A True Test

Review~ that was the bounce-back performance everyone expected to see.  It also took a total of 3 halves of football for the starters to look like they cared.  While not every team played a preseason, the Packers definitely looked like one that could’ve benefitted from playing some.  Green Bay had great balance, running a total of 61 plays with 31 of them rushing the ball and 30 drop backs.  While the defense is still a concern (Detroit out-gained the Packers) the 2nd half showed the true bend-but-don’t-break D coming up with a shutout of the Lions.

Hardly a feel-good performance for the fans, but this should be a true litmus test for the Packers…San Francisco.  The 49ers are about as complete a football team as there is in the NFL. 

Preview~ San Francisco is one of the most-balanced teams in the NFL.  They have been since the arrival of Kyle Shanahan.  His offense stems from everything running the football.  There are a lot of similarities to be pulled from LaFleur’s offense that came from Shanahan’s.  While the season is still young, we’re beginning to see teams’ true moldings…San Fran has had an awful bout with the injury bug when it comes to the Running Back position, yet still rank 9th in rush offense (124.0 yards/game).  That’s a testament to their commitment to the run game. 

The other huge impact this game might see is the absence of #74 LT Elgton Jenkins.  That means the Packers’ best 2 OL (Bakhtiari & Jenkins) will be missing when taking on, arguably, the best defensive front in football.  That spells a recipe for disaster.  These are far two different teams than the ones that matched up last season, and #97 DE Nick Bosa on San Fran was missing in action last year and will likely be an issue on Sunday night.  Until there’s more season played, it makes sense to keep these synopses short and sweet until there’s more meat to chew.

Packers 27
49ers 34

Season: 1-1
Overall: 70-37

Worth Watching?

After all the talk of the Last Dance Tour stopped (about mid-3rd quarter), it feels as if the entire season came to a crashing (realization) halt.  Are they able to correct a few things and blast Detroit?  Sure, Detroit is terrible, a classic no-win scenario for the Packers, other than an opportunity to improve and work on some things.

While New Orleans is a good team, the Packers would’ve lost to any of the other 31 teams in the NFL with that effort – or lack thereof.  It’s a throwaway tape, not really anything to watch.  Elgton Jenkins looked good at LT, as did AJ Dillon running ball…on all 4 carries.  He did average 4.8 yards/carry, and a lot of those yards came after contact, and during contact.  Green Bay needs to have Dillon and Aaron Jones combine for 35+ touches/game.  An ideal mark would be 40, which would mean committing to the run and not checking out of it. 

The offense resembled the 2018 offense when it was full-on backyard football—the QB just doing whatever the hell he wanted.  Results were similar, shocking to some.

Defense was soft as well, playing 8+ yards off the ball, not sure why—it did resemble a 4th preseason game.  Sure, other organizations didn’t have those issues, however maybe, just maybe it wouldn’t have hurt to get some starters in live action when the opportunity presented itself.  Fear can cripple.

Preview~             Typically I’d go through the previous seasons’ stats/rankings for an opponent in week 2, however Detroit had such turnover – they’re such a different team altogether that it wouldn’t make sense.  With that said, they’re still terrible…yet showed fight and effort when getting blasted by San Francisco, at home, and had a chance to send it to OT.  Meanwhile, our guys gave up…one never showed up.

Sadly, regardless what happens, until this team gets tested again (possibly in week 3 @ San Francisco) we likely won’t learn a whole lot.

Lions 27

Packers 34

Season: 0-1

Overall: 69-37

Week 1: Packers v. Saints – @ Jacksonville

Offseason is over, preseason is over, the drama…will be here until it’s not…

With each NFL season being far different than the year prior, for most teams, I still like to look at the entire prior season as a baseline for the next season’s expectations (predictions may be a better word here).  The 2020 New Orleans Saints team was about as complete a team as there was in the NFL.  However, like usual, their QB choked in the postseason and thus they didn’t sniff the Lombardi Trophy, let alone win it.  Same with the Packers.  On to the matchup!

2020GB Offensevs.NO Defense
Rush132.4 (8) 93.9 (4)
Pass256.6 (9) 217.0 (5)
Total389.0 (5) 310.9 (4)
Points31.3 (1) 21.1 (5)
 GB Defensevs.NO Offense
Rush112.8 (13) 141.6 (6)
Pass221.2 (7) 234.9 (19)
Total334.0 (9) 310.9 (4)
Points23.1 (13) 21.1 (5)

As you can see, the Saints rank higher in 6 of the 8 categories from last season.  Obviously, the HUGE difference is Drew Brees retiring, thus leaving New Orleans with turnover-heavy Jameis Winston at the helm.  Also, they’re missing one of the top WRs in the NFL, #13 Michael Thomas, and homerun-hitter, #10 Tre’Quan Smith.  That should really help Green Bay’s defense which had all kinds of issues tackling #41 Alvin Kamara in last year’s week 3 match-up.  Kamara only carried the ball 6 times for 58 yards (an embarrassing 9.7 yds/carry avg.), but caught 13 balls for 139 yards and 2 TDs.  Everyone remembers the 52-yard TD where he broke close to 1,000 tackles on that play alone.  Kamara is – and should be – the focal point.  Stop him, make Winston beat you for 60 minutes and you should get 2-3 turnovers.  Win the turnover battle, per usual, and win the game.

The key for me, aside from QB-play, will be the OL v DL when each team has the ball.  Green Bay is missing all-world LT David Bakhtiari, and I don’t expect much, if any, drop off in play switching to Elgton Jenkins (also a stud), but Jenkins vacating his normal LG spot could create some issues.  Also, rookie Center, Josh Myers, will get a brutal test (just as his predecessor did in 2014) going up against the 5th ranked defense (points) out of the shoot.  Another key injury for the Saints – as I’m writing this – their top CB #23 Marshon Lattimore is listed as “Questionable,” and that could really open up passing lanes and the play book as they’ll have to shift coverage to Davante (whom the Packers were without in last years’ matchup).  This could really slant the field and, like last year, have the Packers playing from ahead, which LaFleur does well in that scenario. 

Look for some points as NO’s OL is solid and should give Winston some time, who regardless likes to heave it downfield and that could lead to big plays and turnovers.

Packers 34
Saints 24

Season: 0-0
Overall: 69-36

Who’s At Fault This Year?

Maybe my longest hiatus…however, while there was a ton going on within the NFL, particularly our QB, everyone seems to be (finally) flipping on him – in some manner.  As always, I do the schedule grid, meaning I go through all 17 games of each of the 32 teams so each win/loss coincides with their opponents.  This makes it tough to truly guess/predict a specific team’s (or all of them) record, but it’s meant for particular matchup and really seeding into the playoffs. 

The main question for Packer Nation is: Whose fault will it be this year?  We know it’s not #12’s, because he’s immune to blame- even though he’s the biggest choke in the game not-named Matt Ryan.

Here are the results of the grid:

AFC North   NFC North  
4Baltimore1163Green Bay125
AFC South NFC South 
3Tennessee116Tampa Bay143
Indianapolis98New Orleans98
AFC East NFC East 
6New England116NY Giants611
NY Jets314Philadelphia314
AFC West NFC West 
1Kansas City143San Francisco134
7LA Chargers107Arizona116
Las Vegas107LA Rams98
Denver89 Seattle89

And the playoffs with the rankings, and match-ups:

Wild Card
LA Chargers@Buffalo
New Orleans@San Francisco
New England@Tennessee
LA Rams@Green Bay
Arizona@Tampa Bay
Green Bay@San Francisco
Baltimore@Kansas City
San Francisco@Tampa Bay
Tennessee@Kansas City
Super Bowl
Tampa Bayvs.Tennessee

Short and sweet.  There’s about a 33% chance of picking the correct Super Bowl winner if you choose Tom Brady.  Might as well.  As for the Packers, they’re a solid team, possibly the best roster in the NFL—tough to overcome when the QB requires the best defense in the NFL and pick-6’s at the right times as well as complete momentum shifts (again, all from the defense) to win a NFC title game, let alone a Super Bowl.

Crown they asses.