3

January

Green Bay Packers Playoff Picture: Familiarity Breeds Contempt

The Falcons are just one of four NFC playoff teams to have lost to the Packers in 2011 and would surely love one more crack at them.

On Sunday night, the seeding for the NFL playoff games was set in stone when the New York Giants soundly beat the Dallas Cowboys in a game that decided the NFC East division champions. Earlier that day, the San Francisco 49ers eked by the St. Louis Rams to maintain their second seed and first-round bye, while the Atlanta Falcons secured the fifth seed after their big win over Tampa Bay and the Detroit Lions’ loss to the Green Bay Packers.

With the regular season complete, we finally have a clear picture of how the playoffs could progress. Before continuing, though, here is a quick list of the final seeding for the NFC:

  1. Green Bay Packers (15-1)
  2. San Francisco 49ers (13-3)
  3. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
  4. New York Giants (9-7)
  5. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
  6. Detroit Lions (10-6)

The rules dictate that, in each round of the playoffs, the lowest seeded team will travel to face the highest seed, while the second lowest seed will face the second highest. The lone exception is the first round, where the two highest seeds (the Packers and 49ers this year) get a bye for that week.

So in the Wildcard Round, the Lions will square off with the Saints in the Superdome, and the Falcons will travel to MetLife Stadium to take on the Giants. Green Bay and San Francisco will both have the weekend off.

Depending on the outcome of those games, the Packers will host the Giants, Falcons, or Lions at Green Bay’s very own Lambeau Field in the Divisional Round.

But have you noticed something yet? With the exception of the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers faced (and beat) every other playoff team at some point during the regular season. Through those five games, having faced the Lions twice, the Packers won by a combined score of 177-139.

That leaves a total margin of victory of 38 points, or 7.6 points per game. Just over a touchdown.

Interestingly enough, last year’s Green Bay team also faced three familiar teams on their path to the Super Bowl. They played the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1 and in the Wildcard Round, the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 and the Divisional Round, and capped off their run in the NFC Championship Game against the Chicago Bears, who they of course faced twice during the season as a division opponent.

30

December

Packers vs. Lions Week 17 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 17: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 13-2 Green Bay Packers 24-20
Rodgers and the first string offense rest most of the game but people see what a fine tuned machine the Packers offense is without the key players. The defense makes a statement heading into the playoffs as Detroit has to rally to keep it close.
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“Jersey” Al Bracco 14-1 Green Bay Packers 27-19
Packers are the winners of the “meh” bowl, with a few first half TDs from Aaron Rodgers & Co. and then a coast home behind the fugly beard of Matt Flynn.
Adam Czech 13-2 Green Bay Packers 27-24
Aaron Rodgers or no Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are a deep team that is able to compete even with backups on the field. The fans who paid to attend Sunday’s game might not be happy if Rodgers only plays a quarter or not at all, but they will be happy when the Packers finish the regular season 15-1.
Thomas Hobbes 14-1 Green Bay Packers 21-17
As much as players and coaches say that they take this game seriously, subconsciously it won’t take much for a team to stop caring. If either team gets ahead by 2 touchdowns watch for the backups. Green Bay wins for no other reason than they are at home.
Zach Kruse 12-3 Detroit Lions 27-20
The Lions need a win to avoid another trip to the Superdome, which means they’ll go with their starters for 60 minutes. The Packers have nothing to play for and will be playing it safe with several starters. Detroit gets its first win in the state of Wisconsin since 1991.
Chad Toporski 13-2 Detroit Lions 35-27
This is going to be a fairly high-scoring game. The Lions will likely play their starters for most, if not all, of the game; whereas, the Packers will pick and choose based on health and snaps. With Woodson and Matthews likely out, the defense is just not going to hold up.
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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

22

December

Packers vs. Bears Week 16 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 15: Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 12-2 Green Bay Packers 27-21
The Packers will be an angry bunch but you have to throw out records and previous performances when these two teams meet. The Bears make it interesting late but Rodgers and the Packers get their mojo back and lock up home field advantage.
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“Jersey” Al Bracco 13-1 Green Bay Packers 42-6
It will be anything but a silent night as the Packers throw a wild Christmas Party at Lambeau Field.  The Packers will stomp on their arch rivals in a beatdown that will have the “Bears Still Suck” on continuous play all through the night.
Adam Czech 12-2 Green Bay Packers 35-14
Will McCarthy and Rodgers incorporate more runs and short passes into the gameplan? Probably not. And I don’t think it will matter.
Thomas Hobbes 13-1 Green Bay Packers 24-17
Offensive line is definitely going to be one problem, getting out of the funk that the Packers have been in lately will be bigger.  Will the Packers actually come out and really play?  I’m not sure, but it is the Bears so the game will have significance and the Bears are hurting too.
Zach Kruse 11-3 Green Bay Packers 23-10
The Packers have historically struggled to score points against Lovie Smith’s defense with Aaron Rodgers under center. It won’t help that a good chunk of his offensive line will be out. And if the defense can’t hold a Josh McCown offense under two touchdowns, the Packers are in trouble.
Chad Toporski 12-2 Green Bay Packers 24-6
The Packers’ offensive line will be a problem, but the Chicago Bears’ offensive woes will be much worse for them. They have no answer at quarterback or running back, and they just lost one of their better wide receivers. If the defense can’t make some plays against this unit, then we’ve got some serious worrying to do.
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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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16

December

Packers vs. Chiefs Week 15 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 15: Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 12-1 Green Bay Packers 42-10
The only reason I’m not giving the Packers 50 is because McCarthy believes in good sportsmanship. Orton will be better than Palko, but this is first real action with a new team. The Packers display their depth by not missing a beat sans Greg Jennings.
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“Jersey” Al Bracco 13-0 Green Bay Packers 44-10
I’m just sitting here waiting for Thomas to pick against the Packers so I can be the only one with a perfect record. Packers have to fight off boredom to finish this one out.
Adam Czech 12-1 Green Bay Packers 37-17
Poor Kyle Orton has to get destroyed by the Packers for the second time this season. After Sunday, he’s going to wish he was back on the bench in Denver watching Tebow. The Chiefs defense has played well lately, but not well enough to slow down the Packers offense, even without Greg Jennings.
Thomas Hobbes 13-0 Green Bay Packers 35-10
Sorry Al, no reason to get off the train now. I can’t imagine the Packers losing if they score more than 2 touchdowns (which I’m convinced they could do on accident at this point), because regardless of who ends up starting at quarterback, the Packers aren’t going to be “shaking in their boots”
Zach Kruse 11-2 Green Bay Packers 38-16
The firing of Todd Haley will be a breath of fresh air in the early goings for the Chiefs, but it’ll be the same old story once the first quarter ends. The Packers offense will impose their will and the defense gets a couple key takeaways. It’s been the same blueprint all season long.
Chad Toporski 12-1 Green Bay Packers 44-6
Hello, First Seed! No way the Packers lose to a Chiefs team that just lost its head coach and whose offense is gearing up for yet another quarterback under center. Expect some players to rest again in the 4th quarter.
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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

9

December

Packers vs. Raiders Week 14 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 14: Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 11-1 Green Bay Packers 35-17
Not doing it again.  Blowout win here. Raiders are falling apart and the Packers survived their big test.  Packers keep on rolling
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“Jersey” Al Bracco 12-0 Green Bay Packers 38-30
Could this be the week the Packers finally lose a game? It’s certainly possible the Packers have a bit of a letdown after a very tough game last week. But I’m not going there… 13-0
Adam Czech 11-1 Green Bay Packers 27-13
The Raiders limp their way to Green Bay trying to fight off Tebow and win the AFC West. It sounds like Darren McFadden is out and a couple of the Raiders deep receiving threats are banged up. All you new Packers owners, your team is about to be 13-0.
Thomas Hobbes 12-0 Green Bay Packers 35-16
The battle of the gimpy; both Packers and Raiders come in with multiple injuries.  My feeling is that the Packers have been here before and will handle the loss of their starters better than the Raiders.  Keep in mind its the Raiders, who have one of the more “interesting” drafting strategies, they’re backups are worse than the Packers backups.
Zach Kruse 10-2 Green Bay Packers 34-10
The much-maligned Packers defense might get huge a break with Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore all likely to sit. We saw how poor the Raiders offense played last week with a depleted group. Rodgers continues to roll on a sunny, 37 degree December day at Lambeau Field as the Packers cruise to 13-0.
Chad Toporski 11-1 Green Bay Packers 31-14
The Raiders’ running game might be enough to limit the possessions for the Packers’ offense… until they are forced to go to the air after Green Bay pulls ahead. A first-round bye for the playoffs will be locked up this week.
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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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7

December

Jermichael Finley: Overrated or Underperforming?

Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley drops the ball as Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Sean Jones defends.

This season, there seems to be no other Green Bay Packers player more controversial than tight end Jermichael Finley. In the final year of his contract, coming off a season spent mostly on injured reserve, he has been under intense scrutiny by fans. Number one, can he stay healthy? And number two, can he be the offensive juggernaut he was predicted to be?

I think we’ve found out the answer to the first question: yes, he can stay healthy. He hasn’t missed a single game all season.

It’s that other question, though, that has fans arguing the most.

While I was sitting in the upper deck of MetLife stadium on Sunday, I couldn’t believe the number of passes I watched Jermichael Finley drop. After his third one, both my older brother and I looked at each other with mutual frustration. And in the heat of the moment, I even called for him to be taken out of the game.

This, of course, is why I am not a coach. Finley’s first-down reception in the Packers’ final possession was a crucial jump start to the game-winning drive. He obviously has the talent and ability to make those big plays, and we’ve seen them all season.

But we’ve also seen the drops.

According to STATS LLC., Jermichael Finley has 8 dropped passes so far this season, tying him for sixth place in the NFL. (He’s third in the NFC behind only Roddy White and DeSean Jackson.) No other Green Bay receiver has more than three drops this year, providing a stark contrast to this issue.

Additionally, TeamRankings.com has Finley listed at just a 62.7% catch rate, ranking him 17th among tight ends and 70th among all receivers (who are on pace for at least 30 receptions or 60 pass targets). Guys like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Fred Davis, and Jason Witten seem to be more dominating – at least statistically – than Finley. They’ve outdone him in catch rate, targets, and total yardage, and both Graham and Gronkowski each have more touchdowns.

Isn’t he supposed to be this monster tight end who should be impossible to defend? Haven’t some of us been touting him as the best tight end in the league?

2

December

Packers vs. Giants Week 13 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 13: Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 11-0 New York Giants 28-24
Everything in my gut says this is the week the streak ends for the Packers. I hope I’m wrong.  One big reason is the Giants have a knack for upsetting undefeated teams: the 1998 Broncos and most notably the 2007 New England Patriots.  The Giants defense is still very talented and people are writing them off far too early.  I don’t need to remind people what the Giants did in 2007.
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“Jersey” Al Bracco 11-0 Green Bay Packers 35-13
While the Giants have the “wounded animal” effect going for them, the Packers have had a mini bye week and were able to watch how NO dismantled the Giants D.  Pack rolls on.
Adam Czech 10-1 Green Bay Packers 33-26
I don’t like having two offensive linemen out with injuries, but the way Aaron Rodgers is going, it’s not going to stop the Packers from improving to 12-0.
Thomas Hobbes 11-0 Green Bay Packers 27-17
The Giants are the most schizophrenic team in the NFL; they can be completely dominant or get completely dominated.  Will the defensive front four be like: vs. New England or vs. New Orleans?  Will Brandon Jacobs be the big bruising back that the Packers have trouble with or a aging malcontent averaging 3.1 ypc?  I think it would it would take every phase being on for the Giants to have a shot at beating the Packers and the Packers are simply consistently excellent.
Zach Kruse 9-2 Green Bay Packers 37-30
The Giants team that showed up on Monday night won’t be one the Packers see on Sunday, but what ailed them on defense against the Saints isn’t just a one week fix, especially with the game’s best quarterback coming to town. The Giants offense should score, too, but it won’t be enough to knock the Packers off the unbeaten trail.
Chad Toporski 10-1 Green Bay Packers 34-24
Thanks to my brother’s employer, I will finally have the opportunity to watch my first live Packers game. Metlife Stadium is no Lambeau Field, but watching the Giants’ season continue to deflate will be fun wherever they play. Keep an eye out for me and Al in the green and gold!