Packers Stock Report: Enron to Apple Edition
If you were an investor, would you invest in the Packers right now?
They’ve been a wildly up-and-down stock so far. Before the season, they were the Apple of the NFL, a juggernaut that struck gold with the iPhone and was almost guaranteed to offer a good return on your investment despite its high buy-in price.
After losing to the 49ers, they fell a bit, but bounced back quickly by rolling over Jay Cutler and the Bears.
The market didn’t know what to think after the Seahawks loss. Was it a fluke because of the replacement refs? Or did allowing eight sacks in the first half point to serious trouble?
Projections leveled again after beating the Saints and investors started buying up as much Packers stock as they could during the first half of the Colts game.
Then there was an Enron-like collapse in the second half against the Colts and investors couldn’t dump their green and gold stock certificates fast enough.
Now the Packers are coming off their biggest win of the season, a 42-24 route over the previously undefeated Texans on the road. If you were smart and bought in when the Packers stock was low after the Colts’ loss, you’re probably set to make a whole bunch of money over the next few weeks.
If you didn’t, you could still buy in if you think the Packers are on pace to return to Apple status.
Before Sunday’s breakout against the Texans, there were people clamoring for me to put Rodgers in the falling category. While I acknowledged that Rodgers wasn’t playing his best, he wasn’t falling. Before Sunday, Rodgers was on pace for over 4,000 yards, 30-plus touchdowns and a QB rating around 100. That’s not falling. That’s still pretty damn good. Yes, he missed a few throws he should have made and threw a few bad interceptions, but he wasn’t falling. He was human. Any talk of Rodgers falling was put to rest on Sunday…at least until his next good-but-not-great game.
I get tired just watching Matthews. Before Sunday’s game, Bob McGinn wrote about the lack of emotion and intensity on the Packers defense. The one exception was Matthews. He goes all out, each and every play of the game. It doesn’t matter if it’s a run to the opposite side of the field or a quick drop, Matthews tries to blow the play up. He was all over the place again against the Texans, making one-armed tackles on Arian Foster early and timing Matt Schaub’s cadence to get off the ball right away and disrupt the passing game.
Jones remains the Packers best WR through six games, even with Jordy Nelson rising from the dead and Randall Cobb turning in another solid game. Jones had two touchdown catches again on Sunday – the third game in a row he’s done that — but people remain skeptical (Sam Monson at Pro Football Focus being one of those people). I’m not saying Jones will become the next Don Hutson, but can we at least pat the guy on the back for what he’s done over the last month?
Pickett moved to nose tackle for the injured B.J. Raji and could not be budged. Chris Meyers is a good center, but he’s a little undersized and there wasn’t much he could do to move Pickett out of the way to make room for Arian Foster. I almost like Pickett at the nose better than Raji. When Raji is at his best, he’s one of the better defensive lineman in the league. But he gets wiped out by double-teams somewhat easily and isn’t at his best often enough. I wonder how the defensive line would look if Raji played more end and Pickett played more at nose?
I keep hearing about how Hayward shows promise despite lacking size and speed. Well, from what I’ve seen so far, he looks big enough and fast enough to me. Hayward was the only DB to not get burned by Reggie Wayne a few weeks ago and after picking off two passes against the Texans, he leads all rookies with three interceptions. I love how Hayward always appears to be in control. He’s never wildly flailing at the ball with his back turned to the QB or grabbing WRs after losing his balance. If he manages to stay true to his fundamentals and technique, size and speed should be the least of his problems.
I predicted that Randall Cobb would have a big game Sunday because the Texans defense is a little on the slow side. I was right (for a change), but Cobb’s game got overshadowed by Nelson’s and Jones’ ridiculous efforts. I gave the nod to Cobb in the steady category over Nelson because, well, Cobb has been more steady throughout the season. Besides Seattle where he was barely used for some reason, Cobb has been solid all year while Nelson has been hot and cold.
Kudos to Finley for playing through pain, but he had another drop and a silly offensive pass interference penalty. I’ve been a big Finley defender over the years — he causes defenses to freak out whenever he’s on the field — but with the offense having its biggest game while Finley was mainly on the sideline, No. 88 is getting tougher and tougher to stick up for. For whatever reason, the offense seemed more innovative with Finley out, kind of like it eventually did when Finley got hurt in 2010.
Dom Capers needs to show Raji the film from Sunday’s game to highlight how consistent effort and selling out gets results. Pickett didn’t get the glory on many (if any) plays, but he did what a nose tackle was supposed to do. Too often, I see Raji checking out of a play if his initial move fails. Interior lineman aren’t going to always break through the line and make a big play, but they can still make an impact if they hang tough and clog gaps. A few of those tackles made by A.J. Hawk would not have happened if Pickett gave up on a play and got wiped off the line.
Only two teams in the AFC have a winning record, and the Packers just shellacked one of them by 18 points in their home stadium. The NFC is stacked at the moment. Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Green Bay, Minnesota and Atlanta could all make legitimate claims that they are upper-tier teams. Meanwhile, Philadelphia, Detroit, Arizona and New Orleans have enough talent to make them difficult matchups regardless of their record. If we’re talking stocks, the AFC is down and the NFC is definitely up.