22

November

Packers Periscope: Week 12 vs Minnesota Vikings

The Past: The Packers played their last game at the Mall of America Field at the Metrodome in week 8 and showed exactly how dangerous a balanced Packers offense could be.  In short, the offense was brutally efficient; even without Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley, quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 24 passes out of 29 for 285 yards and two touchdowns to Jordy Nelson while adding 31 yards on 6 scrambles.  However the running attack needed no help from Rodgers this time as Eddie Lacy ground the Vikings defense for 94 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown while James Starks provided the change of pace with 57 yards on only 7 carries (8.1 ypc) and a touchdown.

On defense, the loss of Clay Matthews and Nick Perry certainly didn’t help with the pass rush, but with Adrian Peterson’s body obviously starting to break down plus a “give up” call to put Christian Ponder back after perhaps the worst quarterback play in the history of the NFL by Josh Freeman the week against the Giants before left the Vikings offense in shambles; Peterson only managed 60 yards on a paltry 13 attempts while Ponder completed 50% of his passes for only 145 yards.

Perhaps the most interesting story of the night happened after the game where Greg Jennings purposefully pulled Aaron Rodgers aside and proceeded to awkwardly hug/presumable apologize for about 5 minutes to which Rodgers just nodded dutifully.  Neither Rodgers nor Jennings has fully disclosed what was said on the field, but as both players might be watching from the sidelines this game probably means that this will be a non-issue for either team (not that that will stop the media from covering it like it was).

The Present: The Vikings are perhaps as injury riddled in key positions as the Packers are, which is no small task.  Star running back Adrian Peterson has been hobbled by a groin injury and hasn’t been as explosive as he once was.  Leading wide receiver Greg Jennings was a surprise scratch from last weeks game against the Seattle Seahawks, much to the dismay of head coach Leslie Frasier. If Jennings does indeed miss his homecoming against the Packers, how much of it will because he simply doesn’t want to be on the field when he knows he can’t win back the fans?  The Vikings still also have questions at quarterback, Josh Freeman was expected to see the field at some point after recovering from his concussion due to his relatively large contract, but hasn’t seen the field as Matt Cassel played in relief of starter Christian Ponder when he dislocated his shoulder two weeks ago.  Aside from Christian Ponder’s shoulder injury, he will also be without his favorite target in tight end Kyle Rudolph, who is likely to be out with a broken foot.

20

November

Packers vs. Buccaneers – Unfiltered Game Day Commentary and First Impressions: Green Bay 35, Tampa Bay 26

Raji celebrates after his touchdown run. Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs are struggling. The Packers are not. This looks like another blowout win for the Packers, but I guess we have to play the game first. Personally, I see this game going more like the Rams game than the Vikings game. The Packers will always be in control, but it won’t be the complete domination that everyone expects.

With the Thanksgiving showdown against the Lions just a few days away, I also think the Packers might get a little bored today. Speaking of bored, you’ve probably had enough of my pregame ramblings. Lets get to the game.

Packers inactivies: CB Davon House, LB Robert Francois, LB Jamari Lattimore, LB Frank Zombo, OG Ray Dominguez, OT Chad Clifton and TE D.J. Williams.

Mike Neal makes his 2011 debut today. I thought the Packers would wait until the Thanksgiving game, but this is a nice surprise.

Safety Tanard Jackson is inactive for the Bucs. That’s going to make it even more difficult for Tampa Bay to slow down Jermichael Finley and Green Bay’s WRs.

First half

We get Joe Buck and Troy Aikman today. I love my touchdowns called in a monotone voice.

The Bucs convert on 3rd and 7 and Clay Matthews leaves the game with some sort of injury. Not a great start.

With Matthews on the sideline, AJ Hawk hits Josh Freeman’s arm on 3rd and 4 and the Packers offense will go to work. Dom Capers brought the pressure on that series.

Josh Sitton with a hold on the Packers second play. His struggles continue.

Well, that’s a new one. The Packers offense can’t get a first down, so P Tim Masthay runs for the first down after a Bucs rusher comes at him unblocked. Masthay also shows why he’s a punter by fumbling the ball out of bounds with nobody around him. He was actually credited with two fumbles and a fumble recovery on the play.

The Packers are driving after Masthay’s run. Rodgers just used James Starks as a checkdown option. Good sign.

So Masthay runs for a first down after a failed punt, then BJ Raji plows his way for a one-yard TD. The Packers are just trying to amuse themselves at this point, right?

20

November

Packers vs. Buccaneers: 5 Factors That Favor Green Bay on Sunday

When a 9-0 team like the Green Bay Packers welcomes a 4-5 club like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there are going to be a number of factors that favor the undefeated team at home. And really, Packers fans probably don’t need much for comfort as they head into Sunday. I’ve haven’t witnessed much nail-biting in the lead up to Week 11. However, if you are one of those fans who is sweating the Packers upcoming game against the Bucs, maybe the following five factors will calm your mind.

1. The Bucs really struggle on D

The Packers offense is playing well enough right now that matchups become more or less a moot point. But when scanning the Buccaneers’ defensive numbers in 2011, it’s hard to ignore the kind of mismatch we could see on Sunday. Through nine games, the Bucs currently rank No. 31 in total defense (401.2 yards/game), No. 28 in pass defense (263/game), No. 29 in rush defense (138.2/game) and No. 27 in points allowed (25.9/game). According to Pro Football Focus, the Bucs are the third-worst rated defense in the NFL. It’s bad across the board. Aaron Rodgers and Co. is always a threat to put a big number on the board, but it looks like a near certainty on Sunday against this Bucs defense.

2. End of a tough stretch

Bucs coach Raheem Morris talked this week about how much harder the schedule has been in 2011, which is theoretically a true statement but also one that completely undermines their 10-win season from a year ago. They’ll finally get a break after Week 11. Sunday’s game with the Packers ends a horrific stretch of games for the Bucs which included the 49ers (8-1), Saints x 2 (7-3), Bears (6-3) and Texans (7-3). Including the 9-0 Packers, that’s a 34-13 record of teams that has faced the Bucs since Week 5. They’ve went just 1-5 during that stretch. If the Packers get up early at home on Sunday, the Bucs might be inclined to pack it in. Also, don’t forget that Sunday will be the first game that the Bucs have played in the cold in 2011. They’ve been either indoors or in warm weather in all nine games of 2011.

3. No pass rush

18

November

2011 NFL Season Week 11 Preview: Green Bay Packers vs. Tampa Buccaneers–Sinking The Ghost Ship

Nine down, seven to go.  The Green Packers have crossed the halfway mark in their quest for a perfect regular season en route to a repeat Super Bowl trip.

This week the Packers aim for win number ten, the number where Packers coach Mike McCarthy allows his players to begin discussing the “p-word”—playoffs. It took the Packers the full season to reach that threshold last season. This year, they can hit ten wins the fastest way possible.

Standing in the Packers way are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Expected to contend for the title in the difficult NFC South, the Buccaneers instead have slumped to 4-5 and have lost three in a row.

Haven’t we seen this script somewhere else before?

The Packers have a chance to avenge one of the most embarrassing losses in franchise history when in 2009 they lost to a winless Buccaneers team in Tampa which happened to be quarterback Josh Freeman’s first start.

Will revenge truly be a dish best served cold?

Key Buccaneers Players

QB Josh Freeman

At this time last year, Freeman was dubbed the next big thing.  He was emerging as the next superstar quarterback in an already stacked NFC South.  He played solid in his rookie year of 2009 and grew in 2010. The plate was set.

Instead, Freeman has fallen back to earth and it could be argued that he has regressed. He has thrown for nine TDs to go with 13 interceptions.  While he doesn’t have a very talented receiver corps, he still needs to be smart with the ball.

With a ball hawking defense like the defense, Freeman needs to improve his decision making. That said, he has snuck up on the Packers before. Could he do it again?

RB LeGarrette Blount

The Oregon stud has slowly emerged as the next big running back for the Buccaneers.  He has rushed so far this year for 434 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately he has been hampered not only by injuries, but also stupid mistakes.

Two weeks ago, the Buccaneers were in position to possibly steal a victory against the division leading New Orleans Saints until Blount got in a scuffle with a Saints defender and as promptly flagged for a personal foul.