Game of the Year__so far

Review~ while the Packers only ran 53 plays, this had a very odd feel for a regular season game.  There are 1-2 of those each season, and this seemed to fit the bill.  What’s odder, is the Packers only had 15 rush attempts of those 53 plays (28%), which is far under the desired ratio. 

  • Aaron Jones: 11 touches
  • A.J. Dillon: 4 touches (5 targets)
  • Kylin Hill: 3 touches (4 targets)

Rodgers played well.  Tough to say how many runs he checked out of to quick-passes, however it was a few, at minimum.  On the touchdown drives, he did execute and seemed to be in complete control for the duration of the game. 

The defense gave up way too many rush yards, however there’s a reason for it.  95 yards came from the non-running/mobile QB, Taylor Heinicke.  He also played well, but his teammates let him down a handful of times and he made a poor decision on his lone interception (Chandon Sullivan). 

The defense did, essentially, ice the game coming up with 4 consecutive stops which turned complete control over to Rodgers & Co.  Again, solid win (nailed the margin of victory for a 3rd consecutive week (jinx) so we’ll see).

Preview~ these are 2 of the best teams in the NFL, and should be a solid game, however if it gets sideways, it’ll likely be Arizona taking over control…here’s why.

Adams is likely to be OUT due to some sort of COVID-19 restriction, I’ll leave it all at that.

2021GB Off.vs.Ari D
Rush102.0 (19) 115.7 (18)
Pass235.9 (18) 201.0 (3)
Total337.9 (23) 316.7 (4)
Points24.0 (16) 16.3 (1)
 GB Def.vs.Ari O
Rush120.9 (22) 136.6 (5)
Pass210.6 (6) 265.6 (11)
Total331.4 (7) 402.1 (7)
Points20.9 (7) 32.1 (4)

As you can see, the Cardinals are about as solid as a team can be.  Top-ranked scoring offense in the league, and 4th ranked scoring defense.  It was sure to be a test heading in, however likely missing:

  • #17 Adams
  • #23 Alexander
  • #55 Smith
  • #69 Bakhtiari

…really makes this a tough ask.  However, if the Packers commit to the run game, and stick to it, there’s a shot to win the time of possession, wear that defense down, keep the game close, and have it come down to the last drive to have Rodgers make a throw for the win.  We’ll see, however, based on Arizona’s defense, they’re pretty stout everywhere.  Possibly force a turnover or 2 and capitalize on those.  Still a tough ask on a short week, on the road vs. the last-remaining unbeaten.

Packers 20
Cardinals 31

Season: 5-2
Overall: 74-38

Gearing Up for a Tough Stretch

Review~ it was the Jones & Dillon game, with appropriately-timed throws from Rodgers that led to a well-controlled 10-point victory.  Aaron Jones & A.J. Dillon accounted for 28 touches of the 57 total plays run by Green Bay (49%).  That leads to control of the football and even if the execution level is low, you still are able to dictate the outcome of the game, or at least the flow – which is precisely what occurred. 

The running backs accounted for 169 yards of the 323 total (52%), so that ratio is good…anytime you can account for more of a % of the production with a few percentages of the attempts, that’s good – if the team is rolling.  This is the Matt LaFleur offense us Packer fans have grown accustomed to, and is extremely productive.  It also keeps the defense off the field, which in turn helps the defense by putting so much pressure on the opposing offense to score and/or hold the ball…that added pressure only helps.

Also, the Refs blew about the equal number of calls both ways, which is sad b/c they’re still having far too much influence on the outcome of games across the NFL.  Sadly, I don’t think anything will change because (I’m guilty of it as well) we’re all watching at – or close to – record numbers.

The “I own you; I still own you” line was actually authentic and showed a sign of Rodgers I’ve been wanting since he last won the Super Bowl.  Let’s see if it carries into next week, next month, etc., but that’s not cocky, that type of emotion – when authentic – I classify under Determination.

Preview~ the Packers take on a football team that represent the Washington D.C. area.  Coming off a season with a very high-ranking defense, Washington has plunged to 31st in total yards given up and dead last in points.  A great recipe to keep the momentum for the Packers to establish offensive dominance heading into the meat of their schedule.

2021GB Off.vs.Was Def.
Rush109.5 (16) 113.5 (19)
Pass234.0 (21) 309.5 (32)
Total343.5 (23) 423.0 (31)
Points24.0 (15) 31.0 (32)
 GB Def.vs.Was Off.
Rush108.5 (13) 106.3 (19)
Pass206.5 (4) 229.8 (24)
Total315.0 (4) 336.2 (24)
Points22.7 (13) 22.7 (21)

Get things rolling early and often, get guys healthy and keep current players healthy and let’s roll into a short week with momentum. 

The one key matchup is to see how Elgton Jenkins (#74) handles Chase Young (#99).  Jenkins had his worst game of his career – coming back from injury – which is why I believe he struggled mightily, last week.  Young has the ability to be a game-wrecker, but if Green Bay continues to focus and run the offense through the running backs, it should be same $hit, different day.

Another one to keep an eye on is Was WR Terry McClaurin (#17).  He’s one of the NFL’s top Wideouts and matched up vs. a very banged up secondary – if Washington pulls off the upset, it’ll likely be from a couple of huge plays by #17.

WFT (WTF?) 24
Packers 38

Season: 4-2
Overall: 73-38

Kicking Overshadows… also, Are the Bears Good?

Review~ the game transpired about the way I thought it would, except for the kicking issues completely over-shadowing the entirety of the game.  Green Bay completely controlled the game, until the blown coverage/call on the long TD to Ja’Marr Chase right before half, which should’ve resulted in a Darnell Savage interception.  Yet, like 90% of the time, the better team won.  The better team also won the turnover battle, which may or may not have dictated the outcome.

What’s promising was the Packers put up 466 total yards vs. the 7th ranked defense (in yards, giving up 323 coming into the game) on the road.  That came to 7.4 yards/play.  That’s great production, a testament to the gameplan and execution.  There were quite a few checkdowns, which I’ve been clamoring for for a while.  All 3 running backs touched the ball:

  • Aaron Jones: 14 carries for 103 yards; 4 receptions on 5 targets for 6 yards; totaling 109 yards.
  • A.J. Dillon: 8 carries for 30 yards; 4 receptions on 4 targets for 49 yards and a TD- 79 yards.
  • Kylin Hill: 0 carries; 1 reception on 1 target for 5 yards.

That’s solid balance, the running backs produced 193 of the 466 total yards (41%) and garnered roughly 51% of the attention – 22 rushes and 10 targets, so 32 of the 63 plays. 

I’d like to see a few more rushes, but the 50% attention is really what I’m looking for, and believe that makes the QB’s job easier.  Hence the extreme production from Davante Adams (a career-high 206 receiving yards and a TD). 

Overall, a good win vs. a good team on the road.  Take it and run.

Preview~ now onto the rivalry matchup in Chicago.  The Bears actually have a winning record (3-2), and this creates a big matchup for the first time since the opening game of the 2018 season, where Rodgers mounted a great comeback – where the Bears were up 20-0 with 9:14 left in the 3rd quarter.  Chicago eventually got to a point where they had a 97% chance of winning, until they didn’t.  Ok, fun time reminiscing, but onto 2021.

2021GB Off.vs.Chi Def
Rush100.6 (21) 103.8 (11)
Pass247.0 (15) 228.6 (13)
Total347.6 (21) 332.4 (9)
Points24.0 (13) 20.0 (7)
 GB Def.vs.Chi Off.
Rush102.2 (10) 126.8 (9)
Pass220.4 (11) 113.2 (32)
Total322.6 (6) 240.0 (32)
Points24.4 (20) 16.8 (30)

Chicago has, by far, the worst offense in the NFL.  This is a GREAT matchup for the Packers as Chicago focuses on running the ball (9th in the NFL in yards/game), yet Green Bay is 10th against the run.  If Green Bay can force rookie Justin Fields to win the game with his arm, it could be a double-digit Packer victory, and may not be that close if Green Bay can get up early and force a bunch of mistakes.  Also, having Matt Nagy try to outsmart everyone typically plays into the Bears’ opponents’ favor.

Guarding against being over-confident, the Packers did play fairly well in Cincinnati, and have been improving with each week.  Also, the offensive line is literally in shambles, yet is able to do its job and be borderline impressive.

Keep the running backs involved and open up everything else – this should equate to another victory.

Packers 23
Bears 13

Season: 3-2
Overall: 72-38

Welcome Jaylon!

Review~ that was a solid team win vs. a hungry Pittsburgh team.  I hate complaining about officiating, yet again, the non-OPI call on the TD that Jaire “gave up” was obvious.  There’s a reason Jaire missed the ball, let alone was in prime position to intercept it, and came up empty?  Ok…

After that initial possession, Green Bay took over the game, and again owned the line of scrimmage—which allows the QB a large margin of error in order to win the game.  Rodgers does one thing really well…he’s turnover-adverse, especially in the regular season.  This fit well for how the team has performed over the last 3 weeks. 

Injuries are mounting up—which was inevitable based on the health of this team the previous 2 seasons, but with how loaded the roster truly is, they’ve been able to withstand them so far.  Losing Jaire Alexander for an extended period of time is crushing, considering he’s (arguably) the best corner in the NFL, and no, he didn’t “give up a TD on the first drive of the game,” but that’s already been covered (pun intended). 

Kenny Clark continues to receive zero recognition, other than the Packers extending him last year…he’s virtually unblockable with 1 offensive lineman, and vs. Pittsburgh was pushing double-teams into the backfield causing havoc—that too will be needed come January if this team wants to actually accomplish anything of significance (winning a Super Bowl). 

Lastly, the offensive line did more than hold their own, they created running spaces and the WRs (led by Allen Lazard) can block, and block extremely well.  There were multiple times where you saw Lazard (#13) and rookie Amari Rodgers (#8) blocking downfield, and giving the ball carrier plenty of opportunity to gain extra yards…often.  A great sign to see, and something that LaFleur’s offense which is predicated.

Preview~ While signing Stephon Gilmore would’ve been ideal, especially with the injury to Jaire Alexander, signing Jaylon Smith (formerly from the Cowboys) may be an even better addition for the long-term.  Smith is 26 years old, with likely his best football ahead of him.  Why many of the “experts” think he’s a replacement for Za’Darius Smith (edge rusher), Smith is a true Inside Linebacker (ILB), and can cover a decent amount.  Think of him as a far better Blake Martinez.  The guy is athletic, fast (4.44 forty-yard dash), and can tackle (154 tackles in 16 starts last year, avg. 139 tackles/season in the previous 3-full seasons, which he started all 16 games).  He could be an incredible pick-up for a defense that hasn’t had a GREAT inside linebacker since Desmond Bishop.  Hopefully he’ll get some snaps this week in Cincinnati, but likely will be inserted into the Krys Barnes slot of playing, and may be asked to rush the passer from all over the field.  Good players are easy to find methods in which to use…he’s one of those players.

Matchup~ the Packers’ and Bengals’ record (3-1 apiece) shows to be an accurate description of the strength of each team.  They’ve beaten lesser teams, and each team dropped a game (with hindsight) they probably shouldn’t have. 

2021GB Off.vs.Cin Def.
Rush92.5 (24) 93.5 (9)
Pass225.5 (24) 229.5 (13)
Total318.0 (25) 323.0 (7)
Points23.8 (14) 18.8 (8)
 GB Def.vs.Cin Off.
Rush102.0 (12) 98.0 (22)
Pass209.5 (8) 227.5 (23)
Total311.5 (6) 325.5 (22)
Points25.0 (19) 23.0 (20)

As you can see, just based on rankings, the defenses have the edge for each team.  I think this may be the dictator for the outcome.  Again, turnovers.  Whichever team wins the turnover battle, that team will likely win the game.  With Rodgers being Turnover Adverse, that plays well into the Packers’ favor.  Also, the lone loss for the Bengals this year, Joe Burrow (#9) had interceptions on 3 consecutive passes.  Should anything like that occur, it’s hard to imagine the Packers not capitalizing on those and scoring 10-14 points, at least.  Also, that could be a 14-point swing.  The issue at hand is an obvious one…the Packers rank 24th in the NFL with 7 total sacks – and 18th vs QB passer rating (100.2).  That’s with Jaire Alexander…now remove the best corner in the NFL and all of a sudden, we have an issue.  Couple that with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase (#1) re-connecting from their LSU days, this could be the difference-maker in the game should Chase get free.  The Packers must get a pass rush and limit Cincy’s run game if they’re gonna come out of the Jungle a winner.

I think Rodgers makes 1-2 more plays (or less-killer plays) than the youngster Burrow.

Packers 23
Bengals 20

Season: 2-2
Overall: 71-38

Rodgers Needed 0:37, great, is it February?

Review~ Green Bay was the better team on Sunday Night.  It prevailed as well.  Not always does the Best Team win – however, in this case there was enough time to prove so.  The Packers had more yards (353 – 298), won the turnover battle (1 – 0), more sacks (4 – 1), and generally won the line of scrimmage.  Aside from QB-play, winning the line of scrimmage is the best determining factor in which team will win.  Winning the LOS battle does make it easier for the QB, so there’s that…

While I hate bitching about the refs, that’s the one area where San Francisco “won,” penalties.  There were ticky-tack upon ticky-tack calls – let’s not discuss Jaire Alexander’s “roughing” call…the Packers overcame the officials.  About as impressive a regular season win since their 9-0 shutout victory over the New York Jets in week 8 of the 2010 season. 

Preview~ speaking of that 2010 season, it culminated against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.  Aaron Rodgers hasn’t played the Steelers since that game, having missed both matchups due to breaking his collarbone in the 2013 and 2017 seasons.  Another storyline that Packer fans will over-focus on is the drafting of Kevin King over T.J. Watt.  While that’s an egregious miss (newsflash, every team has multiple of every draft), it’s mainly news because Watt is a local boy that went to UW.  It’s time to move on, and since QB is essentially all that matters, the Packers have the better (that’s what I’m told) and are at home with what I believe is the better roster. 

These teams boast 2 of the 3 worst rushing offenses in the entire league (Green Bay 30th and Pittsburgh 32nd).  The Packers are frustrating in that department as when they commit to the run, it really opens the entire offense up and makes Rodgers an MVP-caliber player – i.e., 2020’s season.  Get Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon going early and often, and the Packers can pretty much do whatever they want, when they want.  Just stick with it.  Even if punting early in the game due to drives shorting out, running wears on the opposing D line, which opens everything up in the 2nd half and especially crunch time in the 4th quarter. 

In the grander scheme, while non-conference games are least important, winning home games is always a statement that adds to the mentality of a team (and imposes onto other teams coming to Lambeau) – win this game to add to LaFleur’s early, yet impressive, home record (16-3 including postseason) because the schedule toughens up in the coming weeks.  Beginning Oct. 24th there are six games vs. 2020 postseason teams in the next 9, which one of those “non-playoff” teams from a year ago is 3-0 Arizona, which will be a Thursday night road game…win this, get to 3-1 and focus on finally winning IN Cincinnati!

Steelers 20
Packers 27

Season: 1-2
Overall: 70-38