4

January

2012 NFL Playoffs Predictions, Wild Card Round: AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
2012 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Round
Name Straight Up Against the Spread
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-4.5)
Kris Burke Texans Texans
“Jersey” Al Bracco Texans Texans
Adam Czech Texans Bengals
Marques Eversoll Texans Bengals
Thomas Hobbes Texans Bengals
Jason Perone Texans Texans
Chad Toporski Texans Texans
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
Kris Burke Packers Packers
“Jersey” Al Bracco Packers Packers
Adam Czech Packers Packers
Marques Eversoll Packers Packers
Thomas Hobbes Packers Packers
Jason Perone Vikings Vikings
Chad Toporski Packers Vikings
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)
Kris Burke Colts Colts
“Jersey” Al Bracco Ravens Ravens
Adam Czech Ravens Colts
Marques Eversoll Colts Colts
Thomas Hobbes Colts Colts
Jason Perone Ravens Colts
Chad Toporski Ravens Colts
Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins (+3)
Kris Burke Redskins Seahawks
“Jersey” Al Bracco Seadogs  Seadogs
Adam Czech Seachickens Seachickens
Marques Eversoll Seahawks Seahawks
Thomas Hobbes Redskins Redskins
Jason Perone Redskins Redskins
Chad Toporski Seahawks Seahawks
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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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4

January

Packers Beer Mug Perspective: Is this a Super Bowl team?

Can the Packers win Super Bowl XLVII?

Can the Packers win Super Bowl XLVII?

The 2012 season has been a roller-coaster for the Green Bay Packers.

From the early-season “Fail mary” in Seattle to the epic collapse in Indianapolis, the Packers have battled back to put themselves in contention for a second Super Bowl in three years. But is this team really Super Bowl-caliber?

The last time the Packers won the Super Bowl, they were decimated by injuries but Aaron Rodgers carried the team on his back all the way to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. It was a season to remember, and there are certainly some similarities between the 2010 Packers and this 2012 team.

In the Packers’ first preseason game, starting middle linebacker Desmond Bishop was lost for the season. After Clay Matthews, Bishop may be the Packers’ best defensive player. Second-year player D.J. Smith replaced Bishop in the starting lineup, but he suffered a season-ending injury in week six at Houston.

In total, the 2012 Packers have eight players on injured reserve, including this year’s first-round pick Nick Perry, starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga and starting running back Cedric Benson. Needless to say, the injury bug bit the Packers hard this season.

But through it all, the Packers won the division and played their way to the No. 3 seed in the NFC.

And now, this team is the healthiest its been since the regular season kicked off. Charles Woodson will return to the field this week after suffering a broken collarbone Oct. 21 in St. Louis. Randall Cobb will be back in the lineup as well, giving the Packers their full corps of wide receivers since week four.

Vegas has the Packers at 8/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. They have the third-best odds in the NFC, behind the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons. The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots currently have the best odds to win the Super Bowl.

Is this Packers team capable of winning Super Bowl XLVII?

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.”

THE MUG IS HALF FULL

While this team isn’t at full strength by any means, the team that takes the field Saturday night will be arguably the most talented 46-man roster the Packers have put on the field all season.

10

January

Five Reflections from Wild Card Weekend

The strength of the Giants' defensive line is just one observation from the 2011 NFL Wild Card weekend.

With four teams out of the playoff race and the New York Giants scheduled to take on the Green Bay Packers next week, I thought it might be prudent to take a look back at the weekend and reflect on the results. The games mostly went as expected, minus the Pittsburgh Steelers getting “Tebowed” in Denver.

Let’s get right down to it, then. Here are some observations from the four Wild Card games and how they might relate to the Packers going forward:

1. Regular season records don’t mean anything. This weekend, we saw two division champions take down Wild Card teams who held a better record in the regular season. The New York Giants (9-7) practically shut out the Atlanta Falcons (10-6), and the Denver Broncos (8-8) stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) with an overtime bullseye strike.

Yes, the Packers made an impressive run this season going 15-1, but don’t let that alone give you any sense of false hope. It won’t afford Green Bay any advantage on the field, because the only thing that matters is how well they are playing right now.

2. Opportunities must be seized when they are presented. Anyone who watched the New Orleans Saints take on the Detroit Lions knows how much that game could have changed if the Lions would have simply taken advantage of their opportunities. I counted three passes by Drew Brees that could have easily been interceptions if the defender would have simply held onto the ball. Turnovers can be huge game-changers is the playoffs, mostly because the games are usually so close to begin with. Not only can they swing the scoreboard, but they can redirect the momentum and quiet a noisy crowd.

The Green Bay Packers have made turnovers their mantra this season. Not only is protecting the ball of utmost importance, but taking it away has become the keystone of their defense. The Packers lead the league this season in interceptions (31) and were second only to the San Francisco 49ers in turnover differential (+24). They will need to continue taking advantage of these opportunities, because they will get fewer and farther between against playoff-caliber opponents.

6

January

2011 NFL Playoffs Wild Card Round – Game Predictions from AllGreenBayPackers.com

GAME PREDICTIONS
2011 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Round
Name Straight Up
Against the Spread
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-3)
Kris Burke Bengals Bengals
“Jersey” Al Bracco Texans Texans
Adam Czech (on vacation) Bengals/Texans Bengals/Texans
Thomas Hobbes Texans Texans
Zach Kruse Texans Bengals
Chad Toporski Texans Texans
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (-11)
Kris Burke Saints Saints
“Jersey” Al Bracco Saints Lions
Adam Czech (on vacation) Lions/Saints Lions/Saints
Thomas Hobbes Saints Lions
Zach Kruse Saints Saints
Chad Toporski Saints Saints
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (-3)
Kris Burke Falcons Falcons
“Jersey” Al Bracco Giants Giants
Adam Czech (on vacation) Falcons/Giants Falcons/Giants
Thomas Hobbes Giants Giants
Zach Kruse Giants Giants
Chad Toporski Falcons Falcons
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (+9)
Kris Burke Steelers Steelers
“Jersey” Al Bracco Steelers Broncos
Adam Czech (on vacation) Steelers/Broncos Steelers/Broncos
Thomas Hobbes Steelers Steelers
Zach Kruse Steelers Steelers
Chad Toporski Steelers Broncos
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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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8

January

NFL Wild Card Weekend: Packers-Eagles Preview: Deja Vu in Philly

The Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 10-3 last Sunday at Lambeau Field to lock down a wild card berth for the second consecutive season.

The Packers enter the playoffs as the number six seed, but in a conference that features a 7-9 division champion, any team could come out of the NFC and head to Super Bowl XLV.

The first stop for the Packers on the road to Dallas is in Philadelphia for an encore match against the Eagles. In the first game of the regular season, the Packers beat the Eagles 27-20 after knocking then-starting quarterback for the Eagles Kevin Kolb out of the game and giving Michael Vick the opportunity to write one of the great comeback stories in NFL history.

Looking back at that game, the Packers had the Eagles well under control until Vick came into the game. He nearly led the Eagles back, but a couple well-timed sacks stopped the comeback just short and the Packers held on the victory.

With an entire week to game plan for Vick, will the Packers fare better against the elusive Eagles quarterback?

Breaking down the Eagles

Vick carried the Eagles this season. You can’t argue any other way.
In a season where coach Andy Reid was under the microscope after dealing Donovan McNabb away within the division, Vick played brilliantly and leads an incredibly explosive offense. With Vick’s dual running and passing threat, the Packers will have their hands full with No. 7.

Now, Vick is reported to be a little less than fully healthy for this game with him as of early this week saying he was only at 75% but will be ready to go Sunday.

Should the Packers be able to somehow contain Vick to the pocket, they will have to take in account speedy receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Vick also can use tight end Brent Celek as a medium distance threat. Running back LeSean McCoy also is very underrated and will provide another option for Vick in the screen game. Of course, this all depends on if the iffy Eagles offensive line can hold up.

Bottom line: Do not underestimate the Eagles offense. They are one of the few units in the NFL than can keep up on the scoreboard against the Packers’ offense.