Who’s Gonna Win It?!?!

For those of you looking for something other than the Packers…here you go!  The Milwaukee Bucks have had the two most exciting offseasons from what I can remember.  If you know me, you likely know my expectations are judging teams based on rings (championships).  I’m here to set the record straight regarding expectations for this team.  There are quite a few factors coming into the season: Greg Monroe acquisition; the return of Jabari Parker; progression of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Acquiring Greg Monroe was absolutely huge.  Since Larry Sanders decided to become a huge turd, I’ve thought Monroe was a perfect match for the Bucks.  The only problem was getting him here.  Monroe gave credit to Wes Edens (one of the 2 principal owners) for persuading him to sign in Milwaukee over New York.  Unheard of until it actually happened.  Monroe signed a 2-year deal with a third year option, makes it friendly for both sides.  If Monroe plays above the contract, he will be set up to get absolutely PAID.  The new TV contract money is on its way, hence why LeBron keeps taking 1 year deals (more on that during the NBA season).

Jabari Parker – the whole idea of “Winning Takes Balls,” i.e. lottery balls.  From all accounts, Parker has looked absolutely amazing in his rehab.  It’s likely that Jason Kidd will ease Jabari into the starting rotation, eventually getting up to 17-20 minutes/game.  For now, look for a ton of depth to cover the absence of Jabari playing 30+ minutes…

The Greek Freak!!!  Possibly the highest ceiling in the entire league.  He’s apparently grown, again.  Giannis doesn’t want to be known as a 7 footer, but when he stands next to John Henson (6’11”) Giannis was taller.  All of this according to Gary Woelful (Racine Journal Times) – one of my favorite basketball beat writers – he’s also said Giannis has added roughly 15lbs.  Antetokounmpo’s frame could handle quite a bit more.  Giannis is my favorite thing about this Bucks franchise, just because of the potential and the time we as fans can give to watch him grow.

With all of these factors, one might think the Bucks should increase their win total by 5-10, and if they went 41-41 last year that could potentially put the Bucks around 50 wins!  Although that’s very possible, I had to look back to last season and realize the Bucks went 13-22 (including postseason) after trading Brandon Knight.  Prior to trading Knight the Bucks were humming along, many people hated the trade.  I for one loved it, and still do.  If MCW (Michael Carter-Williams) can develop a threat of a jumper, this Bucks team should be an absolute nightmare to play in years to come.  For the 2015/2016 season I’m thinking 41-46 wins…Let’s go with 46-36, the same record as the Fear the Deer team about 5 years ago.  I know my audience (which isn’t many to start with) may not care about the Milwaukee Bucks, but I’ve loved them since I can remember and am so pumped to finally have direction, the proper direction, for this franchise.  I can only hope the Brewers follow suit.  The Brewers decided to become the Minnesota Vikings of MLB but that’s a whole different topic.

So to recap…Bucks 46-36 with the 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and an Eastern Conf. Finals appearance v Cleveland.  Get excited!!!

6-0 at the Bye!

Whelp, last time I ask for something.  The injuries still hit and it was a big one (Ty Montgomery).  A win is a win, but the defense must play better…the offense does too.  Don’t get me wrong, I love winning ugly but the Packers can’t give up that type of yardage and expect to win a Super Bowl.  I’m so glad I was wrong about the play of BJ Raji – I didn’t think he’d be anywhere near where he has played this year.  His production was very apparent this past week v. San Diego.  The Packers still made them one-dimensional but the problem was the Packers couldn’t stop the pass.  There was little-to-no pass rush especially a consistent pass rush like we’ve seen in previous weeks.  Give credit to Philip Rivers, but the fact he said he could decipher every look the Packers gave is quite concerning.

Moving to the offense.  It seems like the Packers are most effective opening the game with their scripted plays.  Rodgers and Co. build a lead then the defense holds on and/or closes the game out.  Eddie Lacy seems fat, slow, and indecisive.  Thankfully Starks is a savvy veteran and knows the offense.  However, one can’t assume Starks will be healthy all year based on his track record – so it’s imperative for Lacy to get back into shape which should help his healing process as well.  Listening to Josh Sitton’s interview on Tuesday, he mentioned how they need to continue to run the ball to keep rhythm.  I couldn’t agree more.  Let me stress again, this game feels like a Loss but it wasn’t.  6-0 doesn’t feel as good as it should and I like that, means there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Now that the offense is officially in a funk, and injured (Montgomery, Adams, Lacy, and Quarless) the next defense???  The #1 ranked Denver Broncos.  The nice thing is Peyton Manning is a joke and if Raji and/or Burnett return they shouldn’t score 24 points which I believe the Packers are guaranteed to do in each remaining game.  The entire Broncos offense is a joke and they’ve been winning because their Defense and Special Teams have outscored their offense IN THE SEASON!!!  That bodes quite well for the Packers who are great at taking care of the football (knock on wood).   If the Packers stick to the run early and often, and take care of the football they should come out on top.  It should be a low-scoring game but once you say that…My prediction will be below but I wanted to inform you that being the Bye week I’ll have a few thoughts about how much the Packers miss Jordy Nelson, if at all.

Packers 24
Broncos 16

No More Injuries, please!

Whelp, the Packers played their worst game of the year (offensively at least) and there still was never a worry.    Glad to see Clay Matthews, not only earning his pay check but, playing like DPOY (Def. Player of the Year).  Back to the offense…give the Rams defense a ton of credit, they’re pretty damn good and they focused on stopping the run game and short passes.  Many fans here are worried about the Packers not having a deep threat since losing Jordy Nelson – valid point, more on that in another blog – however, my worry is the Packers did not even attempt a throw longer than 30 yards.  In order to make the defense respect the deep ball, you must at least attempt 1!!!  Once Davante Adams returns I believe the Packers will open it up a bit more but if not, that makes this week’s game even more tough.

San Diego entered this season with high expectations – a deep playoff run = High Expectations for them; not the Packers.  They sit at 2-3 and are quite desperate with a decent amount of talent.  Philip Rivers is a solid QB with a Hall of Fame Tight End (TE), Antonio Gates and a great young Wide Receiver (WR) Keenan Allen.  Yeah yeah, Melvin Gordon is coming back to Wisconsin for the first time since being drafted by the Chargers.  I don’t think they’re built for MGIII to have a ton of success.  No real bruising Fullback (FB) and are more pass-happy than balanced and thus I don’t think Gordon will have a ton of success v Green Bay, even if BJ Raji is out with an injured groin.  The Packers match up well v San Diego, well the Packers match up well against anyone really.

This should be a tough/close game, possibly similar to last week.  If Rodgers doesn’t turn the ball over 3 times (which I’m willing to bet a ton he won’t) the Packers should control this game.  Get the win, stay healthy, and get healthier through the Bye week because there’s the toughest test of the season awaiting in week 8.

Chargers 20
Packers 31

5-0??? Book it!

It’s been a while, sorry about that… here we go!

We know 1 of 2 things (or maybe nothing new at all) 1. The Packers defense, especially the rush defense, is vastly improved OR 2. The 9ers suck…ok we knew that last year.  It was refreshing to see the Packers shut down a team, on the road.  After the TD on the first drive I wasn’t the least bit concerned for the rest of the game.  However, since the goal is perfection (which is not attainable, I think a legendary coach mentioned something about that) let’s focus on a few flaws…

¼ through the season we now have a sample of everything.  I’ve crunched some #s regarding 3rd down efficiency and the difference of NOT having Jordy Nelson.  Let me state that I said I didn’t think the Packers would “miss” Jordy all that much due to Rodgers being able to make up for lost production.  The Packers are converting 40.4% of third downs this year which ranks 16th (I believe) as opposed to last season converting 47.4% (3rd overall).  I calculated all of Jordy’s 3rd down targets and conversions…when Jordy was targeted on 3rd down, he converted 50%.  That’s really good.  So one can state that the Packers really miss No. 87, however I argue with Jordy going down the Packers are a more efficient offense.  Time of possession is way up, total plays/game is up, both which help the Defense incredibly!  I’m not saying Jordy being injured directly makes the defense great, but when you have Aaron Rodgers and a great offensive coaching staff, it makes it much easier to adjust as opposed to, say, the Atlanta Falcons losing Julio Jones (whom I believe is the best WR in the NFL).

Ok – let’s look at the St. Louis Rams.  In week 1 they beat, what we thought at the time was a great team, Seattle.  They then had a huge let down the next week at a bad Redskins (oh my god!  I said their name, the Redskins! :O) team.  Everyone is focusing that St. Louis went into Glendale, AZ and beat an undefeated Cardinals team; impressive.  Are the Rams set up for another let down?  I say no…because the Packers are arguably the best team in the NFL, arguable the best Home Team too.

St. Louis features possibly the best defensive front in all of football, DEs Robert Quinn & Chris Long and DTs Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers.  This could pose a huge problem for the Packers’ tackles, even if Bulaga plays.  Bakhtiari has regressed each season after having a decent debut season as a rookie.  Don Barclay has shown he can’t block anyone, run or pass block that is, since injuring his knee.  Bulaga will be tested v. this front.  St. Louis is built around great/solid defense and a tough running game, just like Jeff Fisher always tries to build…with all of that I still don’t think if St. Louis plays their A-game they come into Lambeau and get a win.  With that, my prediction is below…

Rams 17
Packers 27

Why You (Packers fans) Shouldn’t Be Excited

This should be the standard!  Did you not expect this from this Green Bay Packers team?  Vegas pegged them as Super Bowl favorites, so why is there so much Packer Kool-Aid being chugged?  This should be expected, every year…more on this in weeks to come.

This was a good team win v. Kansas City, but it should’ve been better.  45-14 seems better.   Keep the pressure on.  Many may say the game was over at half, well so was the NFC Championship game v. Seattle.  If anything we should’ve learned from that game and always keep the foot on the pedal.

I learned:
The rush defense is vastly improved from last year and a healthy Clay Matthews can earn his $11M/yr. paycheck.
Damarious Randall is a solid corner, and hopefully he continues his progression and can really solidify the defense for the next 5-7 years.
BJ Raji is healthy and that’s a very, very good thing.

Coming into week 4, I’ve never felt this confident heading to San Fran.  This is an opportunity to “exorcise demons” in some sense but this is a completely different team (SF) than seasons’ passed.  This is a good tune-up game, should be no issue to move the ball.  The only mis-match is Carlos Hyde (leads the NFL in forcing missed tackles) v. the Packers run Defense (led the league in missed tackles after week 2).  With that, I’m still not worried.  Colin Kaepernick is God Awful…matches his persona.  The Packers should have an interception or two – with Rodgers at QB, that should amount to 30+ points.

Green Bay 31
San Francisco 13