The Past: The two teams that always seem to cause the Packers trouble in the past couple years are the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants. Packers fans obviously remember Brett Favre’s last pass as a Packer going to a Corey Webster in the NFC Championship game in 2008; Packers fans will also remember the Giants manhandling the Packers in the 2011 playoffs when quarterback Aaron Rodgers was surprising only average while the defense finally collapsed and lost the game for the team.
However the last meeting between these two teams was perhaps the most lopsided; the Giants won 38-10 in 2012 season again embarrassing the Packers. Outside of one spectacular 61 yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson, Rodgers was largely ineffective, going 13 for 24 for 158 yards and an interception. The running game didn’t do the offense many favors either, totaling 82 yards with a 3.7 ypc split between Alex Green, James Starks and John Kuhn. The defense stuck to their “bend but don’t break” philosophy, but missing both Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews, allowed 3 Eli Manning touchdowns while the Giants running game ground the Packers down with 31 carries for 147 yards from Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown.
With the loss, the Packers fell to 2nd place in the NFC North while the Giants snapped a two game losing streak and got back into the NFC East playoff race. However a loss to the resurgent Redskins (headed by rookie sensation Robert Griffin III) the next week followed by a loss against Baltimore in week 16 eliminated them the NFC East crown and a loss by the Lions to the Bears at the end of the regular season eliminated them from the playoffs all together. Read more...(912 words + 1 image, estimated 3:39 mins reading time)
Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan will square off at Lambeau Field this season. But how many times?
As training camp wraps up with the regular season just more than a week away, it’s time to put the 2013 Green Bay Packers under the microscope and make some predictions.
Last season, I picked the Packers to win the Super Bowl over the Baltimore Ravens. One team (Baltimore) made it there and won, the other team (Green Bay) did not. Oh, and so much for the Eagles-to-the-NFC-Championship pick. Yikes.
This season feels a little different.
For the past several offseasons, the Packers have been one of the most popular Super Bowl picks from the NFC. But despite an improved running game and a healthier defense, the Packers aren’t one of the more trendy picks to make it to Super Bowl XLVIII. The NFC West has a pair of Super Bowl-caliber teams in San Francisco and Seattle, and the Atlanta Falcons seem to be all-in on 2013 after signing Steven Jackson and bringing Tony Gonzalez back for one last season.
For the most part, the Packers are flying under the radar.
In the AFC, it’s the Denver Broncos and everyone else. I know, I know – Von Miller is suspended. If only John Elway and Broncos management had assembled a talented supporting cast around Peyton Manning. Oh wait, they did. Manning may not throw 49 touchdowns like he did in 2004, but I’ll go on record and say that he sets a new career high in passing yards this season at age 37. Read more...(2038 words + 1 image, estimated 8:09 mins reading time)
Those of you who regularly read my posts know that I live in Pittsburgh. I arrived here after making a few different stops in my life journey, though my mom did grow up in Western Pennsylvania, so I do have roots here. And while I am a football fan to the extreme, I have grown to enjoy watching ice hockey. Put two and two together, and you should not be surprised to know that I have been following the Pittsburgh Penguins in their run towards another Stanley Cup championship.
Right now, the Penguins are favored to win, despite their disappointing loss on Saturday against the Boston Bruins. It was the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals, so they’re down but certainly not out.
However, as I was watching the game, my mind couldn’t help but explore the similarities and differences between the two sports. Football is far and above more popular, and you could probably even rank hockey below baseball and basketball in terms of viewership. Nevertheless, here are some things I learned about the NFL as I watched the NHL playoffs:
1. Individual games hold more value.
I probably should have noted in the beginning that I am a very, very casual fan of ice hockey. In fact, I generally only tune into games when the playoffs roll around. Each NHL team plays 82 games in the regular season, for a grand total of 1,230 games across the league. In short, I simply don’t have the time to commit to my team. Read more...(1568 words + 1 image, estimated 6:16 mins reading time)
The Atlanta Falcons could be the Green Bay Packers most important 2013 opponent.
Last offseason, our fearless leader “Jersey” Al Bracco predicted that Ryan Grant would return to the Green Bay Packers. Though the circumstances were different from what he envisioned, Al’s gut feeling came true, and Grant signed with the Packers in December as back-up insurance. This year, I am going to announce my own bold prediction that the Atlanta Falcons will be Green Bay’s most critical opponent in the coming 2013 season.
I was sizing up the schedule recently, wondering to myself what the most important game of the year would be for the Packers. Many fans have the Week 1 game against the San Francisco 49ers circled in fire engine red, but for me that game comes way too early to have a truly significant impact. As a conference opponent, it will certainly have some sway on playoff seeding; nevertheless, there is still plenty of time to recoup a loss.
That line of thinking led me to the latter portion of the season, where the playoff picture slowly starts sliding into place and a single win or loss could change things drastically.
Within the final six games, the Packers face off against all three division opponents, two conference rivals in the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys, and the lone AFC foe Pittsburgh Steelers. There is a strong chance that the Week 17 game versus the Chicago Bears will be significant when it comes to the playoffs, especially after last season. We shouldn’t soon forget that Green Bay’s loss to the Vikings in 2012 bumped them out of the #2 seed and a first-round bye. Read more...(703 words + 1 image, estimated 2:49 mins reading time)
Breakout WR/HB/KR/PR Randall Cobb touched the ball 159 times and amassed a Packers franchise record 2,342 all-purpose yards in 2012.
It was quite the season for the second-year talent out of Kentucky, and very necessary. Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson all missed significant time with injuries. Cobb, along with James Jones, stepped up to fill the void left by Jennings and Nelson and helped negate the Packers struggles running the ball.
But 159 touches is a lot for a player who is 5-foot-10 and 191 pounds. Cobb injured his ankle and missed the season finale against the Vikings. He also managed just six catches for 31 yards in two playoff games and was taken off of punt returns against the 49ers, only to see rookie Jeremy Ross muff one deep in Green Bay territory that led to a San Francisco touchdown.
I was at the wild-card win over the Vikings and watched Cobb limp around on that ankle. He was hurting. The explosion wasn’t there.
With Jennings gone, it’s assumed Cobb will have an even bigger role in the offense. His role probably will be bigger, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll touch the ball 159 times again.
Cobb was targeted 104 times in 2012, the most since Jennings’ 125 targets in 2010. If Nelson stays healthy, and Jones repeats his stellar 2012 season, perhaps that number will come down a bit. Read more...(632 words + 1 image, estimated 2:32 mins reading time)
I actually got my first shot writing for AllGreenBayPackers.com when Al allowed me to post my draft rationale on his site and 3 years later I’m continuing the tradition. As before I’m not going to be assigning draft grades or projections, I agree with the idea that grading picks now is something akin to being graded on a test you haven’t taken. In this article I want to point out some more broad observations I noticed during the draft
Aaron Rodgers dictated the Packers 2013 draft: And Clay Matthews III to some extent as well. Simply put the Packers are now in a mini-rebuilding year, not due to a lack of talent but due to a lack of money. While Rodgers’ $110 million and Matthews’ $66 million contracts were both necessary and in my opinion great deals for the Packers, let’s not kid ourselves and think that the Packers are going to be awash with saved money over the next couple years, Rodgers and Matthews are still two of the highest paid players in the NFL and that will have financial ramifications down the road; maybe not as bad as Joe Flacco and DeMarcus Ware bad, but Ted Thompson probably isn’t going to be able to keep everyone he wants. This is why I think this is the start of a mini-rebuild; teams typically trade down and stockpile draft picks in order to stock the team with young, cheap players who can be the foundation long term and perhaps become stars. Read more...(1368 words + 1 image, estimated 5:28 mins reading time)
Thanks to Aaron Rodgers, and the guidance of Mike McCarthy, the Packers are set at QB.
Packers quarterbacks: That Aaron Rodgers guy is pretty good. Should he ever get hurt for an extended stretch (God forbid), things could go south in a hurry. Most teams are in the same boat as the Packers when it comes to quarterback. If the starter gets hurt, they’re screwed. Fans like to get all worked up over the backup quarterback. “Bring in a good backup,” they yell. “I want someone with experience,” they cry. Well, if the backup QB was good, he probably wouldn’t be a backup in the first place. And bringing in a veteran? I’ll take a low-cost young guy with a high ceiling over someone with experience who is overpriced, washed up, and probably no good, anyway.
Aaron Rodgers: The most physically gifted quarterback in the game. By now, we all know what Rodgers is good at. If we wanted him to be even better, I suppose we could point to his tendency to hold the ball and ignore underneath receivers. Sometimes it feels like Rodgers is almost too talented for his own good. He’s always trying to wriggle around the pocket and keep his eyes downfield, hoping a receiver comes open deep for a bomb. Sometimes you want to shake Rodgers and tell him that there’s nothing wrong with a “normal” five-yard pass every now and then. That’s getting really nit-picky, though. It’s not like Rodgers never throws underneath and always holds the ball too long.
Read more...(711 words + 1 image, estimated 2:51 mins reading time)