23

November

Around the NFC North in Week 12

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North in week 12

Well, I dropped the ball my friends.  My apologies to all for not getting this post up sooner and in light of today’s matchup between the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans.  I am feverishly writing this on Turkey Day and I won’t take a single bite until this is up for your reading pleasure.  With that, I want to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving weekend!

This week brings a full slate of NFC North football starting with the Thanksgiving day matchup.  The Chicago Bears square off against the Minnesota Vikings for the first time this season and the Packers round off the weekend with the Sunday Night game at the New York football Giants.

Let’s look at the matchups a bit more closely and see what’s to come.

Houston Texans (10-1) at Detroit Lions (4-7)

Well, Houston pulled it out in another overtime thriller.  I could have tried to pass myself off as a prophet and claim that I knew the Lions would take the 9-1 Texans to the brink, but all it takes is a glance at my record in the prediction posts.  It’s clear that I don’t own a crystal ball.  Or at least an accurate one.  So on we go. . .

Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at Chicago Bears (7-3)

The big question in this game for the Bears is once again the health status of starting quarterback Jay Cutler.  Cutler has been cleared to practice in a limited capacity but still has not been cleared by an independent neurologist to resume full play.

Jason Campbell would start at quarterback if Cutler can’t play.  Campbell has been barely decent in relief duty and when asked whether Cutler would be able to play this week, Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Tice was quoted as saying “God, I hope so”.  Not a whole lot more needs to be said there.  The Bears themselves know their best chance to win is with Cutler playing.

Minnesota’s tough defensive unit would theoretically pose a bigger problem to Campbell than Cutler.  Chicago’s offensive line struggles continue and there have even been some rumblings that Chicago is less-than-thrilled with the play of 2nd year tackle and 2011 first round pick Gabe Carimi.  This could become a big problem if the Vikings pass rush wins the battle up front and forces Campbell to make quick decisions and throws.

15

November

Around the NFC North in Week 11

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North in week 11

Week 11 brings about some intriguing plotlines around the NFC North.  The Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers both lost their starting quarterbacks for portions of this past Sunday’s game.  The Green Bay Packers finally see a divisional opponent in old foe the Detroit Lions.  The Minnesota Vikings have their bye this week after beating the Lions to complete the sweep in that series.  Here is a breakdown of the two matchups in the Black & Blue division this week.

Chicago Bears (7-2) at San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1)

The storyline in this Monday Night Football contest is that in this past week’s game, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler were both knocked out with a concussion.  Each missed the entire second half of their game.  Both Smith and Cutler will go through the league-mandated concussion protocol and need to be cleared before resuming football activities.

As of Wednesday, it was being reported that Smith was cleared to resume play and is expected to start on Sunday.  If Smith can’t go for some reason, he would be replaced by Colin Kaepernick.  The Bears have not yet commented on their expectations for Cutler’s status this week.  Cutler’s backup is Jason Campbell.  In such a crucial matchup, this is a situation to monitor as the week goes on.

Before last Sunday’s game (and besides mop up duty), Campbell had appeared for just one snap in an October 22nd game against the Detroit Lions.  Cutler was viciously taken down by Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh and came out for just one play before returning.

The San Francisco 49ers were involved in the first tie game since the 2008 season as they locked up with division rival St. Louis Rams.  Tie games are always interesting when it comes to the standings and San Francisco is currently behind both the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears in the NFC.

San Francisco’s strength is their defense and superior play that they are getting from their front seven.  Pro Bowler Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman lead one of the most disruptive linebacking units in the NFL along with defensive linemen Justin Smith and Aldon Smith.  It was Aldon Smith’s sack late in the overtime period that kept the Rams out of field goal range and drained valuable clock.

14

March

All you Need to Know About Day 1 of NFL Free Agency and the Green Bay Packers

Brandon Marshall

The Bears traded two third-round picks for WR Brandon Marshall.

It’s 11:30 p.m. central time on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. I’m going to read a few pages in my book and go to bed. By the time this publishes around 7 a.m. central time on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, a bunch of other stuff might have happened and the news contained in this post might feel like it’s 10 years old.

Welcome to the start of NFL free agency.

A lot went down on Tuesday when 532 NFL players hit the open market. Let’s take a look at the developments that concern the Green Bay Packers:

  • Packers center Scott Wells is as good as gone according Packer Report. I was a big advocate for bringing Wells back, even if it meant overspending a little. Maybe it’s me accepting the fact that Wells is probably leaving, but I started changing my mind a couple days ago. Is it wise to overspend for a 31-year-old center that’s undersized and isn’t that great of a run blocker? Probably not, especially when there’s extensions for Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Clay Matthews coming up in the near future. The Packers will miss Wells’s pass blocking. They’ll miss his command of the pre-snap calls just as much. But it’s not a devastating loss…I don’t think.
  • And who knows? Maybe the Packers are treating Wells like they treated Clifton a few years ago, letting him explore the market to see what sort of offers are out there and hoping for an opportunity to match.
  • There’s been some scuttle that the Packers might go after Houston center Chris Myers to replace Wells. I’ll believe it when I see it. Myers would be an upgrade over Wells, but replacing his own high-priced free agent with another high-priced free agent isn’t how Ted Thompson typically operates.
  • Packers DE Mike Neal has been suspended four games for using a performance enhancing substance. The injury-prone Neal gets a lot of heat from Packers fans and this won’t make it any better. I always had sympathy for Neal. Why should we get angry at a young player just because he gets hurt? But this changes things. There’s no excuse for taking PEDs. The best thing Neal can do is admit his mistake, take his punishment like a man, and try to come back and salvage his career.
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.