Archive for the ‘Green Bay Packers’ Category

E-mail exchange the past couple of days

STILTZ:

Hey Ush,

What was your biggest surprise from yesterday’s games? We tied this week in picks regardless of what happens tonight since we both have the Niners.

USH:

I had three big surprises yesterday. First, was the Seahawks/Arizona game. Being able to go on the road to Seattle, and grind out a victory in spite of my man Heisman Palmer was very impressive. It’s no secret that the Arizona defense is one of the best and most physical in the league, but to see them absolutely bully the Seahawks at home was unexpected. The Cardinals exposed the Seahawks weakness, which is their WR corps. By being physical and being disciplined in their pursuit of Russel Wilson, they were able to prevent the Seahawks from getting into a flow completely.

Secondly, I was surprised with the Saints/Panthers game. Not with the outcome, it was sure to be a close game between two of the top teams in the NFC, but first, the damn near hurricane that it was played in for much of the game, and then the fact that Cam Newton was able to engineer a closing seconds game winning drive to end it. It seemed like a reversal of roles to me. Cam looked uncomfortable and out of sync all game, but like the gamer that he is started slinging it with the game on the line to propel his team to victory. Two additional things: jesus did Carolina’s stadium look like an absolute sh*thole. There were clips of the water just pouring through holes in the upper decks onto the seats below which would have had me PISSED if I was anywhere near those seats. Also, no way anything that allows that much water to pour through can be safe. Second, Carolina’s Defense, and specifically Luke Keuchly is a damn beast.

**EDITOR’S NOTE: USH’S DREAM SEAT FOR THE PANTHERS GAME**

Third, was the absolute no shows by Chicago and Ravens. Both teams with a lot to play for, and they got their asses kicked. Inexcusable.

What about you man? Remember to pour some out for Tony Romo today, bummed to hear about his injury, but as a non Cowboys fan I hope that the fans realize what an awesome QB they have in him and appreciate him a little more when he comes back

STILTZ:

Yeah, the Romo injury sucks for all football fans. Whether you like him or not, the guy is a gamer. As much as the Eagles want to win the division, you know they wanted to beat the Cowboys with Romo at the helm. For as much crap as everybody gives the guy, he keeps the Cowboys in every game and that’s saying something with that horrendous defense they have this year. He throws the game winning touchdown yesterday, but the only story out of that game is his injury.

The Cardinals are easily one of the hottest teams in football and they may end up watching the playoffs from home. Top three defenses in the league right now: Seattle, Carolina and Arizona? I just love the way they are playing football, even with an over the hill Palmer. One of my biggest surprises is how vulnerable all of the potential playoff teams are looking. Seattle has some serious o-line issues and Percy Harvin missing the year has hurt them tremendously. They are desperate for a playmaker on the outside. Do you trust any of these teams?
We all know Denver’s defense has had the benefit of one of the top scoring offenses in the history of the NFL, and with Von Miller sidelined with a torn ACL I don’t know how far they can make it in the playoffs anymore. I’m wondering which team is going to step up here and make a run. With all of the injuries, it’s going to come down to good QB play, defense, and coaching. Of course it sounds simple, but there just aren’t many good coaches in the league or QBs for that matter.
So let’s get a list of pretenders or contenders. Here are mine, so I’m going to just predict who will be in the playoffs or not.
Pretenders:
Chiefs- Alex Smith can only get you so far. This week proved once again if the Chiefs are down, they are not coming back. They just can’t get the ball down the field fast enough. I don’t trust that defense, and their pass rush has done nothing as of late.
Bengals- Andy Dalton isn’t going to get it done. With an average QB like Dalton you really need an elite defense to mask his faults. Look at the 2003 Bucs, Brad Johnson at QB but they had the best defense in the league. 2000 Ravens, one of the best defenses of all time but Dilfer at QB. The Bengals defense is good but they aren’t great.
Carolina- I like their defense but question marks at Coach and QB for me. It was nice to see Cam make a game winning drive after playing poorly the entire game but I don’t think he’s ready to make any sort of run in the playoffs.
New Orleans- They’ve done it in the past but they had home field advantage that year. Saints having to potentially win 4 road games is too much to ask.
Dolphins- I don’t trust Tannehill in a big game, the Dolphins secondary, or the coach.
Contenders:
Seattle, San Fran, Pats- No reason needed
Eagles- Chip’s done a great job this year, the players have bought in and they love playing for him. Once that offense gets going we saw what could happen. The only thing that concerns me is the same thing that worried me when he was in the NCAA. We all saw what happened when the Ducks played Alabama/Stanford. Philly vs Seattle/San Fran, might be tough to watch for Eagles fans.
Colts- Last year they won all the close ones, this year they find ways to come back. They can be dominant on both sides of the ball and I love me some Andrew the giant. Sneaky AFC champ pick here
Broncos- Close to being a pretender with me just based off Peyton’s play in the winter and playoffs. You compound that with their defense and they aren’t that great. Only reason I have him here is the fact I think the AFC is soft so they can at least make it to the AFC Championship game.
Packers- Of course they turn into a pretender if Aaron doesn’t return. However, if he comes back that whole team will be playing with new life. Cobb even has a shot at returning in the playoffs which would make their offense that much better. Their defense is their weak spot, but with ARod and Lacy controlling TOP I think they can make a run.
7 contenders, 5 pretenders… Not bad. Thoughts on your contenders and pretenders?
USH:
To me, there are far less contenders, and way more pretenders. However, as we’ve seen in the past few years, one of these pretenders can get hot and win it all.

Contenders:
Seattle, Broncos, Colts, Pats
I was tempted to add both Carolina and New Orleans to this list, Carolina has a championship defense that will keep them in any game, and New Orleans has Drew Breeeeeeees. Cam and the defense are capable of leading them to the championship, but they lack the playmakers necessary, so they just miss. The Saints just have not been playing their best football late in the year, and that, combined with the fact that they will have to win games on the road, keeps them off the list for me.
Seattle is a contender for me for the obvious reasons: Sick defense, great running game, great young QB, best home field advantage in the NFL. All of these are legitimate reasons, but one reason I think they are MORE of a contender this week than they were a week ago is their loss to the Cardinals. I think it was a big wakeup call for them, and will be sobering enough to drive them to a championship. Their aura at home, along with Russel Wilson’s undefeated record, was broken. I think that this makes them step back as a team and realize that their ticket to the super bowl does not get punched when they clinch home field, and that will refocus this team when they may not have been before the loss.
The Broncos losing Von Miller obviously hurts them. Their defense has just been “good enough” all year as it is, and losing his ability to play in space and pressure the QB won’t help things. With the offense Peyton has, they will be in every game however. Welker will be healthy, and I think their loss to the Pats will teach them something about winning games in bad weather. During that game, the Broncos didn’t flex their normal game plan of passes to the perimeter and shots downfield. Those throws are most easily affected by the elements, and need to be pin point passes most often. What the Pats do when the weather gets bad is run a lot of dig routes to the inside, and quick hitches that allow Touchdown Tommy to drive the ball short distances and put it on his receivers. When the weather gets poor, I look for the Broncos to start doing this as well.
The Colts might be a surprising pick here, but this is how much I love Andrew Luck. Their defense is underrated, and with the emergence of Donald Brown they have been able to maintain a level of balance that helps Luck dominate. This is my pick for that lower seed to make a super bowl run.
New England will be a contender as long as they have Brady and Belichek. It is amazing how they have been able to adapt and cope with their injuries this year. Their three headed running game has been very effective recently, and Edelman and Amendola have provided the shiftiness and break off the line necessary to get the quick 5-8 yards hits that move the chains. Combine this with one of the best shut down defenders in the league, their ability to go into any environment and play well, and the coldest mo fo in the league under center and you have a super bowl combination. New England is likely the only team in the playoffs (ok maybe the Packers if they get there) that will be COMFORTABLE if its snowing or below zero out. That is a HUGE advantage.
Well Stiltz, Merry Christmas brother. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our friends and troops downrange, as well as their families and friends at home.
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Christmas came early for Packers fans following a heartbreaking loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. Not only were the Detroit Lions defeated by the Giants, but the Bears were embarrassed on National TV by an Eagles team that didn’t need to win. Now the North will be decided by the oldest rivalry in the NFL, Packers at the Bears. We all know the Starks control the North, and one team actually dresses a Stark.

This has been a wild two months in the NFC North. The Packers at 5-2 couldn’t win a game the entire month of November without Rodgers. At 5-6-1, their playoff hopes were slipping away. That’s right when the Packers turned into the cardiac kids and had two comeback victories against the Falcons and Cowboys. This latest game was another saga in the dramatic comeback games for the Packers; however they fell short with poor time management.  Matt Flynn had a very similar game when he came into play for Rodgers against the Patriots in 2010. Flynn had horrendous clock management at the game which lead to the Packers not having an opportunity to score. The parallels from these two teams are kinda eerie.

The Lions, one of the most talented teams in the league, had everything to lose. Not only did the Packers not have Rodgers, but Jay Cutler was injured too. The Lions proved once again they weren’t ready.  Too many turnovers, sloppy play and untimely penalties lead to their demise. Now the two teams that controlled their own destiny….still control their own destiny thanks to the Lions losing.

The Bears have to be happy to be in the position to win the division as well. Their defense has just been awful this year. It is hard to watch this Bears team, since they are a polar opposite of previous teams.  However, they are still hanging around thanks to the deficiencies in the division. Now they have an opportunity to sweep their rivals this week and take claim to the division.

The big question now is whether Aaron Rodgers will play in this game or not. It’s hard to imagine Rodgers not suiting up for this game, but in the end the Packers are going to make the best decision for their future as a team.  The Packers would be the tougher out in the playoffs in my opinion. The Bears have a nice offense, but every NFC playoff team would be salivating to play that defense.

Whether the Packers or Bears win the NFC North, the winner will be the #4 seed. That means there is a potential of a Bears/Packers vs Niners game if the playoffs started today. I think Packers fans would love a little redemption against a 49ers team that has had the Packers numbers these last couple of years. The 4 seed would host the wildcard game and that would put the home team at a nice advantage seeing as all the potential wildcards aren’t cold weather teams. So whether it is New Orleans, Arizona, San Francisco, or Carolina the Packers/Bears would have the advantage. This week a lot of the pundits will say how bad the NFC North is and how nobody is trying to win it, but I think the Packers can make a run with AR12 behind center.

 

Randall “Stiltz”

 

Growing up a Packers fan I really didn’t know how lucky I was until this season, 2013!  My earliest memories of watching the Packers involve witnessing one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Brett Favre, sling it all over the field. Success happened quickly when Favre was under center, but we couldn’t get over the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of people give fans shit for referring to their favorite team as we, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. The Fans invest a lot into the team and without the fans there is no NFL or professional sports for that matter. Anyway, the Packers would eventually make it to the Superbowl and win it when I was just 11.  I remember to this day how excited I was that entire playoff run. I’ll also remember the feeling of disappointment the following year when we fell short to the Denver Broncos.

What will stick with me the most during the Packers 1996 season, was my Dad’s reaction. When the Packers knocked out the Panthers to advance to the Superbowl I remember my Dad beginning to tear up as I jumped around in excitement. Life as a Packers fan to me was easy because we were winning, we had a great QB, a great coach, and one of the best defenders of all time. What I didn’t have to go through was the long drought of mediocrity in Green Bay that my Dad endured as a fan. My generation was spoiled and lucky to be born into Packers fandom.  Favre always kept the Packers as a playoff contender with Superbowl potential. Even as Coaches rotated in/out the Packers stayed relevant with Favre as the driving force.

We all knew Favre couldn’t play forever but he was our ironman. He never missed a game as a Packer and we never thought we’d see him suited up in anything besides Green and Gold.  When Aaron Rodgers was drafted, the clock unofficially started for Favre’s career in Green Bay. Even after a successful 2007 season, that saw the Packers fall short against the Giants at home in the NFC Championship game, the team was committed to Rodgers. Favre’s indecisiveness off the field on whether or not he was coming back the following year had run out. Nobody was happy, Rodgers handled the situation with class and let his play do the talking.

Aaron Rodgers went on to become the best quarterback in the NFL in just a 4 year span. During this run he led the Packers to a Superbowl, won the Superbowl MVP(something Favre didn’t accomplish) and regular season MVP. The 2008 season was a bust, but Rodgers still threw for over 4,000 yards as a rookie. The 2009 season was when the ghost of Favre came back to haunt the Packers. Actually, it was the real Favre in a purple costume torching the Packers and getting some redemption of his own. The Packers would go on to make the playoffs that year and be involved in quite a shootout against the Cardinals. I remember watching the game in Afghanistan, and riding a roller coaster of emotions. The Packers would eventually lose after a fumble bounced off Rodgers foot and returned for a TD.

The 2010 season, Rodgers third as a starter, would be his chance to exercise the demons against Favre’s Vikings. It would also be the year that Rodgers put himself on the map as a legitimate superstar. His play in the playoffs and Superbowl was a joy to watch. That Superbowl was different, I now understood how hard it was for a team to make it this far. I found myself sitting still on the chair following a game clinching interception, just letting it all soak in. My first reaction was to call my dad and we just sat there in amazement on the phone.

2011 was something special. The Packers offense was unstoppable and it all started with Aaron Rodgers. They didn’t have a running game and the defense was subpar but was always good for a couple of turnovers a game. The Packers would always manage to get a double digit lead and get teams to start passing the ball which lead to turnovers. The Packers could not stop the run for the life of them that season, but it didn’t matter since they were always playing ahead. The Packers would go 13-0 heading into a matchup with the Chiefs. Surprisingly, I attended the Chiefs/Packers game that year and got to witness
the Packers get their first loss while being berated by the fans. The 2011 Packers were flawed, but Rodgers greatness was enough to overcome it all up until the playoffs. The playoffs are when your opponents are good enough to expose your flaws. You have to be a well-rounded team in order to make it to the Superbowl.  The Packers knew how bad their defense was so they used their first five picks on defensive players.

2012’s Packers team had the same issues. The Packers still lacked a running game and their defense wasn’t playing much better. However, Rodgers was able to carry them to an 11-5 season and a divisional rematch against the Niners. The Packers defense was shredded on National Television and since they were one-dimensional, Rodgers never stood a chance against that defense
. In the offseason the Packers finally decided to address their needs at running back by drafting Eddie Lacy in the second round, and Jonathan Franklin in the fourth. Eddie Lacy has turned out to be everything and more for the Packers.

The 2013 Packers were an extremely fun team to watch with a two-headed monster on Offense. Aaron Rodgers throwing the rock and Eddie Lacy being the workhorse. The defense was playing the best ball it had been in years, gang-tackling and playing with a high level of intensity. The Packers were starting to look like serious title contenders and then it all came crashing down on the night of November 4th. Coincidentally the same day my son was born. As I stood in the Hospital holding my
son, telling him about the Packers, Rodgers was getting thrown to the ground and going back to the locker room.

There were injuries in previous seasons but the quarterback has never missed a significant amount of time. Favre played QB for the Packers for 16 years and never missed a game. Aaron Rodgers had missed a game here and there but nothing too detrimental to the season. Rodgers has been sidelined for 7 weeks with no return in sight. The man that was able to cover up all of the Packers flaws was now gone and the rest of the team was left to fend for themselves. Suddenly, the defense which was ranked in the top 10 fell to the bottom of the rankings. How were they supposed to stop anybody when they were spending so much time out on the field. The Rodgers/Lacy combo had the Packers winning the time of possession game. Now they are having to deal with three and out after three and out. A franchise that had 3 total QB’s start since 1992, suddenly had 3 in two weeks. Packers’ fans finally got a taste of what a majority of other teams’ fans had to live through during those past 21 years. Inconsistency at the quarterback position is tough to watch, and it makes you feel hopeless as a fan.

Nobody will give Packers’ fans pity, but we can now say that we understand your pain. I know one thing, my generation has been extremely spoiled and lucky to have two potential Hall of Fame QBs at the helm. Without Rodgers, the Packers didn’t win a game the entire month of November. When they beat Atlanta, I can honestly say I forgot how good it felt to win.  I can only hope that Rodgers plays a long career so my children can witness a great quarterback like I did when I was young.  If that means holding him out the rest of the year, then that’s ok with me. However, this was one of the hottest teams in the league in Week 7 and there is no limit to what this team could accomplish with Rodgers in the lineup. Whether Rodgers comes back this year or next, we should all just be grateful that Rodgers is the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. Two Superbowls in the 29 years I’ve been alive is a lot to be thankful for!

Randall “Stiltz”