14

July

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Packers training camp is only a few weeks away, which means it’s time to get excited.

And worry.

Any good fan worries. It’s normal. You get excited about all the possibilities of the upcoming season, but you also can’t help but fret over certain worst-case scenarios that could play out and ruin the season.

Some people might call this worrying “negativity.” Those people are wrong. They worry just as much as you, and their way of coping is by criticizing others who worry openly.

What’s your biggest worry about the Packers as training camp gets closer?

I suppose Aaron Rodgers’ good fortune running out and missing multiple games with an injury is always a concern, but I tend to not worry about injuries so much because you literally have no ideal from year to year what a team’s injury luck might be.

For me, I worry about impact players in the middle of the Packers defense. A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Morgan Burnett and either Jerron McMillian or M.D. Jennings will likely be roaming the middle of the field for the Packers on defense.

Do any of those players strike fear into opposing offenses?

It’s nice to have an impact player up the middle to wallop somebody and force a fumble or range across the field and make a pick to change the momentum of the game or make up for shortcomings in other area’s of the defense.

Hawk definitely isn’t that type player. We’re not sure yet about Jones, but I don’t have my hopes up. Burnett is a good player, but hasn’t yet ascended to playmaker status. McMillian and Jennings are unknowns, but again, I wouldn’t get my hopes up — especially about Jennings who is really small.

So, there’s your does of negativity for the day. Or what some people call negativity and I call worrying like any normal fan would.

I do think the Packers defense will be better, but I’d be a lot more confident if their players up the middle had at least one proven playmaker. Hopefully Jones, Burnett or McMillian/Jennings ascends this season and makes all my worrying for not.

Packers News, Notes and Links

25

November

Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants Key Matchups

New York Giants defensive linemen Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora

The Packers are hoping they don’t see their #12 in this predicament on Sunday night

Packers Offensive Line vs. Giants Defensive Line

This is probably THE key to this game for the Packers.  Their offensive line has struggled when all of their regular starters were healthy and in position.  Now add to that a shuffled line to account for the loss of right tackle Bryan Bulaga against one of the best front four in the game.

While the Giants defensive front hasn’t had the mind-blowing season like they had a year ago, they are still very formidable.  After the success they had in getting to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in last season’s divisional playoff game, they will be looking to duplicate that output.   Jason Pierre-Paul, Chris Canty, Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck have accounted for 14.5 of the team’s 25 sacks this season.  Throw in four more by veteran end Osi Umenyiora and the Giants have a very deep and talented pass rush.

Dubbed the “NASCAR” package, New York’s front line will be looking to simply overpower and out-maneuver the Packers.  They want to collapse the pocket back into Rodgers and try to force a bad throw or get the sack.  They were able to wreak havoc on the Packers offense in that playoff game and it led to some turnovers.  Rodgers typically fares well against the blitz but the Giants may not have to bring extra bodies if their front four can get a push on their own.

The Packers are clearly aware of what is headed their way and have to be diligent in game-planning for it.  Any extra protection will go a long way to keep Green Bay’s chances of driving and moving the ball alive.  Of course, so would a productive running game, but there is no reason to think the Packers will suddenly get it going on the ground.  A better alternative would be the short pass (quick slant to Jordy Nelson or James Jones) and putting the backs in place to be a safety valve if all else fails.  The screen just hasn’t been there all season long so the check down could become a good friend of Rodgers’ before the day is up.

13

January

2012 NFC Divisional Playoffs: Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants Preview: Moving On

After a very difficult and emotional week, the Green Bay Packers have a playoff game to play.

With the passing this week of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin’s son Michael, the Packers had a tough go during the lead up to  a game they must win or see their outstanding 15-1 season come to an end.

Throw in the unfortunate trash talk thrown in the direction of Lambeau Field by their opponents, the New York Giants, and the Packers have had one of the most unusual weeks before a playoff game in franchise history.

Last week, the Giants defeated the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 at home in an NFC Wild Card matchup.  The Giants played their best defense of the season with the only points for the Falcons coming from an Eli Manning intentional grounding penalty while he was in his own end zone.  The Giants gained a lot of confidence from that performance and led some of their players to guarantee victory against the team that finished the regular season with the best record in the league.

Let’s take a look at New York.

Key Giants Players

QB Eli Manning Manning is a very streaky quarterback.  When he’s hot, he’s incredibly tough to beat and especially so for a struggling Packers defense.  When Manning is off, however, he’s a gift that keeps on giving to opposing defenses.

It’s definitely been more of the good Manning than the bad this season and with a powerful pass rush on defense, Manning can relax and not feel like the weight of the entire team is on his shoulders.  He’s developed a rapport with his receivers and this was on display in the Packers’ 38-35 squeaker of a victory in New York earlier in the regular season.

WR Victor Cruz Perhaps no one else has come out of nowhere this season like Cruz has.  After playing in only three games last season thanks to a hamstring injury, Cruz exploded on the scene this season catching nine touchdowns for 1,536 yards, a Giants franchise record.

Throw in the talents of Mario Manningham, and the Giants have a spectacular one-two punch at receiver.  While they’re not quite there with the Packers receiving corps yet, the Giants can give any struggling secondary a fit and the Packers do fit into that category unfortunately.

4

January

NFL Playoff Preview. A Wild Weekend is in the Cards

New York Giant Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz will be a lot for the Atlanta Falcons to handle

The Packers will face the Giants, Falcons or Lions on Jan. 15 in a divisional round playoff game at Lambeau Field. All three teams gave the Packers everything they could handle in regular season games, and lost.

Looking ahead to the divisional round, I expect one of these three teams to again give the Packers a helluva game…and lose.

All three teams present unique challenges for the Packers, but none have enough talent in the secondary to keep the Packers out of the end zone often enough to win.

But before we can focus in on who the Packers will face next week, the wild card round needs to be played. Here is a closer look at those matchups:

Saturday, January 7

AFC: 3:30 PM

Cincinnati at Houston (NBC)

Breakdown: Those of you that are sickened by the lack of defense in modern football should watch this game. Bengals QB Andy Dalton struggled in the second half of the season while the Texans were forced to turn things over to third-string QB T.J. Yates. Yates got the best of Dalton in an earlier matchup, but I think Dalton gets revenge this time around. The Bengals will win and snap the NFL’s longest stretch without a playoff victory (1990, wild-card round).

NFC: 7 PM

Detroit at New Orleans (NBC)

Breakdown: If the Lions couldn’t beat the Packers reserves, how are they going to beat the Saints in a road playoff game? They probably won’t, but when you can score like the Lions can, you’re never out of it. Detroit fell behind 17-0 in the second quarter when these two teams met earlier. The Lions have a knack for winning after falling behind, but you can’t screw around against a team like the Saints. If the Lions don’t come out swinging right away, they’ll get knocked down for good. The Saints win this one.

Sunday, January 8

NFC: Noon

Atlanta at Giants (FOX)

Breakdown: Here’s how the Giants fared after the bye week: Miami (W), at New England (W), at San Francisco (L), Philadelphia (L), at New Orleans (L), Green Bay (L), at Dallas (W), Washington (W), Jets (W), Cowboys (W). That’s a brutal stretch and the Giants survived to make the playoffs. The Falcons have won six of their final nine games, but only one win came against a team with a winning record.