9

December

Packers vs. Lions – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: GB 27 DET 20

Packers Mike Daniels Fumble Recovery TD - JSOnline.com

Packers Mike Daniels Fumble Recovery TD

Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions:

My unfitered game day running blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

Inactive for Packers today: CB Charles Woodson, LB Clay Matthews, WR Jordy Nelson, DL CJ Wilson, DL Mike Neal, LB Terrell Manning, RB James Starks

Inactive for Lions today:  DT Corey Williams, S Louis Delmas, WR Lance Long, QB Kellen Moore, OT Corey Hilliard, OT Jason Fox, DE Ronnell Lewis

 

Game Notes:

The Packers have beaten Detroit  in 20 straight regular season games at Lambeau Field – an NFL record.

The Packers have won 10 straight divisional games – a franchise record.

Thanks to the Vikings win over the Bears today, the Packers have a chance to open a two-game lead (with tiebreaker) over Chicago with 3 games left in the season after tonight.

The Packers have only 4 DL active in this game – expect them to play most of the game in nickel or dime with only one or two DL.

Tonight’s weather at Lambeau: 33 degrees, wind 10mph from the east, 92% humidity, light snow through 9pm CT

It’s snowing at game time. I was at the Seattle playoff snow globe game. What a treat fans at the game are in for tonight.

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Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Divisional games against same team so close together:  You definitely plan for 2 games before the season even starts, we just stuck to our 2-game plan. We’ll have some wrinkles for them and I’m sure they’ll have some for us.

Ryan Grant: He looked very natural coming back – there have been some terminology changes from last year. He’s comfortable with the game plan and I would not hesitate to use Ryan.

TJ Lang: We’re going to work Lang in pre-game and then come back in and make a decision on him.

Bears loss: I’m sure everyone’s aware of it. Hell, we’ve been here all damn day waiting for this game to start.

Lions record: Very talented football team. they have lost a lot of close game.

Stafford:  I think he has a lot of arm talent. Has great confidence – not afraid to stick it in there on tight coverage.

2

January

Packers vs. Lions: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 45-41 Win over Detroit

Packers QB Matt Flynn broke several franchise records Sunday. (Photo: Tom Lynn, JSOnline)

Backup quarterback Matt Flynn threw six touchdowns in relief of a deactivated Aaron Rodgers Sunday, leading the Green Bay Packers to a 45-41 shootout win over the Detroit Lions in Week 17 at Lambeau Field.

Here are five observations from the Packers’ win:

1. Cha-Ching 

In throwing for a Packers’ record in both passing yards (480) and touchdowns (six), Matt Flynn vaulted himself to the top of the 2012 free agent quarterback class. He’ll become a rich man sometime this summer, as there will likely be at least one quarterback-needy team that pays big money to Flynn despite only two NFL starts.

Any chance of the Packers trying to re-sign as a backup him went out the window Sunday. He’s ready to start, and that’s not happening in Green Bay. It’ll be interesting to see how the Packers approach the impending situation this offseason, however. They could choose to let Flynn walk and simply net the compensatory pick in next year’s draft. Or, they could franchise tag him and then pursue a trade, which gives them control over the compensation and location. I don’t think any team in the division is a threat to sign Flynn, but the Packers’ decision regarding their backup quarterback is definitely something to watch after this season.

2. More than a steal

You would be hard-pressed to find a receiver that had a better calendar year than Jordy Nelson. His stunning run started in Super Bowl XLV and has been followed by a breakout 2011 season. On the first day of 2012, Nelson finished his career year with another career game. Nelson caught nine passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, pushing his season totals to 68 for 1,263 and 15. Nelson’s 15 receiving touchdowns is third in Packers history to only 18 from Sterling Sharpe in 1994 and 17 from Don Hutson in 1942.

But possibly the most encouraging part of Nelson’s day was the fact that he did it without Greg Jennings, who missed his third game with a sprained knee. Any concerns about Nelson’s capability of handling the lead role were calmed. He’s a legitimate No. 1 NFL receiver. Can you believe the Packers re-upped Nelson for four years and just $14 million? What a steal that deal looks like now.

31

December

Packers vs. Lions Preview: 5 Things to Watch

Packers QB Matt Flynn has a perfect stage in Week 17 for his looming free agent status.

The Green Bay Packers (14-1) and Detroit Lions (10-5) face off in Week 17 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 12:00 CST, Sunday, January 1, 2012.

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI.

TV: FOX; Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick with the call, Laura Okmin on the sidelines.

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; NFL Sunday Drive.

Series: Packers lead, 92-65-7 (Packers won last regular season game, 27-17, on Nov. 24, 2011 at Ford Field.)

Five things to watch

1. Money to be made

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that he wants all three quarterbacks to play on Sunday, but the middle man in the group has a golden opportunity to bump up his price tag this summer. Matt Flynn, the Packers backup quarterback and a free agent after the season, will likely see the majority of the snaps against the Lions. Another solid performance on the big stage may propel a quarterback-needy team to give Flynn the opportunity to start for their franchise—and the money that goes with it—next season.

2. Who needs receivers?

The Packers offense may be one of the most receiver-dependent outfits in the NFL, but they’ll be down two at that position on Sunday. Both Greg Jennings (knee) and Randall Cobb (groin) were ruled out this week by McCarthy. Their absence should mean an increase in snaps for the Packers’ four tight ends, and more specifically, rookies D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor.  Expect the two first-year players to log career highs in snaps and receptions on Sunday.

3. Clifton’s return

Packers left tackle Chad Clifton has played in some big games during his career, but Sunday’s tilt with the Lions might rank near the top. While the game alone has little overall meaning, how Clifton performs may influence whether or not he can play again in the NFL. The Packers get one chance to see him live before the playoffs begin, and if they don’t like what they see from him, McCarthy may have to go with with Marshall Newhouse as his starting left tackle in the postseason. It wouldn’t be overly surprising if Clifton wasn’t the same guy he was before the torn hamstring, as he’s 35 years old and in his 12th season in the NFL. A dud of a performance or set back with the injury could signal the end of Clifton’s NFL career.

30

December

McCarthy: As Expected, Packers Will Play it Safe vs. Lions on Sunday

McCarthy wants to see all three quarterbacks play on Sunday.

Despite giving a few signs earlier in the week that his team might go full throttle after 15-1, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Friday that the Packers will play it safe with a good chunk of his starters, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, against the Detroit Lions.

Several key players dealing with lingering dings will be held out on Sunday.

Receiver/returner Randall Cobb (groin), running back James Starks (ankle) and receiver Greg Jennings (knee) were all ruled out for Sunday, and tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) is doubtful.

Both Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews are questionable. The duo are both healthy, but each could be a scratch on Sunday to save them from any additional wear-and-tear. McCarthy said that both will be evaluated tomorrow morning regarding their playing status for Sunday.

On the issue of how much quarterback Aaron Rodgers will play, however, McCarthy was mostly mute. He said the decision to start Rodgers was still under review as of today. However, McCarthy did proclaim a want to play all three quarterbacks on Sunday, which gives credence to the idea that Rodgers won’t see much of the field. Matt Flynn should see extensive action, and Graham Harrell could get some late snaps.

It appears as if the Packers will get a chance to take an extended look at left tackle Chad Clifton, as he is listed as probable after practicing the entire week without a set back. Clifton hasn’t played or practiced since Week 5 after tearing his hamstring against the Atlanta Falcons. McCarthy has said all week how important it was to see Clifton in live action, and they should get that opportunity on Sunday.

Tight end Jermichael Finley (knee) and Ryan Pickett (concussion) were also listed as probable.

As long as no flare-ups occur between now and Sunday, Finley will almost surely play. With both Cobb and Jennings out, expect to see a big dose of the Packers four tight ends on Sunday to cover the lack of depth that they have at the receiver position. Rookies D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor should both see their highest snap totals of the season.

Also, the Packers have practiced with both Jordy Nelson and Tramon Williams at returner this week. Pat Lee might also see some work returning kicks.

25

November

Paper Lions and Boy Named Suh No Match for the Packers

N-DUMB-ukong; Not a man, just a "Boy Named Suh"

I overestimated the Detroit Lions. I though they were a good football team that would play the Packers even on Thanksgiving day.

And I was wrong…

I can’t say I saw the entire game. A house full of over 20 Thanksgiving guests and my turkey-carving duties saw to that. But I really didn’t need to.  What I did see:

I saw the Packers as steely, methodical and under control (except for Pat Lee – although I haven’t seen that play yet). The Packers made few mistakes, committing zero turnovers and eight penalties, only two more than their season average of six per game in what was definitely a chippy contest.

I saw the Lions as young, dumb, and mentally numb. One could say the Lions choked a bit in a big spot. Stafford threw 3 interceptions (should have been a pick-six fourth, Tramon…). The Lions came into the game averaging 8.5 penalties per game and committed eleven in this game. In the first quarter, they basically stopped themselves with penalties on several drives. And of course N-DUMB-ukong Suh showed the world he is still an immature little boy playing with men, and gave the Packers seven points in the process.

I saw the Lions coach then have a polite conversation with the “Boy Named Suh” as he came off the field after being ejected..  Personally, I would have chewed him out right there on National TV in front of all of tryptophan-filled America. And then I would have kicked him in the ass all the way to the locker room. After the game, Suh denied he intentionally tried to stop on Dietrich-Smith, giving some lame-ass excuse about just trying to extricate himself from Smith. Of course, if that was his intent, it might have helped if he had stopped pounding Smiths’ head into the ground. As TJ Lang said after the game, “His explanation is crap.”

I saw the Packers offense once again find the hot hand and ride it. This time it was forgotten-man James Jones. When the Packers drafted Randall Cobb, I wrote that defensive coordinators would be starting a petition to have the Packers’ offense declared illegal.  Seriously, how can you prepare for an offense with such a diverse group of offensive weapons? And it’s only going to get worse for them, as Cobb starts to see more action (he was thrown to four times in this game).

24

November

Packers vs. Lions: 5 Instant Observations from Green Bay’s 27-15 Win over Detroit

Aaron Rodgers rebounded from a slow start, James Jones caught his fifth touchdown pass and the defense played arguably its finest game of 2011 season as the Green Bay Packers took down the Detroit Lions, 27-15, on Thursday at Ford Field.

Here are five observations from the game:

1. Defense states their case

On a day in which the Packers lost Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk and Erik Walden at various times, the defense may have played their best game of the 2011 season. Despite giving up over 400 total yards again, the Packers intercepted Matthew Stafford three times and held a shutout into the fourth quarter against an explosive offense on the road. Calvin Johnson, one of the NFL’s best receivers, was held to just four catches for 49 yards and a meaningless garbage time touchdown. Backup inside linebackers D.J. Smith and Robert Francois played surprisingly well in emergency duty. Considering everything involved on Thursday, you could make a strong case this was the Packers most impressive defensive performance of 2011.

2. Suh’s stomp changes game

Terry McAulay’s officiating crew were bad for both sides on Thursday, but they absolutely got it right when they ejected Ndamukong Suh in the third quarter. Not only did he stomp Evan Dietrich-Smith’s arm, but Suh also banged Dietrich-Smith’s head off the ground multiple times before the stomp. There’s simply no place for that kind of behavior in football, and Suh deserves to sit a couple of games, especially considering his history. Luckily for the Packers, Suh’s dirty play gave them a new set of downs at the Lions’ 1-yard-line, and John Kuhn promptly turned the break into a 14-0 lead 9:06 left in the third quarter. It wasn’t the decicing factor in the game, but Suh’s ejection and penalty turned the tides in what was a close contest at that juncture.

3. Rodgers rebounds

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers started slow on Thursday, but the Lions were unable to hold him down for a full four quarters. After being held under 100 yards passing and failing to convert a third down in the first half, the NFL’s best signal caller caught fire in the second half and finished with another stat line that Packers’ fans have come to expect. By the time the game was over, Rodgers had completed 22 of 32 passes for 307 yards and two scores, including a 65-yard strike to James Jones that put the Packers up 21 points. His 120.2 passer rating extended his NFL record streak for games over 110.0 passer rating to 11 straight. Rodgers was especially deadly on back shoulder throws in the second half. Anytime the Packers needed a big play, he found a receiver being covered by a corner with his back to the play. At that point, it’s stealing for Rodgers and this group of receivers.

24

November

Packers vs. Lions: 10 Quick Things to Watch, Score Prediction

The Green Bay Packers (10-0) travel to Detroit to take on the Lions (7-3) Thursday. The following 10 are things you should watch during the first Thanksgiving contest between the two teams since 2007:

1. Right side of the offensive line

A lot of the talk on Thursday will be about right guard Josh Sitton and his ability to keep Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh out of the Packers backfield. While that is obviously an important matchup, don’t forget about right tackle Bryan Bulaga. He had his worst game as a professional last December in Detroit, allowing two sacks, one quarterback hit and four pressures. Bulaga needs to play better against the Lions’ edge rushers on Thursday.

2.  Stay disciplined

The Lions have gained a reputation as a “dirty” team this season, and Suh—the leader of bunch—has already ran his confident mouth this week. The Packers have done well in 2011 to avoid lowering themselves to such tactics (see: Atlanta Falcons week). I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Lions didn’t try to get under the Packers skin on Thursday. All 46 of the men on the gameday roster need to keep their heads in a tough atmosphere.

3. Kevin Smith’s resurgence

Lions running back Kevin Smith was sitting at home without an NFL job two weeks ago, but he burst back onto the scene with 201 total yards and three scores against the Carolina Panthers last week. The Packers have been susceptible against both the run and running backs catching the ball out of the backfield this season. They need to make sure Smith isn’t the guy who beats them on Thursday with his legs.

4. Availability of James Starks

The Packers have officially listed Starks as questionable for Thursday, which gives him a decent chance of playing against the Lions. You’d think the Packers would need him, too. Not only is he a physical presence running the football, but he’s also improved leaps and bounds in pass protection. Not having him available, and potentially having to lean on rookie Brandon Saine in spots, could leave the Packers vulnerable.

5. Megatron engaged