Can’t Catch KC at a Better Time

Review~ an overall solid performance from the offense.  The defense created the 1 huge (2 total) turnover(s) at the right time and the offense capitalized on it, and turned it into a 2-for-1 (scoring right before half then getting the ball after half).  Rodgers played about as well as we’ve seen him play.  Not just the stat-line, but he kept the offense in rhythm, both in-and-out of the huddle, but after the snap too.  A few plays he held the ball when Oakland dropped into coverage, but managed to get a few huge plays from that as well.  Hopefully that doesn’t become the norm again, but either way, LaFleur called a brilliant game and the QB executed it about as well as you could have.

The defense did just enough, but the offense really suffocated the Raiders’ offense and put all the pressure on Carr to hang 5+ TDs, which he simply isn’t going to do.  The Raiders “outgained” the Packers by 3 yards with 484 total yards, and looking on a stat line, it was essentially an even game.  The difference being the Raiders’ 2 turnovers took 14 points off the board for them and the Packers converted those turnovers to 14 points of their own.  That momentum is too much to overcome, especially if you’re an inferior opponent.

Preview~ what normally is the toughest place to play, Kansas City, likely (hopefully) won’t be that tonight.  The Chiefs (my Super Bowl Champion pick) are going to be without QB Patrick Mahomes (reigning MVP), DT Chris Jones (solid player), CB Kendall Fuller (solid player), LG Andrew Wylie (starter), and DE Frank Clark (leading pass rusher).  Anti-Packer fans will say the Packers are getting lucky for the 3rd consecutive week (refs vs Detroit, fumble ruling vs Oakland, and now injuries at Kansas City), but knowledgeable Packer fans know this is just another example of something evening out over the past decade + of stuff that Green Bay has endured.

It’s tough to really say what type of opponent the Chiefs will be with, possibly, their top 4 players missing, but they’ll still have their top 3 pass catchers playing in TE Travis Kelce, WR Tyreek Hill, and WR Sammy Watkins.  Those 3 could pose a problem, if Matt Moore can get some time to throw and make some good throws, so again it’s a huge opportunity for the defense to take control of this game and generate some pass rush, and not allow the screens and draws to gash them too bad.

Look for the Packers’ QB to outplay the Chiefs’ QB, especially because the Chiefs defense can’t seem to stop anyone, and since they’re going to be missing their top 3 defenders (Jones, Ford, and Fuller) look for Rodgers to be very productive again.

Packers 31
Chiefs 13

Season: 4-3
Overall: 47-28

Detroit Lost- this isn’t news.

While the nation pushes the narrative that the refs dictated the outcome of the game, it’s funny that when the Packers finally benefit from a controversial call, that the nation is up in arms vs. the Fail Mary, Jerry Rice’s fumble, etc. etc., just “ahh it happens, too bad.”

Review~ The Packers played as ugly a game as they could—losing the turnover battle by 3, which is an automatic loss for any team vs any team.  The biggest takeaway I had was the Packers defense “gave up a touchdown,” which couldn’t be confirmed and held Detroit to settle for 5 field goals.  That’s how teams lose, kicking 5 field goals.  The only time I can remember a team winning a game kicking field goals was a Packers @ Cowboys in 1996 where Dallas kicked 7 field goals and won 21-6.  Keep in mind that Dallas team was LOADED, so it said more about the Packers’ D than the ’96 Cowboys.  Either way, the Packers keep showing signs of a good team, winning ugly.  On top of winning ugly, they’re doing it in a balanced manner.

Rodgers, again, managed the game beautifully.  He doesn’t have nearly all of his weapons, which usually makes him a better QB, because he’s forced to hit the open man, check down, throw it away, or take the sack.  Having complete trust in the defense while knowing he can’t force it to any 1 player (because the lack of trust) brings out the best in the QB.  He’s still accurate enough, making 2-3 great throws/game, and extremely careful, is the best balance to win.

Preview~ enter the, better than anticipated, Oakland Raiders.  Oakland is 3-2, coming off a nice win in London over the Bears.  That was a game they controlled for 3.5 quarters, and the half quarter Chicago took control? Scored 21 unanswered points.  The Raiders CAN play, they have a capable QB, solid defense, and rookie running back that is a hard runner with good vision.  If the Raiders win the turnover battle, I doubt they settle for kicking 5 field goals and chuck it deep/in the end zone.  This is a great test/tune-up game for Green Bay.  Oakland is hungry, coming off a bye, and opened some eyes with their win on global television in London over Chicago.  I’d be surprised if the Packers weren’t ready.

Nice pick-up:  Ryan Grant.  For some reason I really love this pick up.  He’s the type of WR many were clamoring for (veteran, sure-handed, good route-running) the last few weeks, and at the right price—gave up nothing.  He should fit well in the slot position, so well that when Adams returns it can be a nice Adams, MVS, and Grant in the 3-WR sets.  That should give LaFleur plenty of ability to open the full playbook, beginning this week.

Check for Aaron Jones to get back on track after his awful performance last week, and for Ryan Grant to get a few targets, maybe 2-5, to get him on the same page with Rodgers.  It may be a “muddy” game, but one that fits the Packers well.

Raiders 17
Packers 27

Season: 3-3
Overall: 46-28

A ‘Must Win,’ Kind of…

Review~ The Packers put together their most complete game in Dallas a week ago.  While it seems the defense may have allowed the Cowboys back in the game, late, it certainly was still in control for the entirety.  Jason Garrett, and Kellen Moore (Dallas’ OC), played right into Mike Pettine’s plan: we’ll allow the run, but will focus on getting a sack and/or interception when you pass.  For some inexplicable reason, the Cowboys put the game in Dak’s hands and showed America what walking into a (well-known) mouse trap looks like.  This was more of a Look at how Dumb Dallas Is than Wow, the Packers Really Bounced Back Nicely game.  Now, what the Packers do get credit for is sticking to the run and executing an offensive gameplan of their own that shredded the Dallas defense.  That credit goes to LaFleur and Rodgers for establishing, sticking to, and executing it.

The troubling side of the game was the huge plays Dallas was able to get when the Packers were in a “Don’t give up huge plays” defense.  It’s unclear and tough to tell that was due to the injuries, but I’ll go with that since taking off Za’Darius Smith and Darnell Savage, Jr. will cause a drop off in production, AND Dallas was in 100% pass mode.

Preview~ Enter the Detroit Lions, sitting alone in 2nd place of the division at 2-1-1.  This is about as big a game as it could be.  The Lions rank 18th in defensive points (23.8/game) and aren’t that dynamic on offense: averaging 24.2 points/game; scoring 30 in a home loss to Kansas City.  They have been consistent scoring 27, 13, 27, and 30 in their first 4, but after having a decent sample size to see their opponents, that may be misleading.  The best opponent they’ve played (and beaten) seems to be Philadelphia, and even the Eagles have been a Jekyll and Hyde-type team so far.

Look for Detroit to feed running back Kerryon Johnson and work to get some big plays to WR Kenny Golladay.  QB Matthew Stafford has thrown 2 INTs and lost 2 of his 3 fumbles, so there’s an opportunity to get 1-2 from him tonight.  Again, it’s not that hard to watch for, but winning the turnover battle will likely be the determining factor in this game.  2nd is time of possession- which was lost in last week’s dominant performance—Green Bay held the ball for over 36 minutes.  When that happens, it usually means you’re playing Keep Away, and your defense is resting.  All good things.  I see more of the same tonight.

Lions 17
Packers 28

Season: 2-3
Overall: 45-28

Out-coached, Out-executed.

Review ~ there’s not much else other than that, outcoached and out-executed.  It’s been documented that Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme (from the Rex Ryan philosophy) is to limit big plays, which typically come from the passing game.  In order to do that, a defense needs to have a good secondary and a legitimate pass rush.  The Packers possess both, however the trade-off is giving up yards on the ground.

The idea behind it, is Pettine is betting the opponent won’t commit to the run for the entire game, thus needing to stack four to five 10-play + drives to score over 20 points.  Credit Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz for sticking to the plan AND executing it about as well as possible…and even then, the Packers had the ball with a chance to tie AFTER Rodgers was strip-sacked essentially giving all momentum to Philadelphia.  How’s that for an optimistic point of view?

Through the ¼ mark of the season, the Packers rank, defensively, 10th in yards and 7th in points given up.  That is a solid trend, and 57% of their yards given up are through the air, meaning the opponents have been playing into Pettine’s plan of trying to beat Green Bay with the pass.  This is where sacks and interceptions occur, makes sense.  The one opponent that kept to the ground and actually had more rush yards than pass yards was Philadelphia…

Preview ~ now enter the Dallas Cowboys, possibly the best team in the NFC, well at least that’s what most think.  To use the NCAA football term- strength of schedule– I believe the Cowboys rank dead last.  The only opponent they’ve faced of any quality held their “high-powered” offense to 10 points on 257 yards while committing 3 turnovers.  The Packers may be able to emulate what the Saints’ defense did to Dallas, however that will commit to stopping the ground game, which is Dallas’ strength.  New Orleans was also able to execute this due to having 36 minutes of possession, thus keeping the ball away from Zeke.  The Cowboys rushed 20 times for 45 yards- they cannot win with a 2.3 yard average.  Should the Packers hold Dallas under 4 yards/carry, it should result in victory.


Team Offense   Defense
  Yards (rank) Points (rank)   Yards (rank) Points (rank)
Packers 337.8 (20) 21.2 (17)   330.2 (10) 17.2 (7)
Cowboys 425.2 (3) 26.8 (8)   318.5 (7) 14.0 (3)

As you can see Dallas is one of the elite teams in the NFL, based on rankings alone.  However, they’ve faced the Giants (terrible until they started Daniel Jones), Redskins, and Dolphins prior to finally seeing legitimate competition in New Orleans—and even then, they faced backup QB Teddy Bridgewater and LOST.  So there’s hope that Dallas isn’t as formidable an opponent as initially thought.

With that, their OL is still incredible and they do love to run the ball because in a big game Dak has yet to win them a game (sure, they beat Seattle in the playoffs last year, but let’s not get started on Russell Wilson and how overrated he is).  I can see victory, but don’t think it will happen.  GO PACK GO!!!

Packers 23
Cowboys 24

Season: 2-2
Overall: 45-27