16

May

Packing the Stats: Defense Tackling Improvements

Packing the StatsIn my recent perusal of the internet for some Green Bay Packers news in the offseason, I came across an article at Football Outsiders by editor-in-chief Aaron Schatz. “Broken Tackles 2012: Defense” focuses on the best and worst defensive players when it came to broken tackles last season. Those of us who regularly follow the Packers know that tackling was a big point of interest after an abysmal 2011 season when, according to ProFootballFocus.com, they missed a whopping 109 tackles.

Naturally, I was intrigued to see how the Packers and some of their individual players ranked among the rest of the league for 2012. I braced for the worst, knowing the defense was lacking against opposing rushing attacks. (They gave up 132.6 yards per game, for 25th in the NFL.) And then, of course, were the games against Adrian Peterson.

Imagine my surprise when I found out the Packers were in the top three best teams when it came to missed tackles.

Now, let’s clear something up first. Football Outsiders clearly defined their criteria for a “broken tackle,” which should not be confused with the PFF “missed tackle” statistic. (Though for comparison’s sake, the 109 missed tackles from 2011 dropped down to just 81 in 2012 as charted by PFF.) That aside, here is how FO defines a “broken tackle”:

We define a “broken tackle” as one of two events: either the ballcarrier escapes from the grasp of the defender, or the defender is in good position for a tackle but the ballcarrier jukes him out of his shoes. If the ballcarrier sped by a slow defender who dived and missed, that didn’t count as a broken tackle.

Before we get to the team’s overall numbers, I want to highlight the two Packers players that made “best” and “worst” lists. First, take comfort in the fact that no player from Green Bay recorded 10 or more broken tackles. None of the defensive backs made the bottom ten in broken tackle rate; of course, none of them made the top ten either.

No, our two players in question were linebackers.

Inside linebacker Brad Jones made the “naughty” list as one of the twelve worst linebackers when it came to broken tackles in 2012. For his 61 solo tackles on the season, he had 7 broken tackles, for a rate of 10.3%. That put him seventh from the bottom.

29

December

Packers vs. Vikings Week 17 Game Predictions from AllGBP.COM (with Podcast)

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 17: Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 11-4 Green Bay Packers 31-28
In an appropriate ending to a bizarre season, Mason Crosby wins it in overtime on a 45 yard field goal. The Packers don’t want Adrian Peterson in the playoffs so this will be a hard fought game bbetter better team prevails in the end.
“Jersey” Al Bracco 10-5 Green Bay Packers 24-16
Even with Randall Cobb probably missing, the Packers have enough offense to beat the Vikings. With Clay Matthews back on the field, I don’t see Adrian Peterson having another 200 yard performance against the Packers. He’ll get his yards, but the Packers will hold the Vikings to field goals.
Adam Czech 12-3 Green Bay Packers 27-16
It’s simple: If the Packers prevent the Vikings front four from bombarding Aaron Rodgers, the Packers should win fairly easily. If they don’t, who knows what might happen. I know the Metrodome is a quirky place and strange things happen there, but my money is on the Packers hanging tough up front and using their (mostly) healthy receivers to run wild on the Dome turf.
Marques Eversoll 12-3 Green Bay Packers 28-17
All eyes will be on Adrian Peterson this Sunday as he tries to break the single-season record for rushing yards. But fortuantely for the Packers, B.J. Raji is playing at a Pro Bowl-level, and C.J. Wilson is returning to the lineup. I think the Packers will hold Peterson to “only” about 100 yards. With Randall Cobb likely out, I think Greg Jennings becomes the feature guy once again, and when the passing game builds a lead, the Vikings will be forced to rely on Christian Ponder. For Minnesota, it’s “win and get in.” But for the Packers, it’s “win and get a first-round bye.” Both teams have a lot to play for, and I think the better team will prevail. Packers win convincingly.
Thomas Hobbes 11-4 Green Bay Packers 27-17
26

December

Playoff Scenarios: Who will the Packers see in the NFC?

The Packers are playing well right now. Are they the best team in the NFC?

The Packers are playing well right now. Are they the best team in the NFC?

The Packers have already punched their ticket to the playoffs. And by defeating the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, the Packers would be the No. 2 seed, earning a first-round bye.

My eyes tell me that the Packers are a better team than the Vikings. And a motivated team heading to Minnesota with a first-round bye on the line should should show up ready to play.

So when looking at the playoff picture, let’s assume the Packers get the win and the No. 2 seed.

Beyond where the Packers are ultimately seeded, there’s a lot still to be determined in the NFC.

Will it be the Washington Redskins or the Dallas Cowboys as the NFC East Champions? Will the Vikings or Bears sneak into the playoffs? Are the New York Giants really done?

There is a handful of teams competing for two playoff spots, so what should you watch for around the NFL after the Packers play on Sunday? Let’s take a closer look at the potential NFC playoff field.

1) Who will win the NFC West?

The 49ers play at home against the 5-10 Arizona Cardinals this week, and the Seahawks will host the 7-7-1 St. Louis Rams. If the 49ers win, they’re the NFC West champions and would have a home playoff game.

If the 49ers lose and the Seahawks win, then Seattle is the division champions, and the 49ers would be playing on the road on wild card weekend.

What should happen: San Francisco should win the division.

Although the 49ers have been struggling, they should win easily against the hopeless Arizona Cardinals. It would take a late Christmas miracle for Arizona to beat the 49ers on the road. And even if the Seahawks beat the Rams, San Francisco would still have a better record.

Now we have five of six playoff teams set. Under this scenario, the Falcons and Packers would have first-round byes, the 49ers would be the No. 3 seed, and the NFC East champion–Washington or Dallas–would be the No. 4 seed, hosting the Seattle Seahawks.

2) Cowboys or Redskins in the NFC East?

Whoever wins Sunday night’s showdown between the Dallas Cowboys or the Washington Redskins will be the No. 4 seed in the NFC.

22

December

Packers vs. Titans Week 16 Game Predictions from AllGBP.COM (with Podcast)

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 16: Green Bay Packers vs. Tennessee Titans
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 10-4 Green Bay Packers 27-10
Now that we know the Mayans were wrong, here’s a sign the world still may end: the Packers will put this thing away early.  With the pressure of winning the division off, the Packers return to an aerial attack and put this one away early. I think we’ll even see Graham Harrell in the fourth quarter.
“Jersey” Al Bracco 9-5 Green Bay Packers 31-17
NFC Champions Baby! The Packers host the hapless Titans, so surely that must mean a Packers win, right? As we’ve seen in the past, the Packers can play down to the level of their competition, but I don’t think even that would be enough to lose to the Titans. Wacky prediction: Crosby goes one for five on field goals and is mobbed by his teammates on the one he makes. Yeah, that’s where we are…
Adam Czech 11-3 Green Bay Packers 28-13
I was going to predict 34 points for the Packers, but then I remembered Mason Crosby is our kicker. The goal in this game should be to avoid more injuries. I watched the Titans vs Jets game on Monday because I had money on the Jets. Now I’m scarred for life after witnessing that debacle. The Packers need to get ahead early so the Titans quit playing and start thinking about what last-minute gifts they need to buy for their wives and mistresses.
Marques Eversoll 11-3 Green Bay Packers 31-6
I’m usually hesitant to predict a blowout, as every NFL team has talent and it takes a full team effort to completely control a game. But that’s exactly what I expect this week. The Packers defense is playing its best ball of the season, and I think they’ll shut down the Titans offense. Even if Alex Green is out, I expect the Packers to be able to run the ball with success. And oh yeah, Aaron Rodgers figures to have a field day. Packers win easily.
Thomas Hobbes 10-4 Green Bay Packers 23-10
15

December

Packers vs. Bears Week 15 Game Predictions from AllGBP.COM (with Podcast)

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 15: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 9-4 Green Bay Packers 27-13
The Bears are in a tailspin. No Urlacher, no Tim Jennings and a wounded Jay Cutler.  The Bears are a much worse defense with #54 out and the words of Brandon Marshall will fuel the fire for the Packers defense. Packers win and secure their second straight NFC North title.
“Jersey” Al Bracco 8-5 Green Bay Packers 24-17
Having beaten the Vikings and the Lions the last two weeks, the Packers are looking for the division win trifecta on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. The Bears will need to create 3-4 turnovers to win this game, and you can be sure the Packers know that. Bears will keep it close, but the Packers will clinch the Division on Sunday.
Adam Czech 10-3 Green Bay Packers 27-13
Why do I feel so confident this week? I’m never confident when the Packers play the Bears. Maybe it’s all the injuries on both teams. The Packers have a track record of success despite injuries. The Bears do not. Maybe it’s the running game. The Packers are showing signs of life in this area. The Bears are sputtering a bit. Maybe it’s Jay Cutler. There will be opportunities for interceptions. I don’t know how to handle this good feeling I have during Bears week. It’s never happened before…
Marques Eversoll 10-3 Green Bay Packers 28-17
Everyone talks about Brian Urlacher being out for the Bears, but he may not be their biggest loss. Against the pass-happy Packers, Chicago will miss its Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback Tim Jennings, as well as pass-rushing defensive tackle Henry Melton. I think the Packers will be able to run the ball and score touchdowns in the red zone. I sense a touchdown either by the Packers’ defense or special teams on Sunday. The game goes to Green Bay, along with the NFC North title.
Thomas Hobbes 9-4 Green Bay Packers 21-14
12

December

Packers-Bears: Brandon Marshall adds fuel to the fire

Bears WR Brandon Marshall

Bears WR Brandon Marshall

The Packers-Bears rivalry has been going on for 91 years. The Bears have won 92 of those games, the Packers have won 87, and they’ve played to six ties since the rivalry began in 1921.

When the Bears named Lovie Smith head coach in 2004, he clearly stated that his team’s No.1 goal would be to beat Green Bay.

But recently, the Packers have owned the rivalry. Green Bay has won seven of the past eight matchups, including a victory in the NFC Championship at Soldier Field in the 2010 season.

The most recent chapter of the longstanding rivalry was week two this year when the Packers dominated the Bears 23-10 at Lambeau Field. The offense was crisp, and the defense was stellar.

The Green Bay defense was tough against the run and the secondary silenced the Bears’ top receiver–Brandon Marshall.

Marshall caught just two passes for 24 yards in the first meeting. And after the game, Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson were vocal in their assessment of the Bears’ offense, and mainly, quarterback Jay Cutler.

“It’s the same old Jay,” Woodson said after the game. ”We don’t need luck, Jay will throw us the ball. Proof is in the pudding.”

Cutler, of course, publicly wished the Packers’ secondary “good luck” before the two teams met at Lambeau Field. It seems Cutler’s well wishes turned out well for the Packers, as cornerback Tramon Williams caught as many passes from Cutler as Marshall did–two.

And on Wednesday morning, it was clear that there was no love lost between Marshall and the Packers. Tyler Dunne, of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentiel, got the scoop from Marshall’s time at the podium.

To that comment, one might ask this question–who really cares who Marshall wants to give the credit to? Dom Capers dialed up the scheme, and the players made it happen. Williams shadowed Marshall for most of the night, and Capers opted to have safety help over the top with either Charles Woodson or Morgan Burnett.

Marshall is the Bears’ only true game-breaker on the perimeter, so what else is Capers supposed to do? From coaching to execution, the Packers did their job. Period.

Oh yeah, and Marshall dropped a wide open touchdown in the game as well. But anyways. What’s next?

8

December

Packers vs. Lions Week 14 Game Predictions from AllGBP.COM (with Podcast)

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 14: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 8-4 Green Bay Packers 17-13
Why so low scoring? Forecast in Green Bay is calling for 3-6 inches of snow before kickoff.  Aaron Rodgers hasn’t played in a snow game before so he may be in for a bit of an adjustment.  If it comes down to running the ball, I think a Green/Grant two-headed attack works best
“Jersey” Al Bracco 7-5 Green Bay Packers 34-17
Usually, just when we think we have this team figured out, things change. So that’s what I’m counting on. Call me optimistic,  but I feel like it’s high time for the Packers to break out of their close game rut and have a runaway victory. The only thing that worries me is the weather, but then again, there have been high-scoring games in the snow (Seattle Snow Bowl).
Adam Czech 9-3 Green Bay Packers 27-21
I don’t think thing will be much different than the game a few weeks ago. The Lions D-line will rush hard. Stafford will get hot for a quarter. Rodgers will make a few extra plays. And the Packers win another tight one.
Marques Eversoll 9-3 Green Bay Packers 31-17
The Lions’ front four will give the Packers’ offensive line some problems. And although Green Bay is still playing with its B-team, I think these Packers will bring their A-game on Sunday night mainly because Aaron Rodgers is overdue for a Rodgers-type game. The Pack’s two most impressive performances of the season were in primetime–week two at home against the Bears and week six at Houston. And frankly, I can’t seem to recall what happened in New York two weeks ago in primetime. Blowout.
Thomas Hobbes 8-4 Green Bay Packers 24-14