just a glorified practice anyways. We have not seen how Crosby respond from his brutal 3-of-8 showing in the scrimmage. Crosby made a solid 17-of-18 kicks this week during practice, while Tavecchio was a perfect 18-of-18, but games are what really counts.

It will be interesting to see how Tavecchio leg loks in a dome. If he comes up short on some over 50 yard field goals inside that would raise a major red flag. With Dan Carpenter being released from Miami, the Packers have somebody they can go out and sign if they are unsatisfied with their kicking situation. Crosby and Tavecchio will have to show them something soon.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Packers 2013 Strength of Schedule: 12-1

It's time to continue in the strength of schedule series that I started a few weeks back.  I'm going to countdown from 12-1 in the strength of our opponents this season.  But let's recap through 16-13 of the opponents on the schedule.

16.  Week 7-Cleveland Browns
15.  Week 5-Detroit Lions
14.  Week 10-Philadelphia Eagles
13.  Week 16-Pittsburgh Steelers

12.  Week 9-Chicago Bears (11/4)

Chicago has a lot of transition going on this season.  Going from Lovie Smith to Marc Trestman, and no longer having Brian Urlacher as the face of the franchise.  They have tried to revamp their offensive line.  They have brought in many new free agents, and have many of their current team is on the last year of a contract.  Of course they have Cutler, Forte and Marshall, plus they did win 10 games last season.  This is not a slight to the Bears, I just believe that the Packers have a very difficult schedule this year.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Julius Peppers (6 yr, 84M)
  2. Devin Hester (4 yr, 40.9M)
  3. Brandon Marshall (5 yr, 44.7M)
The first time they face us is in week 9, it's at home, so it had to be higher on the list than many of the other games that remain.

11.  Week 12-Minnesota Vikings (11/24)

Minnesota, I don't really want to spend a lot of time discussing the things that have happened this offseason with the Vikings and Packers, with Jennings and Bishop, but they had 3 1st round draft picks in the most recent draft, with Floyd, Rhodes, and Patterson.  They still need to develop more depth at linebacker and 3 of the defensive lineman are on their last year of their contract.  Ponder still is not a top rate quarterback, and with this game being at home, the Packers have won all but one game against the Vikings at home since 2006, and that was the 2009 game when the Vikings had Favre, a game we would all rather forget.  They have put a target on our back, which makes a lot of sense since we have won the Super Bowl, won the division the last 2 seasons, and eliminated them from the playoffs last year, like the Packers are putting a target on the back of the 49ers.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Adrian Peterson (7yr, 96M)
  2. Jared Allen (6yr, 73.2M)
  3. Greg Jennings (5yr, 45M)
The Vikings will continue to be a strong contender.  They made the playoffs last year and they have a strong offensive line, but I don't think they can be a Super Bowl contender until they get a better quarterback.

10.  Week 15-At Dallas Cowboys (12/15)

Dallas is a team that you are never really certain what to expect from them.  I am putting them on the middle of the pack, but they are my worst road opponent, partially because the game is in December, which is when the Cowboys tend to struggle.  They are switching defenses again this offseason.  The Packers have won the last two games against the Cowboys, of course, one of the Jon Kitna started, and the other one was 4 years ago.  Spencer Havner had a touchdown reception in that game.  I largely believe that Dallas is not exactly a big threat, they could win their division, but can Tony Romo put together 3 or 4 good games to win a Super Bowl, I certainly would disagree.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Tony Romo (7yr, 119M)
  2. DeMarcus Ware (7yr, 78M)
  3. Anthony Spencer (1yr, 10.6M)
The Cowboys just are not on the upper half of the teams who I think could win this season.  At least not on our schedule to be certain.

9.  Week 13-At Detroit Lions (11/28)

Happy early Thanksgiving.  The reason this was rated above the Cowboys game is because we have 2 divisional games within 5 days, but they are the Vikings at home (listed above), and then the Lions game.  The last time we lost to the Lions without Aaron Rodgers getting a concussion was 9/11/05.  Sadly, Joey Harrington was their quarterback.  The last time we lost to them on Thanksgiving was 11/27/03.  The Lions are just quite behind the scale of where they need to be.  They cannot be considered Super Bowl contenders, even though they are on a bounce back year, they have no playoff wins for quite some time.  In my last post I highlighted the 3 highest players on the Lions.

8.  Week 17-At Chicago Bears (12/29)

Could this be like our week 17 game last year, win to keep a team out of the playoffs?  That would definitely be a surprise, but clearly playing at Soldier field to end the season isn't exactly what I am looking for.  I would love to open or close a season at home some time soon.  Clearly I discussed the recent changes with the Bears a few paragraphs ago, so I will leave that alone for now.

7.  Week 2-Washington (9/15)

All playoff teams from here on in, except one.  This is another potential read option test, or we might be seeing how well RG3 can play in the pocket.  I'm assuming that Washington would be foolish to not at least try some looks at us, seeing how we struggled with it in the playoffs last year.  It is our home opener, but Washington was a playoff game last year and they finished the year strong winning most of their games to finish the season.  I think Washington will take a step back this season, people are going to gameplan the read option better than they did last year, just like in year 2 of the wildcat.  But they still deserve respect, and their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Trent Williams (6yr, 59.9M)
  2. Pierre Garcon (5yr, 42.5M)
  3. Barry Cofield (6yr, 36M)
Washington beat us in our last matchup, and Donovan McNabb was their quarterback.  We are 18-14-1 all time against Washington.  Hopefully we are going to be able to beat them and keep an edge on our all time series.

6.  Week 8-At Minnesota Vikings (10/27)

Something about that dome.  I personally get irritated by it, and it probably wouldn't be quite as bad if we could have just eliminated them in the final game last year, instead of them getting into the playoffs and then playing Joe Webb.  Peterson is always strong, but hopefully he doesn't completely tear us up defensively with long runs.  Having highlighted them earlier, I will leave this alone.

5.  Week 6-At Baltimore Ravens (10/13)

It's rare to put the defending Super Bowl champs down this many spots on your strength of schedule, but they have just lost so many people, Pitta is hurt, Boldin, Reed, Lewis are all gone.  But Flacco, Rice, Smith, and Suggs remain.  I just have a tough time seeing them be able to attempt to repeat as champions after last season.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Joe Flacco (6yr, 120.6M)
  2. Terrell Suggs (6yr, 62.5M)
  3. Haloti Ngata (5yr, 48.5M)
The Ravens are going to be tough as long as they keep their core of offense together.  But I think they have lost too much on defense in order for me to put them in the top 4 of our opponents this season.

4.  Week 3-At Cincinnati Bengals (9/22)

The Bengals are a team that seems to be trying to do things the right way.  Building through the draft with Dalton and Green.  Being strong on defense up front with Geno Atkins.  Being in the playoffs 2 years in a row now.  Its tough to know exactly how they will use their newest picks, Eifert and Bernard, since they already have depth at both positions, but seem to be doing a BPA draft strategy recently, which they've been needing to do for quite some time.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Michael Johnson (1yr, 11.1M)
  2. Leon Hall (5yr, 42.3M)
  3. Carlos Dunlap (6yr, 40M)
All 3 highest paid players are on defense, and when they are in trouble with needing to sign Green and Dalton in the near future.  It seems like Marvin Lewis is getting them on the right track.  The next 3 opponents I would put in a higher difficulty level than all the rest.

3.  Week 11-At New York Giants (11/17)

I don't know if the New York Giants are still a "kryponite" team to us, and part of why I think we are focused on our running game is because their pass rush is impressive when they have the right parts of their defensive line all ready to go at once.  The Giants missed the playoffs last year, and in week 17, I was cheering for the Bears so that the Giants wouldn't make the playoffs, which just goes to show how strange fandom can be at times.  Plus, losing to them 38-10 last year in New York doesn't make me feel great about this game either.  This will be about the same time of the year.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Eli Manning (7yr, 106M)--this seems like a steal right now
  2. Victor Cruz (6yr, 45.8M)
  3. William Beatty (5yr, 37.5M)
Please, even though I think the 2nd half of our schedule is easier than our first, this game and one other toward the end of the season I am hoping are not even close to must win games.

2.  Week 14-Atlanta Falcons (12/8)

The best news for this game is that it is after our Thanksgiving day game.  Mike Smith and Matt Ryan are dynamite together for the regular season, going 56-24 (thanks TMQ).  The other great news factor for this game is it is a home game.  Just too many offensive weapons (Ryan, Jackson, White, Gonzalez, Jones).  for me to put them lower on the list.  They come into every game with a strong chance to win.  There is so much for us to focus on.  Their highest 3 paid players are:
  1. Matt Ryan (6yr, 113M)
  2. Roddy White (6yr, 42.7M)
  3. Tony Gonzalez (2 yr, 14M)
Just for the record, they have Osi Umenyiora now too.  I just think with a lot of firepower on both sides of the ball, they are a dangerous team to watch on our schedule this season, but of course not as much as....

1.  Week 1-At San Francisco 49ers.  (9/8)

Is there anyway that we can just get to this game already.  I would rather us show up and beat the 49ers by 3 Touchdowns than beat the Seahawks at this point.  I just feel like everytime people talk about their success, it is at our demise, not at how they went on to beat the best record in the NFC last year in the Falcons on the road, but because we have a stronger history, we are the ones who keep getting slung into the mud.  I guess I am thankful that they didn't win the Super Bowl (Packers-Ravens connection!!), Ravens fans rooted for us to beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.  But at this point I just want people to calm down about Colin Kaepernick, who is highly overrated for a QB who has only started in 10 games, with a 7-3 record.  I'm not saying that he is a bad QB, but people seem to be putting him in the elite range of quarterback, when there is such a small sample size, and he has an absolutely fantastic defense.  Their 3 highest paid players are:
  1. Patrick Willis (7yr, 53.5M)
  2. Carlos Rogers (4yr, 29.4M)
  3. Vernon Davis (6yr, 42.7M)
Alright Packers fans, where did I make some mistakes if any on here.  Who am I underrating and who am I overrating as far as Packers opponents go?  Let me know either in the comments section or over at the Packer Addicts forum.

Observations of a Railbird Part III

 Tuesday, August 13, 2013 by Ted Verges

Brrr! It was really cold at Packer practice today. The temperature was in the low 60’s with a brisk, cold wind. The conditions stayed that way for the spectators throughout the practice. However, the players warmed up considerably about 2/3s of the way through practice when a coach unloaded on a player. The team was just a few plays into an 11 on 11 session.  Rodgers had taken a few snaps and was replaced at quarterback by Harrell.  Harrell fumbled his first snap and a coach bellowed, “Get him out of here!” And then there was another command, “And get him a center so he can practice his f____ ing snaps!”  The message, along with the language was heard throughout Ray Nitschke field.  It has been a really long time since I heard the F – bomb at practice.   Needless to say, the practice tempo picked up considerably, and things got a little warmer on the practice field.

In a later conversation with my son, he reminded me that Harrell was in a shotgun offense in college and very seldom took snaps under center.  But I’m still not so sure that the coach’s message wasn’t intended for the entire team as well as Harrell.  It had been a lethargic practice up until then, and practice really picked up at that point.

Practice was a little different today. They didn’t do nearly as much position drill work as I saw in earlier practices.  There were many team sessions where they worked against “cards”.  If it were an offensive session, the coaches would hold up cards in the defensive huddle so the guys would know what to do. The opposite would be true for a defensive session. They also had piped in crowd noise when the offense was at work.  I’m sure the cards had some Rams stuff on occasion, but I’d also guess there could be some 49er stuff on some of those cards, as well.

The first offensive unit had a number of changes. Barclay was at right guard. I didn’t see Lang on the field. Sitton didn’t practice very much. He was on the field, but he appeared to be ill as he often was off to the side on one knee. His replacements at left guard were usually Lane Taylor or Patrick Lewis.  Bakhtiari and Newhouse were the tackles. Bakhtiari worked with the first and second units, so he got many repetitions. Newhouse worked both the left and right sides. Tyrone Walker, the receiver who looked good against the Cardinals, was in the starting group.  He had a very good practice. He’s small but very quick in and out of his cuts. He catches the ball well with his hands and just has the look of a keeper!

The running back situation got even more interesting today. Alex Green and DuJuan Harris both saw much action today, and both were very impressive.  I’m seeing quickness at running back that I haven’t seen for quite some time.  The Packers worked hard on a play where the QB drops back and hands the ball off on a draw play type action. The back then runs straight ahead and picks a hole.  All the runners were doing it well. Look for it in the Ram’s game. It appears to this railbird that the running back position is getting complicated. Starks has had an excellent camp; Lacy is a lock to make the team; MM says Harris is his starter, and he very well could be; Franklin seems to bring a quickness that even the others can’t match; and Green looks like a multi skilled starter.  Plus, they like to use Cobb on an occasional running play.  It will be interesting to see which players they keep. Contracts might be a factor in that decision.

The competition between Jeremy Ross and Jarrett Boykin is interesting. Both play wide receiver. Both have the same body build and physical attributes.  Boykin looks like a professional receiver. He does everything well.  In addition to being a wide receiver, Ross is a kick returner. Every practice he will make a kick return play that takes one’s breath away.  He is very good on stand up screens.  However, he will also drop the ball far too often.  I think the coaches will try to keep both, as I don’t think they want Cobb running back too many kicks.

The QB situation might turn out to be a tough decision. Young is showing considerable improvement.  He has a different passing technique, sort of a shot put method. Right now his problem to this observer is that he sometimes throws a low pass.  He threw two passes to Mulligan that were in the area of Mulligan’s thigh pads. Both passes were dropped. Young also threw another pass into the dirt. However his talent did come out. He’s very good on the move.  At this point I have Young as #2 quarterback and Coleman as the taxi squad quarterback. They know what the have in Harrell, and I’m afraid it’s not good enough.

I’d like to share with you a couple of individual observations before I conclude with something that concerns me.  Folks, Clay Mathews is just good. They hold him back on the number of rep’s he gets because he goes all out on every play, every single play. The man has just one speed.  Just for information, Matthews and Perry did switch sides a couple of times.  Brad Jones looks very good. He, not Hawk, calls the defensive signals. I watched him on pass coverage quite a few times, and he is good   I didn’t like it when we drafted Franklin. I thought he was too small. I was wrong. The guy can play. He seems to have a gear that exceeds the other running backs. I also like his vision. Over the years I learned that some runners see things and others don’t.  He does. And let me tell you, we have a guy by the name of Rodgers who is just good. I don’t know what else to say other than he plays at a level that exceeds all the other players. When he’s on the field, things go smoothly, and we move the ball. Other quarterbacks can run the same play, but it’s just not the same.  Really, it’s a pleasure to watch the man at practice.

Now, I saw something that concerns me. The team was going at an 11 on 11 full go scrimmage. The offensive reserves were on the spectator side of the field with lots of substitutions based on down and distance.  I happened to notice Derek Sherrod because of his size.  But then I noticed something else. When he was standing there, he would put his weight on his left foot (his good leg) and his right foot would have the toe on the ground but not his heal.  He would frequently move his right foot around in circles, and he would also lift his right leg and grab his right heel in a stretching type of move. When the offensive line group moved from station to station, Sherrod walked with them without a limp, but he would perform the same actions as he watched the drill.  I’m not sure he even knows what he is doing. Here’s my concern. Is that injury not only in his leg but also in his head? We really could use that man in pads sometime this year, but right now, he looks like a PUP candidate.

In summary, I would say the first units looked good today. The only thing is, I don’t think they are going to play much against the Rams. We’ll see! Here’s hoping the weather is better at the next practice!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Observations of a RailBird Part II

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 by Ted Verges

               Now that’s the way it should be!  Today’s practice was crisp, sharp, and impressive. Things moved along very nicely, the organization was good, there wasn’t much standing around, the guys looked like they had improved their skills, and the ball very seldom hit the ground.  A few years ago that’s the way it was all the time. Not so last year when things dragged because of so much time spent on special teams.  This year they do special teams assignment stuff 20 minutes before practice starts. I wonder how McCarthy will judge the practice?

               Once again, I positioned myself close to where the offensive line does its drill work, and I concentrated my attention on that group.  Bakhtiari was at left tackle and Newhouse at right tackle.  Bakhtiari had a good practice. He showed no signs of being nervous and his skill level was very good. In the one on one pass blocking drill, I think he was four and one; that included Matthews and Jolly in his victories. His loss was against Moses. His win against Matthews earned him a pat on the butt from his coach. That play also earned Matthews a few comments from Kevin Greene.

               The line coaches had their guys working on all sorts of run blocking situations such as a double team, picking up a late blitzer, zone blocking, drive blocking, and disengaging from a lineman to get to the second level.  Bakhtiari was very good in all those drills. He is quite athletic with good footwork.  He might be a little small and could use some weight in his midsection, but he can play.

               Newhouse looked better than what I saw a week ago.  He is a big man and tends to engulf his defender. He doesn’t have the quickest feet of the group but, somehow, gets the job done.  I think EDS only lost one snap on the pass blocking drill. I like how he compliments and encourages the young guys.  Once again, Garth Gerhart caught my attention with his work at both guard and center.  He is fundamentally sound. He might be a little undersized but he does things well. He might be a practice squad candidate. Another guy who had a good day is Greg VanRoten who works at center and both guards. He has good technique and decent size.  It was interesting to watch Don Barclay today.  He kept trying to jump the line to get in some extra reps! He’s kind of physical and nobody will accuse him of being a finesse player!

               I know I tend to focus too much on line play, but there were other things going on today!  The linebackers and tight ends had a form tackling drill where they had to tackle the ball carrier to some bags.  Would you believe that Finley had the best form tackle of that drill! Lacy was again featured in the red zone running drill. He’s a load when he sticks his nose in there.  Starks scored a TD on a nice run and cut off left tackle behind Bakhtiari.  They were running Franklin on some red zone running plays. He’s really quick. The defenders seldom get a solid hit on him.  He had a jaw dropping punt return today.  Bostick seemed to get a lot of reps at tight end today and did well.  I’ve observed two practices so far. Boykin has made great plays both times. Today he made a great, diving catch along the right sideline on a fly pattern.  He’s very consistent; whereas, Ross has talent but he drops the ball too often. It was fun to watch James Jones on a one on one, receiver v. defensive back, drill.  Jones was to go against James Nixon. Jones started out running a post and Nixon jumped it. Jones stopped and turned it into a hook pattern completion and Nixon went flying by.  Jones just stood there and gave Nixon a big smile! Kind of fun to see.

               As far as the defense goes, B.J. had some great plays.  At times, that guy is so quick you can’t believe it. Again today, he made a couple of pass rush spin moves that you wouldn’t think possible from a man that size. Another time he shot the inside gap in a very impressive manner.  I wonder if he got the spin move from Jolly because he uses it also. Another guy I like to watch up close is defensive lineman Mike Daniels.  He plays low and he’s real quick, two things any defensive line coach loves.  He tends to disrupt things. Also, I was very pleased today to see Nick Perry use a counter pass rush move.  It started as a power rush, but then Perry used the Reggie White “hump” move and went inside the blocker.  Well done, Nick Perry.

               I thought today we looked like a ball club. Every thing was done quicker than a week ago. The guys seem to be improving their skills.  Talent is beginning to show. I got to sit next to another railbird who knew his stuff. In addition to all that, it was a beautiful, comfortable morning.  Where else would you rather be?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Vince Young Worth the Gamble

By: Matt Bove

According of Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press Gazette, the Packers have signed quarterback Vince Young to compete for the backup job with Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman.

Young was drafted 3rd overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2006 NFL Draft out of Texas. Young won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2006, as he threw for 2,199 yards and ran for 552 yards. The following season Young led Tennessee to the playoffs.

After getting injured and being benched in 2008, Young came on in 2009 to win eight out of his 10 starts after the Titans started 0-6 behind Kerry Collins. He threw for 1,879 yards, 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions and had a 82.8 passer rating. Young finished third in the NFL Comeback Player if the Year award as well.

In 2010, Young was having another good season in Tennessee with 10 touchdowns to 3 interceptions with a 98.6 passer rating until he suffered a torn flexor tendon in his right thumb. Young had an altercation with coach Jeff Fischer in the locker room following the injury and stormed out. He was the released next offseason.

As you can see, Young had some level of success in Tennessee. He was 30-17 as a starter in Tennessee, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at. I personally believe that Fischer never wanted Young in Tennessee to begin with and never treated him with the respect that he deserved.

I would take Young to win a game for the Packers right now over Harrell and Coleman if Aaron Rodgers got hurt. Young has great arm strength and mobility. Accuracy, decision making and intelligence were what was holding him back from being a great quarterback. He has certainly won a lot more in the NFL than either Harrell and Coleman and has a lot more talent.

It will be a challenge for Young to learn the Packers' system so quickly, but if anybody can teach him with such little time it is Mike McCarthy. The West Coast offense best suits Young's game and is a very good fit for him.

I do not buy at all that Young was brought in solely to help them in practice to prepare for Collin Kapernick and Robert Griffin III in the first two weeks of the year. Young was brought in to compete for the backup quarterback position because they are unsatisfied with their current options, as they should be.

Coleman looked awful in the Family Night Scrimmage, as he threw two horrible interceptions. They were the same mistakes that he was making last year. While Coleman has the tools to be an NFL quarterback he might never be refined enough.

Harrell is the opposite of Coleman in that he makes good decisions with the ball, but he does not have all the skills necessary to make every throw. He looked terrible in the preseason last year and inspires little confidence if the Packers ever needed to call on him to win a game. ''

The Packers have risked nothing by bringing Young in. If he has nothing left or can't learn the offense he can easily be cut. If he is remotely close to the quarterback that he was in Tennessee he would be a better backup than Coleman or Harrell.

Young's last two stops in Philadelphia and Buffallo did not end well for him, but maybe now that he has had a year to clear his head he might be more mentally ready to play in the NFL again. If there is anybody that can get the most out of Young as a player and a person it is McCarthy. The reward of bringing Young in is much greater than the risk, so Ted Thompson made a very wise decision to give Young a shot.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Kicking Situation a Serious Problem

By: Matt Bove

Mason Crosby put his job in jeopardy after an egregious performance at the Packers Family Night Scrimmage on Saturday.

Crosby converted on just 3-of-8 field goals, while his competitor, first-year kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, made 6-of-7.

Crosby, who converted on just 21 of 33 field goal attempts in the regular season last year, started off his evening by missing a 48-yard field goal that bounced off the right upright and then came back to make a 40-yarder.

During the field goal kicking period, Crosby missed from 37 yards, missed wide right from 53 yards, missed wide right from 33 yards and missed wide left from 43 yards. He made kicks from 47 and 51 yards.

Meanwhile, while Tavecchio was very accurate, he did not show off a strong leg. His makes from 51 and 53 yards barely made it, with his kick from 53 yards hitting the crossbar and going over.

In perfect summer conditions it is not good that Tavecchio struggled to reach on those distances. In December and January when the tundra is frozen at Lambeau Field, Tavecchio might really struggle to have enough distance on long field goals.

Ted Thompson made a big mistake not signing a veteran kicker or drafting a rookie to compete with Crosby. Crosby should have been cut last year, regardless of the dead cap money. You cannot allow a kicker to derail what could be a great team. Players and coaches work too hard and invest too much to lose games or a season because of a kicker.

In today's NFL, most teams have kickers who hill hit at least 80% of their kicks and have range that extends at least to 55 yards. The Packers were very lucky to be able to work around a kicker who only hit 63.6% of his field goals last year. They should not test their luck twice.

At the very least Mike McCarthy finally seemed upset with Crosby after last night. McCarthy was very supportive of Crosby during his struggles in the regular season last year, but was singing a different tune last night.

"Well, Mason Crosby is competing for a job on this football team, like everyone else. He definitely didn't take a step in the right direction with his performance,"McCarthy told ESPN Milwaukee's Jason Wilde. "That's what Family Night's for. He''ll be evaluated. He's definitely got to do better than that because that's not going to cut it."

At this point it is clear that Crosby is fried mentally. He has the ability to be a solid kicker, but a big part of kicking is the mental aspect. Once a kicker loses himself mentally it is very hard to get it back. If Crosby cannot even handle an intra-squad scrimmage in front of his own fans, how will he handle making a big kick in a tough environment on the road?

Neither Crosby or Tavecchio should be the Packers' kicker this season. Since Thompson neglected his issue in the offseason, he should sign somebody that is cut from another camp or is on the street. Such a small thing like kicking should not be allowed to derail the Packers' season.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Packers 2013 Strength of Schedule: 16-13

It's officially August.  Family night is just a few days away on Saturday night, and preseason starts Sunday night with the HOF game between the Dolphins and Cowboys.  It's so close that I can taste it!  Realizing that everything is coming up so soon, I wanted to take an in depth look at the Packers opponents for the 2013 regular season and rate them 16 (easiest) all the way to 1 (toughest) game of the year.  In researching this, I realized that our schedule is much tougher than most that I see out there since our divisional matchups are with the NFC East and AFC North.  Let's start with 16 and I'll get 4 teams done on this post today.

16.  Week 7-vs. Cleveland Browns (10/20)

This game might have been tougher if we were going to Cleveland, but it's tough to put them higher on this list.  The last time they were a playoff team was in 2002, with Derek Anderson as their quarterback.  Once again they are a team with a brand new coach, and are switching to a 3-4 defense this year after being in a 4-3 last year.  Plus, Brandon Weeden is not a top quarterback.  He never should have been drafted as a first round quarterback when he is 2 months older than Aaron Rodgers and not 100% ready to play in the NFL.  Their best players are Trent Richardson and Joe Haden.  And here are their 3 highest paid players courtesy of, which I will use for the rest of the contract information in the post.
  1. Joe Thomas OT (8 yr, 80.5M)
  2. Joe Haden CB (5 yr, 42.7M)
  3. D'Qwell Jackson LB (5 yr, 42.5M)
They are still a team under transition with new ownership in Jimmy Haslam.  They probably could be good in a few years, but I think it is too early for us to put them any higher than 16th on the list this season.

15.  Week 5-vs. Detroit Lions (10/6)

Lions 21, Packers 17. December 15, 1991 is the last time that the Detroit Lions won a game in the state of Wisconsin.  The Packers QB was Mike Tomczak.  Green Bay has won 22 straight in the state of Wisconsin, and seems poised to make it 23, especially since this game is right after Green Bay's early bye in week 4.  This will be the first game for Reggie Bush in the rivalry, but he probably isn't going to have a major impact, as I'm sure this could be a fun game to watch for all of the passing that is going on.  But seeing how Detroit has struggled here recently, it just makes sense that the Packers will keep winning in this series.  Just for fun, let's review the Lions highest paid players as well.
  1. Calvin Johnson WR (8 yr, 150.5M)
  2. Matthew Stafford QB (5 yr, 76.5M)
  3. Ndamukong Suh DT (5 yr, 65.3M)
Still trying to get some of those contracts from the last CBA off the books, I bet they really wish there would have been a rookie wage scale at the time, but then again the Johnson and Stafford contracts have been redone since then.

14.  Week 10-vs. Philadelphia Eagles (11/10)

Look, I'm not going to say that the Eagles are going to be a bad team this year. I'm just not certain that I know enough about how well they will play to put them higher on the list.  Chip Kelly did a great job in a few years at Oregon, but the NFL is different and we will have to see exactly what he has up his sleeves in order to get the Eagles to win some games.  Again, this game would be rated higher if the Eagles were at home, as Lincoln Financial Field is a boisterous stadium.  Their top 3 contracts are:
  1. Jason Peters OT (6 yr, 60.6M)
  2. Trent Cole LB (6 yr, 59.3M)
  3. DeSean Jackson WR (5 yr, 47M)
Michael Vick's contract is down to the 1 yr 7M variety, so at least he is not going to be the definite top option this season.  I would not be surprised if they start Nick Foles, as I have read a lot in that direction in the blurbs over at  If the Eagles are playing well, then this could be a difficult game, but if things are falling apart and they are more like 1-7 or 2-6 entering the game, then I think it should be pretty easy.

13.  Week 16-vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (12/22)

I'm very glad that this game is not at Heinz Field, as I know there would be many more terrible towels, and hopefully we don't see any in Lambeau field.  The Steelers are still dealing with the consequences of getting too much on their books during the uncapped season, and have had trouble keeping players that they want, and instead keep losing them to other teams, and losing Mike Wallace this past year was rough, and I definitely think they miss Bruce Arians as well.  Here are their top 3 contracts.
  1. Ben Roethlisberger QB (8 yr, 102M)
  2. LaMarr Woodley LB (6 yr, 61.5M)
  3. Troy Polamalu S (4yr, 36.5M)
Another reason that this game could be easier is because it is late in the season, and if they are hurting with injuries like most teams are late in the year, they won't have much money if anything to replace them with.  Pittsburgh just isn't as strong as they have been in the past, and we are getting them at the right time on our schedule.  I'll keep going 4 games at a time, so next time it will be 12-9.  Thanks for reading guys.