New Year — New Team?

Review~ the team is doing just enough to win.  Based on True Strength (point differential ranking) Green Bay ranks 11th in the NFL.  That feels a little low, as it’s a bit skewed from that week 1 35-point loss, but still should count somewhat. 

Defense- while getting gashed in the ground game, they did come up with 4 turnovers and a 2-point stop.  Also, on a 2nd & 7 with 13:36 left in the game up 24-15, Eric Stokes dropped an INT that would’ve given the Packers the ball at about midfield with a 2-score lead.  That momentum swing might’ve clinched it there, tough to speculate, but definitely wouldn’t have hurt.  There was a tweet put out this week that the 5 games leading up to the BYE, Green Bay shut down the opposing run game (which is true).  Then since, the last 3 games have been torched (also accurate).  If you dive into that a bit deeper, you’ll see the matchups are a bit off – Arizona was 5th, KC 14th, Sea 25th, Min 9th, and LAR 24th.  Hardly focused on running the ball.  The opponents since all ranked in the top 8 in the NFL.  Not an excuse, but something to keep an eye on.  To win in the NFL, you must pressure the passer.  Green Bay ranks 12th in pressure % (pressuring the QB on 11.2% of dropbacks), and 8th in opposing QB rating (84.6).  Those stats, are more important than team rush defense, at least when January rolls around. 

Lastly, the addition/production of Rasul Douglas cannot be overstated.  He’s somehow improving with each week, and coming up with primetime interceptions at the biggest points of games.  It’s truly remarkable – and has been a far better addition than JJ Watt (another season-ending injury), Stephon Gilmore, and Odell Beckham Jr. 

Offense~ Aaron Rodgers has compiled impressive stats, once again, and actually came up with a big time throw on 3rd and 6 from GB’s 42-yard line with 2:19 left.  The rare (not strong enough of a word) drop by Devante opened the door for Cleveland.  That throw is promising as the Packers will need 1-3 of those per playoff game if they want to advance.  Defense came up and made the stop, so another good team win vs. a desperate team.  Rodgers did say that they need to (and I’m paraphrasing) “put teams away.”  He’s right, however over the course of his career, in each loss in the postseason the defense gets the automatic blame (not entirely inaccurate), but the offense struggled as well in key moments – him too.  He seems different this year than almost any other year – maybe that’s my fandom leaking through, maybe not.  Either way, he seems about as focused as ever and not as pouty, but rather truly frustrated vs. casting blame – all speculation obviously coming from a distance, just how I see it.

Special Teams~ what seemed like vast improvement over the last 2 weeks, there are still some items to clean up/figure out.  However, the nice thing is that Mason Crosby has been 3-of-3 on Field Goals and 13/13 on extra point attempts since the BYE.  So maybe he figured out how to correct the issue.  It sure seems like he’s a bit more methodical and “taking some juice off” his kicks to ensure accuracy.  Points are premium, and fine by me if that shortens his range – only allows the offense to stay more aggressive.  Then, if we find ourselves in a situation before the half or end of the game and need a bomb, he’s capable. 

Matchup~ speaking of desperate, the Minnesota Vikings are as desperate as possible.  With only an 18% chance of making the playoffs (according to some statistician at the NY Times, good interactive article:

 Min O.(rank)vs.GB D.(rank)
Pts25.612 21.614
 Min D.GB O.
Rush130.528 106.921
Pts24.823 25.513
Diff.96th 161st

Preview~ Each team’s offense will have the upper-hand, which doesn’t bode well for Green Bay, considering the struggles vs. good running backs, and Minnesota returns a fresh-legged Dalvin Cook.  In addition, Justin Jefferson had a career day vs. Green Bay in Week 11 (Green Bay’s last loss).  Jefferson had 8 catches for 169 yards and 2 TDs.  That’s some serious production.  The weather may play a factor, meaning to keep and eye on the ground game for both teams.  The Vikings feature a solid combo of #33 Dalvin Cook (certifiable stud) and #25 Alexander Mattison, a worthy 2nd stringer that’s a solid spot-starter.  Mattison has 685 yards and 4 TDs this season (rush + receiving), combined with Cook’s 1,288 yards and 6 TDs, creates a monumental test for Green Bay heading into the postseason.

Both teams feature decent offenses (by production) with some serious artillery, defenses that can be had – Green Bay’s been giving up 27.3 points/game since the bye, but have done just enough to win by creating turnovers and stopping two key 2-point conversions the last two weeks and creating a boatload of turnovers. 

It’s a Pick Your Poison – focus on Cook or Jefferson (#19 Adam Thielen is out for the season).  While I normally like stopping the run, this is a passing league and stopping the huge chunk plays seems to dictate the outcome more than yards per carry.  Minnesota is desperate, they play every game close, and are coming in with a “Nothing to lose” attitude.  With that, Green Bay has a chance to seal the 1-seed should Arizona best Dallas earlier on Sunday.

Vikings 24
Packers 31

Season: 11-4
Overall: 80-40

Need some Xmas Cheer?

Review~ the Packers sorely missed DT Kenny Clark (just named to his 2nd Pro Bowl), and it led to the backup QB’d Ravens (which Huntley may be better than Lamar…he’s a better passer, lesser athlete) coming within a 2-point conversion of likely winning.  There wasn’t a ton of pressure put on as the Ravens didn’t have to account for Clark’s presence.  It allowed TE Mark Andrews to tear up the Packers’ secondary (mainly Savage) in man coverage. 

Throughout the game, Baltimore really moved the ball well.  Of their 8 possessions (9 if you include the 1-play kneel down before half), they scored on 5 of them (4 touchdowns and 1 FG).  Remember, on their 1st drive they decided to go for it on 4th and were denied.  So, the Packers did make 2 goal line stands (first drive & 2-point conversion) to ice the game.  True bend-but-don’t-break, scary but effective when it works.

                Offense—the offense hit its stride on the 2nd possession.  The first possession it was close to hitting a home run, when on 3rd down, Adams ran a beautiful sluggo and was wide open, but Rodgers just overthrew him.  After each team had a possession, the Ravens led in Time of Possession, 7:22 v 1:33.  And after Baltimore scored a TD on their second possession, they led in that category, 10:54 v 1:33.  The key is neither team had a turnover, but the Packers utilized the running backs in all facets of the game.  They mainly relied on Rodgers’ arm – as they should, he’s been on fire the last month +.  Aaron Jones & A.J. Dillon combined to produce 105 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 22 touches.  Green Bay finished the game with a 31:10 v 28:50 time of possession lead.  Again, not the best indicator of W’s vs. L’s, but it’s something that really helps the Defense and overall team.  Plus, when your offense has the ball, the other team can’t score (aside from a turnover). 

The one glaring issue, most will continue to focus on special teams, however Mason seems to have “taken some off” on his kicks and has nailed all of them since.  It could render an issue on 50+-yarders, but until then, he’s been closer to normal.  Hopefully that trend continues.  The issue I’m bringing up, is with 12:54 left in the 4th quarter, Baltimore went for it on 4th down from their own 29-yard line.  The Packers got the stop and hit Big Dog for a 23-yard gain on the ensuing play.  With 1st & goal from the 6, Green Bay failed to score a game-winning TD and settled for a FG.  While that proved to be enough, instead of 35-17 with 9:26 left, it was 31-17, a much more realistic score to mount a comeback…

Current Standing~ with Tampa and Arizona both losing, Green Bay finds themselves in great position to earn back-to-back 1 seeds, which is so important with there only being one BYE in each of the conference’s playoff tree.  Green Bay wins out and earns the 1, otherwise would need Dallas to drop one more (which could easily happen). 


 Cle O.(rank)vs.GB D.(rank)
Pts20.919 21.610
 Cle D.GB O.
Rush105.69 106.821
Pts21.814 25.613
Diff.410th 12T-2nd

Cleveland presents 2 major challenges, one on each side of the ball.  First, the Browns feature one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and running backs, in #24 Nick Chubb.  He’s amassed over 1,000 yards rushing, at a 5.4 yards/carry clip, to go along with 9 TDs.  The key for the Packers’ DL (with the return of Clark) is to slow him down and not let him or their OL takeover.  Again, time of possession may be key.  The other key is turnover differential.  The Packers didn’t take it away vs. Baltimore (although got 2 turnovers on downs), and must not give it away.  The issue on Cleveland’s defensive side is #95 Myles Garrett.  He currently has 15 sacks and is a game-wrecker.  Bill Huber of wrote about how 3rd string LT #73 Yosh Nijman has fared vs. the NFL’s top pass-rushers.  He’s done an incredible job in keeping Rodgers, not only upright, but given him a fairly clean pocket.  If Green Bay needs to shift help, that could spell trouble, but I trust the best coach in the NFL (Matt LaFleur) to run the ball and operate an efficient offense based off the run schemes.

Win the Turnover battle and/or time of possession and win the game, keeping the 1-seed.  Oh yeah, also GO COLTS in the night game tonight vs. Arizona.

Browns 27
Packers 31

Season: 10-4
Overall: 79-40

Dead Cap Bowl

These teams have lost as many, or more, starter snaps to injury as any teams in the NFL. Yet both are in the mix.


Special Teams: Not that it needs to be stated, but Special Teams, are, well, um…special.  Thankfully the Bears are that bad that it didn’t cost the Packers the game.

  • Crosby hit a 20-yard FG, and all 6 of his extra point attempts – knocked a kickoff OB, and almost nailed another OB.
  • Without getting into each failure – the special teams cost Green Bay anywhere from 19-42 points (in total). 

Defense: The defense, similar to the Rams game, aside from 2 plays enjoyed themselves.  Yet another pick-6 by Rasul Douglas (Yours Truly thought Green Bay would have 2 in the game), and every other aspect was executed fairly well. 

                The 2 plays accounted for 14 points (end around to Grant and the slant route to Byrd), and it shouldn’t be minimized as that was killer in last year’s NFC title game vs. Tampa Bay (big TD to Mike Evans to go up 7-0, then right before half after Aaron’s INT, to Scotty Miller to increase the lead 21-10).  This needs to be handled, and soon, as the QB-play ramps up a bit in January.  Oh yeah, not to get ahead of ourselves, but we’ll likely see that guy who’s won 7 super bowls.

Offense: While starting slow, again, the offense really hit stride and once they find a groove (coupled with the defense getting off the field to keep the O in rhythm), they’re fun to watch…and can take over a game – in turn which applies a boatload of pressure to the opposing QB. 

        Once the offense began running the ball, that rhythm ensued.  Excluding Kurt Benkert’s kneel downs, the Packers had 22 rushes for 120 yards…great production.  The time of possession, which began poorly, quickly turned into an advantage, essentially winning it 35 minutes to Chicago’s 25. 

Current Standing: thanks to the LA Rams for besting Arizona on Monday Night Football, the Packers currently hold the #1 seed, via tiebreaker.  Yes, the 1 seed didn’t assist the Packers last season, but a team with a bye has won the Super Bowl about 50% of the time since 1992 (beginning of Free Agency), and with the 1-seed having the only bye, I’ll take my chances and it would be the chance for the Packers to win the Super Bowl by getting the BYE.


 GB Def.(rank)vs.Bal Off.(rank)
Pts20.97 23.417
 GB Off.Bal Def.
Rush107.620 85.51
Pts25.214 21.810
Diff.122nd (9)29th

It seems the red-hot Aaron Rodgers should have a fun time facing the 31st ranked pass defense, especially with Baltimore ravaged with positive Covid cases in the secondary.  The Ravens will try to shorten the game, by running the ball and playing ball-control offense, keeping Aaron off the field.  The issue is the Ravens are somehow 8-5 with an awful Turnover differential, that’s actually impressive.  Keep an eye on Special Teams, Baltimore features very solid play at all special team positions – with the best Kicker of all time, Justin Tucker. 

The Ravens will be missing Lamar Jackson and DT/DE Calais Campbell (very solid player for a long time).  Green Bay will be missing Billy Turner, as far as starters go.  It’s difficult to imagine the Packers losing this game, even if Lamar played, but the only way I see that happening is if they lay a dud, ala Week 1 vs. New Orleans (in Jacksonville).

Packers 27
Ravens 20

Season: 9-4
Overall: 78-40

Bear(s are) Down (again)

Current Standing~ the Packers can clinch the NFC North Divisional title with a Vikings loss tonight vs. Pittsburgh AND a win vs. Chicago on Sunday Night.  There are other scenarios for clinching a playoff berth, but with 5 games left, meh.  Winning out is the object as that’s likely what’s needed to obtain the #1 seed, for the second consecutive season. 

While Green Bay squandered that opportunity last year, if you keep getting a Bye in the postseason, the odds swing in your favor, eventually – unless your QB is a choke artist…

So, for that 1st seed (which is the only BYE for the 2nd year in a row), you should be rooting for the:

  • Steelers (tonight @ Minnesota)
  • Washington (v. Dallas)
  • Buffalo (@ Tampa Bay)
  • LA Rams (@ Arizona, on Monday night)

If that all occurs, the Packers will have the best record in the NFL, tied with Arizona at 10-3, but obviously everyone remembers beating Arizona, so the tiebreaker will be held by Green Bay.  The Packers would also clinch the division and they’d Control Their Destiny

Preview~ I recently heard the Packers, under LaFleur, are 0-2 coming off their BYE week (in the regular season), and 2-2 if you include the postseason.  I’m not sure what that means, but both regular season games, off their BYE, they were obliterated and didn’t seem like they should’ve been on the field:

  1. 2019, week 12, blasted by San Francisco 37-8
  2. 2020, week 6, smoked by Tampa Bay 38-10, after going up 10-0 and driving before a pick-6, then another (almost) pick-6 derailed that. 

The differences (and similarities) were the Packers eventually lost in the playoffs to each team, both in the NFC title game.  That won’t happen this year as the Bears aren’t making the playoffs.  Also, in the regular season, both of those games were on the road, and this is a night game at Lambeau, where LaFleur is badass.


Pts16.830 20.25
Rush120.123 106.721
Pts23.922 23.615
Diff.(8)T-9th 9T-4th

The stats/rankings show a relatively real look at the true matchup between these two franchises.  The Packers are arguably the best team in the NFL, while the Bears are about as bad as one can be with 4 wins.  They turn the ball over far too often to really compete, and don’t take it away enough to help their awful offense. 

As for the “True Strength,”:

  • Packers: +41 (11th)
  • Bears: -86 (27th)

Again, another telling ranking, and fairly accurate.  The Packers haven’t really blown anyone out, and have one blowout loss.  They have, however, won solidly a few times, with one of those games coming in Week 6 @ Chicago, winning 24-14.  Look for the Bears to pull out all of the stops as they must win out and get a bunch of help to make the playoffs…plus Nagy is will overthink everything, per usual and hand you games when you’re playing awfully. 

Bears 13
Packers 27

Season: 8-4
Overall: 77-40

Hello, (k thx) Bye

Review~ a very interesting game.  So interesting that, even though I attended the game and had a good feel for it, still needed to rewatch it twice to get a better understanding for what happened.  It was a game where the Offense put up almost 400 yards (399) and 29 points (7 came from the Rasul Douglas pick-6) and the offense didn’t seem like it played well.  Adversely, the defense gave up 353 yards (5.8 yards/play) and 28 points, but seemed to play well.  That’s leading me to crunch some numbers in the latter portion of this blog.

Time of Possession – the Packers absolutely dominated this category and that does 2 major things:

  1. Your defense stays fresh while your opponents’ D gets worn down
  2. Your offense gets into (and keeps) a rhythm, while the other offense doesn’t and feels compelled to force things.

The sheer domination of it, 39:40 v 20:20 makes it nearly impossible to not win the game unless you score so quickly and make the other team drive down the field, consistently and settle for field goals.  The only game like this that comes to mind is the 2001 Divisional playoff loss @ St. Louis, where Green Bay won the total yards and time of possession, but Favre threw 6 interceptions…so there ya go.

Turnovers – as I always bring up, and most others too, the Packers won that battle 3:1.  Even then, the Packers’ offense only scored 6 points off the 2 they got, whereas Rasul Douglas got 6 of his own after the interception.  So, the team scored 12 points off 3 turnovers.  That seems like the minimum, which if that would’ve been the case in last year’s NFC title game, the Packers probably win. 

What’s not considered in the turnover margin, was McVay’s decision to go for it on 4th & 1 from his own 29, early in the 2nd quarter.  That turned into a free 3 points, which ended up making a fairly large difference in the game.  Points are king, and in the 1st half, kicking field goals are usually the right play and vise versa. 

Rasul Douglas—has been nothing short of incredible since his pick-up.  He iced the Arizona game and came up with 4 big time plays vs. LAR.  It’s difficult to tell if he was solely at fault for the OBJ touchdown, but he did drop an easy interception which truly would’ve iced this game, when OBJ fell down.  Either way, he’s been incredible and the thought that if the Packers could get Jaire Alexander back, that would only help – however it’s dangerous to think that b/c often times the timing, comradery, overall flow of the defensive backfield runs amiss…but with that, please let’s get the best corner in football back, I believe it can only help. 

Kicking – I’m still not sure if it’s a timing issue with the entire unit or if it’s Crosby.  Again, either way, it must be fixed.  The first 2 kicks had a knuckling effect and barely went through.  The one miss began towards splitting the uprights, but pulled left and hit the upright.  Frustrating is quite the understatement. 

Offensive Line – while it held up fairly well against a healthy and stout defensive front, didn’t clear much room for running lanes and caved into pressure often.  A credit to Dillon and Rodgers for producing a maximum amount.  Aaron Jones didn’t have much of a chance to get rolling, however it’ll be nice for both Jones and the OL to get well-deserved rest to return to as close as 100%. 

Standings of Stats~

Off Rush106.721st
Off Pass248.310th
Off Total355.015th
Def Rush102.58th
Def Pass219.29th
Def Total321.77th
Pt Diff.418th

The points/possession, for both the offense and defense is interesting to look at.  I haven’t gone through all 32 teams, but this may explain a better feeling of the game vs. LA.  The offense, while scoring 30 points, didn’t seem to play well, adversely the Defense giving up 28 points, did.

at Saints338990.334.22
v Lions35171093.501.89
at 49ers302810103.002.80
v Steelers271711112.451.55
at Bengals252213121.921.83
at Bears2414982.671.75
v Wash.24109102.671.00
at Cardinals24211082.402.63
at Chiefs71310110.701.18
v Seahawks1709101.890.00
at Vikings3134993.443.78
v Rams302813142.312.00

Giving up 2 points/possession in a game is just below the average for the season. When the Packers hold their opponent to that number, or below, their record is 7-1, with the lone loss come in Kansas City when Jordan Love got his first start and only scored 0.70 points/possession.  Even then, had Mason made his field goals and not muffed a punt inside our own 10, the Packers win that game. Interesting to say the least.  Maybe something to keep an eye on from here on out…

Lastly—something I stumbled into, the amount of $ being spent on players currently listed on IR (Injury Reserve) is incredible.  What’s more incredible is the production this team has gotten with that much talent injured/not-producing.  Take a look at the names on this list, and the amount…

PlayerPos.Cap HitCap %
Za’Darius SmithOLB$14,620,0007.85%
Jaire AlexanderCB$3,834,2812.06%
Elgton JenkinsLT/LG$1,849,8050.99%
Robert TonyanTE$1,504,8000.81%
Josh MyersCB$1,014,5700.54%
Randy RamseyOLB$780,0000.42%
Whitney MercilusOLB$716,6670.38%
Kylin HillHB$543,6550.29%
Chauncey RiversOLB$469,4450.25%
Total $25,333,22313.59%

*This is pulled from

Again, this doesn’t take into account starting All-World LT David Bakhtiari whom hasn’t suited up since the turn of the year (Jan 1, 2021).  However, after looking through all 32 teams (no I did not chart them), the Packers seem to be right in the middle of all of them.  There are a handful of teams with a far higher percentage of their cap on IR (Ravens, Panthers, Titans, for example) – it’s still a testament to how the Packers are as injured as any team in the league, yet still as good (or better) than all of the teams.