COVID Is Helping?

Well most predictions on this game turned to be true.  The Packers were the better team, by far, and it showed after the extremely slow-start.  Generating your own energy is going to be an asset this NFL season, and there’s no better time to have to play a Prime-Time game at the Superdome in New Orleans than when no fans are allowed.  Even the biggest Packer Backer would have a hard time picking any Green Bay team to come out of there with a W, but maybe not so much.

Review~ again Green Bay got down early to Detroit, by allowing the Lions to march right down the field on their first 2 possessions and build a 14-3 lead in Lambeau.  That was quickly put to an end when Aaron Rodgers (and Chandon Sullivan) led the Packers to 31 unanswered points, which is a true testament to the QB sticking with the playbook and now trying to takeover.  He played another great game, albeit vs. a sub-par opponent, but he did his job.  Aaron Jones further validated his eliteness by taking over with a 75-yard scamper up the middle of the defense.  It’s those homerun-type plays that will allow the Packer offense to keep their opponent off-balance due to the threat of the big play on the ground. 

The defense sorely missed Kenny Clark, as the first 2 drives proved little resistance.  The Packers could have a chance at a Super Bowl if they take the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs’ route by their offense taking over games and seizing all momentum, but it’d be much easier if Green Bay could even show a threat of stopping the fun.  This week will be a great test.

Preview~ New Orleans may have the deepest, and best roster in the NFL.  While you know me, it comes down to the QB, Brees looks every bit of a 41-year old and never had a strong arm to begin with.  Relying on his perfectly timed and accurate passing abilities over arm strength, that and a balanced attack is how they can put up points.  If this gets to a shootout (see SF @ NO last year) I believe it solely falls into the hands of the QB and no QB is playing better than Aaron Rodgers. 

The unforeseen bright spot of this Packers team has been the offensive line.  We knew Bakhtiari and Jenkins were studs (Jenkins may be the most-underrated OL in the NFL), Linsley was solid, but the RG and RT spots were scary ?’s.  After 2 games, and a balanced offense, the OL has not only “held up,” but I’d argue has been one of, if not, the best lines in the entire league.  Look for heavy doses of Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon – on top of the much-anticipated Aaron Jones show – to wear down that Saints’ pass rush and get Rodgers into easy conversions to keep the ball.

There will be a lot of talk about Aaron Jones and Alvin Kamara, as there should, but if Rodgers plays remotely effective as to the 1st two weeks, the Packers will win.

Packers 34
Saints 28

Season: 2-0
Overall: 57-31

Hit Your Stride…

Review—it’s refreshing to see a QB run the offense.  Rodgers played in rhythm and sync the entire game, and it showed by settling for only 1 punt in 10 possessions.  While the numbers show the Packers passed > rushed, the run was the key for the offense.  It kept the defense off-balance and allowed LaFleur the entire playbook for the entire game.  Where Rodgers truly shined was his timing on his “shots.”  Instead of the adlib and chuck offense, which was done on 1 or 2 plays, the shots taken were at the right time in both game situation and pace of game.  The challenge comes when facing an opponent that doesn’t have an awful secondary with zero pass rush (missing Hunter was huge for them), however kudos is due because he did what he was supposed to do and put op 43 points (easily could’ve been 50 had Adams hung on to the 4th down throw).

The defense on the other hand…well, they dictated the game and gave the offense the opportunity to build a lead, it was good team football until the 4th quarter.  The offense kept punishing the Vikings’ D and the defense couldn’t close it out.  It was wary to see both Savage and Alexander peeking at the QB allowing Thielen (both times) to get behind them for relatively easy touchdowns.  The other part is giving up three 2-pt conversions.  While it mattered not in the result of the game, there’s plenty to work on…and the Packers’ run defense seems to have picked up where it left off in San Francisco in January.

Preview—since Kenny Clark is OUT for the week 2 matchup vs. Detroit, everyone should pick up Adrian Peterson (#28), Kerryon Johnson (#33), and/or D’Andre Swift (#32)—even if Swift is the goat (not the good kind) from last week’s drop vs. Chicago.  The Packers’ rush D gave up 6.1 yards/carry vs. Minnesota and it didn’t look like it was close to stopping anyone.  Be on the lookout if Detroit sticks with the run that this game may actually be tight.

Then again, if Mitch Trubisky can put up 21 unanswered vs Detroit, then what should Rodgers be able to do?  Detroit seems absolutely cursed, just as a franchise.  The prime example(s) should be from both games vs. Green Bay last season.  The Packers never led in either game, yet went 2-0 vs. Detroit.  They have no clue how to win in the regular season, which is just hilarious, however all the more embarrassing if you lose to them.

I don’t see the Packers dropping this one in their home opener, even if fanless.  It’ll likely be tight throughout, for no reason, but I in no way see how Green Bay drops this game.

Lions 27
Packers 38

Season: 1-0
Overall: 56-31

Trust Fear Won’t Win and the NFL Finishes the Season?

The season is finally upon us!  I’m not sure if you feel similar, but this is the least excited I can remember being about football in my entire life.  The best feeling I’ve had was hearing the FOX music on a promo, but something about the stadiums being empty, or nowhere near capacity just complexes me.  Anyway, onto week 1!

The Vikings have changed a bit since their random (and quite unforeseen) playoff victory last year.  They’ve moved on from Stefon Diggs (traded to Buf) and drafted Justin Jefferson (LSU), as well as saw Everson Griffen’s services vacate US Bank Stadium, but traded for Yannick Ngakoue (from Jax).  Minnesota got younger with both of those moves, and while Diggs is very productive, when paying your QB premium $, you expect/need him to make-up for lack of receiving “talent.” 

Ngakoue could present a problem for the Packers’ OL.  Last year, Bryan Bulaga had his best season in a very solid career. He’s gone.  However, the Packers have caught a major break with (arguably) Minnesota’s best player – Danielle Hunter #99 – being placed on IR, Green Bay only needs to worry about the newcomer – Yannick Ngakoue #91.  Green Bay’s new RT- Billy Turner #77 (who was the worst starter for the Packers’ stellar OL in 2019) may be tasked with keeping Rodgers upright…that is if Turner clears his injury and is ready by kickoff.

Advantage?  I believe the Packers’ offense (now in the 2nd year of LaFleur’s system) has the advantage over Minnesota’s defense.  One of their most-impressive wins in 2019 came on Monday Night Football in Minneapolis to seal the division by winning 23-10.  Winning on the road in Minnesota, as the Packers, is about a tough-a-place to play as anywhere.  It’s always loud and they’re geared up like it’s the Super Bowl (because it is for them), and the Packers dominated in all 3-phases for all 4 quarters of that game.  There’s no reason to think this won’t be like that atmosphere again…oh, except there won’t be ANY fans in attendance. 

As for the Packers’ D v Vikings’ O?  I think that’s a stale-mate.  The Packers front should be able to get pressure on Cousins like last year, especially if 2019 1st round pick (Rashan Gary #52) takes a much-needed jump.  Minnesota’s equalizer is HB Dalvin Cook #33.  The only thing to slow him down are injuries.  He’s as dynamic, if not more so, than Aaron Jones and is a true natural runner of the football.  If Green Bay can force Cousins to beat them, I believe it’ll be 3 wins in a row for the Green & Gold.  If it’s Dalvin Cook’s game…not so much.

Packers 24
Vikings 21

Overall: 55-31

In Case Telecast Feeds Cut Out…Here’s What’s to Happen.

The season is…well, here.  Who knew?  While everyone complained about the preseason, it was good for quite a few things.

  1. Staying on schedule
  2. Hyping up the season (aka creating interest)
  3. Getting an idea of who, what, why, etc.

Now with the season just abruptly starting, it’s odd how little interest there seems to be amongst the masses.  However, it’s still going on as scheduled…for now.  Keep in mind there’s an additional playoff team this year, making 7 per conference.  Leaving only the 1 seed with a BYE, which makes the regular that much more important.  As always, I’ve predicted every single regular season game to come up with the records (while I don’t think every team will have these records, I do believe these will be the playoff seedings).  Let’s look at how the 2020 season will shake out.  If you recall, I’ve nailed the last 2 Super Bowl winners.

AFC North   NFC North  
3Baltimore115 3Green Bay115
5Pittsburgh115 Chicago610
6Cleveland115 Minnesota610
Cincinnati313 Detroit412
South   South  
2Houston133 4New Orleans106
7Tennessee106 7Tampa Bay97
Jacksonville610 Atlanta88
Indianapolis511 Carolina610
East   East  
4New England97 2Dallas115
Buffalo610 5Philadelphia106
Miami610 New York313
New York412 Washington313
West   West  
1Kansas City142 1San Francisco124
Denver97 6Seattle106
Los Angeles79 Los Angeles88
Las Vegas610 Arizona88

*The regular season finished standings seem somewhat realistic, especially if Patrick Mahomes continues this trend of being MegaMan.  Some teams will surprise and some will disappoint, as always, but it’s the teams that have a real shot to win the Super Bowl that should draw your most attention, as well as your favorite team.  How would the playoffs shake out given these seedings?

Wild Card
5Pittsburgh@4New England
5Philadelphia@4New Orleans
6Seattle@3Green Bay
7Tampa Bay@2Dallas
5Pittsburgh@1Kansas City
4New Orleans@3Green Bay
7Tampa Bay@1San Francisco
3Baltimore@1Kansas City
3Green Bay@1San Francisco
Super Bowl LV
3Baltimorev3Green Bay

This may be tough to follow, but keep in the mind the 1 seed in each conference gets a BYE in the playoffs, where every other team must play 3 games to get to the Super Bowl.  However, the 2 seed has an advantage of having at least 2 home games before having to travel.  I feel somewhat confident in the Packers finishing 11-5 (again, assuming the season plays 16 which there’s no reason they shouldn’t, but that’s not why you’re here). 

In my scenario, I have Green Bay getting the 3 seed, meaning they’d get 2 home playoff games, just like the 2 seed, should they win Wild Card weekend.  We see a rematch from last year’s Divisional Playoff between 6th seeded Seattle and 3rd seeded Green Bay, which even in the old playoff format would be the same.  Much like last year, Seattle (and Russell Wilson) isn’t nearly as good on the road as at home, especially in the playoffs.  If memory serves me right, Wilson’s only 2 road playoff wins are his rookie year @ Washington with fellow rookie QB RGIII, and that defense was outstanding.  The other from last year where Seattle traveled to a decimated Philadelphia team, and while leading the whole game, struggled to pull away.  Expect much of the same in this rematch—Green Bay to take early control and hold on to the victory.

Enter the Divisional Round, which was the expected Div. Rd. matchup last year: Saints @ Packers.  New Orleans inexplicably lost to Kirk Cousins and the Vikings, at home!  The Saints have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL, but much like Seattle, are a far different animal away from their loud-ass home stadium.  Drew Brees will just have turned 42 years old and having to play in single-digit temperatures, likely at night, is the best-case scenario for a Packers’ defense.  Aaron Jones and the defense make enough plays in the blistering cold to come out with a close, hard-fought W and move on to the NFC Championship for yet another rematch with the 49ers.

Ahh yes, back to the place where the massacre started as soon as Rodgers bypassed an open Jimmy Graham on 3rd and short on the first offensive possession of the game (after the defense held a 3 & out on SF’s first) and instead dumped it off to Jamaal Williams with almost no chance to gain the first down.  Then with confidence from his defense, rookie Head Coach Matt LaFleur decided to punt and we all know what happened after that…

For you that know me, know I have little confidence in the Packers winning another Super Bowl, especially with Rodgers, but I do think if this scenario plays out- Green Bay will be pulling out all the stops with their actual goal of getting past the NFC title game and getting to the Super Bowl.  I too believe most fans will be happy as a clam if this were to occur, and that’s mostly why I think Green Bay will pull out the win – that and actually having another year with the Smith Bros., Amos, Savage, and an athletic MLB in Pettine’s defense…as well as LaFleur’s 2nd year as play-caller, it could resemble the Shanahan-led 9ers offense, which is run-focused.

So, let’s say the Packers find themselves in Tampa Bay for Super Bowl LV, as you can see I have them matched up vs. Baltimore.  This is a decent match-up for the Packers.  The Ravens’ D is outstanding, much like San Fran’s, and they’re a run-focused team, but in a different sense.  Lamar Jackson (2019 NFL MVP) is so dynamic and absolutely kills you with his legs.  The focus there should be to get a solid hit on him as often as possible, that will wear him down and ultimately could (should) lead to inaccurate throws and turnovers.  Green Bay will likely need 3 turnovers (and be +3 in that category) to win the game.  In the end, I think it’s a gut-wrenching loss, much like Super Bowl XXXII where the Packers will have the ball with about 3 minutes left and needing a touchdown to win and come up short. 

Another great steppingstone, but we’re passed that phase as fans, aren’t we?  Just think, if the world returns to normal and we’re allowed to watch camp, practice, preseason games, and hell even attend games in person…think of the setup coming into 2021 with the Packers having come off NFC title and Super Bowl losses in back-to-back years and the possibility of trading Aaron Rodgers should Jordan Love be ready to step in…