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.



Packers vs. Giants Week 12 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com (with Podcast)

Week 12: Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 7-3 Green Bay Packers 21-20
The Packers are on a five game winning streak but are wounded.  The Giants are not playing their best ball right now.  I think the game is close for an entire 60 minutes and call me crazy, but I think Mason Crosby (yes THAT Crosby) wins the game on a last second field goal. A Thanksgiving weekend miracle.
“Jersey” Al Bracco 6-4 Green Bay Packers 24-21
My gut is telling me to pick the Giants in this game. They specialize in struggling and then turning it around. Tom Coughlin with more time to prepare (bye week) is always dangerous. But I think the Packers will do just enough to win this game, hopefully without needing Mason Crosby’s help.
Adam Czech 7-3 New York Giants 30-22
The Packers have scrapped their way to a 7-3 record and the lead in the NFC North. It’s going to take more than scrappiness to beat the Giants, and with all the injuries and struggles on the offensive line, I don’t see the Packers winning. It’s been about a month since Aaron Rodgers went nuts and won a game by himself, so  I suppose that could always happen. But I’m sticking with the Giants.
Marques Eversoll 7-3 New York Giants 31-30
Midway through the season, I thought the Packers would lose one more game after the bye. This is that game. I think it will be a close, back-and-forth game all afternoon, but the Giants will come out on top at home. This is a game that could come down to a late field goal–and the Giants currently have the advantage in that department. This is the first time I’m picking against the Packers all season, but hey, let’s hope I’m wrong.
Thomas Hobbes 7-3 Green Bay Packers 24-21


Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers Still Haunted by Playoff Loss: Good or Bad?

Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy

After flirting with a perfect regular season and entering the playoffs as the NFC’s top seed, not many expected the Packers to drop out of the playoffs in the manner that they did.

Coming into the playoff matchup with the New York Giants, it felt as if the Packers were locked in towards winning the second of back-to-back titles and it was just a matter of playing out the games.

The crashing down caused significant heartache, disappointment, and regret of a missed opportunity. For many, those feelings have not subsided yet. After reading Albert Breer’s article for NFL.com, we can add head coach Mike McCarthy to that list of people.

In speaking with Breer, McCarthy admitted he wasn’t over the playoff loss and that “it’ll always bother [him].” McCarthy continued, “That’s the thing that kicks me around at night: Did I do the right thing the Giants week? Is there something I could’ve done differently with our team? That’s what you learn from.”

While McCarthy admitted the playoff loss still bothers him, Aaron Rodgers said he was able to move past that game. Graham Harrell begs to defer.

“He starts to get worked up,” Harrell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He starts mumbling under his breath whenever he sees stuff about how close we were. At times, he says, ‘God, we played so bad.’ It just eats at him.”

From the perspective of fans, it’s definitely a good thing that McCarthy and Rodgers are still upset about the loss. This Packers team is made up of guys who have dealt with rejection, being overlooked, or whatever the case maybe.

Just look at “America’s Game: 2010 Green Bay Packers” and the stories of Aaron Rodgers being overlooked, Clay Matthews having to fight as a walk-on at USC, and McCarthy paying his dues by slowly working his way up the coaching ranks. Add in Donald Driver’s experience growing up in poverty and being a seventh round draft pick. All these individuals used the painful experiences and memories as motivation, to fuel their fires and reach the top level.

Coming off the Super Bowl win in 2010, these individuals had to find new motivations. The majority of the year, it wasn’t a problem as the Packers cruised to 15 wins, one more win than they accumulated in 2010 during the regular season and playoffs.



2011 NFL Conference Championships – Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

2011 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championships
Name Straight Up
Against the Spread
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (-7.5)
Kris Burke Patriots Patriots
“Jersey” Al Bracco Ravens Ravens
Adam Czech Patriots Patriots
Thomas Hobbes Patriots Patriots
Zach Kruse Patriots Patriots
Chad Toporski Ravens Ravens
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (-2.5)
Kris Burke 49ers 49ers
“Jersey” Al Bracco 49ers 49ers
Adam Czech Giants 49ers
Thomas Hobbes Giants Giants
Zach Kruse Giants Giants
Chad Toporski 49ers 49ers

Current Standings:

Chad Toporski, 12-4
“Jersey” Al Bracco, 10-6
Zach Kruse, 10-6
Thomas Hobbes, 9-7
Kris Burke, 5-11
Adam Czech, 5-3 *(missed Wild Card round)


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




Green Bay Packers: 4 Stats That Sum Up 2011-12 Struggles

Packers TE Jermichael Finley led his position in drops with 14.

It might be difficult to say that a team that won 15 regular season games went through many “struggles,” but the truth is that the 2011-12 Green Bay Packers had their fair share of significant flaws that were successfully covered up for most of the season. In the end, all four of them came back to bite the Packers in their 37-20 loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Divisional Round.

The weaknesses I speak of could be summarized by a high percentage of Packers fans. But while those defects pass the eye test, they also pass the stat test. Using numbers from Pro Football Focus, we can take a closer look at just how poorly the Packers played in certain areas of the game this season.

Missed tackles: 109

Packers coach Mike McCarthy was very adamant during his final press conference about how the lacking fundamentals in his team’s tackling was a major disappointment for the Packers’ 2011 season. This stat re-enforces McCarthy’s worries. The Packers missed 109 tackles this season, which amounts to almost 6.5 a game over the 17. In comparison, the San Francisco 49ers missed just 65 over that same amount of games. Charles Woodson led the way with 18, but he had plenty of company. Tramon Williams had 16, Charlie Peprah 11, Sam Shields 10, Morgan Burnett nine and both A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop eight. That’s simply too many missed plays from too many players for a defense to be as consistently good as you’re looking for in the NFL. Also, PFF had the Packers down for eight missed tackles last Sunday against the Giants.

Drops: 52

If there was one flaw that consistently showed up in an otherwise machine-like performance from the Packers offense, it was drops. The Packers put 52 catchable passes on the ground in 2011, which was good for over three a game over 17. Jermichael Finley was the biggest culprit with 14, a number that led all NFL tight ends by at least five drops, and Donald Driver finished second with eight. James Jones had six, Greg Jennings five, Randall Cobb four and Jordy Nelson three. The running backs had 10 (James Starks four, John Kuhn and Ryan Grant three). In a pass-heavy offense like the Packers run, a certain amount of drops are excusable. But not 52. The same can be said for seven in one game, which is exactly the number Green Bay had against the Giants. It’s hard to be consistent on the biggest stage with that kind of catching percentage.



2011 Packers Become “A Fart in the Wind” After Disheartening Loss to Giants

The Packers' 2011 season went up in smoke Sunday against the Giants.

It was never supposed to end like this for the 2011 Green Bay Packers.

No, Sunday’s 37-20 result wasn’t supposed to happen after the greatest regular season performance in franchise history, a 15-1 mark that can now only be topped with 16-game perfection.

It couldn’t have happened after seeing the Packers come out on the victorious side of 21 of 22 games, including a franchise record 19 in a row, that ensured they’d be hosting their first postseason game since 2007.

There was no chance it could end after watching the offense score 560 points, which was good for five touchdowns a game and finished as the second-highest single season scoring unit in NFL history.

And it was never an option after witnessing their 28-year-old quarterback, fresh off a Super Bowl MVP and perfectly positioned in the prime of his career, throw 45 touchdowns and set a new NFL record for passer rating in just 15 games.

All the stars seemed aligned for the Packers to win their second straight Super Bowl, the one definitive sign that this team would forever be remembered in the annals of NFL history and that the dynasty of 2010′s was taking shape right before our eyes.

But by the time Lambeau Field’s scoreboard hit quadruple zeros—00:00—the New York Giants, a team that snuck into the playoffs with just nine wins and had previously fallen to the Packers’ sword earlier in the season at home, confidently walked into the game’s most historic stadium and laid a Big Apple-sized beat down on just the sixth team in NFL history to finish the regular season with 15 or more wins.

There was nothing fluky about this win for the Giants, either.

The Packers scored 20 points, 15 below their season average, and you could make a convincing argument that two of those touchdown drives were allowed to continue because the eyes of Bill Leavy were seeing the game in some kind of other dimension that wasn’t readily apparent to 99 percent of other fans watching at home.



Analyzing Dom Capers. A Track Record of Success and Regression

Dom Capers

Dom Capers has a lot of cleaning up to do in 2012.

One of the issues discussed on Twitter immediately after the Packers took a dump against the Giants was the track record of defenses coached by Dom Capers. The Twitter chatter focused on the fact that Capers’ defenses generally decline in years two and/or three.

Actually this topic came up before Sunday but now that us Packers bloggers have some extra time on our hands, we can actually look up the numbers and discuss the issue using more than the 140 characters allowed on Twitter.

In the chart below, the numbers represent where the team finished in respect to the rest of the 31 teams.

Let’s take a look:


Defense Rushing Def Passing Def
Year Tm Yds Pts TkA Att Yds TD Y/A FR Att Yds TD Int nY/A
1992 PIT 13 2 1 12 17 4 23 1 14 8 6 7 10
1993 PIT 3 8 3 4 3 1 2 11 17 15 7 2 11
1994 PIT 2 2 13 7 7 1 4 7 12 3 1 13 2
1995 CAR 7 8 5 18 10 26 4 8 23 14 4 6 6
1996 CAR 10 2 5 2 8 4 26 4 22 12 6 7 5
1997 CAR 15 13 26 25 22 12 17 21 5 9 8 27 14
1998 CAR 30 27 7 24 26 23 25 7 12 28 30 10 29
1999 JAX 4 1 17 3 7 2 14 18 10 3 6 12 4
2000 JAX 12 16 14 17 11 20 8 3 1 14 17 25 23
2002 HOU 16 20 30 32 28 11 14 17 6 10 18 26 11
2003 HOU 31 27 25 30 31 23 22 27 11 31 21 20 32
2004 HOU 23 15 13 7 13 1 23 28 24 24 30 5 24
2005 HOU 31 32 32 28 32 29 30 27 4 24 26 31 31
2006 MIA 4 5 18 20 8 2 5 2 7 5 20 31 8
2007 MIA 23 30 28 32 32 30 30 27 1 4 28 23 31