Thursday, December 25, 2014

NFL Preview: The Green Bay Packers Vs. The Detroit Lions

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will look to put an exclamation mark on the final chapter of the 2014 regular season. The Detroit Lions will travel to Lambeau to do battle on the Frozen Tundra with the NFC North on the line. It always seemed like this matchup would come down to the NFC North title from the beginning of the season. In week 3, the Lions shut the Packers down offense and won 19-7 in what was probably the Packers worst offensive performance this season. The Lions defense ranks second overall, and is much improved as the Packers found out in that week 3 matchup. The Packers will be looking for revenge on Sunday, and this is how they'll exact it.

1. Blitz Matthew Stafford Heavily: 

One thing has been for sure this season, and that is that Matthew Stafford is still very mistake prone. During the Packers week 3 loss against the Lions the Packers defense forced 3 Stafford turnovers. Stafford's mistakes seem to become more frequent outdoors and away from home. To force these turnovers the Packers will need to continue their recent success on defense. Last week against the Buccaneers the Packers had a season high 7 sacks. Although that was against a shaky Buccaneers offensive line it was a good confidence builder going into this matchup. Clay Matthews will be the man to watch on Sunday. Since he moved to middle linebacker he has had a Pro Bowl caliber season. It'll be up to him to terrorize Stafford, and get the ball back to his offense.

2. Feed Eddie Lacy: 

Over the last two months Eddie Lacy has gotten back into his Pro Bowl form of a season ago. A lot of it has to do with the improved play of the offensive line, and the offense finding a nice balance. Since the bye week Lacy has averaged 5.31 yards a carry, which is good for fourth in the NFL since that time. The temperature should be in the low teens on Sunday so Lacy will need to get his fair share of carries. Games like this are the reason Lacy was drafted. There needs to be a balance found in this game that will extend to the postseason. The Lions stingy run defense held Lacy to 36 yards on 11 carries. That was a different Lacy, and a different Packers offense. Look for the Packers to pound the rock, and the offensive line to open some holes for Lacy as he puts the team on his back this sunday.

3. Shut Down Calvin Johnson: 

If the Lions want to come away with a win on Sunday their going to have to find a way to get Calvin Johnson the ball. The Packers must prevent that from occurring, or prevent it from occurring often. There is no way to shut down Johnson completely, but the Packers secondary must contain him. They'll have to double team the Lions biggest weapon, and Sam Shields will have to be involved with shutting down Megatron. The safety duo of Morgan Burnett and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix will have to be on top of their game as well. Johnson has had big games against the Packers before, and the Lions have been unsuccesfful. Sunday he'll be looking to have a championship type performance, but it's up to the secondary to put their signature on the game.

Sunday will mark the Packers first objective on their road to the Super Bowl. It would be essential for them to get a first round bye, and get home-field advantage for at least one post season contest. With a little bit of magic they could clinch home-field advantage throughout, but at the moment that's a long shot. In the end I think the Packers will prevail on Sunday. They've played too well the last couple months to let this game slip away from them.

AJ's Prediction: 

Packers: 28

Lions: 16

Friday, December 12, 2014

NFL Preview: The Green Bay Packers Vs. The Buffalo Bills

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.

AJ's Prediction:


Bills: 13

Sunday, December 7, 2014

NFL Preview: Green Bay Packers Vs. Atlanta Falcons

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.

AJ's Prediction:

Packers: 35

Falcons 13

Saturday, November 29, 2014

NFL Preview: The Green Bay Packers vs. The New England Patriots

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.

AJ's Prediction:

Green Bay Packers: 31

New England Patriots: 28

Thursday, November 6, 2014

NFL Preview: The Green Bay Packers vs. The Chicago Bears

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.

Final Analysis:

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.


Packers: 23

Bears: 16

Saturday, October 25, 2014

NFL Preview: Green Bay Packers Vs. New Orleans Saints

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.

AJ's Prediction:

Packers: 31

Saints: 42

Friday, October 10, 2014

NFL Preview: The Green Bay Packers Vs. The Miami Dolphins

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.

Packers: 28

Dolphins: 24

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NFL Preview: Green Bay Packers Vs. Minnesota Vikings

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.

Packers: 24

Vikings: 13

Friday, September 26, 2014

Week 4 Preview: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears

Sunday marks the 189th meeting of the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. This matchup looks to provide more fireworks than any other matchup in their long rivalry. Both teams have the ability to light up the scoreboards. The Packers have failed to do so thus far, but the Bears have gotten into a offensive groove since their week 1 loss against the Buffalo Bills. This game is winnable for the Packers, but they'll have to capitalize in certain areas to give them their 5th straight win at Soldier field. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense must start out fast.

Through the first 3 weeks the Packers haven't exactly been getting off to a quick start. Week 1 in Seattle they moved the ball, but ended up punting almost right away. Weeks 2 and 3 against the New York Jets and Detroit Lions they started the game off with fumbles. This is unlike the Packers recent offenses who pride themselves on not turning the ball over. The most frustrating part of it is that they know it's fixable. It's just a matter of playing the way they know how to. Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy must get into a rhythm early enough so they can set up the play action. Rodgers loves play action passing, and that's where he's at his best.

The Packers are going to need to receive the ball first and put up points. It'll be a long game if they can't score points within the first two drives. The Packers must get the run game going, and get their fourth and fifth string receivers in the mix. Using three receivers and one tight end isn't suiting this offense well. Jarret Boykin and Davante Adams must pick up the slack. Teams are smothering Nelson, and covering Cobb so easily that it gives Rodgers no options. Adams could be the guy to step up, but thus far he hasn't shown much. Sunday could be the game that the Packers get the "other guys" into the mix.

Going into Sunday Eddie Lacy has been quiet, too quiet. He's only rushed for 113 yards and no touchdowns through 3 games. That sounds like a line from just one game in his rookie year. Yes, the Packers have played three stingy defenses, but that's not an excuse. Since Lacy suffered a concussion in week 1 against the Seahawks he's been running scared. He even admitted early this week he was running with his pad level too high. Lacy is the type of runner who's going to make his money putting his head down and plowing forward.

Coach Mike McCarthy called Lacy out earlier in the week saying "Eddie needs to play better," before stopping himself from ripping into Lacy in a public form. Hopefully that was a good wake up call for Lacy. A lot of people have compared Lacy to fellow Alabama running-back Trent Richardson in the last couple week. Richardson had a solid rookie year, and has since turned out to be a bust. In my mind, I don't believe Lacy is a bust, and I think he's going to get on track sunday. If not it could be a long season for the Packers run game, and Lacy. If Lacy is struggling we may see a switch to James Starks, who has been somewhat impressive thus far when given an opprutunity. The defense will have its hands full against an explosive Bears offense.

Jay Cutler has only beaten the Packers once his career with the Bears. But Cutler has never had such a complete offense at his helm. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are a new version of Randy Moss and Cris Carter in the division. Those two gave the Packers big headaches back in the day, and the new duo will look to do the same. The Packers secondary did a good job quieting Calvin Johnson last week, but that is really the Lions only option. The Bears have 3 solid receiving options in Marshall, Jeffery, and tight end Martellus Bennett. Not to mention they have an all-purpose running-back in Matt Forte. Forte has underwhelmed thus far, and the Bears are ranked 26th in rushing offense. I feel that Forte has been quiet because the offense has been able to pass it so well. Cutler may have turned a page in his career, because he doesn't seem to be making the same errant throws that he was known for.

If the Packers defense wants turnovers this week they're going to have to work hard for them. Cutler seems poised for his best season in years, and rightfully so he has one of the better supporting casts in the league. The defense must get him out of rhythm early and often. They know from prior experience that if you get Cutler rattled he'll get frustrated and start making mistakes. Julius Peppers will be a key player to watch on the Packers defense. The former Bear may be a little more motivated this week to show he has something left in the tank. It'd be nice to see Peppers get a couple big sacks or even an interception.

This will be a tough game, and I don't think fans or anyone in general will have a feel for how it's going to go until the fourth quarter. But in the end I believe the Packers will get out of the losing column and score a much needed divisional victory.

AJ's Prediction:

Packers: 34


Follow me on Twitter: NFLOwnerGBP

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Green Bay Packers: Here's How The Next Five Weeks WIll Go

After the Packers worst offensive performance in 4 years, it would seem that Packer Nation is ready to jump off the proverbial edge. As I scrolled through my twitter feed I realized that many Packers fans are anxious about the teams quiet 1-2 start. Bears fans are also ready to pounce Packer Nation if the Bears happen to beat the Packers on Sunday. If you followed my posts last week you'll know I had predicted the Packers to lose. I just felt that this team needed a wake up loss, and that it would come against the Lions. Aaron Rodgers told Packer Nation to "R-E-L-A-X" on his tuesday radio show. I'm with Aaron on this one, it's going to be alright, and I'm here to let you know how it's going to do down for the next five weeks.

Sunday the Packers will go into one of the more hostile environments in Chicago. The Bears fans will have Soldier Field rocking. Coming off two straight victories where their subpar defense has looked decent, the Bears will be coming in with much confidence. A lot of people will be down on the Packers this week, and you will probably hear the talking heads asking if there is a changing of the guard in the north at some point. That's just what the Packers want.

This team plays it's best football when they're behind the 8-ball. During the McCarthy and Rodgers era, the Packers have been the most dangerous when the chips are down. Everyone has already begun doubting Rodgers, and are blaming his love life on his play thus far. That's a bunch of garbage, and that's tabloid material that I won't put into my posts. But that makes Rodgers even more of a threat when he's doubted. So here's how Sunday will play out.

This game will start out much like the first three did for the Packers. The Packers will punt after a three-and-out, and the Bears will go right down the field and score. After that the Packers will get into a rhythm that will help them in the coming weeks. Eddie Lacy will run through the Bears defense, and Rodgers will have time to pass and the play action set up. This will be responsible for Rodgers having his best game of the young season. The defense will then pick up where they left off last week, and quiet the Bears explosive offense. They'll be a certain point in the game where the defense will have to come up with a key stop, and they will. The Packers will take the win and build momentum going into a thursday night matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

Against the Vikings, the Packers will play their first complete game of the season. I think they'll be firing on all cylinders. Offense, defense, and special teams. At this point they'll be 3-2 and a game behind the 4-1 Lions. Everyone will start to jump back on the bandwagon, and all fellow Packers fans will step away from the ledge. This will lead to their game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami.

The Packers will win a relatively easy one in the warm weather against the underachieving Dolphins. Then comes one of the toughest match-ups of the season, a visit to Lambeau field from the Carolina Panthers. Which will be the toughest matchup of this stretch. The Packers will struggle against the Panthers elite defense, but in the end will win a close game.

At this point everyone will be on the bandwagon. ESPN and NFL Network will be clamoring to get the players on the their shows for interviews before a Sunday night matchup in New Orleans. However, the streak will come to an end in New Orleans. The Saints will put up big numbers against the Packers,  and leave a bad taste in the mouths of the Packers going into the bye. Analysts and fans alike will say the Packers can't win meaningful games on the road after this.

Not sure how the rest of the season will play out after the bye, but this 1-2 start was meant to happen for this Green Bay Packers team. It was a character building loss against the Lions, and will go along way in making this team tough in a pivotal stretch here.

For now I'm putting away my crystal ball, but let's just calm down and let these next five weeks play out.

Follow me on Twitter: @NFLOwnerGBP

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Late Reaction: The Green Bay Packers Vs. The Detroit Lions

Well it would seems like it's deja vu for the Green Bay Packers. This marks the teams third consecutive 1-2 start, but it doesn't mean it's time to panic quite yet. Every season is different, but if the Packers can overcome this start like they have in the past it will bode well for them. The only real worry is that the Lions exposed a lot of weaknesses in this Packers team on Sunday.

The offense had probably one of the most dreadful performances ever with Aaron Rodgers under center. The only other game that I can remember that was this lackluster was in 2010, a loss at home to the Miami Dolphins. Aaron Rodgers and co. could not get anything going even when they were set up perfectly. The Packers defense set the offense up nicely with 3 turnovers. The Packers offense could only muster 7 measly points on those 3 turnovers. Rodgers was holding onto the ball too long, and didn't seem to trust any of his receivers outside of Nelson and Quarless. To me that's one of the more disheartening things about todays performance. Rodgers is a QB who loves to spread the ball around. But today he was targeting Nelson so much that he actually was forcing it to him.

Nelson like usual made a few spectacular grabs,but couldn't do it all. Targeting one receiver is the Lions m.o., not the Packers. I wonder where Rodgers rapport with Randall Cobb has gone? Cobb had 3 receptions for 29 yards. That's a sad line for a guy that is supposed to be a big part of this offense. Could it be that the Packers aren't using Cobb to the best of his abilities? I believe Cobb has thrived the most in the slot. When he can create that separation without getting jammed at the line. You get him in the open field and it's game over. I haven't seen that in 3 games. Also where are the gadget plays we're accustomed to seeing from Cobb? Those draws, and tosses out of the backfield are money plays. It also may have been a different ball game had Rodgers not missed Nelson in the end zone a crucial 4th and 5.

The Packers are becoming very predictable on offense. It seems like we all knew while watching what was going to be run, and who the play was geared towards. Either the play action isn't working or there simply isn't enough of it. The Packers offense, prior to Rodgers departure, in 2013 was different. It seemed that whether or not the run game was working that the play-action was always working. To me Rodgers is at his best on play-action passses. That deep fade to Nelson off the play-action always seems to work at least one time a game, yet they don't try it? Mike McCarthy either has to hold himself or Tom Clements accountable for the lack of offense. This game also had some bright spots.

The defense played lights out for most of the game, and had the offense got a lead I believe the defense would've hung on. The group which had been looked at as the weakness of this Packers team forced 3 turnovers, and had Matthew Stafford shook all game. Rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix snagged his first career interception off a tipped pass by Davon House. This marked the first interception by a Packers safety in a year. House also made a spectacular interception in which he tracked a severe over throw by stafford and hauled it in. It turned out for the worst though as House was downed at 1 yard line, and it led to Eddie Lacy being tackled for a safety.

 Julius Peppers may have made the play of the day though. With the Lions in Packers territory driving deep, Peppers got around the corner with lightning speed and forced Stafford to fumble, then Peppers preceded to recover his own forced fumble. That's why the Packers brought the veteran in. He seems to be fitting in perfect, and is very comfortable with his transition to a 3-4 LB.

The run game seemed to get on track a tad bit this week as well. It wasn't one guy in general though. James Starks and Eddie Lacy showed the promise of being one of the best tandems in the league like they were last year. This is going to be important going forward, or at least until Rodgers calms down and gets comfortable.

This game will leave Packers fans with a bad taste in their mouths, but there's always next week. The Packers will get this thing figured out. Today was a huge wake up for a team who may have thought they were better than they actually are. Let the identity searching start in this locker room.

Game MVP:

 The entire defense

Friday, September 19, 2014

These Green Bay Packers Aren't Ready To Win A Super Bowl

When I was typing the headline I realized that many of you in Packer Nation would be too angry with the topic of this post. I, myself, am a big positive Packers fan. Almost to a point to where it's a detriment to me writing fair perspective pieces on the team. But I just felt as I was watching the Packers going down 21-3 last week at home that there is something missing from this team. Something missing that the Seahawks, 49ers, Broncos, and Patriots all possess. That is supreme confidence and leadership on both sides of the ball.

Now that isn't a dig at QB Aaron Rodgers. As a matter of fact I think the only confidence and leadership the Packers really have comes from the offense. Rodgers is the teams unquestioned leader, but he can only be on the field when the offense has the ball. This team needs a defensive leader. Someone who can give a Lombardi-esqe speech that will spark a dominant performance. Clay Matthews would be the best candidate, but he just seems to only worry about himself out there, and doesn't ever really seem to be in anyones ear. DT Mike Daniels is the self appointed "madman" on defense, but he seems a tad to undisciplined at the moment. But that doesn't mean he won't turn into the leader. Some of his comments in the offseason about assaulting teammates who didn't care about winning. Although it seemed a bit harsh that is the type of thing this defense needs.

This defense is too soft. It hasn't been the same since Nick Collins left. To me, Collins was the unquestioned leader of the defense. He always had everyone ready to play, and always made sure everyone was in the right place. The Packers need a guy like that. Maybe it has to come from the secondary, but Tramon Williams and Sam Shields are both guys who are quiet forces. It's time for the Packers to get a villain on defense.

The Seahawks had a mean streak about them on defense last year, and they went in and bullied a more finesse team into submission during the Super Bowl. The Packers don't have the ability to do that yet. They are too nice. They would be the bullied instead of the bully. It happened to them in week 1 against Seattle. They let the Seahawks do whatever they wanted to. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch was just running through defenders that looked like they were scared of him running toward them. The Packers need players who come up to make tackles. Not wait for them to come at them, and then hit them with a patented truck stick. This is why Adrian Peterson has ripped them to shreds. This is why Calvin Johnson has lit them on fire. The Packers have just been lucky to have the best QB in the game to bail them out of bad situations. With the amount of stuff Rodgers does to cover up this teams stench, he should get a Super Bowl ring every year. But maybe it has nothing to do with the players, maybe it's all on the coaches.

The Packers have never really had a fire starter at any coaching position. Mike McCarthy can get fired up, but he normally just pouts or makes odd faces on the sideline. I can't speak for his voice in the locker room, because no one has ever really touched on if McCarthy torched the team after a lackluster performance. The only real tidbit we got was when McCarthy said "if he wasn't Brett Favre I'd bench his a--." Dom Capers doesn't seem to care to much when his defense under performs, so I doubt he's in there lighting up his team. Kevin Greene was that fiery guy the team needed, but to me it seemed like someone told him to tone it down, before his eventual departure last year. If these defensive players don't have anyone challenging them to get better, then what do you expect from them? I don't expect any changes on that front, because the whole coaching staff is made up of "Packer people" which are essentially Ted Thompson guys. This doesn't mean the team can't grow into a Super Bowl contender though.

It's only week 3. The Packers can evolve into a Super Bowl contender. Like I said before if one of these defensive players steps up and starts holding his teammates accountable then they could be in busineess. They already have the offense in place to be great. In 2010 no one could've predicted the Packers would win the Super Bowl after what they looked like in the middle of the season. Maybe this will be the same situation. We will see Sunday vs the Lions. In the end I think the Lions will get the best of the Packers in Detroit.

AJ's Prediction:

Lions: 34

Packers: 24

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Green Bay Packers Can't Look Past The New York Jets

The Green Bay Packers went into Seattle last Thursday, and fell apart shortly after the second half started. There are many factors that played a role in the Packers self destructing. Lack of defense, loss of Bryan Buluga, and missed tackles. But in the end the Packers just got beat by a much better team. But that was last week, and the Packers have a talented undderated Jets team to contend with at Lambeau Field this sunday. This game is a potential must win in the Packers young season.

The Packers may be facing a trap game scenario on Sunday. They are playing a Jets team who, a season ago, was one of the most ineffective offensive teams in the league. But they boast a strong, and underrated defense. It always seems like Rex Ryan has a solid defensive squad year in and year out. The Jets boast a strong defensive line with DT Muhammed Wilkerson and DT Sheldon Richardson. This is a concern for the Packers who are hurting on the offensive line. Right tackle Derek Sherrod must step up in the absence of Bryan Bulaga. Against Seattle he seemed overwhelmed, and allowed Aaron Rodgers to be sacked 3 times, and pressured on countless other plays. Rodgers needs to be able to trust his offensive line. In 2009 he had the same problem, and it led to him getting "happy feet" on certain occasions. It'll be important for the Packers to have their run game intact, but we won't know how much Eddie Lacy will be used coming off of his second concussion in two years.

Lacy and James Starks could potentially split the load for the Packers on Sunday. That wouldn't be the end of the world, with Starks in the middle of a career resurgance. Starks actually ran very well against the Seattle Seahawks in week 1. Lacy suffered a concussion against the Seahawks, but was cleared to play Sunday. The Packers still have to be smart with Eddie on Sunday. The Packers lost track of the running the ball against the seahawks outside of the first drive. With Sherrod starting it's going to be to a must that the Packers run game is on point. They're going to have to use the run to set up the pass.

Aaron Rodgers should be able to unload on the Jets secondary, esspeically if they are still beat up going into the game. Last week Oakland Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr had a very good game against the Jets secondary, throwing for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those aren't spectauctalr numbers, but for a rookie making his first start it bodes well for an elite QB like Rodgers. Rodgers should also be able to get his third and fourth receivers involved in the game. Against the Seahawks, Jarret Boykin and rookie Davante Adams were basically invisible. A part of that was because Rodgers barely had time to throw, but against the Jets he should be able to build the confidence up in his young receivers.

The Packers can't take this Jets team light on the defensive side either. Second year QB Geno Smith has the potential to light up this Packers secondary. This Dom Capers defense has been lit up by the likes Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder, so Smith could very well be in for a good day. The Jets also boast both power and speed in their backfield with RB's Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson. The Packers defense made a lackluster effort at stopping the run in week 1, and that must get better. Johnson has had his skills dimminish in the last few years, still has the ability to break a huge run with his speed. The Packers must contain him when he's in the game.

In the end I don't think the Jets are going to come into Lambeau and stomp all over the Packers opening day. Look for the Packers to win by at least 10 on sunday, in a game that should be close at half-time.

AJ's Prediction:

Packers 27
Jets 17

Friday, September 5, 2014

Green Bay Packers Lose Opener in Seattle

This was a game that was eagerly anticipated in Wisconsin and the homes of Green Bay Packer fans worldwide, not only were they finally going back to Century Link field to face the Seahawks for the first time since the "Fail Mary" game, but they were opening up the season on the road looking to start their 2014 campaign off on the right foot. The sad truth though, is that the Green Bay Packers might still be outside of the elite NFC teams, which could mean another early playoff bounce for the Green Bay Packers, if the team is in fact fortunate enough to return to the playoffs in 2014. Usually, yours truly is an optimist to the core when it comes to the Packers, but it is important to call a spade a spade, and the Packers simply didn't look good in this game.
The Bad:

Injuries are always bad, and the Packers saw several people come out of the game because of injuries, mostly on the offensive side of the ball. An early play of the game had starting tight end Richard Rodgers as an H-back on the right side behind Bryan Bulaga. The Seahawks defensive end pushed Bulaga back so quickly that his head hit Rodgers head and they both went down and didn't play another snap. Eddie Lacy had a big hit from Kam Chancellor in the fourth quarter on a big run as well, and it is listed that he did definitely have a concussion.

Drops are a horrible issue for an NFL team. The only player to catch every ball thrown his way for the Packers was running back Eddie Lacy. Jordy Nelson had a horrible issue with drops. He couldn't hang onto the ball at all. He only caught 9 of his 14 targets, with the biggest mistake being that he let a ball go right through his hands for an interception. Jordy has to handle more passes thrown his way since he is a bigger part of the offense this year since James Jones left to become an Oakland Raider.

The Good:

The Packers had a few plays go as good as they could have for the team. First, early in the first quarter, the Packers punted to Earl Thomas and he didn't call for a fair catch. Richard Sherman blocked Davon House directly into Thomas as he was about to catch the ball and then it popped right up into the air to new Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. This play would spark the offense to score on John Kuhn's misdirection run later in the first quarter.

Somehow, Randall Cobb was being covered by Billy Wagner 50 yards down field in the second quarter. Rodgers threw it up to him and Wagner had a blatantly obvious pass interference call. This led to the Mason Crosby field goal that would tie the game at 10. The Packers never really made it close again from there though.

After it was too late, Aaron Rodgers finally got the ball back in his hands and the Packers drove down the field ending with a Randall Cobb touchdown reception, but the two point play was no good.

The Ugly:

Where to begin. So many options. First, the Packers played completely horrendous in the third quarter, but it's difficult to blame the defense for that entirely, since they only allowed 12 points between the third and early fourth quarter. First, Aaron Rodgers throws it threw Jordy's hands and Byron Maxwell picks it off and gets it close to the end zone, the Packers force a field goal attempt and are down 10 points.

Then the Packers drove it to around midfield and were in no man's land when McCarthy decided to go for it on 4th and 5, which ended with Derek Sherrod getting beat by Cliff Avril for a sack. Sherrod was completely abysmal in filling in for Bryan Bulaga, who is reportedly only has a knee strain at this point. On the next Packer offensive play, after they had forced a punt, Sherrod was then beaten by Michael Bennett, who strip sacked Rodgers and Sherrod pounced on the ball in the end zone for a safety. The Seahawks would turn this into a 9 point play by having Marshawn Lynch score a touchdown on the next offensive possession, which would put the Packers down 19.

The defense. Where to even begin with this defense? The defensive line was literally manhandled every time the Seahawks wanted to run the ball. The Seahawks averaged 5.6 yards per carry against the Packers. To put this in perspective, Adrian Peterson ran for 6 yards per carry for the season in 2012 when he almost set the single season rushing yards record. Without B.J. Raji, the Packers don't have anyone good enough to hold down the fort in the middle of the defense, and the inside linebackers A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones simply are not good enough behind them.

DeJuan Harris does not know when to take a knee in the end zone. Despite being 5-7 yards deep on the first two kickoffs, Harris decided to take it out and each time never even made it to the 15 yard line. He is a third string running back and hopefully Jeff Janis will be back there in his place soon enough.

Final Thoughts:

It's really tough to keep the defense fresh when the offense only holds the ball for 3:50 second of the third quarter. Two one play possessions putting the Packers defense back on the field, getting them worn out simply doesn't work.

Forget about praying for Corey Linsley, everybody start praying for Bryan Bulaga's knee. Derek Sherrod is about as useful as a matador at the right tackle position, which is exactly what every Packer fan was afraid of at once when the original swing tackle, Don Barclay, tore his ACL in training camp.

Aaron Rodgers is still good, but is the rest of the offense actually at an elite level? The receivers didn't really seem to get open. Nobody was able to get open deep against the defense. Also, the Packers never threw it at Richard Sherman, which really isn't a surprise since they put Jarrett Boykin on that side for the entire game. As if Boykin vs. Sherman is at all a fair matchup.

The Packers have to catch the ball, both on offense and defense. The defense is listed because two Packers dropped one early interception, when Sam Shields cut off a Wilson pass that he could have taken back for a touchdown, and then Brad Jones caught the ball in the air, but didn't pull it in to safety as it was knocked out when he landed. An another play, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had an opportunity for an interception, but the ball went right through his hands. It looked like the receiver tried to make a play on the ball, but Clinton-Dix had already dropped it anyway. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb need to start playing catch because neither of them could hang onto Rodgers Rockets in this game. It was simply tragic watching catch after catch slip through their fingers.

The Packers next game is at home against the New York Jets. If the Packers start 0-2 with a loss to the Jets, put the entire state of Wisconsin on a very likely meltdown alert, because the Jets should not be at the same level as the Packers.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NFL Week 1 Preview: The Green Bay Packers vs. The Seattle Seahawks

The time has finally come. A new season is upon, and the Green Bay Packers will be in the spotlight right out of the gate. Will the heat from the spotlight be too much for them or will they prosper? The NFL didn't do them any favors giving them the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks right off the bat. The Packers will be facing one of the NFL's elite teams for the fourth straight year. They may need to play a perfect game to take a win in loud Century Link field, but it's not impossible to win there either. The Packers offense must be on point though.

For the sake of this post staying on topic I won't get into the "Fail Mary", because in the end it was the replacement refs that caused that controversy for the Packers. Thursday will just be about who the better team is.

In order to escape Seattle with a win the Packers offense will have to be near perfect.  That starts with QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers in his ninth year is the unquestioned leader of this team, and one of the best QB's in the league. It's going to be up to him to get this team ready for the raucous enviroment in Seattle. It helps that Rodgers has started 2 games in Qualcolm prior to this season. He knows what kind of effect that the "12th man" has on offenses. The Seahawks defense proved to be a nightmare for the Packers offense when these two teams faced off in 2011. Rodgers was sacked 8 times, in the first half, by a then young and up and coming Seahawks defense. Since that meeting the Seahawks defense has turned into one of the greatest units in NFL history. But the Packers offensive line has improved greatly.

The Packers offense does have one worry going into Seattle. That is the center postion. When starting center J.C. Tretter hurt his knee during the week 3 preaseason match up with the Oakland Raiders. This left rookie Corey Linsley as the only true center on the roster. It seems as if Linsley will get his first start on opening night in Seattle. Linsley has to be ready for this moment though. Besides the QB you could make a case for center being the most important postion on the offense. The Packers will be asking a rookie to step right in against a very talented defenisve line in the noisest enviroment in the NFL. Coach Mike McCarthy and his staff must have a ton of faith in Linsley, because the team did not pursure another center after the Tretter injury.

The packers key to winning this game is going to be ball control. The Packers best defense is Rodgers and RB Eddie Lacy. If those two the offense in rythm they could be unstoppable. It sounds easier than it really is though. If the Packers can keep the Seahawks offense on the sideline they will be in line to win this game.

To win the game of possesion game the Packers receivers are going to need to be aggresive. The Packers use receivers pride themselves on yards after the catch(YAC). The Seahawks boast the leagues best secondary with safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. And the self procalimed "greatest corner in the game" Richard Sherman. Screen routes will not be easy against this secondary.

The Packers are going to have to air it out. It starts with playaction passing. Jordy Nelson isn't afraid to go across the middle, and will hang on to anything thrown his way. On the opposite side Randall Cobb brings the speed factor to the offense. Rodgers is simply at his best when he uses the play action. The Packers are going to need their veteran recievers to step up though. It wouldn't be wise to rely much on rookie reciever Davante Adams or even third year reciever Jarret Boykin. Nelson and Cobb have played in this enviroment and against this secondary. They're going to need to move Nelson and Cobb around to try and confuse the secondary. In that case Boykin and Adams would be good decoys. If anyone can come up with a solid game plan on offense it's McCarthy. The defense of the Packers is another story.

Dom Capers tenure as the Packers defensive coordinator has been shaky to say the least. The only thing that has kept him employed as a coach was the 2010-11 playoff run and Super Bowl victory. Outside of that year the Packers defense has been in the bottom half of the NFL's total defense. In 2011 the defense lead the league in turnovers, which was a pretty good stat at the time, but in the end it was defensive miscues that lead to a Diviisonal round playoff loss to the New York Giants.

The Seahawks will be a great test to see how far the defense has come since last seasons 25th ranked unit. Although Russell Wilson doesn't have the size of a prototypical QB he makes up for it with his pure athleticism. Wilson is accurate on the run, and can use his legs to his advantage if no one is open. If there is thing that has given the Packers defense fits in the past two years it's been scrambling quarterbacks. The Packers must be conscious of Wilson's playmaking ability. Free agent additon Julius Peppers was brought in to help Clay Matthews contain these running quarterbacks. What better chance for Peppers to show he was worth every penny, than to give the Seattle offensive line fits. Then there is Mr. Beast Mode himself Marshawn lynch. Lacy reminds a lot of Lynch. That's a good sign for Lacy's future, but a bad sign for the Packers defense in the present.

Lynch is a bowling ball who won't be brought down by simple arm tackles. The Packers defense has a nasty knack for missing tackles. That does not bode well with Lynch in the backfield. Stopping Lynch will have to start up front. The Packers lost BJ Raji for the season due to a torn biceps. This is a blow for a 3-4 defense who counts on that big body in the middle to stuff the run. It'll be interesting to see how the Packers replace Raji. LeTroy Guion, who was brought in as a free agent, will get the shot to replace Raji. Guion missed most of training camp with an injury, but finally practiced and played the last week of the preseason. He's going to have to step up to control Lynch.

In the end it's going to come down to the Packers defense getting a few key stops so the offense can work. That may be all that a talented team like the Packers needs to win. The atmosphere is going to wild, and it seems as if it would be meant for the Seahawks to win at home while raising their Super Bowl Banner. But It's time for the Packers to play villian, and show that they still belong in the same conversation with the NFL's elite.

AJ's Prediction:

Green Bay Packers 19
Seattle Seahawks    10

Follow me on Twitter: @NFLOwnerGBP

Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 Green Bay Packers: A Complete Season Preview

Football season is finally here! It seems like it took forever, but training camp is over, the final preseason game has been played, and the NFL season starts in only a few days. The final roster cuts are in as well, and it will be important to look at each of the players remaining on the team. But before the season actually begins, let's look at the games on the schedule and a prediction by yours truly here.
Thursday, September 4th, 2014, 7:30 PM CDT--Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Since the NFL schedule was released a few months ago, every Packer fan has had this game circled on their calendar. Not only are they frustrated by the outcome of the previous game in Seattle, the game known as the "Fail Mary" with the replacement refs soon to be ousted, but it should be another really close game. The Seahawks sacked Aaron Rodgers 8 times in the first half last time, but their offensive line is better now, and Eddie Lacy is also present. After dropping their last few season openers, the Packers should be able to take this game by a final score of 27-24.

Sunday, September 14th, 2014, 3:25 PM CDT--New York Jets at Green Bay Packers

The home opener for the Packers is always going to be a thrilling game. The Packers have a relatively easy looking opener, with the Jets having a lot of roster turnover, and it looks like their secondary is hurt going into the season. The battle between the defensive line of the Jets and the offensive line of the Packers will be fantastic to watch. Lower scoring than many people would probably think. The Packers will win to go 2-0 by a final of 24-10.

Sunday, September 21st, 2014, 12:00 PM CDT--Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

Curiously, the Lions again did very little to fix their primary weakness from last year, which is their secondary. Instead of taking a strong cornerback or safety in the first round, they drafted tight end Eric Ebron. Their primary new player from free agency is wide receiver Golden Tate. Granted, their defensive line is very strong, which helps mask their primary weakness, but there will be a lot of shoot outs for the Lions this season. The Packers will get this win but it will look difficult throughout. Final score is going to be Packers 45-Lions 38.

Sunday, September 28th, 2014, 12:00 PM CDT--Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

This age old rivalry is always a great game to watch. The two teams in the NFC North with the most tradition, and they split their two games last year. Again it will be a battle of two good offenses, but this is a game where the Packers could easily stumble. Jay Cutler has very good receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. Matt Forte is a physical running back who can catch out of the backfield. The Bears will take this one at home, Packers lose 28-34.

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014, 7:25 PM CDT--Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers

A short week between two teams that know each other very well. The Packers will have their first game here against new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. He was the defensive coordinator for the Bengals last year. The defensive talent just isn't there though, and Zimmer will struggle to contain the Packers offense. The Green Bay Packers take a second divisional win with a final score of 41-17.

Sunday,  October 12th, 2014, 12:00 PM CDT--Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins

This will be the first time the Packers and Dolphins face each other since Joe Philbin left the Packers offensive coordinator position to become their Head Coach. It's always nice to go down to Miami for a game, and the Packers just simply have more talent on their roster right now than the Dolphins have. Plus, the Packers have more rest for this game coming off of their long break from their second Thursday night game of the season. Packers win the game 31-21.

Sunday, October 19th, 2014, 12:00 PM CDT--Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers

Cam Newton and the Panthers have not been on the schedule since the week 2 game from a few years ago where Nick Collins was seriously hurt and has been out of football ever since. The Panthers defense has vastly improved since then, but their offense has lost a lot of talent since then, especially with Steve Smith leaving the team to go to the Baltimore Ravens this past off-season. The Packers lean on Lacy and Rodgers throws a lot of short passes to get the team to record another victory, Packers win 27-20.

Sunday, October 26th, 2014, 7:30 PM CDT--Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints

Rodgers vs Brees. This game is always an exciting one. The Packers hold a 16-7 all time record against the Saints, and they also have won the last two. The 2011 kickoff game between these teams was when Randall Cobb burst onto the scene as a rookie, going 108 yards for a kick return touchdown. They played in 2012 as well at Lambeau Field, when the Packers won 28-27. With the venue being changed to the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, and the Superdome, where the Saints play out of their minds, it is going to be difficult for the road team. The Packers are going to lose this game most likely, with the Saints winning 41-31.

Sunday, November 9th, 2014, 7:30 PM CST--Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers

The Packers come into this game directly after their bye week. They will want to avenge their prior loss to the Bears, and the last time they played at Lambeau Field was the game where Aaron Rodgers was hurt by Bears defensive lineman Shea McClellan. The Packers are hoping to do many things in this game and their defense should be much better than they had been in prior years. Anyway, it is difficult to win two games against the same opponent in the same season. So, the Packers should avenge that loss with a final score of 38-27.

Sunday, November 16th, 2014, 12:00 PM CST--Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers

The Eagles came to Green Bay last year during Rodgers' injury and were able to beat the Packers during the Scott Tolzien games. Riley Cooper was able to get open against the smaller Packer cornerbacks. Foles loves Cooper and hit him on several big plays. McCoy is also very difficult to keep contained. The Packers would love to avenge the loss from last year, but it would seem likely for the Eagles to get a win at this point, beating the Packers 38-35.

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014, 12:00 PM CST--Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings will likely be having a rough season at this point, it is tough to imagine what position they will be in. Will Teddy Bridgewater be in at quarterback to get some experience? How good is the Vikings defensive line? Are they able to provide a solid situation under new head coach Mike Zimmer? Despite the interesting story lines, the Packers should be able to win this game in Minnesota pretty easily, because Adrian Peterson is the best player on the team, and they had lost their defensive leader in Jared Allen. Packers win 35-24.

Sunday, November 30th, 2014, 3:25 PM CST--New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers

Assuming that Rob Gronkowski is healthy, he will be facing the Packers biggest weaknesses in the middle of the defense. Tom Brady is hoping to do better this season with the young receivers having even more talent after last year. The Patriots defense though has some of the best talent it has had in recent years, and the Packers will have to face both Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner. New England will hand the Packers their fourth loss of the season, defeating the Green Bay Packers 31-21.

Monday, December 8th, 2014, 7:30 PM CST--Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers

The Falcons are a dome team. They have talented receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White. The offensive line is great at pass blocking but not fantastic at run blocking. The Packers should win this presumably cold game behind the strength of their running game and their defense, which is much stronger than the Falcons running game and defense. The Packers win a cold one, with a final score of 27-10.

Sunday, December 14th, 2014, 12:00 PM CST--Green Bay Packers at Buffalo Bills

Sadly for the Buffalo Bills, they are probably the easiest game for the Packers this season. EJ Manuel and Sammy Watkins are both young, the defense has some talent but hasn't put it all together last year. They lost their defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who became the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns. The Packers will go on the road and beat the Bills, with a final score of 34-13.

Sunday, December 21st, 2014, 12:00 PM CST--Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hello again Lovie Smith. Seems like he is trying to capture the offense that the Bears took right after he left only down in the Tampa Bay area with the backup quarterback and now starter in Tampa, Josh McCown. The Packers usually did perform quite well against the Smith led Bears teams. They should be able to take a victory from him again since the Packers are just more talented across the board. The Packers will win in Florida again with a final score of 34-24.

Sunday, December 28th, 2014, 12:00 PM CST--Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

The Detroit Lions haven't won in the state of Wisconsin in a significantly long time. The Lions last won in Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on December, 15, 1991. Mike Tomczak was the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. Erik Kramer was the quarterback for the Detroit Lions, and their leading receiver in the game is Mike Farr. The Packers are going to be playing most likely to ensure that they could have a bye into the playoffs. They will cruise to victory against the Lions with a final of 44-27.

Now let's look at the players that made the 53 man roster by position.

Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, and Scott Tolzien.

The Packers usually only keep two quarterbacks on the team. Rodgers was a shoo-in to make the roster as a former NFL MVP and winning a Super Bowl, but it had been a previous thought that Flynn and Tolzien were fighting for one spot. The Packers saw that both of them could bring value to the roster because otherwise only one would have been kept. If Rodgers was to get injured again, Mike McCarthy has announced that Flynn would be the next man up.

Running Backs: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DeJuan Harris, and John Kuhn.

Reigning rookie of the year Eddie Lacy is going to be featured in the offense this season. Even though other running backs are listed on the roster they will probably not see a lot of playing time. Starks would be the full time back up if Lacy was to get injured. Harris is more of a change of pace running back. Kuhn is the fullback and might get more of a third down role depending on how much of a workload Lacy is getting.

Wide Receivers: Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, and Jeff Janis.

The Packers were considered likely to be keeping more receivers than they did. Two rookies getting a lot of experience in Adams and Janis. Janis will be used a lot on special teams most likely after his big kickoff return against the Chiefs in the final preseason game. Boykin beat out Adams so far for the third receiver spot. The rookies will just practice but they both showed far to much talent to get cut because they would have been claimed elsewhere.

Tight Ends: Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Richard Rodgers, and Ryan Taylor.

The presumed starter of the group at this point is Richard Rodgers after he started the second and third preseason games. The third round draft pick was really disrespected when the Packers took him with their compensatory pick. Many fans who follow the draft were unfamiliar with what exactly he could do. But Aaron Rodgers from the Cal Golden Bears throwing to Richard Rodgers from the Cal Golden Bears provides a lovely Rodgers to Rodgers pairing. Bostick is athletic as well and will be used a lot for that. Taylor is around for special teams primarily because he is a good blocker.

Offensive Linemen: David Bahktiari, Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Corey Linsley, J.C. Tretter, Derek Sherrod, and Lane Taylor.

Bahktiari and Bulaga are the starting tackles. Sitton and Lang are the starting guards. Because of the preseason injury to J.C. Tretter, Corey Linsley from Ohio State will be a starting rookie Center against the Seahawks. After a few weeks though, Tretter could get the starting job back depending on just how well Linsley performs. Sherrod is the swing tackle, and every Packers fan will probably be a fair amount of nervous if Sherrod has to have some expanded playing time due to an injury to either Bahktiari or Bulaga. Don Barclay was likely going to be the swing tackle, but an early training camp injury placed him on injured reserve. Lane Taylor is a backup guard and he will fill in if there is an injury to Sitton or Lang. The Packers kept Taylor around last year as well, so he's probably a little bit more trusted than Sherrod.

Defensive Linemen: Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Letroy Guion, Josh Boyd, and Mike Pennel.

Obviously only seeing 5 people for the 3 man defensive line looks like very little amount of depth. The main thing to realize is that Julius Peppers and Mike Neal, both linebackers, have both played defensive end in the past and are very likely to end up in that rotation in the event of injuries. Daniels and Jones will be the outside ends in the 3-4 base defense. Guion is the man filling in at Nose Tackle because of the bicep tear to B.J. Raji. Josh Boyd will back up Guion at nose tackle and has good enough size to do so, while Mike Pennel will be a backup defensive end for both Jones and Daniels. Don't be surprised if Boyd and Pennel get rotated in a lot because these big guys need to be kept fresh. Khyri Thornton, the Packers third round pick, was placed on injured reserve with an injury in the final preseason game.

Linebackers: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Andy Mulumba, Jayrone Elliott, and Carl Bradford.

If there was one spot that it was evident that the Packers were completely loaded at during the preseason, it was at linebacker. Matthews and Peppers will be the primary men at outside backer. Both are excellent at rushing the passer and it has been rumored for a while that Peppers could do something a little bit different in playing the elephant position on the defense. Elephant appears to mean he could go inside and rush or stay on the outside and rush from either a standing or hand in the ground position. Hawk and Jones will start at inside linebacker. Hawk has been with the Packers his whole career, ever since the Packers took him at fifth overall in the NFL draft. Jones originally was an outside linebacker when the Packers first transitioned to a 3-4, but has since been converted into the inside. Perry is a backup pass rusher on the outside, but he is also a former first round draft selection. He has a lot of talent for a backup. Neal is the other backup, and both Perry and Neal would alternate on the opposite side of Clay Matthews last season. Lattimore and Barrington will backup Hawk and Jones on the inside. They were both on the team last year and stepped up when Jones had an injury. Andy Mulumba played some at inside linebacker last year as well, because the position was just ravaged with injuries. Hopefully the Packers do not have that issue this year. Elliott looked great in the preseason, consistently beating the man on the other side of the ball, showing some great pass rushing techniques in the process. He had several sacks and is looking to bring that to the NFL, despite going undrafted. Bradford was the Packers fourth round selection, but was rather unremarkable in the preseason, and was probably one of the final selections for the final 53 man roster.

Cornerbacks: Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, and Demetri Goodson.

Williams and Shields are the two starting cornerbacks that are getting the big money contracts. Hayward and House are both excellent and could probably start on some other teams but will provide support on both the nickel and dime situations. Bush has been a gunner his whole career, and will stay primarily focused on special teams, but he has gotten a few interceptions on defense in his career too. Goodson was the Packers sixth round pick. He had played basketball at Gonzaga before transferring over to Baylor. He didn't play all that much because of injuries and is a very raw talent that should not be seeing the field very often, because he will be targeted by opposing quarterbacks simply because he is the weak link of the defense.

Safeties: Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Sean Richardson.

This position has been a glaring weakness since the Nick Collins injury from a few years ago. Clinton-Dix is the Packers first round draft selection, Micah Hyde converted from cornerback to safety. Burnett has the most experience and Richardson played the position some last year in the rotation of safeties. The projected starters are probably Burnett and Hyde, but Clinton-Dix will have a good opportunity to fill in one of those spots if there is an injury to either of them. The Packers will trust any combination of these two compared to what they had in the defense last year.

Specialists: Mason Crosby, Tim Masthay, and Brett Goode.

Mason Crosby has been the starting kicker ever since the Packers took him in the sixth round several years ago. He struggled with his kicking in 2012, but has looked sharp since then and should be no issue for the Packers this year. Tim Masthay is the Packers starting punter. Hopefully for Packers fans he doesn't get any snaps this year. Brett Goode is the long snapper and he has been there for a long time as well.

Practice Squad: S Chris Banjo, WR Kevin Dorsey, C Garth Gerhart, WR Alex Gillett, RB Michael Hill, LB Adrian Hubbard, TE Justin Perillo, DE Luther Robinson, T Jeremy Vujnovich and WR Myles White.

So from the cut to 75 the Packers placed four on injured reserved, cut 18, and then signed those 10 to the practice squad. The players who didn't make the practice squad in Green Bay but from the last 75 are LB Jake Doughty, T John Fullington, DT Carlos Gray, G Jordan McCray, S Tanner Miller, RB LaDarius Perkins, CB Jumal Rolle, and CB Ryan White. John Fullington signed with the San Francisco 49ers. The other players are all free agents at this point.

Final Prediction

The Green Bay Packers roster is loaded with talent, and according to the games predicted above by this humble columnist, they will go 12-4. That should be enough to give them a first round bye and they can beat a wild card team to advance to the NFC Championship game. The team is deep enough to make a Super Bowl run, but because of some of the recent struggles when they have made the playoffs, they aren't mentioned in the same breath as the Seahawks and 49ers. Right now they have made some advancements in the roster, but it's uncertain if it is enough. They will probably lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champion, just because the NFC is so much stronger than the AFC. Whatever happens, they will be thrilling to watch as they win some big games. Just keep Aaron Rodgers healthy for the whole season. Go Pack Go!