20

December

Breaking Down Packers Playoff Scenarios

With two more regular season games to go, here is an update on the Packers’ playoff situation:

  • The Packers have already clinched the NFC North. They will be in the playoffs, guaranteed at least one home game and no worse than the fourth overall seed.
  • If the season ended today, the Packers would be the third seed and host the sixth-seeded Vikings on wild-card weekend. That’s likely not going to hold up since the Packers play the Vikings in week 17. The Vikings also could win their next two games and still miss the playoffs.
  • The Packers can move up to the second seed if they win out and the 49ers lose once. The 49ers are at Seattle this week and host Arizona in week 17.
  • Whether the Packers move up to the second seed, or stay at No. 3, a second-round matchup with the 49ers looks likely. If the Packers are the third seed and win their first-round game, they would travel to San Francisco. If the Packers are the second seed and the 49ers win their first-round game as the No. 3 seed, San Francisco would visit Green Bay.
  • The Packers can get the first seed if they win out and the Falcons lose their last two games.
  • If the Packers stay the third seed, it’s very likely that their first-round game will be against a wild-card team from the NFC East or the Bears.
  • Let’s assume the Packers stay the third seed, who would you want to play in the first round: Chicago, New York, Washington or Dallas? I’d pick Washington. They can’t guard the slot and I trust Dom Capers to not to get thrown off by RG3 and the Redskins’ funky formations.
  • Chicago seems like the obvious choice, but beating the Bears three times in the same season seems like we’d be asking too much of the football gods.
  • Check out ESPN’s NFL Playoff Machine if you want to try and figure out potential playoff pairings yourself.
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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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18

December

Packers Stock Report: NFC North Champions Edition

Clay Matthews

Ravishing Rick Rude would be proud of this Clay Matthews sack dance.

Watching the Packers this season can be very frustrating. You have shoddy pass blocking, dropped passes, a horrible kicker, failure to put teams away, shaky run defense, all kinds of injuries, odd playcalling and Fail Mary.

Yet here the Packers are, NFC North champs for the second season in a row.

It really is amazing what Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers have been able to do with this team. They’ve adjusted the offense once it became apparent that they weren’t the juggernaut from a season ago. They’ve also overcome all kinds of injuries.

Yes, watching this team can be maddening. But this is a group we can be proud of.

On to the stock report:

Rising

Clay Matthews
The Packers best pass rusher returned, sacked Jay Cutler twice and made several other plays on run defense. In other words, it was a typical day for Matthews against the Bears. More importantly, Matthews busted out a Ravishing Rick Rude sack dance. Seriously, it was amazing. For those of you who don’t know who Ravishing Rick Rude is, click here. I hope Matthews wears pants with a picture of his own face on the rear-end next week. Turn the music off!

Randall Cobb
Defensive coordinators must just start screaming “FIND COBB!!! FIND COBB!!!” whenever Aaron Rodgers breaks the pocket. Cobb dropped an early touchdown pass (well, the throw was a little off, but Cobb will probably tell you he should have caught it), but made up for it throughout the rest of the game. Needs to get a little more zip on those punt throwback tosses, though.

B.J. Raji
It’s good to see the big guy getting stronger as the season wears on. Raji was very good against the Lions and was strong early against the Bears. It looked like the Bears were going to have no problem moving the ball on the ground at the start of Sunday’s game, then Raji woke up and put a stop to that.

Steady

Sam Shields
Somebody got to Shields in the offseason and convinced him that he had to be more physical. I would like to buy this person a beer. Shields missed a tackle on Matt Forte early, but when the ball was in the air in pass coverage, Shields fought hard. He also overcame another bogus call against him and managed to get Alshon Jeffrey flagged for offensive pass interference a few times. There were times last season where physical contact made Shields coil up into the fetal position. Not the case any more.

17

December

While We Scratch our Heads, the Packers Win Games

James Jones

James Jones and the Packers are NFC North champs. (Photo from the Associated Press.)

What was your favorite head-scratching moment from Sunday’s Packers win over the Bears? Here are your options:

  • Dropped passes from Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley on the first drive. Tough catches, yes, but catchable.
  • Aaron Rodgers getting sacked three times in the first half.
  • Cobb dropping a touchdown pass in the second quarter. The pass was slightly off, but it was catchable.
  • Mason Crosby whiffing on two more field goals.
  • Mike McCarthy going for it on fourth and 6 in the third, then trying a field goal on fourth and 1 in the fourth. Why not go for it both times?
  • McCarthy calling a throwback on a punt return up 11 points in the fourth that resulted in a turnover. Ugh.
  • Rodgers launching a bomb to Greg Jennings on third and 3 late in the fourth when a simple first down would have been fine.
  • Ryan Grant’s fumble.

That’s a lot of head-scratching moments to choose from. Oh, and by the way, the Packers won 21-13 and are NFC North champions.

The Packers have made me scratch my head a lot this season, but they keep winning. Through all the injuries, all the missed field goals, all the stalled drives and all the weird playcalling, the Packers are NFC North champions.

It’s amazing what this team has been able to accomplish so far.

Of course, there is still a lot more to accomplish. All of the perseverance and fortitude shown by the Packers will be for not if they blow their first playoff game.

How many head-scratching moments can the Packers afford in the playoffs? It’s one thing to have those moments against the Arizona Cardinals or Jay Cutler. It’s another to have them against the San Francisco 49ers or Eli Manning.

Clawing out victories and digging yourself out of holes shows that your team has mettle. Mistakes like the ones made by the Packers may also burn you big time against a good team in the playoffs.

We’ll see how this season turns out. For now, I’m going to stop scratching my head and enjoy another NFC North title.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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13

December

ALLGBP.COM Packers Talk Podcast: Packers Tame Lions, Bears Await

Packers Mike Daniels Fumble Recovery TD

Packers Mike Daniels Fumble Recovery TD

Chad, Kris and Marques get together on this podcast to review the Lions game and get you ready for Bears week.  With the Packers winning their 22nd straight regular season home game against the Detroit Lions and the Bears losing, they are in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. A win against the Bears will clinch the division for the Packers

Yes, it’s Bears week!

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Join the writers at AllGreenBayPackers.com for a fast hitting discussion of all things Packers for the current week. There will be plenty of talk about the previous game and a look towards the next. Some regular features are “Game Balls and Lame Calls” and the “Packers Stock Report.”

Tune in for this expanded coverage of the original Packers Stock Report and Game Balls and Lame Calls posts.

Listen using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

Listen to internet radio with Packers Talk Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio
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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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11

December

Packers Stock Report: Shooing Away the Lions, Bringing on the Bears Edition

Packers CB Casey Hayward played his way onto the rising list this week.

Since the Packers handled the Lions on Sunday, they should be able to handle the Bears this week, right?

Think about it. The Lions have:

  • A talented but erratic QB
  • One dominant receiver
  • A tough defensive line
  • A cover-2 strategy designed to contain the Packers

Sounds very similar to the Bears. The main difference is the Lions have a better offensive line and the Bears have a better secondary and running back. The Bears are also beat up.

That’s my preliminary analysis, anyway. Very in-depth, right?

We’ll see if my perception changes later in the week, but I don’t see many reasons to pick the Bears, especially when you factor in the hopeful return of Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and (maybe) Jordy Nelson.

It was good to get the Lions out of the way. They annoy me for multiple reasons.

On to the stock report:

Rising

Casey Hayward
For some reason, Tony Scheffler was giving the Packers some trouble on Sunday. So the Packers called on Hayward and soon Scheffler wasn’t a problem any more. The rookie played all 84 snaps and had another strong game despite dropping another interception late. Now if he could only get home on blitzes like Charles Woodson used to….

Mike McCarthy
Bashing McCarthy’s decision-making and infatuation with calling downfield passes is a very popular thing to do during games. I do it myself. Every fan gets mad at the head coach of his favorite team on ocassion. But if you’re going to bash, it’s only fair to praise when praise is deserved. McCarthy seems to have the Packers living in their own world, a world where throwing in the towel because of injuries and bad breaks is not acceptable. Having Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback helps make this world a better place to be, but McCarthy still deserves a ton of credit. Getting the most out of reserves and young talent has become the norm with McCarthy. Whatever you’re doing behind the scenes, Mike, keep it up.

19

October

Is Marshall Newhouse as Good as his Pro Football Focus Numbers?

Marshall Newhouse

Packers T Marshall Newhouse has been solid so far this season.

Regular readers of this site know that we like to cite Pro Football Focus (PFF) metrics when talking about the Packers. I wouldn’t call any of us football sabermaticians, but PFF does some excellent work trying to make football analysis as objective as possible.

Too often, people either treat sites like PFF as the be-all and end-all of analysis, or dismiss their work entirely. I do neither. PFF is another tool in the toolbox as we continue to try and understand this complicated game called football.

Anyway, PFF had a doozy the other day: Marshall Newhouse is rated as the fifth-best pass blocking offensive tackle in the NFL. That’s according to PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency statistic.

I’m not kidding. Marshall Newhouse. The guy who was supposed to be the weak link on the Packers offensive line. The guy who PFF rated as one of the wort tackles in football last season. Yeah, that guy.

Don’t believe me? Check out the story for yourself. In addition to all the rankings, you can see exactly how PFF comes up with its pass-blocking efficiency (PBE) stat (also check out their pass-block rating stat because I’ll be talking about that later on).

Marshall Newhouse? For Real?

I’m not questioning PFF’s work, but my immediate reaction upon hearing that Newhouse has been the fifth-best pass-blocking tackle in the league so far was to snort and laugh a little.

“C’mon,” I thought. “Really? I’m all for using numbers and formulas to try to better understand football, but this is ridiculous. I watch the games. Newhouse can’t be the fifth-best pass-blocking tackle in the league.”

But the more I thought about it, the more my mind opened to the possibility (don’t you wish we heard that sentence more often in today’s political world? I digress…)

Our perceptions often lead to a false reality. We’ve been told over and over again that Newhouse is no good, so we probably assume that he’s just not that good, or at least nowhere near as good as the fifth-best pass-blocking tackle in football.

Since the Packers line has been shaky, and since most casual observers follow the ball and not the offensive line when watching games, it’s easy to assume that a big reason for the line’s struggles is Newhouse. He was supposed to be bad this season, so he must not be playing well if the line is struggling, right?

20

September

Packers Sam Shields Quietly Returning to Form

Sam Shields

Is Packers CB regaining his 2010 form?

The cameras focused on Clay Matthews destroying Jay Cutler, the announcers raved about Tramon Williams shutting out Brandon Marshall, and fans cheered as the Packers took a 10-0 halftime lead on the Bears after a surprise field goal resulted in a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Sam Shields kept silently plugging away.

Shields spent most of his time tracking Alshon Jeffry, helping to limit the rookie to one catch for seven yards.  Shields never did anything flashy — the Packers had Matthews, Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams to make the big plays. The third-year CB just did what the Packers needed him to do: Be fundamentally sound in pass coverage and get physical if needed.

The physical part started against San Francisco, as documented by Rob Demovsky here and highlighted in the video below.

 


In case you don’t believe what you just saw, that was Shields going hard after the ballcarrier (Frank Gore, nonetheless) and stopping him short of a first down. We didn’t see Shields stick his nose in there like that last season, and it’s a major reason why Shields had to fight to get his job back this season.

Shields played 60 of 63 snaps against the Bears and was only targeted once (on a pass to Devin Hester). After catching three passes for 80 yards in the season opener, Jeffry never sniffed the ball with Shields on him.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said that the Bears game was one of Shields’ best “since he got here.”

Maybe some competition was just what Shields needed. As an undrafted rookie fighting to make the team, Shields looked like the next great Ted Thompson find in 2010. With some job security and a Super Bowl ring on his resume, Shields tumbled in 2011.

Jarrett Bush got the start over Shields against the 49ers and guys like Casey Hayward and Davon House pushed Shields all throughout training camp. Once he gets healthy, House will likely continue to try and take as much playing time away from Shields as possible.

Competition is a good thing. Who knows? Maybe Shields will go back to his passive self. Every defender played well against the Bears. That’s not going to happen every week.