6

December

Packers vs. Falcons Week 14 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 14: Green Bay Packers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 7-5 Green Bay Packers 24-20
There is a strong argument against the Packers here, but Green Bay is going up against the one team with a worse defense than them.  Atlanta, a dome team, will struggle in the cold and Green Bay wins a game uglier than your grandmother’s Christmas sweater.
“Jersey” Al Bracco 5-7 Green Bay Packers 20-17
Having stuck with the Packers against my better judgement during this losing streak, I can’t abandon them now. Not even sure what to hang my hat on – I’ll go with lucky bounces and some frozen Falcons not wanting to be out there…
Adam Czech 9-3 Atlanta Falcons 27-24
As I write this, there’s a chance that Marshall Newhouse could start at left tack on Sunday. If that’s the case, the Packers might lose 110-4 and end up with -76 yards of offense. If whatever is wrong with Bakhtiari is cured by Sunday and Newhouse (mercifully) doesn’t play left tackle, the Packers will only lose by a field goal.
Marques Eversoll 8-4 Atlanta Falcons 27-24
I think it’ll be close, but I can’t see the Packers winning this one without Aaron Rodgers. The Falcons aren’t good, either, but they’re a little better than this beaten-up Packers team.
Thomas Hobbes 5-7 Green Bay Packers 13-10
I’m going to try to stay optimistic and assume that anyone on the team who wasn’t afraid of losing their jobs will be on their toes after last week.  Losing more games is likely to start seeing heads roll and everyone knows it.  Luckily the Falcons have had just as much of a nose-dive as the Packers this year and they don’t have the alibi of losing their starting quarterback.
Cory Jennerjohn 9-3 Green Bay Packers 20-16
I realize the Packers are 0-4-1 in their last five but if ever Green Bay needed help from the football gods, this is the perfect time. The Falcons bagged the season the moment Julio Jones went down. This is the classic “I Told You So” game for Ted Thompson. Thirty-year-old Steven Jackson was a target of the Packers in the offseason, but has been a shell of himself while battling injuries as he continues to get slower. Sound the alarm for Eddie Lacy — Atlanta is 30th in the league by allowing 126 rushing yards a game.
4

December

Around the NFC North: Week 14

Around the NFC North

With only four games left, the Lions are in sole possession of first place with the Bears and Packers still in contention

Last week brought about two divisional games, one of which went into overtime and nearly ended in yet another tie.

The Green Bay Packers faced the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day and in the end, the only thing Packers fans were thankful for was that the game was over.  The Lions thumped the Packers to the tune of a 40-10 beat down that epitomized just how low the Packers have sunk since losing quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The Minnesota Vikings came back and scored an overtime win against the Chicago Bears, who had what seemed like a solid lead heading into the fourth quarter.  Minnesota tied the game on a Blair Walsh field goal to force overtime.  In the overtime, the Bears drove down and set up their usually-reliable place kicker, Robbie Gould, for a 47-yard attempt for the win.  Gould’s kick sailed right and on the ensuing possession, the Vikings rode Adrian Peterson down field and set up the eventual game winner by Walsh.

The Lions now have sole possession of first place in the North with a record of 7-5 and a one-game lead over the Bears.  The Packers fell to 5-6-1 and are two games back.  With the Carolina Panthers (9-3) and San Francisco 49ers (8-4) rolling, the only way a NFC North team is getting into the playoffs is likely by winning the division.

This week’s slate features four separate games.  The Packers will host the Atlanta Falcons in a game that was originally slated for Sunday night.  It was flexed out a few weeks back due to the decline in both teams’ level of play.  The Panthers and New Orleans Saints will now play in the Sunday night slot.

The Detroit Lions will head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles, who have suddenly remembered how to win at home.  The Minnesota Vikings will take to the road to face the Baltimore Ravens and the week culminates with the Bears hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

With that, let’s take a quick look at each matchup and the implications for this week.

8

December

Packers vs. Lions Week 14 Game Predictions from AllGBP.COM (with Podcast)

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 14: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 8-4 Green Bay Packers 17-13
Why so low scoring? Forecast in Green Bay is calling for 3-6 inches of snow before kickoff.  Aaron Rodgers hasn’t played in a snow game before so he may be in for a bit of an adjustment.  If it comes down to running the ball, I think a Green/Grant two-headed attack works best
“Jersey” Al Bracco 7-5 Green Bay Packers 34-17
Usually, just when we think we have this team figured out, things change. So that’s what I’m counting on. Call me optimistic,  but I feel like it’s high time for the Packers to break out of their close game rut and have a runaway victory. The only thing that worries me is the weather, but then again, there have been high-scoring games in the snow (Seattle Snow Bowl).
Adam Czech 9-3 Green Bay Packers 27-21
I don’t think thing will be much different than the game a few weeks ago. The Lions D-line will rush hard. Stafford will get hot for a quarter. Rodgers will make a few extra plays. And the Packers win another tight one.
Marques Eversoll 9-3 Green Bay Packers 31-17
The Lions’ front four will give the Packers’ offensive line some problems. And although Green Bay is still playing with its B-team, I think these Packers will bring their A-game on Sunday night mainly because Aaron Rodgers is overdue for a Rodgers-type game. The Pack’s two most impressive performances of the season were in primetime–week two at home against the Bears and week six at Houston. And frankly, I can’t seem to recall what happened in New York two weeks ago in primetime. Blowout.
Thomas Hobbes 8-4 Green Bay Packers 24-14
12

December

Packers vs. Raiders: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 46-16 Win over Oakland

Photo courtesy of Green Bay Press-Gazette

Using five forced turnovers and a balanced offensive attack, the Green Bay Packers (13-0) raced out to a 34-0 lead over the Oakland Raiders (7-6) before finishing their 19th straight win overall, 46-16, Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Here are five observations from the game:

1. Fast start

This game, which some thought could be the one where the Packers would fall for the first time in 2011, was over within the first 20 or so minutes. Following an interception from D.J. Smith on the Raiders’ initial possession, Ryan Grant took the Packers’ first play from scrimmage 47 yards for a touchdown. The vision in the hole and burst at the second level reminded some of the running back that racked up consecutive 1,200-yard seasons from 2008-09. The Packers would score on their next four possessions to go up 31-0 with 7:06 left in the first half. Game, set and match. The rest of the game was played on cruise control.

2. Ground game gets going

After a stretch of games where he was either ineffective or invisible, Ryan Grant had his best game of 2011 on Sunday with 85 yards rushing and two scores on just 10 carries. While the interior of the Packers’ line and the Raiders’ 28th ranked run defense were important factors, it has to be encouraging this late in the year that Green Bay’s offense can run the football with some success.

On his long touchdown to kick off the game, Grant set up middle linebacker Rolando McClain to the right in the hole, then burst past the secondary to get into the end zone. It was classic Ryan Grant in both areas. John Kuhn also added 46 yards as the Packers ran for a 136 yards, a number that ties their season-high (San Diego). As the weather turns more winter-like in Wisconsin, the run game will increase in importance. Sunday was a confidence-building effort from that unit.

3. Takin’ it away

While the Packers’ defense gave up north of 350 yards again, this was far from a poor defensive performance. The majority of the yards came when the Raiders were down by four or more scores. The defense again made their living by causing turnovers, which they did a season-high five times. Four more interceptions give the Packers an NFL-leading 27 this season, and a third quarter fumble recovery from Erik Walden resulted in another defensive touchdown. Say what you want about that side of the ball, but this is the winning formula the Packers defense has created for themselves in 2011.

11

December

Packers vs. Raiders Preview: 5 Things to Watch

The Green Bay Packers (12-0) and Oakland Raiders (7-5) face off in Week 14 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 3:15 CST, Sunday, December 11, 2011.

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI.

TV: CBS; Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.

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

Series: Packers lead, 6-5 (Packers won last regular season game, 38-7, in Dec. 9, 2007 at Lambeau Field).

Five things to watch

1. Slow…Down

The Raiders’ speed, a feature their entire roster is built around, took a big hit on the offensive side when Oakland announced that Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Taiwan Jones would all miss Sunday’s game. In all fairness, these aren’t just your run-of-the-mill “fast guys,” either. You’d be hard-pressed to find a faster set of four players in the entire league. All but Jones were major contributors on offense, too.  Darius Heyward-Bey (4.25-second 40-yard dash) is healthy and should start at one receiver position, however.

Without several of their most important speed guys available, it will be interesting to see how the Raiders cope. They struggled last week in Miami.

2. Grounded

Even without McFadden in the lineup for the better part of two months, the Raiders running game has remained among the NFL’s elite. Oakland averages 140.1 rushing yards a game, which is good for fourth in the league. Backup running back Michael Bush has been a big reason why the Raiders’ running game hasn’t missed a beat since McFadden went out, as Bush has rushed for 548 yards and three scores over the Raiders’ last six games. A big back at 6-1, 245 pounds, Bush should be a major focus of Dom Capers’ defense on Sunday.

Big backs like Bush (think Mike Tolbert, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Jacobs) have had success against the Packers’ run defense this season. They’ll again be without leading tackler Desmond Bishop because of a calf strain, and rookie D.J. Smith will start in his place. Without Bishop and A.J. Hawk last week, the New York Giants ran for 100 yards on just 20 carries. While I’m not convinced that the Raiders can win the game solely on the ground, they can definitely control the pace with a strong showing from Bush and the running game.

 3. Another test

9

December

Packers Rule Out James Starks and Desmond Bishop for Sunday’s Game With Raiders

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy announced on Friday that his team would be without the services of running back James Starks and linebacker Desmond Bishop on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Neither practiced on Friday.

Starks, the Packers leading rusher this season with 565 yards, left his third straight game last Sunday in New York with an ankle injury. In his absence, the Packers will lean more on Ryan Grant with undrafted rookie free agent Brandon Saine seeing snaps on passing downs.

Bishop will miss his second straight game because of a calf strain he suffered in Detroit. Fellow inside linebacker A.J. Hawk is listed as questionable with the same injury, and rookie D.J. Smith would start along side Hawk if he can go on Sunday. Without Bishop and Hawk in the lineup last week, the Packers surrendered 100 rushing yards on just 20 carries to the Giants. The Raiders currently rank third in the NFL in rushing this season.

Josh Sitton will also miss his second straight game with a knee strain. A timetable for his return hasn’t been officially set, so it’s unclear when Sitton might return to the field. Evan Dietrich-Smith will make his second start in Sitton’s place.

Vic So’oto had a flair up on a back injury he suffered earlier this season and won’t play. Chad Clifton (hamstring) was also ruled out. Clifton hasn’t played since Week 5 in Atlanta and may not return during the regular season.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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9

December

Packers vs. Raiders Week 14 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 14: Green Bay Packers vs. Oakland Raiders
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 11-1 Green Bay Packers 35-17
Not doing it again.  Blowout win here. Raiders are falling apart and the Packers survived their big test.  Packers keep on rolling
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“Jersey” Al Bracco 12-0 Green Bay Packers 38-30
Could this be the week the Packers finally lose a game? It’s certainly possible the Packers have a bit of a letdown after a very tough game last week. But I’m not going there… 13-0
Adam Czech 11-1 Green Bay Packers 27-13
The Raiders limp their way to Green Bay trying to fight off Tebow and win the AFC West. It sounds like Darren McFadden is out and a couple of the Raiders deep receiving threats are banged up. All you new Packers owners, your team is about to be 13-0.
Thomas Hobbes 12-0 Green Bay Packers 35-16
The battle of the gimpy; both Packers and Raiders come in with multiple injuries.  My feeling is that the Packers have been here before and will handle the loss of their starters better than the Raiders.  Keep in mind its the Raiders, who have one of the more “interesting” drafting strategies, they’re backups are worse than the Packers backups.
Zach Kruse 10-2 Green Bay Packers 34-10
The much-maligned Packers defense might get huge a break with Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore all likely to sit. We saw how poor the Raiders offense played last week with a depleted group. Rodgers continues to roll on a sunny, 37 degree December day at Lambeau Field as the Packers cruise to 13-0.
Chad Toporski 11-1 Green Bay Packers 31-14
The Raiders’ running game might be enough to limit the possessions for the Packers’ offense… until they are forced to go to the air after Green Bay pulls ahead. A first-round bye for the playoffs will be locked up this week.
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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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