11

January

Packers Beer Mug Perspective: Seattle at home, or the Georgia Dome?

After the "Fail Mary" in September, the Packers could play the Seahawks again in the playoffs.

After the “Fail Mary” in September, the Packers could play the Seahawks again in the playoffs.

After defeating the Minnesota Vikings last week, the Green Bay Packers are two wins away from Super Bowl XLVII.

If the Packers defeat the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, they’ll move on to the NFC Championship. Who and where they’d play would be determined Sunday afternoon when the Falcons and Seahawks square off in Atlanta.

If the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons win, they’ll host the NFC Championship at the Georgia Dome. But if the Seahawks win, then the winner of Saturday’s Packers-49ers game will host the NFC Championship.

(Now would be a good time to mention that I fully expect this Saturday’s game against the 49ers to be a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire matchup that could go either way. The purpose of this post is not to overlook a good 49ers team, but rather, to look at (what could be) the next game on the Packers’ schedule.)

A rematch with Seattle would surely result in an amped-up Lambeau Field crowd, hungry for revenge after what happened on Sept. 24. But a rematch with Atlanta would mean the Packers, a team built for a fast track, would be playing indoors with a chance to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.

This begs the question…

Would you, as a fan, rather see the Packers host the Seahawks at Lambeau Field or have them play the Falcons in the Georgia Dome?

In the format of the Packers Beer Mug Perspective, let’s look at the issue from both angles, then determine whether our mug is really “half full” or “half empty.”

1) Seahawks at Packers. Lambeau Field.

Why it sounds good: It all comes full circle.

After the infamous “Fail Mary” play earlier this season, the Packers receive an opportunity for revenge against the Seattle Seahawks. It’s Pete Carroll, Golden Tate and Russell Wilson back on the other sideline, only this time, it’s in Green Bay with a trip to Super Bowl XLVII on the line.

The Seahawks are as hot as anyone in the league right now, but they’re still a team without much experience in the playoffs. Wilson has been sensational as a rookie, but the postseason can be a whole different animal for young quarterbacks. Then again, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has yet to win a playoff game, and he’s currently in his fifth NFL season.

7

January

Packers-49ers: Williams vs. Crabtree a matchup to watch

Packers CB Tramon Williams faces a tough task against 49ers WR Michael Crabtree

Packers CB Tramon Williams faces a tough task against 49ers WR Michael Crabtree

When the 49ers turned to Colin Kaepernick as their starting quarterback, they added yet another dimension to an already dangerous team.

Kaepernick made the first start of his NFL career Nov. 19 against the Chicago Bears. He started the final seven games of the season, throwing 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. In four of his seven starts, Kaepernick posted a passer rating of over 100.

And the 49ers’ newfound success at quarterback has allowed wide receiver Michael Crabtree to emerge as a go-to receiver.

Over the past five weeks, Crabtree has been one of the hottest receivers in football. Since week 13, Crabtree is averaging seven catches and 107.6 yards per game. Tight end Vernon Davis, another dangerous weapon for Kaepernick, is averaging just 1.2 catches and 12.2 yards per game over that same five-game span.

The 49ers went 3-2 over the final five weeks of the regular season. Those numbers suggest that teams are focusing on taking Davis out of the game, which has allowed Crabtree to evolve into the true No. 1 receiver in San Francisco.

And on Saturday, Packers cornerback Tramon Williams will face is toughest opponent since Dec. 16 against Brandon Marshall. Williams has been up-and-down during the 2012-13 season. He turned in his worst performance of the season in week 17 at Minnesota, according to Pro Football Focus.

But his +3.6 PFF grade this week at Lambeau Field was his second-highest of the season. With the way Crabtree is playing for the 49ers, the Packers will need Williams to be at his best Saturday night.

ProFootballFocus.com rated Crabtree as the league’s seventh-best wide receiver in the regular season. Williams graded out as the 60th-best cornerback according to PFF.

Crabtree has caught at least seven passes in four of the 49ers’ last five games. Williams has allowed more than three receptions just once over the past five games. He allowed four receptions for 51 yards against Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions in week 14, according to PFF.

So something’s gotta give this weekend when the 49ers have the ball.

In the season opener at Lambeau Field, Crabtree caught seven of the eight passes thrown his way for 76 yards. PFF charged Williams with allowing four of those receptions for a total of 42 yards. But when the 49ers take the field on Jan. 12, their offense is very different than it was in week one.

4

January

Packers Beer Mug Perspective: Is this a Super Bowl team?

Can the Packers win Super Bowl XLVII?

Can the Packers win Super Bowl XLVII?

The 2012 season has been a roller-coaster for the Green Bay Packers.

From the early-season “Fail mary” in Seattle to the epic collapse in Indianapolis, the Packers have battled back to put themselves in contention for a second Super Bowl in three years. But is this team really Super Bowl-caliber?

The last time the Packers won the Super Bowl, they were decimated by injuries but Aaron Rodgers carried the team on his back all the way to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. It was a season to remember, and there are certainly some similarities between the 2010 Packers and this 2012 team.

In the Packers’ first preseason game, starting middle linebacker Desmond Bishop was lost for the season. After Clay Matthews, Bishop may be the Packers’ best defensive player. Second-year player D.J. Smith replaced Bishop in the starting lineup, but he suffered a season-ending injury in week six at Houston.

In total, the 2012 Packers have eight players on injured reserve, including this year’s first-round pick Nick Perry, starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga and starting running back Cedric Benson. Needless to say, the injury bug bit the Packers hard this season.

But through it all, the Packers won the division and played their way to the No. 3 seed in the NFC.

And now, this team is the healthiest its been since the regular season kicked off. Charles Woodson will return to the field this week after suffering a broken collarbone Oct. 21 in St. Louis. Randall Cobb will be back in the lineup as well, giving the Packers their full corps of wide receivers since week four.

Vegas has the Packers at 8/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. They have the third-best odds in the NFC, behind the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots currently have the best odds to win the Super Bowl.

Is this Packers team capable of winning Super Bowl XLVII?

In the format of the Packers Beer Mug Perspective, let’s look at the issue from both angles, then determine whether our mug is really “half full” or “half empty.”

THE MUG IS HALF FULL

While this team isn’t at full strength by any means, the team that takes the field Saturday night will be arguably the most talented 46-man roster the Packers have put on the field all season.

4

September

2012 Green Bay Packers: Season Predictions

Could this be the matchup in Super Bowl XLVII?

Could this be the matchup in Super Bowl XLVII?

After Adam Czech posted his full-season predictions on Monday, I figured I’d post mine as well.

As a complete NFL nerd, I pick every game of the regular season in an effort to make my predictions a bit more accurate. That way, I can pick games week-to-week and see what teams I have in the playoffs, instead of simply saying “Team X will go 6-10″ without even looking at their schedule.

From the NFC, I have the Packers, Falcons, 49ers and Eagles winning their division, while the Bears and Cowboys earn the Wild Cards. And from the AFC, I have the Ravens, Texans, Broncos and Patriots winning their division, with the Steelers and Bills earning the Wild Cards. I definitely didn’t expect to have Buffalo in the playoffs, but as I said, I pick every individual game to make my picks, and I surprisingly had the Bills winning 11 games this year.

I think the Packers are as talented as any team in the NFL, and I truly believe they’re headed for another special season. Part of me hopes they lose a game early in the season as a “wake-up call” so they don’t have to deal with all the “undefeated” talk later in the season, but overall, I have the Packers going 13-3 and beating the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship.

So, the Packers are back in the Super Bowl. But who do I have them playing against? Read on.

Packers 24, 49ers 20

San Francisco’s defense is absolutely stacked in the middle of the front seven, but the Packers have too many wide receivers for the 49ers to account for. The Pack wins their regular season debut in a nail-biter.

Packers 31, Bears 27

Chicago’s offense should be much improved with Brandon Marshall in the fold, but the Packers’ defense holds the Bears just enough to preserve the win at home. I fully expect the Packers and Bears to split with each other this season, but I give the Pack the edge at Lambeau.

Packers 27, Seahawks 23

Russell Wilson has it all–except the size–and the Seattle defense is far better than most give them credit for. On a Monday night in Seattle, the Packers will have their work cut out for them. But I just can’t picture the Seahawks beating the Pack.