Showing posts with label NFC Championship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NFC Championship. Show all posts

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Packers 2013 Season Preview

On the eve of the Green Bay Packers first regular season game of the 2013 NFL season against the team many believe will not only be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl but its winner, the San Francisco 49ers, we take a look ahead to the entire season.

Now, unlike some bloggers and pundits who will analyze every game and give you their win-lose score for each of the upcoming 16 games, yours truly takes a different approach. One which has served well over the past seasons. We break the season down by quarters and see how things could go. Each season has an ebb and flow to it based upon more than just the opponent. There's also the overall schedule to consider, the order in which a particular team will appear as the opponent, who the Packers play away and who the team plays at home. That sort of thing.

Now, do I take a look at all sorts of stats to arrive at my prediction? Nope. Don't have time to do that. Nor the inclination. This prediction is far less science than art...and that's using the term "art" quite loosely. "Guess" might be more accurate. Which, if you really think about it, dear reader, makes what you are about to read just about as good as anyone else's prediction.

So, without further ado, here we go.

2013 First Quarter: Sept. 8 - Oct. 6
This actually covers the first five weeks of the regular season, as the Packers -- quite atypically compared to recent years -- have their bye week in Week 4...not great.

Anyway, the sequence of teams for this quarter of the season is:
  • Sept. 8 - 49ers - Away
  • Sept. 15 - Redskins - Home
  • Sept. 22 - Bengals - Away
  • Week 4 - Bye Week
  • Oct. 6 - Lions - Home
Looking at this portion of the schedule, the Packers will go 3-1. The most likely loss will be the first game of the season against the 49ers. The Packers, at this writing, are 4.5-point underdogs. Everyone is figuring that the Niners have the stronger roster across the board and that QB Colin Kaepernick will do the same thing to the Pack he did last season in the playoff game. The Packers are tired of hearing about that, as much as they may claim that that was all last season and this is a new season blah blah blah. The Packers defense has had all off season and training camp to prepare for Kaepernick. If they can generally make him work more out of the pocket than scamper they will be in the game...if the Pack's reconfigured offensive line can open a few holes for Eddie Lacy and also protect Aaron Rodgers, that is. In some ways, while there are many unknowns on both sides of the ball at this stage of things, this might be the best opportunity for the Packers to beat the Niners. If. Lots of ifs in this first game. More on this in our game preview which we will post tomorrow. So check back for that Sunday before the game.

As to the other games, especially if the Packers lose the opener, I'd expect three wins, with two of the three games played at Lambeau Field.

That's how we get to 3-1 for this portion of the schedule.

Second Quarter: Oct. 13 - Nov. 4
  • Oct. 13 - Ravens - Away
  • Oct. 20 - Browns - Home
  • Oct. 27 - Vikings - Away
  • Nov. 4 - Bears - Home
In this portion of the schedule, it seems more than likely that the Packers will go either 3-1 or 2-2...in the latter scenario, which two games will be wins and which will be losses is almost a toss up, with the exception of the Browns game which will go in the win column.

Third Quarter: Nov. 10 - Nov. 28
  • Nov. 10 - Eagles - Home
  • Nov. 17 - Giants - Away
  • Nov. 24 - Vikings - Home
  • Nov. 28 - Lions - Away
Note that with the exception of Da Bearz, the Packers will have played both the Vikings and Lions twice at this point of the season. That part of the division competition will be complete, with only the final game of the season against Da Bearz in Chicago remaining.

We're figuring that Packers will go 3-1 in this third quarter of the season, with the Giants as the more probable loss.

Fourth Quarter: Dec. 8 - Dec. 29
  • Dec.8 - Falcons - Home
  • Dec. 15 - Cowboys - Away
  • Dec. 22 - Steelers - Home
  • Dec. 29 - Bears - Away
The league saved some of the best -- and most difficult -- of the games for the final quarter of the schedule. At this point of the season, without a bye since Week 4 of the season, the Packers will either be healthy and pretty much a lock for the playoffs or a tired and beat-up patchwork bunch trying to squeak in. But many teams, including perhaps all of the opponents in these four games, will be in the same boat.

The expectation here is that the Pack will go 2-2 in this final stretch of the season although, again, which games will be wins and which losses...too hard to say at this point. Check back for each game preview as the season goes on.

Bottom line: Packers 11-5 or 10-6
I know, that's a bit of a fudge factor there, but at least it's reasonable...or at least honest. And you can judge for yourself how the Packers will fare through each quarter of the season.

At 11-5, the Packers win the NFC North division and are into the playoffs as a division winner not as a wildcard. If they go 10-6, the Pack will still win the division but will not have as favorable a route through the playoffs.

Still, I'm projecting the Packers and Seahawks meet in the NFC Championship.

However the Pack gets there, though, that brings us to...

The Super Bowl Prediction

In reading and listening to all the various prognostications and at how the oddsmakers are setting things up at this moment, it seems as if the favorites in the NFC are the 49ers, followed by the Seahawks, followed by the Packers.

Well, it may be a bit of a homer thing, but the prediction here for the Super Bowl teams are: the Packers and the Denver Broncos. Winner? What are you, goofy? The Green Bay Packers!!!

Football season and the road to the Super Bowl starts for the Packers in less than 24 hours. Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Packers training camp restores balance to the universe

Does that headline seem a little over the top? If you are a true Green 'n' Gold fan of the Green Bay Packers...nah, nothing but the truth in that statement.

During the offseason, Packer fans find themselves doing anything to distract themselves from the reality that things are just not right. How could they be? There's no Packers football for Pete's sake! Or anyone else's sake for that matter. We have to "entertain" ourselves with (shudder) basketball, baseball (well, OK, I guess), golf (fine to play and also a good way to get a nap in if watching on TV), soccor (don't dare call it football or futball...I don't care if you are European!), tennis (c'mon, who cares really?), or who knows what else?

Yes, it really is a cultural wasteland, isn't it?

But that's about to change this week, Packers fans! After new Packers' shareholders get to attend their first meeting inside Lambeau Field, the players will return to St. Norbert College and the Packers' training facilities for the start of camp. Yay! (By the way, if you are curious about St. Norbert College's connection with the Pack, check out this brief article for more.)

What's the outlook?
We are well aware of the fact that the Packers are, at least according to the early line in Vegas, favorites to not only win the NFC North and NFC Championship, but to also win the 2013 Super Bowl. It's good to be favored. But as we also know, even going 15-1, as the Packers did last season, is no guarantee of bringing another Lombardi Trophy back to where it rightfully belongs: Green Bay -- TitleTown USA.

There are some question marks, of course. First among them: things haven't started yet so who the heck knows what will happen? An injury in training camp or early in the season to a key player and the outlook changes dramatically. Beyond that, the sieve that was the defense last season has got to be improved. It was the team's Achilles Heal last season and prevented them from going to the big game. A couple of the new draft picks will be expected to step in and perform almost from the get-go. With Nick Collins now gone in the secondary, someone else will have to pick up the slack. There are a number of candidates, but all are unproven at this point. Getting a pass rush will do a great deal to help the secondary.

On offense, the line will have to gel after some key departures. Again, the Pack seems to have a number of players that can fill the gaps. The question is: how well? There are no questions at QB where we have the best player in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. We also have the best receiving corps in the league, loaded at wide receiver and tight end. The question mark is at running back. Ryan Grant is unsigned and may or may not see another snap as a Packer. James Starks is slotted as the starter, with second-year player Alex Green coming off injury as his primary back up. Another second-year player, Brandon Saine, also stands to get a chance at showing what he can do. It will likely be running back by committee especially in this pass-happy offense. Fullback John Kuhn will likely resume his steady roll, although he might not be ready for training camp even after six months of rehab from his MCL injury...so that slot may wind up being a bit more wide open than expected, too.

Bottom line?
What all this translates into is apparently what the oddsmakers see: a talented and well-coached team that, despite some issues, looks like the best bet to go all the way. Granted, there's a long way to go especially when things haven't started yet. But, really, who would you rather put your money on right now?

Yes, with training camp almost here, balance to the universe is once again restored.

Say it with me: it's great to be a Packers fan!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Packers beat Bears 21-14 to go to Super Bowl

It was pretty at the start, ugly inbetween, and finally, thankfully, final. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 21-14 at Soldier Field to capture the Halas Trophy. Next up: Super Bowl XLV and the Lombardi Trophy.

A game re-recap and comments will follow...later. Tonight...tomorrow...whenever. Early clue: defense wins championships and it was the defense that saved the day today.

But for now, let's just say the dream of the Packers winning the NFC Championship for the first times since 1997 and heading to the Super Bowl has come true.

Great job, Packers! From management, coaches and staff to the guys on the field.

Go Pack Go!!!

Packers vs. Da Bearz Championship - A Dream

This is the day. Finally! The day our beloved Green Bay Packers send the Chicago Bears back to hibernation. The Pack then gets ready for Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. For those who haven't yet read my preview/prediction of yesterday, I am -- shocking! -- picking the Packers to beat Da Bearz, 24-17.

But perhaps like many fans, I didn't sleep really well last evening. Kept tossing and turning. Was very calm until then, apparently. But the excitement builds consciously and subconsciously, right? Like many, my blood pressure will start to go up as game time approaches. And I'll probably be hyperventilating throughout the game until I hear the radio voice of the Packers, Wayne Larrivee, declare, "There...is...your...dagger!"

Anyway, in my somewhat agitated sleep state of last evening, a dream came to me. And in it, I have to say I see a premonition of what's to come today. So take a look, and see if you agree...



The clues to a win for the Packers are many here: the bear is scared and up a tree; a more advanced mammal aims to take it down; a knockout shot is delivered; the bear bounces and lands on the ground with a thud (obviously representative of Jay Cutler getting sacked over and over); the bear being hauled away by a strongman (a Clay Matthews-like avatar); the reference to years of therapy being needed by the bear (referring to Bears' fans at any point in time, really) and lastly, the 6-pack comment by whats-his-name the announcer...what could be more Wisconsin?

So, that dream pretty clearly seals the deal, don't you think? The real dream, of course, begins after today's win. It's the dream of heading to the Super Bowl again and bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to where it belongs: Green Bay, Titletown, USA!

Go Pack Go!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Packers vs. Da Bearz Championship Preview and Prediction

This time tomorrow, we will know the outcome of the NFC Championship Game between our beloved Green Bay Packers and...those other guys...um...Eagles! No, beat them already. Umm...Falcons! No, beat them too. Let's see...I knew it a moment ago...oh yeah...the Chicago Bears. And, yes, the Pack will beat them, too. Shocked, I know, to see yours truly predicting that.

But what else can I do? The Packers are favored. Seemingly at least two-thirds of all the pundits out there are picking the Pack. But are these the only reasons? No. I'm picking the Packers to beat Da Bearz because they are, as ESPN's Jim Rome stated on his show yesterday, not only the hottest team but also the better team.

Granted, the best team doesn't always win. Enough instances of that exist across the league. And, make no mistake, Da Bears are a tough match up. These games always are a slugfest. They have some great players. And it's close enough where an ill-timed penalty, turnover or blown assignment -- or, dare I say, a shanked field goal attempt -- could be the difference in the final outcome. We just hope more of those mistakes occur on Chicago's side of things than on the Packers'.

The Packers are confident and are playing championship calibre football. Da Bearz are probably feeling a bit disrespected and will likely want to take out some of that frustration on the Pack. So it will likely be a tight game, if not throughout at least through the first half.

But if the Pack can get up early on Chicago, bottle up RB Matt Forte, and force Jay Cutler to win the game...that adds up to a win for the Pack.

I normally don't post my prediction until game day. I like to sleep on things and see how things look in the morning. But because many will be heading to the game or viewing parties then, I thought I'd post my prognostication a bit early...while still reserving the right to revise before the game, of course.

Jim Rome predicted the Packers to win 21-17. Peter King of Sports Illustrated picks the Pack 17-16. I think both of those scores for Da Bearz are in the ballpark, although I'm hoping the Pack's defense can hold Chicago to under 17, which they are completely capable of doing. I'm also hoping that the Pack's offense, particularly its running game, keeps opening things up for Aaron Rodgers and the receiving corps. It might not be the long downfield plays given the field and weather conditions. But dink and dunk will work just fine as well, and also not force the O-line into having to pass protect for those long dropbacks and long throws.

Given those assumptions, I'm taking the Packers 24-17 over Da Bearz.

Go Pack Go!!!

P.S. OK, there really wasn't much of a preview here, was there? But really, the whole week has been a preview, hasn't it? Good. Glad we cleared that up.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Packers vs. Da Bearz Championship Week - Part 2

Alrighty then...it's a couple days since the last post and a couple days till Packageddon in ChiTown. The story angles and trash talking between fans of the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears are ramping up, filling the airwaves and cyberspace.

But it's important to note that the trash talking between players on the two teams has been nil. Nothing but respect given back and forth. No bulletin board material. As St. Vince might say, "What the hell is going on out there?!" Can this possibly be the same two franchises that have spawned some of the most vicious and nasty players and games the NFL has ever seen? Where's the clotheslining...the "hook"...the body slams? Ah, those were the days...when there was a real dislike by the players on one team versus the other. I mean, even the quarterbacks in this upcoming game are friends. Friends! What's the football world coming to??? Holy Johnny Blood McNally, Batman!

Along these lines, the radio voice of the Green Bay Packers, Wayne Larrivee, has a wonderful radio piece about this greatest rivalry in pro football on his "The Back Page" segment on 620WTMJ radio in Milwaukee. Larrivee outlines some bits of Packers - Bears history that many fans might not be aware of. Both teams, at one time or another, for instance, actually helped keep the other afloat. Another tidbit of history: Papa Bear George Halas was an honorary pallbearer at Curly Lambeau's funeral. For better or worse, the Packers and Da Bearz are bound together in NFL history. That's why it's still amazing that these two great franchises have met only once before in a playoff setting (70 years ago!), and never before in a Championship game. It has always been special. Sunday's game takes it to a whole new level. You can listen to Larrivee's commnetary here.

Cutler on Cutler
Speaking of Jay Cutler (how that's for a non-transition transition?), if you haven't seen this yet, check it out. It's what we imagine he might say if administered truth serum. Enjoy.



More on other aspects of this game later on. For now... Go Pack Go!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Forecast for Sunday's NFC Championship Game

Last Saturday the Pack beat the Seahawks in the Snow Bowl, "a winter wonderland" as Coach Mike McCarthy called it. Indeed, the temperature wasn't bad and neither was the wind. But the forecasters were all wrong, saying there would perhaps be a half-inch of snow by the end of the game. As viewers were able to see for themselves -- especially by viewing the snow-laden hat of Seattle coach Mike "The Snowman" Holmgren and having to squint at times to see the players through the falling snow -- the forecasters were just a weeeee bit off.

So, what's the forecast for this Sunday's game? Temperature forecasts that range from 8 above to 4 below...and that's not counting wind chill. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "The wind at game time is expected to be about 10 mph from the west. 'It shouldn't be all that bad,' said weather service meteorologist Phil Kurimski, but will be enough to drop the wind chill to about 10 degrees below zero." Some forecasts indicate the wind chill will be colder than that. As Brett Favre mentioned in his press briefing today, whichever team makes the fewest mistakes in these conditions will be the team that comes out on top. He said that everything you do in a game like this, even something as simple as a handoff, needs to be done with thought, with concentration.

Last weekend's game was positively balmy compared to what's expected for this Sunday night's game. But this game will still not compare to the legendary Ice Bowl between the Pack and Cowboys back in the Glory Days of 1967. This could very well be a close second, though. What can we call it? The Frostbite Bowl? The Brrrr Bowl? The Frozen Bits Bowl? (If any of these get picked up, remember I hold the copyright and trademark! You read it here first!) I'm sure lots of creative variations will emerge.

But if you're attending the game, the recommended attire is at least 5 or 6 layers of everything. And no, that is not a joke. What will be funny is seeing 70,000+ fans crammed into the stands all looking like the Michelin Man...except for the guys without the shirts, of course.