4

June

Four Things the NHL Playoffs Teach Me About the NFL

NHL and NFL LogosThose of you who regularly read my posts know that I live in Pittsburgh. I arrived here after making a few different stops in my life journey, though my mom did grow up in Western Pennsylvania, so I do have roots here. And while I am a football fan to the extreme, I have grown to enjoy watching ice hockey. Put two and two together, and you should not be surprised to know that I have been following the Pittsburgh Penguins in their run towards another Stanley Cup championship.

Right now, the Penguins are favored to win, despite their disappointing loss on Saturday against the Boston Bruins. It was the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals, so they’re down but certainly not out.

However, as I was watching the game, my mind couldn’t help but explore the similarities and differences between the two sports. Football is far and above more popular, and you could probably even rank hockey below baseball and basketball in terms of viewership. Nevertheless, here are some things I learned about the NFL as I watched the NHL playoffs:

1. Individual games hold more value.

I probably should have noted in the beginning that I am a very, very casual fan of ice hockey. In fact, I generally only tune into games when the playoffs roll around. Each NHL team plays 82 games in the regular season, for a grand total of 1,230 games across the league. In short, I simply don’t have the time to commit to my team.

Contrast that with the 16-game schedule of NFL teams, and it’s easy to see why each game holds more value. Now, this it not a new revelation, but it’s a model that has helped football become the biggest sport in the nation. When so few games are played, each one carries more weight in determining playoff chances for a team. And that means more fans will feel the urgency to tune in and see what happens.

Like the NHL, the NBA teams also play 82 games each in the regular season. Meanwhile, MLB teams see nearly twice the action, with 162 games per season. It’s great for the statisticians, because the large sample size makes the numbers more meaningful, but it can be too much to follow for the average fan.

3

February

Super Bowl XLVII Predictions: AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
2012 NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl XLVII
Name Straight Up Against the Spread
San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens (+4)
Kris Burke 49ers Ravens
“Jersey” Al Bracco 49ers Ravens
Adam Czech 49ers 49ers
Marques Eversoll 49ers 49ers
Thomas Hobbes 49ers 49ers
Jason Perone Ravens Ravens
Chad Toporski Ravens Ravens

Current Standings:

Chad Toporski, 14-5
“Jersey” Al Bracco, 13-6
Kris Burke, 12-7
Adam Czech, 10-9
Marques Eversoll, 10-9
Jason Perone, 10-9
Thomas Hobbes, 8-11

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

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20

January

2012 NFL Playoffs Predictions, Conference Championships: AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
2012 NFL Playoffs: Conference Championships
Name Straight Up Against the Spread
San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons (+4)
Kris Burke 49ers Falcons
“Jersey” Al Bracco 49ers Falcons
Adam Czech 49ers Falcons
Marques Eversoll 49ers Falcons
Thomas Hobbes 49ers 49ers
Jason Perone Falcons Falcons
Chad Toporski 49ers 49ers
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (-8)
Kris Burke Ravens Ravens
“Jersey” Al Bracco Patriots Ravens
Adam Czech Patriots Ravens
Marques Eversoll Patriots Ravens
Thomas Hobbes Patriots Ravens
Jason Perone Patriots Ravens
Chad Toporski Ravens Ravens

Current Standings:

Kris Burke, 9-7
“Jersey” Al Bracco, 11-5
Adam Czech, 8-8
Marques Eversoll, 8-8
Thomas Hobbes, 6-10
Jason Perone, 9-7
Chad Toporski, 11-5

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

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18

January

Two Simple Things That Beat the Packers in San Francisco

Colin Kaepernick 49ers Packers

Colin Kaepernick owns the 2 things that beat the Packers

In the aftermath of the Packers’ loss to the 49ers, there were fingers pointing in every direction. If you were a Packer, there was no escape from the scrutiny, whether it was deserved or not.

Players, coaches, GMs, scouts, everyone except the owners were raked over the coals (we never do anything wrong, right?).

But in reality, and despite the final score, this was a game that midway through the third quarter was still tied. This despite the offense hardly being on the field in the first half.

This also despite the Packers’ gift of two turnovers which resulted in 14 points for the 49ers. You could easily make the case that those were the “two things” I alluded to in the title. But it’s not.

There are, in fact, two reasons the Packers are not travelling to Atlanta for the NFC Championship game. They both happen to be attached to be attached to Colin Kaeprnick’s body: They are his legs.

There is little doubt in my mind that if Alex Smith were quarterbacking the 49ers on Saturday night, we would not be listening to season-ending press conferences this week. We would not be hearing chants of “Fire Capers,” and “Our defense still sucks.”

You hear the term “favorable down and distance” a lot. Mike McCarthy uses it a lot. Any NFL coach will tell you that maintaining favorable down and distance improves your chances of winning dramatically. Especially on third down.

The Packers defense (the one that improved greatly this season but seemingly everyone now thinks is so awful), were able to put the 49ers into unfavorble down and distance on third down a total of eight times in the first half. EIGHT TIMES the 49ers were looking at third down distances of  8 to 12 yards.

Think about that a bit. Does that sound like a “horrible” defense? Any defense would take that performance in a heartbeat, knowing that they would probably get off the field at least six times out of those eight.

Instead, five times Colin Kaepernick’s legs kept the ball in the 49ers hands and kept the Packers’ offense off the field.

12

January

Packers vs. 49ers – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: SF 45 GB 31

Packers - 49ers James Jones

James Jones with a circus catch.

Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers:

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

Inactive for Packers today:  WR Jarrett Boykin; DE Jerel Worthy, CB Davon House; LB Frank Zombo; DT Jordan Miller; TE DJ Williams, RB Alex Green

Inactive for 49ers today:  K Billy Cundiff, RB Jewel Hampton, DT Tony Jerod-Eddie G Joe Looney, S Trenton Robinson, QB Scott Tolzien, DT Ian Williams

 

Game Notes:

Donald Driver active. OBVIOUSLY, the Facebook campaign helped…

Alex Green inactive. With DuJuan Harris showing he can catch also, he gives the Packers everything Alex Green does, so no reason to have both active.

Kuhn is the only current NFL player to score at least one touchdown in each of the last four postseasons (2009-12).

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Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Weather/Field: Great day for football. We have a dry surface, that’s all that matters.

Team improvement: I feel our production as a football team reflects that. Special teams has been the most consistent. Defense, I felt like we’ve gotten stronger.  We had to play a lot of young guys early on due to injuries and it’s made us better. Now with Charles and Clay back, I’m pleased with where we are.. Offense, we had to change some things during the season… different from how we started the season.

More of a power team?: We’re definitely more balanced. Started the year more tilted towards the pass.

Vikings game: It seems like a month ago. I felt our defense was outstanding, especially with the challenge of stopping Adrian Peterson. The offense just didn’t finish well in the second half, but otherwise I was pleased.

Kaepernick: Raw physical ability. he can really throw the football on the move is impressive. His ability to run is impressive.

SF offense: Playing the option, any time you’re responsible for a gap, it’s important to play with leverage, not peek in and trust the guy next to you.

Crabtree: Playing excellent. He had some injuries in early years. He’s clearly one of the top guys. Strong hand. Goes up and attacks the football

Adrian Peterson/Frank Gore: Guys that can run it all day long. Frank is an exceptional runner. Best I’ve ever seen at making something out of nothing.

12

January

2012 NFL Playoffs Predictions, Divisional Round: AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
2012 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round
Name Straight Up Against the Spread
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-9)
Kris Burke Broncos Broncos
“Jersey” Al Bracco Broncos Ravens
Adam Czech Broncos Broncos
Marques Eversoll Broncos Broncos
Thomas Hobbes Broncos Broncos
Jason Perone Broncos Ravens
Chad Toporski Ravens Ravens
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3)
Kris Burke 49ers 49ers
“Jersey” Al Bracco Packers Packers
Adam Czech Packers Packers
Marques Eversoll Packers Packers
Thomas Hobbes Packers Packers
Jason Perone 49ers 49ers
Chad Toporski 49ers Packers
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)
Kris Burke Falcons Falcons
“Jersey” Al Bracco Falcons Falcons
Adam Czech Seachickens Seachickens
Marques Eversoll Seahawks Seahawks
Thomas Hobbes Falcons Falcons
Jason Perone Falcons Falcons
Chad Toporski Seahawks Seahawks
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-9.5)
Kris Burke Patriots Texans
“Jersey” Al Bracco Patriots Texans
Adam Czech Patriots Texans
Marques Eversoll Patriots Patriots
Thomas Hobbes Patriots Patriots
Jason Perone Patriots Patriots
Chad Toporski Patriots Texans

Current Standings:

Kris Burke, 5-3
“Jersey” Al Bracco, 8-0
Adam Czech, 6-2
Marques Eversoll, 5-3
Thomas Hobbes, 3-5
Jason Perone, 3-5
Chad Toporski, 6-2

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

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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.