22

December

Steelers vs. Packers Week 16 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 16: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 8-6 Green Bay Packers 24-23
Pittsburgh is better than their record indicates. Who wins depends on which Packers defense shows up. I like the Packers at home as the NFC North comes down to Packers vs Bears next week
“Jersey” Al Bracco 7-7 Green Bay Packers 24-16
The Packers defense will come up with some stops when needed, holding the Steelers to field goals and the offense will get off to a better start and never look back.
Adam Czech 9-5 Green Bay Packers 24-22
A late Mason Crosby field goal in the snow makes the difference in this one.
Marques Eversoll 8-6 Green Bay Packers 24-23
Aaron Rodgers or not, the Packers are two wins away from a playoff berth. They need this one to keep the season going, and Dom Capers’ defense will step up to the plate.
Thomas Hobbes 7-7 Green Bay Packers 21-20
The Steelers don’t have any playoff hopes and the Packers have learned that they can win without Rodgers. Pittsburgh isn’t all that strong of a team either and home field advantage will be in the Packers favor; this team likes to sneak by on one point.
Cory Jennerjohn 11-3 Green Bay Packers 23-20
Not having Aaron Rodgers yet again is bad but Eddie Lacy in the snow might be the next best thing. The secondary showed signs of life last week against Tony Romo and should show up against the lesser Ben Roethlisberger at home. The game will be won by by the Packers’ linebackers.
Jason Perone 8-6 Green Bay Packers 27-20
Many are expecting a high-scoring affair between these two teams but a cold day and a good chance of snow suggests otherwise.  This isn’t Brett Favre vs. the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs, this is Matt Flynn.  Still, the Packers are one of the league’s best at home in December and they will come ready to play, especially Clay Matthews and Eddie Lacy.
Chad Toporski 7-7 Pittsburgh Steelers 20-23
20

December

Packers Periscope: Week 16 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Past: I’ve mentioned notable games of the past in this series (the Ice Bowl, Aaron Rodgers dismantling of the Falcons in the 2010 divisional game), but perhaps the most important game in the last decade for the Packers was their win in Super Bowl XLV in 2010 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Not only did it cement quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ position as one of the NFL’s elite players but it also justified Ted Thompson’s 6 year “draft and develop” philosophy which brought the Packers back from a salary cap nightmare.  Fans will remember Clay Matthew’s “It is time” moment of stripping the ball away from Rashard Mendenhall which preserved a Packers 4 point lead in the 4th quarter, but perhaps the biggest defensive play came from defensive tackle Howard Green, who knocked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s pass into the arms of safety Nick Collins, who returned the ball for a touchdown and at least historically sealed away the fate of the Steelers right then (no team has gotten a interception returned for a touchdown and lost the Super Bowl).

Moving back further, the Steelers and Packers last regular season game occurred in 2009 which quickly became a shootout; Rodgers threw for an impressive 383 yards but Roethlisberger proved even more dangerous, finishing the game with an astonishing 503 yards.  It also marked the rise of Jermichael Finley, who moved from a up and coming player to a serious receiving threat, which would continue until his injury in 2010.

The Present: The Steelers have been effectively eliminated from the playoffs; the Cincinnati Bengals have run away with the AFC North and are almost definitely going to win the division this year.  Baltimore trails behind Cincinnati, but also has a shot at a wild card berth.  Pittsburgh unfortunately only is predicted to get in as a wildcard team .8% of the time according to Football Outsiders, effectively making this game more of a statement game more than anything else.  Furthermore, the Steelers have always been a very deliberate and conservative organization and the coaching staff has not been rumored to be on the hot seat, this game probably does not have much meaning to the Steelers, aside for maybe extracting some revenge against the Packers for their Super Bowl loss.

18

December

Around the NFC North: Week 16

Around the NFC North

This week’s slate of NFC North games could set up a huge finish to the 2013 regular season

Week 15 brought about some major fireworks around the NFC North, culminating with the Monday night game between the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens.  The Lions scored a late touchdown to take the lead but allowed the Ravens to drive and give kicker Justin Tucker a shot at a game winning 61-yard field goal.  He made it and suddenly, the Lions find themselves in third place behind the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

On Sunday, the Bears were able to hang on and pick up a valuable road win against the Cleveland Browns.  It was Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s first game back in over a month and while he was admittedly a bit rusty, he was able to create enough to get Chicago the win.  The Bears are now alone in first place in the North.

The Minnesota Vikings spanked the visiting Philadelphia Eagles and brought the birds back down to earth a bit, ending Phily’s five-game winning streak.  What is more impressive is that Minnesota did so without the services of their best player in that of running back Adrian Peterson.  They were also without running back Toby Gerhart but they did manage to get three rushing touchdowns from. . Matt Asiata?  While the Vikings are playing for pride, at this point, they certainly showed plenty on Sunday.

Benefiting from the Eagles’ loss, albeit ever so slightly, was the Dallas Cowboys.  In Sunday’s late game and America’s “Game of the Week”, the Cowboys hosted the Packers.  Green Bay had not won in nine previous trips (including playoffs) to Dallas and had lost 11 of their last 12 there, spanning over a 24-year period.  That record, however, was at the old Texas Stadium in Irving.  This game would be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, where the Packers won their most recent Super Bowl in February of 2011.

After heading in the halftime locker room down 26-3, the Packers seemed all but done for the day.  Many suggested that they just board the bus and head home.  I know because I was among them.  After watching this team flail through the past five games, it seemed highly unlikely that they could overcome such a deficit.  They did just that, however, capitalizing on two huge interceptions late in the fourth quarter to seal the comeback victory over the Cowboys, 37-36.  No team or fan base was more elated by the Lions loss to the Ravens than the Packers, as they remain in contention for a division title and can secure it on their own and without help.

22

December

Packers vs. Titans Week 16 Game Predictions from AllGBP.COM (with Podcast)

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 16: Green Bay Packers vs. Tennessee Titans
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 10-4 Green Bay Packers 27-10
Now that we know the Mayans were wrong, here’s a sign the world still may end: the Packers will put this thing away early.  With the pressure of winning the division off, the Packers return to an aerial attack and put this one away early. I think we’ll even see Graham Harrell in the fourth quarter.
“Jersey” Al Bracco 9-5 Green Bay Packers 31-17
NFC Champions Baby! The Packers host the hapless Titans, so surely that must mean a Packers win, right? As we’ve seen in the past, the Packers can play down to the level of their competition, but I don’t think even that would be enough to lose to the Titans. Wacky prediction: Crosby goes one for five on field goals and is mobbed by his teammates on the one he makes. Yeah, that’s where we are…
Adam Czech 11-3 Green Bay Packers 28-13
I was going to predict 34 points for the Packers, but then I remembered Mason Crosby is our kicker. The goal in this game should be to avoid more injuries. I watched the Titans vs Jets game on Monday because I had money on the Jets. Now I’m scarred for life after witnessing that debacle. The Packers need to get ahead early so the Titans quit playing and start thinking about what last-minute gifts they need to buy for their wives and mistresses.
Marques Eversoll 11-3 Green Bay Packers 31-6
I’m usually hesitant to predict a blowout, as every NFL team has talent and it takes a full team effort to completely control a game. But that’s exactly what I expect this week. The Packers defense is playing its best ball of the season, and I think they’ll shut down the Titans offense. Even if Alex Green is out, I expect the Packers to be able to run the ball with success. And oh yeah, Aaron Rodgers figures to have a field day. Packers win easily.
Thomas Hobbes 10-4 Green Bay Packers 23-10
26

December

Packers vs. Bears: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 35-21 Win over Chicago

Jermichael Finley was a catalyst for the Packers' opening touchdown drive. (Photo: Rick Wood, JSOnline)

Behind five touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers wrapped up home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and won a franchise record 14th game in 2011 with a 35-21 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Five observations from the game:

1. Next man up

The Packers makeshift offensive line bounced back in a big way Sunday night. Facing one of the better defensive lines in football, Rodgers wasn’t sacked and rarely was hurried. The banner performance came from left tackle Marshall Newhouse, who all but took All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers out of the game. This was a big time performance with just two players, Scott Wells at center and Josh Sitton at right guard, starting at the same position they did to begin the 2011 season.

2. Missing Pickett

It’s been shockingly evident how much the Packers miss Ryan Pickett up front. Without him the past two weeks, the Packers’ run defense has been gashed repeatedly. On Sunday night, third-string running back Kahlil Bell ran for 121 yards as the Bears totaled 199 on the ground. If not for a big lead in the third quarter that took the Bears out of their game plan, Chicago could have ran for 250 or more yards. Getting Pickett back will help, but the gap discipline from the run defense has to be much better. They were all over the place against the Bears. Frank Gore, Michael Turner and the rest of the NFC running backs had to be salivating watching Sunday night.

3. End of discussion?

Is the case finally closed? After a week of MVP debate surrounding Drew Brees and Tom Brady as potential candidates, Rodgers might have stamped his name on the trophy with his first career five touchdown passing game. He now has 45 passing touchdowns and 48 total on a 14-1 team. If that doesn’t win you the MVP, I’m not sure what will.

4. Making their case

Think all the “blueprint this, blueprint that” talk fell on deaf ears in the Packers’ offensive meetings? Not the case. James Jones, who caught two touchdowns Sunday night, mentioned after the game how that discussion was motivation for the offense to put their best foot forward against the Bears. Mission accomplished. Jones had one of his finest games of 2011, Jordy Nelson went for 115 yards and two scores and Jermichael Finley was the catalyst for the Packers’ opening touchdown drive. Even though Greg Jennings is expected back for the playoffs, this was a confidence-restoring performance for the Packers’ passing offense.

25

December

Packers vs. Bears Preview: 5 Things to Watch

Jermichael Finley caught three touchdowns back in Week 3.

The Green Bay Packers (13-1) and Chicago Bears (7-7) face off in Week 16 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 7:20 CST, Sunday, December 25, 2011.

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI.

TV: NBC; Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Also streaming online at NBCSports.com and NFL.com.

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

Series: Bears lead, 85-92-6 (Packers won last regular season game, 27-17, on Sept. 25, 2011 at Soldier Field.)

Five things to watch

1. Banged up offensive line
Matching up against the Bears’ defensive line is a task in itself, but doing so with a makeshift offensive line only compounds the difficultly. The Packers will be without Bryan Bulaga (sprained knee cap) on Sunday, and other injuries to Chad Clifton and Derek Sherrod have forced the Packers to shift T.J. Lang to right tackle and replace him with Evan Dietrich-Smith at left guard.
Understandably, the Packers shifting offensive line had its share of problems against Kansas City. How they handle a Bears defensive line that has 28 total sacks, including 10 from Julius Peppers and seven from Henry Melton, will be a focal point on Sunday. Another rough performance could make scoring points a struggle.

2. Not Cut-ting it

While the Packers are dealing with injuries on both lines, the Bears sustained a knockout blow when both Jay Cutler and Matt Forte went down with long-term injuries in consecutive weeks. Cutler has proven to be irreplaceable with the quarterbacks currently on the Bears roster. Caleb Hanie, who nearly brought the Bears back in the NFC Championship game against the Packers, threw nine interceptions in four starts with a 41.8 passer rating. The Bears lost all four games and have all but eliminated themselves from the playoff picture.

Now, Lovie Smith is turning to Josh McCown, a nine-year NFL veteran who hasn’t started a game since 2007. For the Bears to have a chance at beating the Packers at Lambeau Field, McCown needs to play a lot better than he did the last time he was there. In ’07, McCown was just 7-of-15 for 115 yards and two interceptions for the Raiders in a 38-7 Packers win.

3. Bouncing back

22

December

Packers vs. Bears Week 16 Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
Week 15: Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Name Record To-Date This Week’s Pick Score Prediction
Kris Burke 12-2 Green Bay Packers 27-21
The Packers will be an angry bunch but you have to throw out records and previous performances when these two teams meet. The Bears make it interesting late but Rodgers and the Packers get their mojo back and lock up home field advantage.
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“Jersey” Al Bracco 13-1 Green Bay Packers 42-6
It will be anything but a silent night as the Packers throw a wild Christmas Party at Lambeau Field.  The Packers will stomp on their arch rivals in a beatdown that will have the “Bears Still Suck” on continuous play all through the night.
Adam Czech 12-2 Green Bay Packers 35-14
Will McCarthy and Rodgers incorporate more runs and short passes into the gameplan? Probably not. And I don’t think it will matter.
Thomas Hobbes 13-1 Green Bay Packers 24-17
Offensive line is definitely going to be one problem, getting out of the funk that the Packers have been in lately will be bigger.  Will the Packers actually come out and really play?  I’m not sure, but it is the Bears so the game will have significance and the Bears are hurting too.
Zach Kruse 11-3 Green Bay Packers 23-10
The Packers have historically struggled to score points against Lovie Smith’s defense with Aaron Rodgers under center. It won’t help that a good chunk of his offensive line will be out. And if the defense can’t hold a Josh McCown offense under two touchdowns, the Packers are in trouble.
Chad Toporski 12-2 Green Bay Packers 24-6
The Packers’ offensive line will be a problem, but the Chicago Bears’ offensive woes will be much worse for them. They have no answer at quarterback or running back, and they just lost one of their better wide receivers. If the defense can’t make some plays against this unit, then we’ve got some serious worrying to do.
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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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