11

January

Packers Beer Mug Perspective: Seattle at home, or the Georgia Dome?

After the "Fail Mary" in September, the Packers could play the Seahawks again in the playoffs.

After the “Fail Mary” in September, the Packers could play the Seahawks again in the playoffs.

After defeating the Minnesota Vikings last week, the Green Bay Packers are two wins away from Super Bowl XLVII.

If the Packers defeat the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, they’ll move on to the NFC Championship. Who and where they’d play would be determined Sunday afternoon when the Falcons and Seahawks square off in Atlanta.

If the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons win, they’ll host the NFC Championship at the Georgia Dome. But if the Seahawks win, then the winner of Saturday’s Packers-49ers game will host the NFC Championship.

(Now would be a good time to mention that I fully expect this Saturday’s game against the 49ers to be a hard-fought, down-to-the-wire matchup that could go either way. The purpose of this post is not to overlook a good 49ers team, but rather, to look at (what could be) the next game on the Packers’ schedule.)

A rematch with Seattle would surely result in an amped-up Lambeau Field crowd, hungry for revenge after what happened on Sept. 24. But a rematch with Atlanta would mean the Packers, a team built for a fast track, would be playing indoors with a chance to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.

This begs the question…

Would you, as a fan, rather see the Packers host the Seahawks at Lambeau Field or have them play the Falcons in the Georgia Dome?

In the format of the Packers Beer Mug Perspective, let’s look at the issue from both angles, then determine whether our mug is really “half full” or “half empty.”

1) Seahawks at Packers. Lambeau Field.

Why it sounds good: It all comes full circle.

After the infamous “Fail Mary” play earlier this season, the Packers receive an opportunity for revenge against the Seattle Seahawks. It’s Pete Carroll, Golden Tate and Russell Wilson back on the other sideline, only this time, it’s in Green Bay with a trip to Super Bowl XLVII on the line.

The Seahawks are as hot as anyone in the league right now, but they’re still a team without much experience in the playoffs. Wilson has been sensational as a rookie, but the postseason can be a whole different animal for young quarterbacks. Then again, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has yet to win a playoff game, and he’s currently in his fifth NFL season.

4

January

Packers Beer Mug Perspective: Is this a Super Bowl team?

Can the Packers win Super Bowl XLVII?

Can the Packers win Super Bowl XLVII?

The 2012 season has been a roller-coaster for the Green Bay Packers.

From the early-season “Fail mary” in Seattle to the epic collapse in Indianapolis, the Packers have battled back to put themselves in contention for a second Super Bowl in three years. But is this team really Super Bowl-caliber?

The last time the Packers won the Super Bowl, they were decimated by injuries but Aaron Rodgers carried the team on his back all the way to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. It was a season to remember, and there are certainly some similarities between the 2010 Packers and this 2012 team.

In the Packers’ first preseason game, starting middle linebacker Desmond Bishop was lost for the season. After Clay Matthews, Bishop may be the Packers’ best defensive player. Second-year player D.J. Smith replaced Bishop in the starting lineup, but he suffered a season-ending injury in week six at Houston.

In total, the 2012 Packers have eight players on injured reserve, including this year’s first-round pick Nick Perry, starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga and starting running back Cedric Benson. Needless to say, the injury bug bit the Packers hard this season.

But through it all, the Packers won the division and played their way to the No. 3 seed in the NFC.

And now, this team is the healthiest its been since the regular season kicked off. Charles Woodson will return to the field this week after suffering a broken collarbone Oct. 21 in St. Louis. Randall Cobb will be back in the lineup as well, giving the Packers their full corps of wide receivers since week four.

Vegas has the Packers at 8/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. They have the third-best odds in the NFC, behind the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots currently have the best odds to win the Super Bowl.

Is this Packers team capable of winning Super Bowl XLVII?

In the format of the Packers Beer Mug Perspective, let’s look at the issue from both angles, then determine whether our mug is really “half full” or “half empty.”

THE MUG IS HALF FULL

While this team isn’t at full strength by any means, the team that takes the field Saturday night will be arguably the most talented 46-man roster the Packers have put on the field all season.

13

September

Packers Beer Mug Perspective: Defending The Reputation

Packers Beer MugFor a team that finished second in fewest points allowed per game last season, the Green Bay Packers defense seemed out of sync in the 42-34 win over the New Orleans Saints. The defending Super Bowl champions picked up where they left off on offense, but the defense that was once instrumental in closing out playoff games allowed Drew Brees to pick them apart for 419 passing yards and three touchdowns.

While the game was certainly exciting to watch, it left some Packers fans wondering whether or not the defense could become a liability this year. (At least in the face of a high octane offense like the Saints.)

We must then ask ourselves:

Will the defense be able to recreate its success from last year, or are they taking a step backwards?

In bringing back our “Packers Beer Mug Perspective” series for another season, we’ll take a look at the issue from both angles, then determine whether our mug is really half empty or half full.

THE MUG IS HALF FULL

Yes, the Packers defense seemed out of sorts at times during Thursday night’s season opener. Despite starting out strong by forcing and recovering a fumble, they did little to stop Brees and company from moving the ball down the field. The Saints only punted twice the entire game, scoring on 5 of their 10 possessions.

Hidden in those facts, however, lie some important distinctions.

First and foremost is that Green Bay’s defense is a “bend but don’t break” unit. They will give up yardage on a drive, but more often than not they will stop the opponent from getting into the end zone. Last year, the Packers ranked 1st in Opponent Red Zone Scoring Attempts per Game and 2nd in Opponent Touchdowns per Game, meaning they forced offenses to settle for punts and field goal attempts.

While they did allow New Orleans to score three offensive touchdowns, they also forced them to settle twice for field goals. By comparison, the Packers’ offense never had to settle for a field goal and was 4-for-4 in red zone attempts.

Plus, you have to remember that the defense made two gigantic stops in the second half.

With 3:10 remaining in the third quarter, Saints head coach Sean Payton decided to go for a fourth down conversion on the Packers’ 7-yard line. With only one yard to go, they dialed up a play-action pass in an effort to catch the defense off guard.

17

November

Packers Beer Mug Perspective: Trending in the Right Direction

Welcome to the first edition of the “Packers Beer Mug,” where I will take a look at a particular aspect of the Green Bay Packers from two different angles, then determine whether to ultimately view the mug as half full or half empty.

This week’s question:

Is the Green Bay Packers’ current winning streak a trend that will continue through the final seven games?

The Green Bay Packers and their fans have been on a wild roller coaster ride ever since training camp. After displaying some offensive and defensive muscle during preseason, the Packers had two respectable wins at Philadelphia and against Buffalo.

But then came the first division game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, and suddenly the team was looking eerily similar to its 2009 unit.

They gave up crucial plays on Special Teams and drew a record eighteen penalties. Add to the mix a narrow victory against the Detroit Lions, plus two overtime losses to the average-at-best Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins, and the season’s outlook became quite dull.

Fans started becoming skeptical of what their team was really made of, and if they could overcome the rash of injuries.

Jump to the present, and all of sudden the Green Bay Packers are riding a three game winning streak that began with a tough but crucial victory against the rival Minnesota Vikings and followed with a strong defensive win against the New York Jets. Now maybe the 2010 Packers really are following a similar road as last year’s team, who won five straight games after a 4-4 start.

Will the trend continue, though? Have the Green Bay Packers truly turned their season around?

THE MUG IS HALF FULL

Let’s look at a few statistics:

Wks. 1-3 Wks. 4-6 Wks. 7-9 2010 Total
Penalties per Game 8.7 6.3 2.3 5.8 (T-8th)
Pen. Yds. Per Game 72.0 46.3 18.3 45.6 (6th)
Def. Sacks per Game 4.1 2.7 2.3 3.1 (T-1st)
Off. Sacks per Game 1 3.7 1 1.9 (T-11th)
T/O Margin +0 -2 +8 +6 (T-4th)
Opp. Pts. Per Game 15.7 21.7 10.3 15.9 (1st)
Scoring Margin +10.3 -1.4 +17.0 +8.7 (1st)
Opp. Record 13-14 11-16 12-15 36-45