The Truest Test

Review~ After carefully re-watching the Panthers’ game, there were a couple of items that stood out. 

  • Rashan Gary has either made great strides (he has improved a bit from last year) OR Preston Smith has regressed; or both.
  • LaFleur stuck with the ground game and it translated to an ugly win, which was all that was needed.
  • Red-Zone/Gold-Zone + Goal-Line Offense is outstanding in execution and efficiency.
  • Inside LBs are progressing, especially the rookies: Kamal Martin (#54); Krys Barnes (#51).
  • Darnell Savage is vastly improving, and he was already solid to begin with…
  • With Savage’s improvement, Pettine moved Adrian Amos inside on passing-situations to use his athleticism to cover quick crossers and tight ends; very effective.
  • Allen Lazard is very consistent and a solid 2nd WR in this offense.  He fits the scheme quite well.
  • Mason Crosby is as reliable as possibly expected- that could translate into a weapon in January in the cold.
  • The Panthers missed McCaffrey, there were quite a few holes that either weren’t hit on-time, or just missed altogether which could’ve swung this game into a much closer battle.

Current Standing~ again, as writing this (Sun morning), the Packers sit in the 1 seed and if (my math is correct) the Rams best Seattle this afternoon, the Packers could clinch home-field advantage with a win.  Meaning the Seahawks would have 5 losses, the Saints 4 losses, and the Packers 12 wins.  With Green Bay holding the H2H tiebreaker over New Orleans (wow, looking back that win was monumental) the NFC runs through Lambeau AND Green Bay earns the ONLY bye in this years’ updated playoff setup.

Preview~ enter, possibly, the toughest challenge yet: the Tennessee Titans.  Led by Head Coach, Mike Vrabel, Tennessee prides themselves on punching teams in the face.  A typical kryptonite for Packer teams over the last decade.  The Titans’ lead star is Derrick Henry.  The most aggressive/physical runner of the football since possibly Earl Campbell.  The Packers’ rush defense will get the toughest test possible, at the proper time.  If Green Bay can not only win this game, but “hold” Henry in check, that should solidify any concerns about whether Green Bay can win the Super Bowl…maybe (Mahomes). 

 Ten O v GB D   Ten D v GB O   

As you can see, each teams’ offense possesses a distinct advantage…After the 2nd half malfunction, the Packers slipped from the top-scoring offense allowing Tennessee and Kansas City to upgrade to a tie for 1st, and the Packers slipped to 3rd.  This could be a high-scoring affair, but I believe the best way to win is to own the line of scrimmage and commit to the ground game as LaFleur did last week vs. Carolina.  Henry is going to get going a bit, but him having 125-160 yards and 1-2 TDs doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t blow this team out of the water.  The thing that sticks in my mind is Tennessee getting absolutely blasted by a Baker Mayfield-led Browns team, where (while it’s not your typical Browns team) the Titans found themselves down 38-7 at halftime, at Nissan Stadium!  Rodgers should be able to conduct a similar symphony and get back to becoming the top-scoring team in the NFL.

Titans 28
Packers 41

Season: 11-3
Overall: 66-35

Saturday Night Special

Review~ anyone with 2 eyes – or 1 eye for that matter – could see the connection between Rodgers and Adams as something more than special.  The two connected on another touchdown in 8 consecutive games.  This is the life-blood of the offense, maybe the team.  The defense seems to shut teams down in stretches of games, but never for an entire game.  This is all well and good in the regular season, but come playoff time is a dangerous way to live. 

The Lions opened up with the short-passing game and it worked, as it usually does, vs. a Bend-but-don’t-Break defense.  For those that don’t understand, the concept of a Bend But Don’t Break D is to force the offense to put together long, methodical drives to score.  This puts the onus on the offense to not have commit a mistake (holding penalty, sack, or turnover) – the likelihood obviously increases with longer drives.  If Stafford is a good enough QB to captain a below average roster down the field and score a TD, it’s a bit disconcerting what a Brees, Wilson, or Brady could do…either way, the entire concept is banking on Rodgers being able to convert at a higher rate vs. their defenses as opposed to them converting vs. Green Bay’s…which is always the case in any game, ever. Hence why QB’s are judged by Super Bowl titles.  I digress…the Packers did what they do, scored 5 times out of their 8 drives, with their last drive closing out the game.  Even at that rate, it seemed like they weren’t hitting on all cylinders, but what will be key moving forward is the run game.  Holding the ball for long drives and keeping their defense fresh and wearing out the opponents’ D will be crucial to how far this team can go.  Green Bay dominated time of possession once again, holding the ball for over 35 minutes.  They do that AND win the turnover battle (or don’t lose it), I can’t see how they lose a game.

Current Standing~ with the help from Jalen Hurts and Philadelphia, the Packers move into the 1st seed in the NFC playoff picture due to the Eagles beating the Brees-less Saints.  New Orleans has the toughest matchup possible this week, hosting Kansas City, with minimal to no fans.  Should the Packers get a little help from Washington (hosts Seattle) and the Chiefs (@ Saints), and the Packers take care of business tonight, they could be sitting pretty heading into the final 2 games of the regular season. 

Preview~ enter the Carolina Panthers.  This is a bad football team with some top talent, so there are a few guys to keep an eye on.  Obviously, their best player is star running back, Christian McCaffery.  Last year in Lambeau he had 26 touches for 141 yards and a TD, which was actually a decent job by the Packers’ D…points to how good he is.  As I write this, McCaffery is listed as “Doubtful,” which doesn’t stop their ESPN beat writer from picking them to have a “last-minute comeback win over the Packers.”  If the Packers find a way to lose this game, you can be all but certain they have zero shot at winning the Super Bowl.  Super Bowl-caliber-winning teams don’t lose late-December home games to crap teams missing their star player. 

 Car D v GB O   Car O v GB D   

You can see the Packers, once again, have the distinct advantage when they have the ball.  They’re facing the 20th-ranked defense (in terms of points allowed) and should have no problem hanging another 30+.  It’s an even match-up when the Panthers have the ball, but even then, their playmakers are at the Wide Receiver position, no longer the HB or TE (Olsen gone is a huge help too).  Teddy Two-Gloves should see a fierce pass-rush, hopefully from rising helper, Rashan Gary (if he keeps progressing, I’ll gladly admit I was wrong) and maybe Preston Smith can contribute something this year?

Keep pace…

Panthers 16
Packers 38

Season: 10-3
Overall: 65-35

Practice (Allen Iverson’s voice) for the Playoffs?! (Jim Mora’s voice)

Green Bay did what was needed, handled a far inferior team.  It got a little close for comfort there after the punt return for 6 (special teams has been atrocious so far, and must be remedied before January).  If you’ve been reading with, or know, me you see that QB-play is essentially the difference between winning and losing, regardless of regular season vs. postseason.  Not just stats, but overall marching the offense down the field and making key plays at key times.  Rodgers has, in each of the 9 wins, been magnificent, but in the 3 losses can point to key points where the offense has failed.  In last week’s game, Rodgers was once again, very solid.

Review~ notice when Philly got back into the game, the Packers’ offense went 3 & out on consecutive drives, much like the Colts game when up 28-17 in the 3rd quarter, the offense could’ve iced the game (either by taking over momentum or building a large enough lead, late OR both).  Also, the offense did a fine job closing the game with a complete team-like effort on Aaron Jones’ 77-yard TD.  What’s needed for that type of run?  Downfield blocking, and you’ll notice both MVS and Bakhtiari blocking downfield the entire way, hell, Bakhtiari damn near beat everyone to the end zone (I guess he reached almost 17 mph)!  You get that type of effort in January (hopefully in Lambeau), this team will be impossible to beat.  It’s pretty safe to say that as long as the offense limits 3 & outs and doesn’t turn the ball over, they can’t be beaten.  The offense is too good…the defense, well…it should be good enough if the offense continues to be who they are…

Since entering my 20’s, I’ve gone from a players fan to a team fan.  What I mean by that is player accomplishments are meaningless to me—aka Rodgers winning MVP is moot as I’d rather the team win the Super Bowl, because what good is a player winning MVP if the team doesn’t win a title?  You know the answer, aside from dividing a fan base due to arguing, nothing.  Rodgers is, however, playing at an MVP-level and it’s reflected on the team’s record.  He was near flawless again, as was Adams and the offensive line in this game vs. Philly, let’s keep it rolling.

Preview~ travelling to Detroit always seems to be an issue.  Hell, even the last 3 games vs. Detroit (regardless of venue) the Packers have come out quite sluggish.  Keep in mind, last year the Packers never lead in all 120 minutes of game action vs. the Lions, but Mason Crosby field goals as time expired gave them 2 victories.  Earlier this year, the Packers got down early, 14-3.  This was due to Detroit committing early to the run, then for (what bad teams do) some reason, abandoning attacking the Packers’ weakness and allowed Green Bay to gain a rhythm and completely takeover the game—scoring an unanswered 31 points with a pick-6 by Chandon Sullivan. 


Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur should be salivating at this matchup, again.  The Packers are going to see one of the worst defenses in the entire league, in a dome, sans fans.  This should resemble a 7-on-7 practice for Rodgers.  Look for Green Bay to get healthy, experience, and rolling heading into the most important part of the season.  Tavon Austin should get some playing time with Tyler Ervin hitting IR again, as well as John Runyan possibly starting without having to see all-world DT Fletcher Cox.  Usually, the Packers come out foggy at Detroit, and struggle.  While it’s a division rival (as are all of Green Bay’s division opponents), this Detroit team has gone through a Coach firing, injuries, and just don’t know how to close out games (aside from last week at Chicago, which was hilarious). 

Look for Green Bay to keep running and getting (hopefully) A.J. Dillon some reps as he comes off the Covid list, he could be a key cog down the stretch, a bruising runner in the cold is always welcome.

Current Standing~ after getting a little help from the Giants (beat Seattle), the Packers sit alone in the 2nd seed, as of now.  Keep in mind, should Green Bay win out, then New Orleans would only have to drop 1 game for Green Bay to obtain the very important 1 seed.  This week, we’re rooting for Philadelphia to best the Taysom Hill-led Saints…Jalen Hurts is getting the start for the Eagles and it may just be enough of a spark for a needed upset.

Packers 34
Lions 21

Season: 9-3
Overall: 64-34

Right Last Year’s Upset?

Review~ the Packers showed what turnovers can do to a far superior team…blast an inferior team out of the water.  Then, like week 1, the Packers’ defense allows a concerning number of garbage-time yards and points.

The major difference, easily seen by anyone, was QB-play.  Trubisky finished: 26/46, 242 yards, 3TD, 2INT, 74.7 RAT.  Whereas Rodgers lit up the Bears’ 6th ranked defense for: 21/29, 211 yards, 4TD, 0INT, 132.3 RAT.  Completely controlling the game and walking away with an easy victory.  The issue, as typical with this season is the defense.  This sentence may get lost in the fray, but the defense will likely show up enough to give the offense an opportunity to win the game and after the missed opportunity…well, let’s focus on the now.

Preview~ enter the Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1, 3rd in the NFC East, .5 GB).  Head Coach, Doug Pederson is coaching for his job – as of this morning, it seems that this is a must-win in order for the 2017 Super Bowl-winning Head Coach to keep his job.  This is what happens when you tie your career to the wrong QB (keep in mind, they decided to let Nick Foles walk and pay Carson Wentz). 


The Eagles are awful on offense and actually decent at holding their opponents on defense…however are middle of the road as far as points allowed.  My guess, without watching ALL of their games, is they’re awful in the field position game – translating to their opponents not having to drive all that far to score, because they do eventually score.  By solely looking at the match-up, the Packers shouldn’t have an issue with the Eagles…then again this is another opportunity for the defense to shut down a potentially dangerous offense.  Some (me included) still believe Doug Pederson is a solid play-caller and offensive mind.  If Green Bay can hold Philadelphia to under 20 points, that would be quite the accomplishment – at least this season.  Rodgers & Co. should keep pace and hang another 30+ on this Eagles team, at home.  It also shouldn’t come as a surprise if they hang their third 40-burger, which would greatly help the D get into a groove. 

As it currently sits, the Packers are the 2nd seed in the NFC and need to keep pace, and root for both Seattle and New Orleans to lose.  The Packers currently hold the tiebreaker over each, but never hurts to gain ground.

Soo…go Falcons and Giants.

Eagles 24
Packers 41

Season: 8-3
Overall: 63-34