Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 30, Bengals 34

Aaron Rodgers vs. BengalsOverall, lots of bad but a couple of good things showed up in the Packers loss to the Bengals.  On one hand, we haven’t seen a game as messy as this one since maybe the 18 penalty, 2 turnover night against the Bears in 2010.  Aaron Rodgers looked a little lost amongst all the new faces making an appearance due to injuries and the Packers didn’t look as sharp as they normally did, though having to put a wide reciever/returner at running back is probably as desperate as I’ve ever seen the Packers get.  On the bright side, the Packers look like they may have another viable running back in Johnathan Franklin and the defense was for once the strength of the team.  In fact everything was flipped today; the running game was brutally effective while the passing game was wildly inconsistent and the defense was the reason the Packers stayed in the game while the offense basically blew a huge lead late in the game.

Game Balls

Johnathan Franklin: Give credit where credit is due; many fans had written Franklin off as dead after a dismal showing in the preseason and not seeing the field even in a blowout win against the Redskins last week.  Ironically, that paid big dividends as the Bengals were obviously caught with their pants down in coping with the shiftiness and wiggle of Franklin on stretch plays.  I also don’t really fault Franklin for the failed conversion, if it wasn’t for the fact that Kuhn, Starks, Harris and Lacy were all injured, Franklin would never have been called to make the play, he’s simply not that kind of back (you can fault him for fumbling the ball though).  Personally, I think teams now see what the Packers have in Franklin and I doubt the holes will be as open as they were against the Bengals, but what is perhaps more important is that Franklin does possess the physical capability to be a running back in the NFL, something that wasn’t certain coming into the season.  Franklin still has a ton of work to do on pass protection and running between the tackles, and I don’t see him really being a preferred option at running back this year, but will probably be a force to reckoned with next year when things start to click for him.



Packers Face Another Early Turning Point

Rodgers and McCarthy

McCarthy and Rodgers have not fared well when playing from behind late in games

Last season and after the loss to the Seattle Seahawks, I wrote about how the Green Bay Packers were facing a turning point in their early season.  It seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to what was a huge debacle by the replacement officials and the NFL because it was after only three games.  Turns out, the Packers did get it together enough to win the NFC North and win a playoff game.  In looking back at last season, the Seattle loss still looms as the turning point in 2012.

Here we are, three weeks into the 2013 season and seemingly at what could be this season’s turning point.  Sure, some will say it’s too early, I’m being hasty, I’m a downer on Twitter and when this team gets all of its injured guys back, the Packers will be fine.

The “problem” that the Packers have, as far as fans are concerned, is that with a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay will always be a contender who can win any game.  Therefore, the expectation to win is high.  When the Packers don’t win, there is usually an adverse reaction that ranges from mild displeasure to profanity laced rants on twitter to some jumping out the 10th story window.  Emotional responses by fans, players and coaches are a part of football.  It’s contagious when we are watching a game that thrives on emotion and so we respond in kind.

But let’s try to take the emotion out of the equation for a minute and look at a few things that are happening now that could play into how the Packers respond after today’s loss and the upcoming bye week.

Tough Opponents

What is a “tough opponent”?  For the purposes of this discussion, I’m talking about playoff-caliber teams.  So far, the Packers have faced, and lost to, two such opponents.  Last season, four of the Packers’ five losses were to playoff teams.  Their fifth loss was to the New York Giants, who were the defending Super Bowl champions.  They beat only two teams who made last year’s playoffs (Houston Texans and Minnesota Vikings).



Packers vs. Bengals – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: Cin 34 GB 30

Jeremy Ross Muff - Packers vs. Bengals

Oh, Jeremy…

Green Bay Packers vs. Cincinnati Bengals:  2013 Game 3

Unfiltered game day blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.



For the second straight week, the Packers are facing an opponent coming off a Monday Night game. Always an advantage to some degree.

Two Bengals cornerbacks are out today, though neither are major contributors. Still, Aaron Rodgers is presently wiping the saliva off his chin… Pacman Jones, are you ready?

Today’s captains for the Packers: - WR Jordy Nelson (offense), CB Sam Shields (defense) and TE Ryan Taylor(special teams).


Inactives for today:

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers
24 CB Jarrett Bush
27 RB Eddie Lacy
29 CB Casey Hayward
30 FB John Kuhn
42 S Morgan Burnett
65 G Lane Taylor
93 DE Josh Boyd

43 M.D. Jennings & 22 Jerron McMillian will start at safety for the Packers. 44 James Starks will start at RB for 27 Eddie Lacy. In place of 30 John Kuhn, either 89 James Jones is expected to start as a 3rd WR or 81 Andrew Quarless is expected to start as a 2nd TE.

Cincinnati Bengals
21 CB Brandon Ghee
27 CB Dre Kirkpatrick
33 RB Rex Burkhead
67 G Mike Pollak
73 T Anthony Collins
88 WR Ryan Whalen
99 DE Margus Hunt


Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Tough stretch: Definitley. You’re going to find out what kind of team you have early on.

Progress in week 2: Main thing was the start of the game, how we came out and played from the first snap.

Starks as starter:  James has played good football for us in the past. He’s been fighting through the competition at running back and has  done well.

Lacy/Kuhn: Both will not be available today.

Diff. protection schemes on 3rd down: Well, we’re going to play with John Starks and Johnathan Franklin.

Bengals: Very good at creating matchups they like. Frankly what they try to do is stress the middle of your pass defense and create the opportunities for AJ Green outside.

Improvement on defense: Absolutely. Washington didn’t convert a third down until the third quarter.  Pass defense when you HAVE to stop them, that’s something we have to do a better job of.

Trenches: Very talented on both sides of the ball upfront. They go 7-8 deep on the defensive line.  Offensive line are big. They’ve gone more to pattern schemes.



Packers Periscope: Eyeing the Enemy (Bengals)

After easily dumping the Washington Redskins last Sunday in their home opener, the Green Bay Packers once again hit the road and tomorrow face the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals, like the Packers, are 1-1 and are tied for first place in the AFC North with the defending world champion Baltimore Ravens.  Cincinnati was the chic pick by many to win the AFC North and after an opening day loss to the Chicago Bears, they bounced back nicely against the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday night, defeating their archrival by a score of 20-10.

Despite some accuracy issues by quarterback Andy Dalton, the Bengals were able to move the ball in the second half and a depleted Pittsburgh team just couldn’t keep up.  Rookie running back Giovani Bernard took some of the pressure off of Dalton and helped put the Steelers away.

The last time we met

The last time the Bengals and Packers met, the game ended in heartbreak for Green Bay.  During their Week 2 game in 2009, the Bengals edged the Packers 31-24 after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers failed to stop the clocked in a frantic last minute drive to score the game-tying touchdown.

This also was the same game former Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco/Johnson performed the Lambeau Leap he was promising/threatening all week. Carson Palmer was able to move the ball down the field almost at will with Green Bay still adjusting to their new 3-4 defense.

The Bengals lead the overall series between the two teams, 6-5.

What’s up in the ‘Nati

The Cincinnati offense has tremendous potential, especially with the acquisition of Bernard in the draft, but like many NFL teams it has a question mark at quarterback.  Since the team went its separate ways with Carson Palmer the Bengals have placed their faith in Andy Dalton, the third year quarterback out of TCU.

Dalton’s performance thus far has been rather, well, average.  To date, he has thrown 50 touchdown passes in his career to 31 interceptions.   Dalton is one of those solid yet unspectacular quarterbacks, much like Kyle Orton when he was with the Chicago Bears.  There remains a lot of doubt about whether or not Dalton can take the Bengals to the next level, especially with how much talent is now around him on the offense.



Packers vs. Bengals: Keys to the Game


Bengals running back Giovanni Bernard

Bernard is the type of dynamic player that the Packers need to key on

The Green Bay Packers will hit the road again after a compelling win at home last week against the Washington Redskins.  Week three has the Packers in Cincinnati to face the Bengals.

The NFC/AFC matchups are always intriguing because the opponents are not familiar with each other.  It has also produced some of the more exciting games over the past several years.  A few that come to mind:  At Pittsburgh in 2009, at New England in 2010, at San Diego in 2011 and at Indianapolis last season.  I happened to attend the San Diego and the Indianapolis games and I have no idea why I bought a “seat” because I was standing the entire time.

While there is a lot to be encouraged about from last week’s performance by the Packers, let’s keep in mind that the Bengals are not the Redskins.  Cincinnati will be playing at home and has quite a bit more talent than does Washington.  That talent runs on both sides of the ball.

The Packers bring in their own wealth of talent and will look to score a big road win heading into their very early bye week.  Let’s take a look at the keys to this week’s game, from the Packers perspective.

Packers Offensive Line vs. Bengals Defensive Line

Games are won and lost up front and this contest will be a classic example of that.  The quarterback and run game that can establish its rhythm early on will have a marked advantage over the other.  While Aaron Rodgers may be light years ahead of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in terms of his ability and play, he still needs time to display both.  Against a very active pass rush, the Packers will need to not only afford Rodgers the needed time to throw, but they need to keep him off his back.

The Packers offensive line comes into this game after a stellar recovery and performance last week.  According to Pro Football Focus, each lineman graded positively and the two guards, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, both graded out highest.  In fact, Lang was the highest-graded offensive player, ahead of Rodgers.  While they turned in one of their best performances as a group last week, they likely will need to be even better this week.



Packers vs. Bengals Week 3 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

Week 3: Green Bay Packers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 1-1 Green Bay Packers 28-17
I still don’t trust the Green Bay secondary, especially with Burnett likely still out. The Bengals also have a strong front four so this won’t be the cakewalk the Washington game was. The Packers offense is still a juggernaut however and Green Bay is 2-1 going into the bye
“Jersey” Al Bracco 1-1 Green Bay Packers 31-19
Most everyone is expecting a close game, but I think it will be easier than that. The much improved Packers defense will force the Bengals to kick field goals and the offense is primed for another big day.
Adam Czech 2-0 Green Bay Packers 30-22
I don’t like this matchup for the Packers. The Bengals remind me of a poorman’s version of the 49ers: Physical d-line, good running game, a lot of athleticism. The Packers almost beat the 49ers, though, and I think they will beat the Bengals. Aaron Rodgers is too good to lose to a poorman’s version of San Francisco.
Marques Eversoll 2-0 Green Bay Packers 24-23
There are some very interesting matchups in this game. The Packers’ defense is weak in the middle of the field, and the Bengals have two talented tight ends (Gresham, Eifert) and a speedy air back in Gio Bernard, whereas Bengals’ defense is weak at safety, and the Packers are really, really good at wide receiver. It’s going to come down to the wire, but I think the Packers win, all thanks to Mason “Money” Crosby.
Thomas Hobbes 1-1 Green Bay Packers 24-21
I said it on the podcast and I will say it again: if the Chicago Bears can beat the Bengals so can the Packers.  Chicago has a long storied tradition of fielding poor offensive lines and while that has improved this year, I don’t think anyone would claim they are way better than the Packers line.  Also while the Bengals have many offensive weapons, the Packers have even more.
Cory Jennerjohn 2-0 Green Bay Packers 23-21


Around the NFC North: Week 3

Around the NFC North

Can the Bears stay perfect and will the Vikings get in the win column?

One-eighth of the 2013 season is in the books and as we look ahead to week three.  The Chicago Bears improved to 2-0 and scored a big divisional win against the Minnesota Vikings, who are now 0-2.  The odds of a team making the postseason after an 0-2 start are well-documented and quite low.  The Cleveland Browns visit Minnesota this week so on paper, it seems like a good opportunity for the Vikings to get one in the win column.  The Bears will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the ailing Steelers, who will be coming off of a short week after their Monday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Detroit Lions lost late in Arizona to the Cardinals.  The Lions will travel to Washington this week to take on the Redskins, who fell to the Green Bay Packers.  Both Detroit and Green Bay are 1-1 on the season.  The Packers face another tough road game as they travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals.  The Bengals will have one fewer day to prepare for the Packers as they will be coming off of the Monday night game against the Steelers.

Let’s take a quick look at each matchup and what is in store for this week’s slate.

Detroit Lions (1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2)

The Redskins have given up over 1,000 total yards in two games.  The Lions have just over 800 yards in total offense over their two games.  I’ll go out on a limb here and say that we won’t be seeing a defensive battle in Washington this week.

The Redskins have sputtered out of the gate and face the dreaded 0-2 start.  The play of quarterback Robert Griffin III has come under some question after two games in which he posted a subpar performance.  The effects of offseason knee surgery appear to still be affecting Griffin’s play, although he did have over 300 yards passing in each of his games this season.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is averaging 40 pass attempts in his two games and that won’t likely change this week.  Washington’s secondary was shredded by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for 480 yards this past weekend.  In addition, the Redskins also may be without starting safety Brandon Meriweather, who left Sunday’s game with a head injury after going in head-first on Packers running back James Starks.