Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas weekend. I was all over the place and never had time to throw a pregame post together, but on the way up to the game, I told my brother-in-law 38-3, so I was in the ballpark. Quite honestly, I would have to say that the Packers are the hottest team in the NFC right now. They’ve won 6 of 7, and are playing good football. If you look at the other teams in the NFC, the Saints and Vikings are going the wrong way, the Eagles have been playing well, but they almost tanked it at home Sunday, the Cowboys have won two games in a row (and the win in NO doesn’t look so great anymore), and the Cardinals haven’t went on a streak all season. I’m liking the Packers chances.
Also congrats to Rodgers, Woodson and Collins on being selected to the Pro Bowl. We all feel Matthews got screwed, but he could still make it. How Orakpo got in over Matthews is beyond me. Their stats are almost the same, but GB is 2nd in total defense and 9th in scoring defense. Washington is 11th and 16th. Must be the high draft choice. Also, how does the #1 run defense in the NFL have no one from the DL or LB crew on the roster? Just wondering. Hopefully, none of this matters, and no Packers play in the Pro Bowl.
Observations from Sunday…
1) Seattle is an embarrassment. I give kudos to Tampa Bay and Cleveland. They are getting better as the season goes along and have shown a tremendous amount of improvement. Seattle has gotten worse. Much worse. Worse than Detroit worse. We really didn’t learn much this week about the Packers.
2) The DB who shall not be named got toasted again, then gets a pick and runs his mouth after the game. He basically said “many more to come.” The word of the day is “humility.” Look it up DB WSNBN.
3) How about the K WSNBN? A perfect day. Now do it when it matters, not when it’s 38-3. In all seriousness, hopefully this gets him going.
4) Ryan Grant is over 1200 yards, is averaging 4.4 yds per carry and has 10 touchdowns. Pretty solid body of work, don’t you think?
5) After all the crap this season, isn’t it nice to be a Packers fan instead of a Vikings fan right now? We’re excited for the playoffs to start and feel we can make some noise. Vikings fans might as well compare it to a root canal. Two words for you…He he.
Wow, there’s a lot to talk about. Heck of a game. Probably the most talked about game on the national circuit today. Heartbreaking finish, but not backbreaking, although as I’m writing this, the Giants are about to go up 14-0 over the Skins. I’m taking a different slant on my postgame today. This game answered some questions but also brought up some new ones.
1) Mason Crosby is a full blown train wreck at this point. The Redskins shipped their kicker, the Cowboys theirs (and ironically, picked up Suisham). Crosby’s quote, “I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve just got to keep watching the film, and hopefully we get out of it here.” The film??? Here, let me breakdown the film for you. You suck.
2) Jarrett Bush couldn’t cover an 84 year old woman with a walker. End of story. Instead of pointing and yelling “56 is the mike” I swear I saw Roethlisberger point and say “24 is on the field, 24 is on the field” about 6 times Sunday.
3) Tom Silverstein from the JS needs to settle. He wrote that the game Sunday showed the Packers’ defense is clearly not ready to go to any of the four NFC divisional leaders. Come on. First off, it was just one of those games. You could tell in the first 10 minutes. I wonder if the Eagles’ beat writers wrote the same thing last week after the Eagles gave up 38 to the Giants. Doubt it. Secondly, you just have to outscore ’em by one. One would think Capers will get aggressive the next time.
4) Donald Driver is in full blow up mode. Seriously, he becomes the Packers leader in catches and all of the sudden can’t catch a damn thing.
5) I’ve wondered if the opponents read ROTQ. Obviously they do. I mentioned some players from the Steelers offense in my pregame post. They all had monster games. Everyone of them.
6) We already knew, but Rodgers and Matthews. Holy crap.
Questions that need answering…
1) Why are Crosby and Bush still employed with my season ticket money? At this point I would rather see Gus, the kicking mule trot out onto the field. At least I wouldn’t close my eyes on extra points.
2) Why didn’t we bring in some fresh defensive linemen once the Steelers crossed the 40? It looked like the first episode of “The Biggest Loser” out there.
3) Does Edgar Bennett get paid for this week? We ran the ball 8 times and scored 36 points. Should have been enough.
4) Why not put Collins or another safety at backer instead of Hawk or Barnett in obvious passing situations? We have nickel and dime packages. What do you call 8 defensive backs…besides prevent?
5) Will the Packers make the playoffs? At this point, you can’t hope for the Giants to lose. You have to expect New York to win out. They hold the tiebreak over the Packers. We have to win out. One at a time. Bring on the Seahawks.
One last thing. Crosby and Bush are not to be named from this point on at ROTQ. They are now known as “The one(s) that shall not be named.” One last question that needs to be answered. Do either of them have a dog?
If you are an elite NFL player, and EA Sports comes to you in February, RUN FOR THE HILLS! I’m talking to you Chris Johnson, Drew Brees, and especially Charles Woodson. RUN! The loss of Troy Polamalu to the Madden Curse has destroyed some of the identity of the Steelers’ defense. If I’m an owner or GM, I make sure clauses are in contracts. No Madden covers.
Five weeks ago, who would have envisioned the current scenario? The Super Bowl champs have lost five straight and need to win to even have a chance at a wildcard. On the other hand, the Packers have won five straight and could clinch a berth Sunday. This isn’t remotely close to a must win for the Packers, but let’s do it anyways.
Keys to the Game:
1) Protect Aaron Rodgers. I haven’t put this in my keys for awhile, mostly because it hasn’t been an issue for the last few weeks. But it’s in this week. Rodgers needs to have time to figure out all of the crazy 3-4 stuff the Steelers utilize. Sound familiar? What we love about the Packers D has been going on in Pittsburgh for years. Last week’s play of the game: the corner blitz and Collins pick, happened because Cutler was rushed. Give Rodgers the time!!
2) Grant needs 85+ on the ground. The Steelers are #1 in rush defense by .1 yard per game over the Packers. Another great test for our line, our play calling, and our running back. If Grant gets around 100, we’re going to have some points on the board, if…
3) Again, the Red Zone, except this time, it’s against the #1 RZ defense in the AFC. Not feeling overly confident with this one, unless it’s to win the game in the last two minutes. The Steelers’ D has turned into a sieve in the 4th quarter this season.
4) Take care of the ball. One of the reasons the Steelers are on life support in Week 15 is their -5 turnover margin. This might be the stat of all stats for Steelers fans this year. We’ve gotten a little loose with the ball. Hopefully it was a bump in the road.
5) Jennings or Driver need to lead the team in receiving. For defenses right now, the threat is Jermichael Finley. 85 and 80 should get some great one on one matchups Sunday afternoon. They need to deliver.
6) We need a defensive key, don’t we? Well, it’s really not a key. The Steelers have weapons all over the place and this will be one of the Packers greatest defensive challenges. Mendenhall is having a productive season once he learned the plays. They have two great wideouts in Ward and Holmes, with a third, Wallace, emerging this season. They have a great tight end in Miller and a lineman for a quarterback. How are they 6-7?????
Some other interesting stats…
1) Pittsburgh has won 7 straight home games against the NFC North.
2) The Packers have made 24 field goals this season (24-32), while our opponents have only attempted 13.
3) Jordy Nelson is UP to 3.8 yards per punt return. And no ST Player of the Week???
4) The Packers rank last in net punting at 33.5 yds per punt. Happy trails Slocum.
5) The Packers D has held their opponent under 300 net yards for 6 straight games.
Prediction- Packers 23, Steelers 20
Looking good for Green Bay at this point. The NFC East teams are destroying each other, and Atlanta and San Francisco should be eliminated this week. The Packers are in with a win and Dallas loss or a win and Giants loss/tie. With the Cowboys playing @New Orleans Saturday night, the Packers could have it all in front of them before they kickoff in the Steel City.
NFC East- PHI 9-4 (SF, DEN, @DAL) Projection 11-5
Dallas 8-5 (@NO, @WAS, PHI) Projection 9-7
NYG 7-6 (@WAS, CAR, @MIN) Projection 8-8
NFC North- GB 9-4 (@PITT, SEA, @AZ) Projection 11-5
NFC South- Atlanta 6-7 (@NYJ, BUF, @TB) Projection 8-8
NFC West- SF 6-7 (@PHI, DET, @STL) Projection 8-8
One of Packers’ staff writers wrote a piece yesterday on the Packers needing to improve in the red zone. HELLO! I’ve been saying it for weeks now. It almost cost them a game Sunday. Let’s see…which is more damaging to the Bears: down 21-0 or 13-0? They were 0-2 in the red zone in the first half and had to settle for field goals. Eventually, Crosby is going to start missing field goals inside of 30 yds, and then we’re in real trouble.
On a different tone, let’s put the game in perspective. The NFL is a short season. Wins are at a premium. We shouldn’t ultimately care if it’s a good looking win or an ugly win. Especially with the playoffs in the near future, it’s all about survival. Be happy with a road win against a divisional rival. Let’s see how my keys of the game played out.
1) Make the Bears drive the field. Give the Bears credit. Their two drives were over 60 yards. We gave up three 3rd down conversions of over 9 yards on the first drive. Unacceptable. BUT…they had 12 drives, all of which started in Chicago territory. I’d count this as a win.
2) Contain Greg Olsen. They tried to get him the ball in the 2nd half, but the Packers held him to 2 catches. On a side note, I was impressed with Aromashodu. Big, aggressive receiver. More of a #1 then Hester.
3) RZ offense. Already covered it. They were 1-4 in the RZ, one of them being the kneel down to end the game.
4) Quick start. Up 10-0 in the first, could have been more, but they really dominated the first half.
5) Learn from the Steelers. The Packers were pretty solid over all, although it was closer then it should have been. Too many mistakes. Thankfully, Cutler turned into Cutler in the 4th quarter.
A couple of other things…
1) My brother-in-law texted me after the Packers first play from scrimmage. “Between the tackles”. Good to see the Packers brass is also reading ROTQ.
2) Good to see another team have penalty problems. The Bears had 13 for 109 yards.
3) Donald Driver needs to pick it up. He was out of it against the Ravens, and seemed out of the game plan Sunday.
4) Two officials comments. First, that was a touchdown to Jennings. They would have called it a fumble if it happened on the 30. It’s no different then guys losing the ball after they cross the goal line and it’s still a TD. Second, the Bears were called for a false start prior to their 4th down play at the end of the game. They had no timeouts. Where was the 10 second runoff and why didn’t they start the clock? The Bears were allowed to huddle up. Huge mistakes that could have helped the Bears. Inexcusable.
5) Does Lovie Smith really know the rules of football? Every time I watch the Bears, he does something that makes you wonder what is going on in his head. The new rule is quite clear. Olson, when hitting the ground, has to maintain possession. He wasted two timeouts on that play.
6) Anyone else lose their lunch when they saw Woodson laying on the ground with what seemed like a separated shoulder or torn pectoral? WHEW!
7) The Packers signed Brandon Chillar to an extension Monday. Note to TT- You better take care of Nick Collins. NOW.
8) Play of the game- 13:39 in the 4th, 14-13 Bears. The pick by Collins on 3rd and 5. Capers called the corner blitz at least 4 times Sunday and Tramon Williams forced a bad throw. HUGE PLAY. In my opinion, one of the biggest plays of the year. The score by Grant put the Packers up for good and ultimately put the Packers in the playoffs.
The stat of Week 13 involves the Packers’ opponent, the Chicago Bears. Last Sunday, Jay Cutler had 131 yards passing in the first quarter. He finished with 143 yards for the game. 12 yards! In 3 quarters! Against the Rams! At home! Somebody tell the Packers D to settle. Down boy.
On paper this is no contest. Emotionally, this is no contest. The Bears have nothing to play for. The Packers still have an outside shot at the NFC North, but more importantly, are trying to lock up a wildcard. The Bears are a statistical nightmare at this point, while the Packers have really put it together.
Keys to the Game
1) Make the Bears drive the field. Johnny Knox is averaging 29.4 yds per kickoff return. Take care of him. I don’t see the Bears capable of putting together a 12 play, 86 yard drive at this point. They don’t have the weapons. Forte is averaging 3.4 yds per carry, and Cutler has no weapons and even less confidence. Crap such as long returns, fumbled kickoffs, and dropped passes deflected into interceptions are the only ways Chicago will stay in this game.
2) Contain Greg Olsen. Yep, the tight end. He is great talent, a big target and the only guy Cutler will be able to look for. We may even see Woodson on Olson more than on their wideouts.
3) Red Zone offense. The Packers are getting some national attention as a Super Bowl contender. Their RZ ineptitude will keep them out. They will have to outscore Minnesota or New Orleans. You know what I mean. Field goals will not work.
4) Quick start. The last two road games (Tampa Bay and Detroit) have seen the Packers let inferior opponents stick around. Would love to see a 14-0 start going into the 2nd quarter.
5) Learn from Thursday night. Pittsburgh was in a must win situation. On the road. Against a lesser opponent. Within their division. They lost to the Browns and are basically out of the playoff picture. Don’t let it happen Sunday.
Some other interesting facts…
1) The Packers remain #1 in total defense, #1 vs. the pass, #1 in TO margin, and #2 vs. the rush. The last time the Packers D was ranked #1 this late in the season was 1996. Omen?
2) Clay Matthews was named Week 13’s Defensive Player of the Week. He becomes part of the first father/son duo in NFL history to each be named Player of the Week.
3) Since 2000, the Packers have the 3rd best December/ January record in the NFL at 31-12. Only the Patriots and Steelers have better records.
Prediction- Green Bay 27, Chicago 9
Was that the worst officiated game in NFL history? Granted, you had two of the most aggressive defensive backfields in the game today going at it, but that was ridiculous. Some were legit, but the two on Williams in the end zone should lead to a suspension for the officials who made the calls. Without those two calls, the Ravens don’t score. Huge statement game for the Packers. They were even getting props from Vikings fans on the message boards. WOW. Let’s look at how my keys to the game stacked up…
1) Contain Ray Rice. A dominant win in this category. He had 33 yds on the ground going into the last drive and only 17 yds receiving. Toughest running back they will have to face until the 2nd round of the playoffs.
2) Woodson on Mason. Good Lord. 6 targets. 2 catches for 13 yds. Give him the award now. On a related note, Tramon Williams is becoming a STUD. He was locked up on Clayton, who had 1 catch on 7 targets.
3) Run the ball. Team-wise, not bad. Ryan Grant’s stats were terrible. I don’t understand McCarthy’s fascination with the stretch play. Grant is not a stretch runner, he’s a between the tackles, lower the shoulder runner. His longest runs were between the tackles. I put most of the blame on McCarthy…and the Ravens D.
4) Take care of the ball. We came out on the positive side of this stat, but 3 turnovers is unacceptable. The first Rodgers pick was a Favre. Don’t mind it on 3rd down, but that pick was on 1st down. Thankfully, our D stepped up.
A couple of other observations…
1) At the game Monday, I told my brother-in-law after the 2nd Finley TD, “This is usually the time we give up a huge KO return.” As it was happening, he turned and just stared at me. What can I say, except, if I can call it, Slocum needs to go.
2) One of the staples of our offense is the quick slant. Over the last few weeks, Rodgers has been terrible on this pass. He’s behind, low, ahead; everything but in stride. This needs to get fixed. He missed some big plays Monday.
3) I have a man crush on Clay Matthews. The guy just makes plays. 6 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble Monday night.
4) Is Finley the next Gates, the next Gonzalez? I say YES!
5) Red Zone continues to be a struggle. 6 drives, only 3 touchdowns.
6) Anyone on the face of the earth have the slightest bit of confidence in Mason Crosby right now? You can’t even watch at this point.
7) Play of the game- 24-14, 9:46 left in the 4th. Woodson’s tackle on McGahee on 1st and goal at the 1. He had NO ANGLE, and somehow made the play. It forced the Ravens to throw on 2nd down and Williams picked it off in the endzone, deflating the Ravens’ chances.
I predicted in my Cowboys postgame a few weeks ago that if the Packers make the playoffs, Charles Woodson will win Defensive Player of the Year. Everybody on board now? He has now won two Player of the Week awards, he was Player of the Month in September and November, and he is the anchor to the #1 ranked defense in the NFL. In the last 12 years, the POY has come from a defense ranked in the top 3 eight times. Start the engraving process. With all of that, the Packers defense still feels disrespected, especially with the traditional defensive power Ravens coming into town. Hopefully, come Tuesday morning, the nation will know all about the Packers D.
With Turkey day and weekend, I didn’t put out a postgame blog of the Lions game. A couple of quick comments:
1) Huge injury to Pettigrew in the 1st quarter. As I had mentioned, this was a problem area for the Packers and his injury took away the Lions threat in the middle of the field, allowing Woodson to focus solely on Johnson.
2) Hard to believe you have to put Aaron Rodgers 4th or 5th right now in MVP voting behind Brees, Manning, Favre and possibly Rivers. He’s been phenomenal. The offense we have seen the last few weeks will kill the Ravens. Six different receivers were targeted at least four times Thursday. That’s almost impossible to defend.
3) Jordy Nelson is not the answer in the return game. A fumbled KO return, a 2.7 average on punt returns. Whose next in line?
Keys to Monday’s Game
1) Contain Ray Rice. Rice is the workhorse and will look to get 18-25 carries, plus 4-8 catches out of the backfield. He had 10 catches at Minnesota. He’s a load and a great test for the top ranked Packers defense.
2) Woodson locks down Derrick Mason. Mason has had 6 games this year with over 10 targets, including 16 against the Colts two weeks ago. Another Defensive Player of the Week award?
3) In the Cowboys preview, I said we needed to find a way to run the ball against a good defense. Ditto here. The Ravens are 6th in the NFL in rushing defense. Grant and the OL need to bounce back from a poor rushing performance in Detroit.
4) Take care of the football. Flacco is turning into a solid quarterback, but this is still the Ravens. They feed off of their defense scoring or giving the offense a short field.
Other interesting facts…
1) The Ravens are outscoring their opponents 154-93 in the 2nd half.
2) This is the first of three straight games the Ravens play against the NFC North.
3) On Thursday, Woodson became the first player in NFL history to record 2 INT, a pick six, a sack, forced fumble, and fumble recovery in a game.
4) The Packers have only allowed two 100-yd rushers this season (Benson, Jackson)
Prediction- Green Bay 23- Baltimore 13