2013 NFL Playoffs Predictions, Divisional Round: AllGreenBayPackers.com

2013 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round
Name Straight Up Against the Spread
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (-7.5)
Kris Burke Seahawks Saints
“Jersey” Al Bracco Seahawks Seahawks
Adam Czech Seachickens Saints
Marques Eversoll Seahawks Saints
Thomas Hobbes Seahawks Seahawks
Cory Jennerjohn Seahawks Saints
Jason Perone Seahawks Saints
Chad Toporski Seahawks Saints
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-7)
Kris Burke Patriots Colts
“Jersey” Al Bracco Colts Colts
Adam Czech Colts Colts
Marques Eversoll Colts Colts
Thomas Hobbes Colts Colts
Cory Jennerjohn Patriots Patriots
Jason Perone Patriots Colts
Chad Toporski Colts Colts
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers (+1)
Kris Burke 49ers 49ers
“Jersey” Al Bracco 49ers 49ers
Adam Czech 49ers 49ers
Marques Eversoll 49ers 49ers
Thomas Hobbes Panthers Panthers
Cory Jennerjohn 49ers 49ers
Jason Perone Panthers Panthers
Chad Toporski Panthers Panthers
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (-9)
Kris Burke Broncos Chargers
“Jersey” Al Bracco Broncos Chargers
Adam Czech Broncos Chargers
Marques Eversoll Broncos Chargers
Thomas Hobbes Broncos Broncos
Cory Jennerjohn Broncos Chargers
Jason Perone Broncos Broncos
Chad Toporski Broncos Chargers

Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski




Packers are Really Good, but not Dominant…For Now

The Packers inability to bury a team like the Saints is one reason Green Bay isn't quite dominant.

The Green Bay Packers are 6-0 and should be 7-0 after feasting on Christian Ponder and the bumbling Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

The Packers have been the more talented team on the field for each of their games this season, sometimes by a wide margin. But despite the Packers fast start and obvious talent superiority, I wouldn’t call this team dominant….yet.

Extremely good? Yes. Ultra-talented? Yes. The best team in the NFL? Yes. Dominant? Not quite.

Here’s why:

  • The Packers are 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Opposing QBs have racked up 1,798 passing yards on Green Bay, an average of almost 300 yards per game. Passing numbers are up around the league, but this number needs to come down for the Packers to be dominant.
  • The Packers are third in Football Outsiders DVOA ratings and Pro-Football-Reference.com’s simple ratings system. I don’t put too much stock in this type of analysis this early in the season, but these numbers do tell us that the Packers are not miles ahead of everyone else like a dominant team would be.
  • A dominant team would have put away the Saints and the Panthers (and probably the Bears) much earlier than the Packers did. Instead of putting these games out of reach, the Packers let both teams hang around. A dominant team also would not have been shut out by the Rams in the second half, even if that dominant team was bored like the Packers probably were on Sunday.
  • The Packers schedule hasn’t exactly been mind-blowing. Strength of schedule is something the Packers can’t control, but it at least needs to be mentioned in this discussion. Wins over the Panthers, Rams, Broncos and (probably) Vikings aren’t going to make many people turn their heads and say “Whoa, that team sure is unstoppable.”

No, the Packers shouldn’t be labeled dominant right now, but there’s a lot of season left. They have the best QB in the NFL and have outscored opponents by 83 points. Their turnover differential is plus-8 and it wouldn’t surprise me if their defense improves as Tramon Williams gets healthier, Sam Shields returns to last season’s form and Dom Capers continues adjusting to life without Nick Collins.



Packers vs. Panthers: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 30-23 Win Over Carolina

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers gave the Green Bay Packers a serious upset scare at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, as the rookie quarterback helped give the Panthers a 13-0 lead in the first quarter before the defending Super Bowl champions found their footing and took over in the second half. Three turnovers to start the second half helped the Packers score 16 points in the third quarter, and Aaron Rodgers found Jordy Nelson for an 84-yard touchdown pass that put the dagger in the Panthers’ upset bid.

Here are five observations from the Packers’ Week 2 win:

1. Concern in the secondary 

Many were quick to attribute the Packers struggles on defense in Week 1 to playing a passing magician in Drew Brees, but the fears were confirmed against  Newton and the Panthers. You could probably count 10 or so occasions where the Panthers had receivers wide open for completions. Newton spared no one, as Charles Woodson, Sam Shields, Jarrett Bush, Morgan Burnett, Clay Matthews and Erik Walden were all beat. It all equaled another 400-yard passing day against the Packers defense, who now ranks 32nd in the NFL in passing yardage.

Add in the fact that safety Nick Collins will miss the year due to a neck injury, and there are legitimate concerns in the Packers pass defense. There’s no way to sugar coat it two weeks into the season. They need to be better for the Packers to reach their high expectations in 2011.

2. Starks emerges

If there was any doubt going into Carolina who should be the Packers No. 1 back, James Starks erased them with a nine-carry, 85-yard day. He also caught three passes for 30 yads. While Ryan Grant is the established veteran in the equation, Starks simply looks like a better running back at this point. I’ve said all along—Starks just runs angry. That violence ensures he never goes down on the first hit. Grant can still be used in certain situations, but Starks deserves at least an 80-20 share of the touches until he shows otherwise.

3. Covering running backs

For the second straight week, the Packers were unable to get a hold of running backs in the passing game. After watching the Saints back field catch 11 passes for 112 yards—seven and 75 coming from Darren Sproles—the Packers allowed Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams to haul in 12 passes for 123 yards. Stewart alone caught eight balls for 100 yards.



Green Bay Packers Safety Nick Collins Goes on Injured Reserve

Nick Collins left the Panthers game on a stretcher after suffering a neck injury in the 4th quarter.

Safety Nick Collins, a three-time Pro Bowler for the Green Bay Packers, will finish the year on injured reserve after suffering a neck injury against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The heartbreaking news was delivered as the first point of order in Mike McCarthy’s press conference this afternoon.

“It’s tough. It’s something you never get used to as a coach,” McCarthy said. He offered no further details, but said it was too early to tell if he would require surgery.

Collins was injured in the fourth quarter of the game after an attempted tackle on Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart. During the play, Stewart tried to hurdle the oncoming Collins, whose head hit the underside of the runner’s leg. Collins’ neck bent awkwardly on the hit and sent him to the ground, face down and motionless.

While being carted off the field, Collins gave a slight wave to the crowd, signaling that he dodged the worst.

McCarthy mentioned during the post-game press conference that Collins was “still under evaluation” but that “all the feedback so far [was] positive.” The Green Bay Packers website later released a statement saying, “Nick Collins has normal feeling and complete movement in his extremities. As is standard protocol, he will be kept in the hospital overnight for observation.”

Yesterday’s optimistic news regarding the injury is probably what makes the loss so shocking, but what makes the news so depressing is the impact that Nick Collins has had on the Packers defense.

Since being selected by Green Bay in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Collins has played in all but 3 of the 95 regular season games during his career. His stats include 419 tackles, 21 interceptions, 6 forced fumbles, 4 touchdowns, and 67 passes defended. In addition to his Pro Bowl selections, Collins was also chosen for the Associated Press NFL All-Pro team the past three seasons.

Many fans, however, will remember him for his most recent contributions to the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV run and eventual victory.

His first big moment came in the final seconds of the must-win Week 16 game against the Chicago Bears. With a 10-3 lead, the Packers had to stave off a final drive by Jay Cutler. Then, on second-and-10, Collins seals the victory by intercepting an overthrown ball intended for Devin Hester. That final play of the game secured the wild card playoff berth for Green Bay.



Packers vs. Panthers – First Impressions, Unfiltered: GB 30 CAR 23

Photo from PackersNews.com

The Green Bay Packers invade Charlotte NC, today to take on the Carolina Panthers and record-setting rookie  QB Cam Newton. The Packers are certainly hoping for a more comfortable win than last week’s game against the Saints.

The Panthers were 2-14 last season, but have spent 144 million on seven players in an attempt to keep a young core together, ala Green Bay. They already looked like an improved team last week, with Cam Newton a huge improvement over Jimmy Clausen.

The Packers’ defense, however, will be looking to bounce back and show the NFl last’s weeks points surrendered were more attributable to the Saints’ high-powered offense than the packers’ defense not playing well.


Inactive for the Packers tonight are:

DB Tramon Williams, DE Mike Neal, LB Frank Zombo, CB Davon House, LB Vic So’oto, T Derek Sherrod, RB Alex Green.

I’m very pleased that Tramon Williams is being held out if he’s not 100%. He is way too important to the Packers for them to risk aggravating the injury further.

With Williams out, M.D. Jennings makes the first game-day roster appearance of his career. With Williams out, Shields starts and Bush plays at nickel. Since Bush is also a backup safety, Williams comes on in case emergency safety help is needed.

The Packers go with seven active offensive linemen again, with Marshall Newhouse and Evan Dietrich-Smith the only reserves. With Clifton’s knee aching a bit more this week, Packers continue to roll the dice with inexperienced backups and only two of them.


Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Noon start time: The players prefer it and so do I.

Cool temperatures: Exactly the type of weather we’ve been preparing in.

Tramon: It was close – smart for us to be cautious – he’ll be ready for Chicago.

Cam Newton: You have to be impressed – very talented young man – he’s a winner. I was impressed with the speed that he played with, which is usually a big hurdle for rookie QBs to overcome. And, he throws an excellent ball. A great athlete.

Steve Smith: He’s been such a big play receiver thorough the years. one of the best at going up to get the ball.



Packers vs. Panthers Week 2 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

Week 2: Green Bay Packers vs. Carolina Panthers
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 1-0 Green Bay Packers 27-13
Cam Newton continues to emerge, and the Williams/Stewart combo for Carolina keeps them in the game until the Packers pull away late. Packers initially struggle in what should be a gimme game.
“Jersey” Al Bracco 1-0 Green Bay Packers 34-10
Panthers RT Otah is out, starting an undrafted rookie there now. Say hello to Mr. Matthews… Packers D anxious to win some respect back and CMIII leads the way. Packers offense does what it does – score.
Adam Czech 0-1 Green Bay Packers 31-13
Cam Newton’s father took the blame for gifts his son was (allegedly) given at Auburn. But Cam’s daddy won’t be able to help him against the pass rush of Clay Matthews, or the defensive gameplan of Dom Capers. A bit ragged at times, but the Packers roll.
Thomas Hobbes 1-0 Green Bay Packers 27-10
I’m not completely convinced that Cam Newton is “422-yards” good, and if anything he might come in overconfident (I also would like to thank the Cardinals secondary for making this not a trap game as well).  Add that to the loss of two huge playmakers in middle linebacker Jon Beason and right tackle Jeff Otah (who would have been across Clay Matthews) and I think the Packers win this one.
Zach Kruse 0-1 Green Bay Packers 38-17
Cam Newton is brimming with confidence after his 422-yard debut, but Dom Capers will show him things Sunday he’s never seen at any level of football. Expect a couple of turnovers from him. There’s also no reason to think Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense will be derailed by a Panthers defense that lacks playmakers after MLB Jon Beason was lost for the season. Packers cruise to a three-touchdown win.
Chad Toporski 1-0 Green Bay Packers 37-13
Cam Newton had an impressive game last week, but he’ll be coming back down to earth against an elite defense. Capers will confuse him early and often. Oh, and Matt Flynn will be closing things out.


Green Bay Packers vs. Carolina Panthers Preview: 5 Things to Watch

The Green Bay Packers (1-0) and Carolina Panthers (0-1) face off in Week 2 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: Noon CST, Sunday, September 18, 2011

Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC

TV: FOX, Ron Pitts and Jim Mora, Jr.

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network

Series: Packers lead, 6-4 (Panthers won last regular season game, 35-31, in Nov. 2008 at Lambeau Field)

Five things to watch

Cam vs. the doubters

In the past year or so, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been doubted about everything from the authenticity to his smile to his ability to pick up a simple NFL offense. While his 422-yard NFL debut emphatically silenced most of those critics, they’ve been replaced by new doubters who think there’s no chance he’ll do well against a more talented Packers defense Sunday afternoon.

I, for one, hesitate to doubt Newton, who has risen to nearly every football challenge laid before him. There’s just something special about Newton that’s hard to attribute with stats or scouting terms. He has that “it” factor.

This will arguably be the biggest test of his football career, however, as Newton has never seen a defense as talented or multi-faceted as the Packers team he will face Sunday. Can he rise to this task as well? He might not lead the underdog Panthers to an upset win, but it’s hard to bet against Newton playing well, especially with Tramon Williams potentially on the sidelines.

Spreading the wealth

Much has been made in the 10 days leading up to this game about the disappearance of receiver James Jones in the offense during the Packers’ Week 1 win over the Saints. I think any competitor would be upset in his shoes, and he’s voiced that opinion a few times this week. It’s been discussed more than it needed in the lead up to this game, in my opinion.

Every dog will have his day in the Packers offense, but every dog won’t be satisfied every week. That’s just how it will go this season. Would anyone really be surprised if Jones caught a handful of passes this season?