4

January

NFL Playoff Preview. A Wild Weekend is in the Cards

New York Giant Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz will be a lot for the Atlanta Falcons to handle

The Packers will face the Giants, Falcons or Lions on Jan. 15 in a divisional round playoff game at Lambeau Field. All three teams gave the Packers everything they could handle in regular season games, and lost.

Looking ahead to the divisional round, I expect one of these three teams to again give the Packers a helluva game…and lose.

All three teams present unique challenges for the Packers, but none have enough talent in the secondary to keep the Packers out of the end zone often enough to win.

But before we can focus in on who the Packers will face next week, the wild card round needs to be played. Here is a closer look at those matchups:

Saturday, January 7

AFC: 3:30 PM

Cincinnati at Houston (NBC)

Breakdown: Those of you that are sickened by the lack of defense in modern football should watch this game. Bengals QB Andy Dalton struggled in the second half of the season while the Texans were forced to turn things over to third-string QB T.J. Yates. Yates got the best of Dalton in an earlier matchup, but I think Dalton gets revenge this time around. The Bengals will win and snap the NFL’s longest stretch without a playoff victory (1990, wild-card round).

NFC: 7 PM

Detroit at New Orleans (NBC)

Breakdown: If the Lions couldn’t beat the Packers reserves, how are they going to beat the Saints in a road playoff game? They probably won’t, but when you can score like the Lions can, you’re never out of it. Detroit fell behind 17-0 in the second quarter when these two teams met earlier. The Lions have a knack for winning after falling behind, but you can’t screw around against a team like the Saints. If the Lions don’t come out swinging right away, they’ll get knocked down for good. The Saints win this one.

Sunday, January 8

NFC: Noon

Atlanta at Giants (FOX)

Breakdown: Here’s how the Giants fared after the bye week: Miami (W), at New England (W), at San Francisco (L), Philadelphia (L), at New Orleans (L), Green Bay (L), at Dallas (W), Washington (W), Jets (W), Cowboys (W). That’s a brutal stretch and the Giants survived to make the playoffs. The Falcons have won six of their final nine games, but only one win came against a team with a winning record.

2

October

Green Bay Packers vs Denver Broncos–First Impressions UNFILTERED! Packers 49, Broncos 23

Photo courtesy JSOnline.com

The Green Bay Packers (3-0) face off against the Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field.

The Packers will look for their 10th consecutive win including playoffs, but hope to pull away from their opponent instead of having the game in doubt going late into the fourth quarter.

The Broncos meanwhile are looking to bounce back from another close loss.  Tim Tebow will finally see some action under center today according to reports from the Broncos and are hoping their passing offense will finally come to life.

Pregame Thoughts

Champ Bailey is out for the Broncos.  He likely would have seen some time against Jermichael Finley so this could possibly mean another big game for the Packers tight end.

Word out of Denver that Tim Tebow could see some red zone action today.  I have watched Tebow for a long time and you can’t underestimate his abilities in the red zone.  The Packers have a tendency to struggle against athletic quarterbacks, so this added wrinkle will be interesting to watch.

Very sunny day today at Lambeau. Beautiful day for football.

How many Cheeseheads will have their eyes on their phones checking the Brewers score? I kid. Sort of.

Derrick Sherrod will be the backup to Chad Clifton.  The Packers first round draft pick makes his NFL regular season debut.

Broncos down two WRs with Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas inactive.

Packers inactives include RB Ryan Grant, S Nick Collins, LB Jamari Lattimore, LB Frank Zombo, LB Brad Jones, T Bryan Bulaga, DE Mike Neal.

First Half

Glad we got Nantz and Simms. Worried we would have Dierdorf and Gumbel on TV.

Broncos go three and out on first series.  Solid breakup by Tramon Williams on the pass to Decker.

Wow, one punt and a Packers special teams penalty against Alex Green. SHOCKING!

Elvis Dumervil making his presence known pressing Rodgers on that rollout.

BOOM. Rodgers to Jennings for 43 yards.  Can anyone stop the Super Bowl MVP?

Rodgers could have had Jennings for a TD.

Packers go for it on 4th down deep in Denver territory and a pitch to Starks results in a turnover on downs.  Not sure I like the play all there.

TIM TEBOW SIGHTING!  And he is STUFFED.

2

October

Packers vs. Broncos Preview: 5 Things to Watch

Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers (3-0) and Denver Broncos (1-2) face off in Week 4 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 3:15 CST, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

TV: CBS, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms with the call

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; Siruis Satellite Radio (Ch. 91)

Series: Packers lead, 6-5-1 (Packers won last regular season meeting, 19-13 (OT), on Oct. 29, 2007 at Denver.)

Five things to watch

A New House on the right side

With Bryan Bulaga on the sidelines this week recovering from an ankle and knee injury, second-year tackle Marshall Newhouse will make his first career NFL start. Remember, this is a guy who was inactive for every game he was healthy during his rookie year. But when Bulaga went down in Chicago, the Packers offense didn’t back off or change the gameplan. As we’ve seen so many times in the past two season, the beat simply went on for the Packers after an injury at an important position.

Still, you’d have to expect the Broncos to test Newhouse early and often, and they have the horses to do it. Aaron Rodgers compared Elvis Dumervil—who is still questionable for Sunday—to pass rushers like Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, and if Newhouse isn’t faced with him, then he’ll likely get rookie Von Miller. The Broncos’ No. 2 overall pick in April has impressed with his first step and natural pass rushing skills. Newhouse passed his first test last Sunday, but he gets a whole new challenge against the Broncos.

Rodgers vs. the blitz

Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has blitzed as much as any defensive coordinator in football through three games. That’s not surprising considering he came to Denver after serving three years under Gregg Williams in New Orleans as the secondary coach, but it’ll be interesting to see how Allen attacks the Packers offense. Williams went after Aaron Rodgers early in Week 1, and the Packers quarterback responded with three first quarter touchdown passes and a 158.3 rating after 15 minutes of football.

That isn’t surprising either, as Rodgers has been the best passer in the NFL against the blitz since taking over in 2008. He can recognize blitz looks in his pre-snap reads and will hit the hot appropriate hot read before the blitz gets home. Will Allen trust the stat sheet and tone down his blitzes? Or will he stick to what he’s shown through three weeks?

30

September

2011 NFL Season Week 4: Green Bay Packers vs. Denver Broncos Preview: Not Quite Super Bowl XXXII Redux

It doesn’t have the luster of Super Bowl XXXII but the game this Sunday between the Green Bay Packers and the Denver Broncos does have some meaning for the defending world champions.

For example, the last time the Packers were the defending champs the Broncos were the ones who stripped them of their title.  While Kyle Orton is no John Elway, the Broncos are a significant underdog like they were in Super Bowl XXXII when they upset the Brett Favre-led Packers.

At the same time, the Packers need to win this game to keep pace with the Detroit Lions in the NFC North (you have no clue how strange it is to type that).  While some have gone so far as to say the Packers are in control of the division despite being tied with another team, the Packers know firsthand the Lions are not to be taken lightly.

Last week in review

The Packers beat their archrival Chicago Bears 27-17 at Soldier Field.  Jermichael Finley made his presence known by catching three touchdown passes and the defense, though sluggish at times, shut down the Bears offense and the Packers moved to 3-0.

The Broncos meanwhile lost a close game to the Tennessee Titans in Tennessee 17-14.  Orton struggled again throwing two interceptions and for only 173 yards to only increase the cry from Bronco fans for Orton to be benched and let second year quarterback Tim Tebow into the lineup.  The Broncos are 1-2 on the season, but have been competitive in both their losses.

Breaking down the Broncos

Despite this being his first season as coach, John Fox truly has built the Broncos the same way he built his teams in Carolina.

Fox expects a strong rushing attack from his offense.  While Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee are definitely not DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, there is enough potential there.  McGahee has clearly been the stronger back this season as Moreno can’t seem to stay healthy and is a question mark for the game vs the Packers.

Orton is no stranger to the Packers from his years in Chicago before being sent to Denver that brought the self-giving gift known as Jay Cutler to Chicago.  Orton won’t beat you deep nor will he beat you with his athleticism.  He truly is a game manager quarterback.  He doesn’t strike fear in the heart of a defense late in a game, and that’s why Broncos fans are screaming for Tebow.

30

September

Know Your Packers Enemy: Breaking Down the Broncos vs. Packers with Sayre Bedinger From Mile High Report

In our second installment of “Know Your Packers Enemy,” we sat down with Sayre Bedinger of Mile High Report to breakdown the Green Bay Packers (3-0) upcoming contest with the Denver Broncos (1-2) in Week 4.

Here’s the Q&A:

ZACH KRUSE:  The Broncos returned both Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey to practice on Wednesday. Do you think they’ll play on Sunday? And how important are these two to what the Broncos want to do on defense?

SAYRE BEDINGER: I know that Elvis Dumervil is playing, he said as much at practice yesterday. Champ is a little more uncertain to me just because straining a hamstring can take up to a month and a half to fully heal from, but he’s one of the toughest players on the team and if he feels like he can contribute at a high level, there is no way he is missing this game. When they are on the field, the whole defense is a different looking unit, and to be honest, they help us match up much better with the Packers who are primarily a passing offense. They are both such dynamic playmakers and I would argue they are the two best players on the entire team.

ZK: What’s the confidence level in Kyle Orton in Denver? We all heard the chants for Tim Tebow in Week 1, but I think the rest of the NFL understands Tebow’s limitations. Is there a trust level with Orton still?

SB: I threw out a figure on my radio show last week that the amount of Broncos fans still confident in Kyle Orton has gone from about 50-50 to maybe 85% of people no longer believing he can play at a high enough level consistently. You mention that the league knows Tebow’s limitations–I highly disagree. I don’t think anyone knows his limitations because he hasn’t seen extended time on the field. Due to him being a relative unknown, the fans are willing to place an enormous amount of pressure on Kyle to be perfect because we know there is at least an alternative. At this point, a majority of Broncos fans have already moved on from Kyle Orton and simply believe the coaching staff is delaying the inevitable, waiting for the season to be lost to put Tebow on the field.