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!