13

December

Week 15 Packers Stock Report: Smith and Nelson Rising, Newhouse and Finley Falling

Remember when blowout wins were fun? The Packers destroyed the Raiders on Sunday, but a lot of the fun was ruined by various Packers hobbling off the field and the star QB taking too many hits.

This is where we’re at as Packers fans these days. Instead of basking in the glory of a 46-16 win, we’re worrying about the health of the team.

It’s kind of a weird feeling. Whenever I see Aaron Rodgers running around or another player trying to fight off tacklers for a couple extra yards, I start yelling at the TV: “Yeah! Go! Go! Go…..wait a minute! Don’t get hurt! Just go down!”

Don’t get me wrong. I want the Packers to go for 19-0 and I think they will, but damn, it sure makes for some nerve-wrecking moments in these final regular season games. Thankfully, it appears that Greg Jennings will be back for the playoffs.

Time for the stock report. I left Rodgers off this week, mostly because I was sick of always trying to come up with something new to say about how good he is.

Rising

D.J. Smith
Mike McCarthy gave game balls to Smith and fellow backup ILB Robert Francois after Sunday’s win. Smith’s 10 tackles and one interception also earned him a spot in the rising category. Smith has 24 tackles since replacing the injured Desmond Bishop on Thanksgiving.

Jordy Nelson
I’m curious to see how Nelson plays with Jennings on the sideline. With Jennings on the field, Nelson has been on fire, totaling 80 yards or more in three of his last four games. He also has three touchdowns over that span.

Donald Driver
I went to the week four game against the Broncos. Driver got carted to the locker room after getting drilled in the knee in the first half. He could barely walk and he had the towel over his head. It didn’t look good. At halftime, Vic Ketchman appeared on the Lambeau big screen and told us that Driver would not return. Literally 10 seconds later, Driver trotted onto the field and started warming up. He returned, and even caught a TD later in the game. Now Driver is heating up again and it couldn’t come at a better time.

Steady

11

December

Packers vs. Raiders – Unfiltered Game Day Commentary and First Impressions: Green Bay 46, Oakland 16

Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders are trying to stay in the playoff picture. The Packers are trying to clinch a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the postseason.

Here we go.

Packers inactives: QB Graham Harrell, CB Davon House, RB James Starks, LB Desmond Bishop, G Josh Sitton, T Chad Clifton.

AJ Hawk is active, but not starting. No matter because D.J. Smith picks off Carson Palmer on the Raiders first possession. Smith was just kind of hanging out, enjoying the vibe at Lambeau Field, and Palmer threw it right to him.

Two plays later, Ryan Grant goes for a 47-yard TD. McCarthy needs to call more of those stretch types of runs for Grant. He’s still decent when he can pick his way through a defense, find a hole, and accelerate. He’s no longer effective just crashing into the line up the middle.

10 yards on a fullback end-around? C’mon defense.

A little more air on that bomb to Jennings and this game would be 14-0.

No matter, because Rodgers hits Ryan Taylor for a TD a few minutes later. Taylor needs to work a bit on his Lambeau Leap, however.

Eighteen different players have scored TDs this season.

Wow, if we were frustrated by the Packers drops last week, imagine how Raiders fans feel today.

Sherrod comes in at left tackle for a series and gets absolutely run over on a 3rd down pass. Mason Crosby FG makes it 17-0.

The Raiders put 12 defenders on the field but still can’t stop a Rodgers to Jordy Nelson touchdown. 24-0 good guys. Rodgers ties Brett Favre’s single-season record for TD passes at 39.

There’s really not much to say about this game. Domination from the Packers. The defense is tackling well and generating a bit of a pass rush. Lets see if the defense keeps it up.

I guess it’s hard for the defense not to look good when Palmer is throwing it right to your players. Woodson with the pick.

Oh man, Rodgers is sacked from behind by Aaron Curry and “fumbles.” Nasty looking hit there, Rodgers easily could’ve been hurt. The fumble call is overturned after a three hour replay review.

11

December

Packers vs. Raiders Preview: 5 Things to Watch

The Green Bay Packers (12-0) and Oakland Raiders (7-5) face off in Week 14 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 3:15 CST, Sunday, December 11, 2011.

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI.

TV: CBS; Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; NFL Sunday Drive.

Series: Packers lead, 6-5 (Packers won last regular season game, 38-7, in Dec. 9, 2007 at Lambeau Field).

Five things to watch

1. Slow…Down

The Raiders’ speed, a feature their entire roster is built around, took a big hit on the offensive side when Oakland announced that Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Taiwan Jones would all miss Sunday’s game. In all fairness, these aren’t just your run-of-the-mill “fast guys,” either. You’d be hard-pressed to find a faster set of four players in the entire league. All but Jones were major contributors on offense, too.  Darius Heyward-Bey (4.25-second 40-yard dash) is healthy and should start at one receiver position, however.

Without several of their most important speed guys available, it will be interesting to see how the Raiders cope. They struggled last week in Miami.

2. Grounded

Even without McFadden in the lineup for the better part of two months, the Raiders running game has remained among the NFL’s elite. Oakland averages 140.1 rushing yards a game, which is good for fourth in the league. Backup running back Michael Bush has been a big reason why the Raiders’ running game hasn’t missed a beat since McFadden went out, as Bush has rushed for 548 yards and three scores over the Raiders’ last six games. A big back at 6-1, 245 pounds, Bush should be a major focus of Dom Capers’ defense on Sunday.

Big backs like Bush (think Mike Tolbert, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Jacobs) have had success against the Packers’ run defense this season. They’ll again be without leading tackler Desmond Bishop because of a calf strain, and rookie D.J. Smith will start in his place. Without Bishop and A.J. Hawk last week, the New York Giants ran for 100 yards on just 20 carries. While I’m not convinced that the Raiders can win the game solely on the ground, they can definitely control the pace with a strong showing from Bush and the running game.

 3. Another test

20

October

Playing Devil’s Advocate: Did the Packers sell Brett Favre for too little?

Ah the Raiders, no one can blame them for not being true to themselves; recently the Raiders just pulled off perhaps one of the most Raider-esqe moves of all time by giving up a 2012 1st round draft pick plus a conditional 2nd round pick in 2013 (which can become a 1st round pick should the Raiders win a playoff game this year) for disgruntled Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer.

Personally, I can’t imagine how this works out in the favor for the Raiders.  As a point of comparison the Denver Broncos received two first round picks from the Chicago Bears for quarterback Jay Cutler; the only difference was that Cutler was entering the prime of his career, didn’t have a significant injury history and was playing pretty effectively.

Anyways, apparently the going rate for a franchise quarterback is 2 first round draft picks and so that got me wondering, would it have been possible for the Packers to steal 2 1st rounder picks from some hapless team?

Just as a little recap, in the offseason of 2008, it became clear that Packers management was getting a little fed up with Favre’s constant retirement antics and constant criticism of management philosophy (understandably as Favre wanted the Packers to get him more weapons while he was still playing but the Packers were trying to get more weapons for the future).  In a bit of a power play, Favre retired and when it became obvious that the Packers were willing to move on to Aaron Rodgers, Favre un-retired and tried to force his way back into the lineup.  Favre and the Packers had a standoff and in the end, the Packers sided with Rodgers and Favre was traded to the Jets for what became a 3rd round draft pick.

Just to play devil’s advocate, if the Packers had held onto Favre’s contract there’s a good chance that they could have traded him for more during the season to some team like the Patriots.  The Patriots took a big hit during week 1 of the 2008 season when they lost all-pro quarterback Tom Brady for the year and had to rely on an unknown and unproven backup quarterback who had last started in high school.  Luckily for the Patriots, Matt Cassel managed to keep the team afloat that year but if he had tanked, the Patriots might have been forced to look for a trade and Favre would have probably been one of the best quarterbacks available at the time.  Add to that Favre’s infatuation with wide receiver Randy Moss, who just so happened to be playing for the Patriots at the time and you have to think that something could have happened.