Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Take -> To conclude

Greetings, G-Force.

The last time I felt this way was January of 2004. After the 4th & 26 loss to the Eagles. At that time, my take was in an email form. After reading my writing, I had a number of people opt out of the email chain for a variety of reasons. It was odd. It was real. It put an end to the blog for 3+ years until Josh King, Richard Evans, Neil Buethe and Russ Thompson encouraged me to reignite it prior to the 2007 NFL Season.

Packers fans are intense. When we win, it's a glorious feeling. When we meet defeat, it's painful. It devastates. It tears at the soul. With that said, life goes on. And, we carry on. Thus, I'm prepared to take whatever heat comes at my thoughts. I'm also aware that many people will stop reading after my delivery.

I caution: I'm a big Mike McCarthy fan. I feel that he's a SUPER coach.

In December of 1993, I traveled to Florida to participate in the Cocoa Beach Cup. With my good friend, Mike Brugman. Bruti & I were decked out in the Red, White & Blue as we represented the state of WI as a part of the Olympic Development Program. We played against the Canadian and Russian Under-19 National soccer teams. We were both 16 years old. We also played the Louisiana State team.

When we played Louisiana, I started at right FB. The player I was marking was far better than I. He was bigger, faster and stronger than I was. At halftime, we led 1-0 as Bruti assisted on the goal. Yet, the man I was defending was abusing me. He hit the post twice. He shot wide a couple of other times. I was no match for him. I tried everything. One time, I even jumped on his back to try and tackle him after he beat me. I failed to bring him to the ground. I was given a yellow card. I was replaced in the 60th minute. We still led 1-0. As I walked off the field, my Coach was shaking his head with disappointment. He grabbed my shirt and emphatically said emphatically something I'll never forget: WE HAVE TO GRAB THIS GAME BY THE SCARF OF THE NECK AND STRANGLE IT UNTIL IT'S ALL OVER!

Yes, it was me - the player - who had to finish off the game. Not him - the coach.

Fast forward to January 2015. Mike McCarthy had his team ready. They were aggressive. They were in attack mode. They were determined to win the fight. But, the players couldn't finish. In fact, for those of you that are questioning McCarthy's play calling in the 4th Quarter, I ask you: did you watch the 2014 Green Bay Packers? If not, let me educate you. When the Packers had a 4th Quarter lead, his calling was consistent. He leaned on his beefy OL and his stud RB to power forward on 1st & 2nd down. And, then on 3rd down, depending on the circumstance, he either gave it back to Lacy or he let the MVP win it with his arm. He did it vs NE, at MN, vs ATL (with Starks), and vs Dallas. Each time, he did the same thing. Each time, he was successful. This time? Well, the right side of his OL got blown up. If not, there are no conversations around McCarthy being conservative. Instead, we are discussing the genius game plan drawn up by McCarthy and Capers.

In fact, I had absolutely ZERO problems with the coaching decisions other than the 3 man rush on 3rd & 19. We needed to attack. Instead, we sat back and got burned. It was devastating.

Players have to play. Coaches have to coach.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers thought that Seattle jumped offsides on the opening drive and therefore, he forced a ball into coverage that was intercepted.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Mike Daniels drew a silly penalty after HaHa's first interception.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Kuhn got stopped a foot short instead go carrying forward for a TD.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that EDDIE couldn't win a 1v1 battle with Earl Thomas on the following play. I expected that to be a TD. For the record, I would've gone for a TD on the next play, but I didn't mind the points. Especially in light of what happened vs DET in Week 17.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers missed an open Jordy from the 5 yard line on the next play.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers missed Cobb high on 3rd and 13 in the 2nd Quarter with a 13-0 lead. Thankfully, there was an Avril penalty on the play to extend the drive. McCarthy was aggressive and had Rodgers hit Cobb in stride, he might've scored.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers threw an interception on 1st and 10 from the 33 yard line with a 16-0 lead. McCarthy had his hand firmly placed on the throats of the Seahawks. He was going for the dagger with aggressive intent. Rodgers and Cobb miscommunicated. We lost a crucial shot to take a 3-score lead.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that the offense stalled in the 2-minute drill to end the first half. McCarthy was firmly in aggressive mode and gave the drive to his MVP. We couldn't connect.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Rodgers didn't hit Cobb in stride on 3rd and 7 on the opening drive of the 2nd half. Had he done so, it looked as though Cobb would've had a big gain. Instead, it was 4th & 1 and the Packers were forced to punt.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Starks couldn't hang onto Rodgers' deep ball near the goal line early in the 4th Quarter.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that HaHa dropped a potential pick-6.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that AQ81! dropped a 1st down pass with just over 5 minutes left in the game. That play would've been a first down. It wouldn't have sealed the game, but it really felt like things were rolling.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that JP told Morgan Burnett "no mas"!

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that the right side of the OL were blown up on 1st down to make it 2nd and 14 and then 3rd and 16. On 3rd and 16, did you really want to pass? I didn't. Eating clock was precious and Rodgers hadn't been on point.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Masthay got off a poor 30 yard punt.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Brandon Bostick made the most individually collapsing play that I've seen by a Packer in my lifetime. The moment was too crucial to be disobedient. Instantly, the vibe changed from an epic celebration to a gigantic choke.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that HaHa didn't knock down the 2-point pass.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that Casey Hayward got beat off the line of scrimmage and gave up 35 yards on 3rd & 7 in OT.

* It wasn't McCarthy's fault that T-Mon lost inside leverage without help over the top.

Players are going to play. Coaches are going to coach. The players choked. Other than a conservative 3rd and 19 defensive decision, I don't think the coaching staff is at fault in this one.

Here are some other quick vibes from the past week:

* Aaron Rodgers is the NFL's MVP. But, he wasn't in the NFC Championship.

* Clay Matthews was a monster. And, then he was emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. Really, Clay? With the Super Bowl on the line? That makes me sick to my stomach.

* Julius Peppers was going to be the next REGGIE or Sir Charles and then he said "no mas"!

* HaHa and Burnett really grew together as a Safety combo.

* Really nice showing from Barrington. Wished he'd have gone over the top of the pick instead of underneath it. Hell, if he went thru it, he'd likely have been able to draw a flag. He made the wrong choice there. But, he earned my confidence heading into next year.

* I hope Bulaga, Cobb and Guion are back next year. Same with Raji. If Bulaga and Cobb are back, the core of the offense will have two years together to try and redeem themselves.

* Brandon Bostick, Brad Jones and AJ Hawk will not be back with the Packers next year.

* I'm really curious to see if Adrian Hubbard and Joe Thomas make an impact next year. Same goes for Rajion Neal. It wouldn't shock me if Joe Thomas competes for a starting ILB role.

* The 2014 Packers team was going to be my 2nd favorite Packers team ever. So determined. So much camaraderie. Veteran leadership. Rookies rising. I love this team, man. What a buzzkill to see it finish the way it did.

* Tim Masthay's job should not be safe heading into training camp next year.

* The Packers OL will be better than ever next year if Bulaga comes back. We will also get Donny Barclay back. Further, I'll be excited to see what Tretter and Joe Madsen do with a full offseason.

* I was stoked to see that the Packers met with Danny Shelton, DL, Washington and Denzel Perryman, ILB, []_[] at the Senior Bowl.

* I'll have my first mock draft posted in the next 2 weeks.

This one will sting. Forever. Rodgers may never get that close to a Super Bowl again. And the Packers players didn't grab the game by the scarf of the neck and strangle it until it was all over. They didn't seal the deal.

Cherish the moment. You never know what life will bring.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, January 16, 2015

My Take -> NFC Championship

Greetings, G-Force.

We are one game away from the opportunity to play for all the marbles. I can taste it. It's Super.

As I do my best to stay calm, I settle into a Paradox End of the Beginning. It's a sour beer that'll make you pucker. It's cloudy at the pour, but it settles nicely. Much like the Packers performance against Dallas. I chill to the Bob Marley "Exodus" album. I don't want to wait in vain. I want to enjoy a Super offseason.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. 3rd & 11. Game on the line. I might have run the ball. Then punted it and forced Dallas to go 90 yards with just over a minute to play. Not McCarthy. He went swinging and trusted his MVP. The tipped pass landed in Cobb's hands as the good Lord was shining his light on Lambeau. After all, Titletown, U.S.A. is Football Heaven.

* R-E-L-A-X. I'm sorry, MVP. I can't. I'm too ecstatic. You amaze me, Aaron. Your brilliance overwhelms.

* JP is taking his role as a playoff captain seriously. He wants to be the next REGGIE or Sir Charles in the eyes of the modern day Packers kinfolk. He played his best game as a Packer.

* Clay Matthews was tremendous. Great move by Capers to move out of the zone and to put Clay on Witten in man-to-man coverage. The coverage was sound. The sacks followed. Huge of the Claymaker to tuck the ego aside and to take one for the team.

* I like the Pistol formation with Kuhn lined up next to the MVP. Gives Lacy a veteran FB to help pave the way. On the 3rd play from scrimmage, EDDIE might have gone all of the way if he had followed Kuhn.


* Really fun to see AQ81! extending his route on the first TD.

* The interior of the OL continues to be absolutely punishing in the run game.

* Peppers at DT on passing downs. It's a thing. Loved Clay's reaction after Julius' strip sack on the opening drive. Teammates!

* Good blocking, Randall Cobb.

* Davante Adams' catch on the HUGE 4th Quarter 3rd and 3 was special. It was a bad pass. But, Adams wanted it more. Then, he showed the mental wherewithal to stay in bounds. Veteran play by the rookie. Also, great fun to watch BJ Raji's excitement on the sideline during the play. Come back on the cheap, big fella!

* Our defense is extremely vulnerable on WR screens.

* Oh, that Julius Peppers strip of DeMarco Murray. If the Packers finish Super, that play will carry the same weight as the Desmond Bishop shoestring tackle do DeSean Jackson. Without it, nothing else matters.

* John Kuhn. Man, he was great on the first drive of the game.

* I'd really like to see Randall Cobb give the Packers a home town discount.

* Thought that Barrington came out attacking. He needs to keep that mentality for 60 minutes.

* Mike Daniels is a beast.

* Good effort, Mike Neal. His skills are limited. His effort is not.

* Nick Perry flashes, at times. He made a couple of big plays. But, I wish he'd be more consistent.

* We need better T-Mon.

* Solid game from Sammy Swagga.

* I really like when Starks runs as a one-cut back. Plant and go, James.

* To my eye, it looks as though Clay is evolving into a top notch leader.

* The MVP on the hard count. Mint!

* Datone Jones has good quickness. He has a good work rate. Unfortunately, he gets pushed around often.


* The 15-yard penalty on Lang was horrible officiating. He was about to make contact right as the whistle blew. There was no way to avoid it. And, well after the whistle, Adams got slammed to the turf. Penalty should have been called on Dallas.

* We cannot count on Josh Boyd to pressure the QB from an end position. Where's Jayrone Elliot in that situation?

* Huge tip on the FG by Datone Jones!

* I like seeing Hyde on the blitz.

* The Rodgers to Cobb pass at the end of the first half was spectacular. And, good footwork, Randall!

* Guion should focus on being powerful. Not slippery.

* Davante Adams just busted through the rookie wall.

* Bakhtiari and Bulaga. Steady as rocks.

* It was 3rd & 3. 3:21 left in the 3rd Quarter. The prospects of victory felt dim. We had the ball at our own 17. Rodgers hit Adams on a short hitch route. Adams shook loose and rattled off 17 yards. Over the last 18:21 of the fame, Aaron Rodgers added to his legend in a Super way. It was a performance that'll be discussed for ages. MVP! MVP! MVP!

* 1:52 remaining in the 3rd. 3rd and 15. Trips right empty backfield. Adams fights off a jam. Gets out of his break akin to a youthful Greg Jennings. Rodgers hits him in stripe. Then, Adams goes pimpin' in the open field. Momentum swung greatly on that play. Delightful!

* Enormous fumble recovery by AQ81!

* Thought Capers did a solid job of mixing up the blitzes. He disguised Clay in a wide variety of ways.

* Brad Jones makes a lot of mistakes. His tackle on the 3rd down play prior to the 4th down Dez Bryant drop at the goal line was not one of them. Big play by Jones.

* Fantastic catch, Richard Rodgers! He might have the best hands on the team.

* Rodgers' ball handling is an under discussed art.

* AQ81! fighting for first down yardage after the catch!

* Shake and bake, Davante Adams! His after the catch moves are Au Natural. You can't teach that. It's innate.

* Mike Pennel tries hard. Has to get stronger.

* Ah. The Rodgers to Rodgers TD. A laser of a pass. An emphatic BELT!

* Prior to the Cowboy game, I thought Sean Richardson would be an upgrade if he saw more time. But, against Dallas, he looked slow and took bad angles.

* Felt HaHa was also slow in the run game. He, too, was taking bad angles.

* Julius Peppers at DT on the pass rush. Reminds me of Justin Tuck for the Giants in 2007 and 2011. Hands in the air. Altering plays. Getting a push. Providing an interior pass rush.

* Davante Adams. With the spin move!

Welcome to Championship weekend! It’s the Packers traveling to play the defending Super Bowl Champions. In Seattle. Call me crazy, but I trust Mike McCarthy. And, I believe in Aaron Rodgers. I also ask Packers fans to heed these words: ENJOY this weekend! Cherish it. It doesn’t happen often. Just think about how awesome the Favre years were. Then remember that he made 4 Championship games with the Packers. It’s not often that you get this opportunity. Embrace this weekend. Most fans watch a game and feel tense. Packers fans watch games with intensity. Throughout the regular season, we watch with great anticipation as to our playoff seed. Thus, when the playoffs start, we have to throw away the nerves. Have fun watching the games. Spit positive energy at the TV. Imagination creates reality. Picture the Packers in Arizona. Playing for the Super Bowl. Let’s go grab a ring for the thumb!

The Seahawks have attitude. They have confidence. They believe in themselves. They’re the Champions. I’ve been waiting 2 years for this game. I wanted to play them last year. I like the way we match up. I firmly believe that with a healthy Bulaga in Week 1, the result might have been different. Sherrod was exposed at RT. In a big way. We’ll need Bulaga to be at his best against Avril and Irvin.

Offensively, Seattle uses deception. Wilson is great with play-action and the read-option. Lynch is nicknamed Beast Mode for a reason. I give props where props are due. Robert Turbin is underrated. He’s fast, tough and is a great compliment to Lynch. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are also underappreciated. Baldwin reminds me of Antonio Freeman. He finds the zone. He sneaks behind the defense. He’s smart. He’s savvy. Kearse is a big target who is a tough cover. Ricardo Lockette had a big game against us in Week 1. He shouldn’t pose too much of a threat though. Luke Willson is a legitimate weapon. He runs a solid down and out route. He uses his body well. He has good hands. He’s tough to bring down. Seattle’s offensive line leans on you. Their intent is to wear you down. To beat you up. They’ve invested in their OL with 2 first round picks and 2 second round picks.

If I’m Dom Capers, I’m exclusively using Clay and Barrington at ILB. Clay is a spy on Wilson. He never follows the RB. His two eyes are glued to Wilson all day. When Clay is at OLB, he can be attacked in the read-option. He over pursues and gives up big plays. Clay’s role should be to limit Wilson’s mobility. Barrington, on the other hand, should solely focus on Lynch. His aim is to stand Lynch up. Not to bring him to the ground. Then, the Safety – either Burnett or HaHa – comes to gang tackle, while the 3rd man goes for the ball. Lynch will occasionally fumble. Let’s go force one!

Our heavy rotation on the DL should keep us fresh as they attempt to wear us down up front. Boyd, Daniels, Guion and Pennel all play with conviction and give maximum effort.

Hyde mans up on Luke Willson. We trust Sammy Swagga and T-Mon in man-to-man coverage. We’ll have an opportunity to make a pick. Carpe diem!

Defensively, the Seahawks bring as much intensity as any team in the NFL. Bennett, Avril, and Irvin are undersized, but they bring speed, power and sheer will. Kevin Williams and Tony McDaniel add beef to the DL. Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright bring extreme quickness to the LB core. They get sideline to sideline. They can do it all. Richard Sherman is the best CB in football. Byron Maxwell has had a huge year. Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are the best safety combination in football. Jeremy Lane has had a solid year as a nickel CB.

If I’m the Packers, I want to play defense to start the game. While a 10-0 Seattle lead would be devastating, Seattle has not started games well. They’ve had big second halves. With that said, I want to get an early stop. Then, I want to limit possessions in the first quarter. I want to survive the heat of the playoff environment. I want to see Rodgers in the Pistol. Kuhn lined up next to him. I want Lacy to pound away.

As the 2nd Quarter begins, I spread the Seahawks out. Cobb in the backfield. I’d put Boykin on Sherman’s side of the field. I’d have Nelson in the slot. I’d have Adams in a position where Maxwell is covering him. Adams has shake on his double move. Maxwell often grabs on a double move. There's a good chance that we'll draw a flag or two in that match-up. I want Cobb and Nelson in match-ups that they can win. They’re our bread and butter. I want Richard Rodgers and AQ81! lined up against the smaller LB’s to see if they can box them with their bigger bodies. Maybe, just maybe, Richard Rodgers has a 5 catch game. We dink. We dunk. We should exceptional patience. Our OL holds the point of attack.

At some point, we know Seattle will grab momentum. The crowd will be rocking. The intensity will peak. They may rattle off 14 quick points. We have to be able to respond.

Defensively, we give up yards. But, we don’t give up touchdowns. It keeps us in the game. On 3rd down, we have Neal and Perry on the outside. Peppers and Jones on the inside. Jones and Peppers are long and tall. The shorter Wilson will have a harder time seeing over them. If Peppers and Jones can’t get home, they have to get their hands up and play big. Neal and Perry keep Wilson in the pocket. Matthews is the spy.

The Packers trail 23-17. It’s late. Aaron Rodgers has his Joe Montana moment. It’s Rodgers to Nelson. And the Packers are going to the Super Bowl!

Packers 24
Seahawks 23

Enjoy it. When the Seahawks grab momentum, stay positive. This won’t be easy.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin’ S-Mac.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Take -> NFC Divisional Round

Greetings, G-Force.

NFC NORTH CHAMPIONS! 4 years in a row. It's importance to both recognize and embrace such brilliance. These are exciting times. Cherish it!

To toast our excellence, I raise a glass of Crooked Stave Motif. It's dark at the pour. A Belgian Style Sour Beer that is aged in Sherry casks. It carries a scent of beauty. It's perfectly sour. Plainly stated, this one is tremendous!

Musically, I entertain myself with the Mighty Diamonds "Right Time" album. Purely roots. A Rub-A-Dub vibe that elicits goodness. A grand texture of happiness awaits with this reggae beat!

Here are some quick vibes:

* Mike McCarthy. Wizardry! Great in-game adjustments. He kept the Lions defense guessing. This team was ready to dominate. They were prepared. They were physical. It was a Championship performance. Will done, Irishman! Congrats!

* Aaron Rodgers. Seriously. Aaron Rodgers. MVP! What a superstar. Entering legendary status. A lifelong hero. Playing thru pain. Showing toughness. Willing victory to the franchise. Gutty. Truly, a Titletown, U.S.A. hero.

* Here's Championship football: after the 4th Quarter blocked FG, Burnett recovers a fumble. Then, the Packers go 42 yards on 9 plays, eating up 4:43 on the clock. The mentally tough MVP plunges in from a yard out. Giving the Packers a two TD lead.

* The Packers defense played at a Championship level. In the 4 Detroit drives after their game tying touchdown, they picked up 2 first downs, they had a fumble and a safety. That's winning football.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! Bruising defenders. Carrying piles. Winning the leverage battle upon impact. He has changed the physical mentality of this team.

* Jordy Nelson. He's ours. FOREVER. An exceptional year capped by another performance in which the Detroit defense had no answer for him.

* Randall Cobb. Please stick around. We need you. You need us. We are better together.

* Cobb & Nelson combined for 10 catches for 166 yards and 2 TD's on a day that decided the NFC North.

* Richard Rodgers continues to gain the confidence of the MVP. Aaron Rodgers is looking to Richard Rodgers as a target. 5 targets. 5 receptions. And, the big TE is fighting for yards after the catch. He's plowed thru the rookie wall.

* Speaking of rookie wall. Time to knock the wall down, Davante Adams.

* For the record, when this OL was healthy this year, the Packers record was 11-1. If Bakhtiari, Sitton, Linsley, Lang and Bulaga are healthy throughout the playoffs, we will feel Super this offseason. What's also epic, if Bulaga signs, this unit will remain together for at least two more years. Further, Donny Barclay will be back next year. The future is bright on the OL.

* Jarrett Boykin was open for a TD. He looked to be the primary read. Rodgers never even glanced his way. That's how much confidence he has in Boykin right now.

* Thought AQ81! did a great job blocking throughout. Gave the necessary effort. Won some battles.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! Before the game, we heard how tough the Lions fun defense was. Then, EDDIE went for 100 yards in convincing fashion.

* James Starks. Running with pizzazz. The Green & Yellow Hornet was stinging people as he bulled forward for over 5 yards per carry.

* McCarthy called a running play on the first 6 plays of the fame. He gained 61 yards. Then, on 3 straight downs from the 1 after a pass interference penalty, Eddie Lacy was not on the field. Come on, Coach. Stick to what's working there. That wasn't the time to get creative. I'd give it to Lacy three downs in a row from the 1, if necessary.

* The Claymaker! Another All-Pro performance by Clay. Filling the box score. A crucial 3rd down sack on the opening drive. Two monstrous tackles for loss. A QB Hit. A pass defensed. A Championship performance.

* Mike Daniels was a beast. Powerful. Quick as a cat. Pouncing towards the ball.

* Another really strong performance by Morgan Burnett. He continues to impress.

* The Lambeau crowd was terrific!

* Casey Hayward always seems to get his hands on the football. SHOWCASE has a big play coming in the playoffs.

* T-Mon played really well. Gave up a couple of short completions, but nothing came over the top.

* Need something big from Sammy Swagga.

* I like when we see Sean Richardson on the field. Wish we'd see him on the field as an ILB on 3rd down.

* Demetri Goodson can play special teams.

* Sam Barrington was steady as a rock. He dan still be exposed on the outside. Especially in pass coverage. But, he's been a significant upgrade.

* It's sad to see AJ Hawk like this.

* Brad Jones. Why? There was no need to hit Stafford in the head. Think, man. Think.

* Julius Peppers has a BIG play coming.

* Need more consistency from Datone Jones. Occasionally, he'll flash a burst off the snap. But, we need more of it.

* Same goes for Mike Neal & Nick Perry.

* Lacy with the diving catch!

* I really wish we'd see more of Clay at ILB on 1st and 2nd downs.

* Letroy Guion continues to shine. He's getting a push. He making plays in the run game. He's going to continue to be tested in a big way in the playoffs.

* Micah Hyde has become a weapon as a return man. He's made a number of monstrous plays this year. I get the feeling that he has another game changing play in him this year.

* Josh Boyd continues to play with the desired effort.

*'Barrington's celebration on Burnett's 4th Quarter recovery was grand. So was the Claymaker's. Love the camaraderie on this team.

* The 3rd & 4 catch by Richard Rodgers with 12:15 left makes me smile.

* Clays effort on the 2-point conversion was truly spectacular.

* I really, really like seeing Julius Peppers at DT on 3rd down. I think that's his future. He's disruptive there. Gets his hands in the air. Uses his strength. Alters the play with excellence.

* Josh Sitton can do it all.

* Eddie on the spin!

* Our kickoff coverage team scares me.

* Letroy Guion has surprised me with his pass rushing push on 1st & 2nd down.

* On occasion, Mike Neal flashes brilliance when he plants his left foot and cuts to the inside on a pass rush.

* HaHa wants to be a star in this League. He's willing. He's able. I hope it all comes together for him. He has all of the natural gifts.

* I can't get enough of watching Randall Cobb get in and out of his breaks. He's so low to the ground. He's so determined. It's beautiful.

* I'm so sick of all of these blocked kicks. It's seriously baffling.

* The precision on the 3rd & 4 TD pass to Cobb was precious. Aaron Freakin' Rodgers!

* Be sure to hang onto the ball, EDDIE.

* I still cannot believe that Tony Washington, OLB, Oregon is listed as a 5th-6th round pick. I'd take him in round 3. Maybe round 2. Watch him in the National Championship game on Monday Night. He's #91.

This week - it's the Cowboys. It's the first time in NFL history in which a team that went 8-0 at home will play a team that went 8-0 on the road. And, yes, it's the Packers hosting the Cowboys.

These two teams carry a rich history. The most famous game is obviously the Ice Bowl. But, the year before was a legendary game as well. If you haven't seen video of the game, find it. Starr was brilliant with 304 yards, 4 TDs and 0 interceptions. The game ends as Tom Brown intercepts Don Meredith in the end zone. It could be argued that had the Starr sneak and the Brown interception went the other way, the Lombardi Trophy might be the Landry Trophy. And, it would've been Meredith - not Starr - who would've been the Super Bowl I & II MVP. Yes, three yards might have been the difference.

In the 90's, the Cowboys got revenge. In a big way. They ended the Packers season in 1993, 1994 and 1995. It was painful. Had Sean Jones intercepted that pass in 1995 when the Packers led 27-24 in the 4th Quarter...

Ahhh, the Packers as a 6 point favorite in Vegas. Vegas never loses. And they're begging the public to get the Cowboys. The Packers as underdogs - in the eyes of the gambler. Not Vegas. But, the man who is placing the bet. I lithe the way that sounds. You can bet that Aaron Rodgers feels the same way. And, I have to admit, I don't trust Roger Goddell. Hence, I feel really good about this game.

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys.

Tony Romo returns to WI. DeMarco Murray is a running beast. Dez Bryant is ultra talented. Terrance Williams is a blossoming star. Cole Beasley has become a decent slot WR. He's emerged as a go-to target for Romo on 3rd down. Jason Witten is as tough as ever. He's a dedicated blocker and a trusted target. Gavin Escobar is growing into a weapon at TE. He can get deep. He can get down the seam. He'll test the coverage skills of our ILB's. Lance Dunbar is a fine back-up RB who offers a scat-back option. And, I believe that Dallas has the 2nd best OL in football. Behind the Green Bay Packers. Zack Martin is a Superstar as a Rookie at Guard. Tyron Smith is an animal at Tackle. Doug Free is a baller at Tackle. Travis Frederick is big-time at Center. Ronald Leary is their weakest link and can be attacked.

Expect Dallas to stay committed to the run. Early. And often. There will be heavy doses of Murray. He'll pound at our interior. We better see Clay at ILB or they could trash us for big yards. The Cowboys hope their run game will open up the play action pass. They'll look to get single coverage on the outside. Sammy Swagga and T-Mon are battle tested. Seasoned playoff veterans. I trust them. I believe Hayward will make a play vs Beasley in the slot. Look for a Hayward pick this week. Go egg the ball, SHOWCASE!

While Murray is uber gifted, he will put the ball on the turf. We have to gang tackle. The first guy wraps up. The next guy goes pinching for the ball. We can grab turnovers this week.

Micah Hyde - your assignment is Jason Witten. Man up.

Defensively, Dallas has overachieved this year. They can't stop us. But, they'll bring effort. George Selvie, Demarcus Lawrence, and Tyrone Crawford are all undersized, high effort players in the 4-3. They grind. They come with speed. They aren't littered with power. Bruce Carter is becoming elite at LB. He brings speed, intensity and high instinct. Rolando McClain has been great for the Cowboys at ILB. McClain is banged up and might not play. The Cowboys will attempt to cover the Packers WR's with Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr. Barry Church and JJ Wilcox won't be good enough at Safety. Sterling Moore will likely have the assignment of stopping Randall Cobb. Look to Randall, MVP. They can't cover him.


Chant down, Lambeau! He'll be the best back on the field. He brings cold weather football to the locker room. He'll amp up the intensity. They don't have an answer for him.

Aaron Rodgers will have options at the line of scrimmage. A plethora of them. Cobb on the slant. Lacy on the run. Jordy on the double move. Adams on the slant. Richard Rodgers in the flat. AQ81! on the out. They'll all be there. Be your cerebral self, MVP. It's your day.

Defensively, we need to force two turnovers. We will have our opportunities. I'm looking for JP to make a play. SHOWCASE , Sammy Swagga and T-Mon will all be in position. Carpe diem, secondary.

I'm really scared about Dwayne Harris. I've always liked his game. He's a lethal returner with a pension for the big play. He can alter a game every time he touches the ball. We have to show up on special teams.

Is this FINALLY the week that Brandon Bostick makes a play?

The Packers need to get the lead early. It'll slow down the run game. It'll allow Capers to dial up the blitz. If you overload the weak side of the Dallas OL, you can get free looks on the QB. When that happens, anticipate Romo's spin move. Play to Romo's outside hip. You have to tackle the outside hip. If not he'll get loose and that's when he makes the big play.

Rodgers has another big day. Lacy flexes his strength. Cobb finds the end zone. Romo makes a 4th Quarter mistake.

Packers 34
Cowboys 23

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

'Tis the Holiday season. A grand December game at Lambeau awaits. This one will be special.

I was born and raised Catholic. In an Irish family. For me, Christmas means great laughs with family, gift giving in the spirit of Santa, more Christ, and intense Green Bay Packers football. But, I'm fully cognitive that religion divides people in the world. So, as I write, I take a break from Christmas music and I listen to Sly and the Family Stone's "Stand" vinyl. Everyday People. All for one. One for all. Music is the weapon of the future.

I sip an Avery "Tweak" as I damn near tweaked out with concern a couple of times last Sunday. At 17.81% ABV, it comes with a punch. An imperial stout. With coffee. And aged in bourbon barrels. Yes, it helps me to R-E-L-A-X.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* The team looks to be in a small funk right now. And, it's starting with McCarthy. I'll never understand the 3rd and goal handoff to Kuhn. On a counter nonetheless. Hey Coach, hand it to EDDIE! I was surprised to see 5 WR on the field on the 4th down. Why not kick a FG and take a two-score lead? Why not give it to EDDIE? McCarthy is searching for answers. I don't blame McCarthy for being stalwart to Rodgers' arm, but right now, Eddie is running with a purpose.

* EDDIE! Tackling him is a business decision. He's in playoff mode.

* Rodgers showing the toughness of a Champion. Confident in the pocket. A calming figure in the huddle. An MVP.

* While Rodgers is in peak form, the Packers have to go on another Super run. He's too good not to win another title.

* Jordy Nelson. FOREVER!

* Randall Cobb. Lock him up!

* This isn't the time for Davante Adams to lose both focus and confidence. Loved how Rodgers came back to him on an easy out pass to try and get him going again. I'm wondering if Adams has hit the rookie wall.

* Jarrett Boykin doesn't look like the same player that he was last year. Really frustrating. No rhythm to his game right now.

* AQ81! The big guy with another big reception!

* Kuhn as a lead run blocker was a solid addition to the offense early in the game. Opened a couple of really huge holes. Following Kuhn's lead, EDDIE grabbed chunks of yardage.

* EDDIE locking down nearly 6 yards per carry.

* Nice hands, Richard Rodgers. Keep working hard, young man. You've earned the MVP's confidence.

* I loved how McCarthy named the captains for huge playoffs already. Amp it up! Again, McCarthy shows a masterful pulse on this team.

* After a slow start, I thought Bakhtiari performed really well for the final 3 Quarters.

* TJ Lang. Josh Sitton. Best Guard duo in the National Football League.

* The Corey Lindsley holding call wasn't fair. He looked like a masterful technician on the play.

* Like that Tretter continues to see snaps.

* Bulaga toughed it out and played strong.

* James Starks needs an education on down and distance game situations. Too often he's trying to make something happen when it'd be wise to simply lower your shoulder and push for a couple of yards.

* Congrats to EDDIE for topping 1,000 yards for the second year in a row.

* Jordy is a security blanket.

* Randall Cobb is aging to perfection. So crafty.

* Once again, Clay Matthews comes thru with a monstrous performance. The Claymaker was fast, active and powerful. Since the bye, he's been an absolute Superstar.

* Mike Daniels with a dominant showing. Especially early in the game. He meant business.

* Need Letroy Guion winning the mini battles. He's been pushed backwards a lot over the last 6 Quarters. That was fine vs Tampa. But, it won't be OK vs future opponents.

* As Julius Peppers strives to etch his name alongside Sir Charles and REGGIE as veteran FA's who propelled the Packers to Super status, he has to continue to pursue QB's with the same intensity he brought vs Tampa. Two great sacks!

* Mike Neal with the burst for a sack.

* Really vibin' the Jayrone Elliot effort. Wish he had an extra gear and a quicker 1st step, but the dude could make an impact in the playoffs.

* Nick Perry will not be on the Packers next year.

* Datone with the pick! Great pressure by Elliot on the play.

* Barrington came with aggression on the blitz. He was an integral part of the commanding display of defense. While he lacks speed, he brings strength and desire.

* MORGAN BURNETT! Wow - what a day. He's made great strides this year. Attacking at the line of scrimmage. Terrific in run defense. Making plays on the blitz.

* Ha Ha can tackle really well, but he still isn't a playmaker when the ball is in the air. Gets beat often.

* Sammy Swagga has to get his swagger back.

* Hayward & T-Mon were rock steady.

* More positive effort for Josh Boyd. He's an important part of the defensive rotation.

* Need better from Tim Masthay.

* We are in the playoffs. That's the first step. Now, we need to handle the Lions and catch a week of rest.

This week - it's the Lions. For all the marbles. A win means a first round bye. A #2 seed. A chance to refresh, recharge and take aim at a 14th World Championship. A loss means a 6th seed and a date at Dallas next weekend. We need this one.

We know the Lions. They're littered with weapons. Stafford can whip it. Bush can run it. Calvin & Tate can catch it. We might not have an answer for Riddick. Bell will bury his head into our DL and push for yards. Pettigrew is gifted athletically, but makes mental challenges. If healthy, Ebron is a talented TE. But, their OL is soft. And, they can be bullied. Especially without Raiola. The Packers must attack the right side of the Lions OL. Riley Rieff can be had at LT.

Defensively, the Lions are as good as it gets at DL. DeAndre Levy makes plays. Darius Slay and Glover Quin have been great. Rashean Mathis has tested time and exceeded in the battle. James Ihedigbo has consistently made game changing plays. And, while their depth is limited in the secondary, they have performed at a high level.

Jeremy Ross. I had so much hope for him as a Packer. Prior to the draft, I had targeted him as a potential Packer. When he was claimed post the draft, I had high expectations. He showed glimpses of goodness. And, then the fateful fumble vs SF happened. I lost all faith. In Detroit, he's been dangerous. Though he can't be trusted, he'll be a factor.

Turnovers will play a story. I expect Peppers to make a play. T-Mon as well.

Randall Cobb is the key to the game. Yes, it's all about a Cobb. They can't cover him. He needs to be a priority. Early. And often.

The crowd will be raging. The excitement will be animated. The intensity will be high. The Packers will return to glory in the NFC North. The Lions haven't won in WI since 1991. The streak remains alive.

Rodgers throws for 260 and two. Eddie pounds away for 100 and two.

Packers 34
Lions 30

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

On Thursday, August 21, 2014, I wrote:

In a year of dangled possibilities and Super aspirations, our dreams won't be roasted. Trinity Brewing confirmed such beliefs. If you're a beer connoisseur and you aren't familiar with Trinity, you're missing out. I've thoroughly watched the Packers v Rams preseason game. As I've indulged in the game, I've enjoyed a fine selection of Trinity's flavors. Old Growth is beyond spectacular. Red Swingline is a life changer for beer lovers. The Trinity Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta is tremendous. Combining Trinity Brewing with Green Bay Packers football leads to elite smiles. Vibe On.

Today, once again, I turn to Trinity Brewing to remind me of our Super destination. I open a Passion Swing American Fruited IPA. It hits you with a fun sweetness upfront. It carries a bulky sunshine fruit style scent. And, it's finish is a grapefruit hop bitterness. Gourmet!

As I try to stay in the R-E-L-A-X mode post the Buffalo defeat, I pop in the Jimmy Cliff "Give the People What They Want" vinyl. It mellows my mood. After all, "Reggae music is sweeter everywhere."

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* It's possible that Mike McCarthy was too aggressive. Yes, I wrote that. He needed to run the ball 35 times. Instead, he trusted his MVP QB on a day when the best player in the NFL showed he was human. Can you blame McCarthy? I'm not sure that I can. Yes, I wanted him to run the ball. I was begging for it. I was literally yelling at the TV. But, had Rodgers connected on the two deep balls to Nelson, we'd be singing a different tune. Once, Rodgers didn't see him. The other time, Nelson dropped it. Can't blame McCarthy for that.

* Aaron Rodgers, I love you, man.

* Jordy Nelson. Move on, young man.

* Eddie! A total stud. He tried to put us on his back.

* James Starks. Not every run has to be a 10-yard gain. Sometimes, it's ok to get 2-3 yards. Especially on 1st down. There's no need to try to spring every play.

* It was comical to watch Brandon Bostick on the punt return for a TD. What a wimp.

* Wish AQ81! would have caught the third down pass on the 1st drive of the game. We seemed to press a bit after the drop. Might have lost a little confidence as a team.

* Loved the animation that McCarthy showed on the sidelines.

* How does Slocum keep his job after this year? Another blocked kick? Are you kidding me?

* Great game, Clay!

* Nice pick T-Mon.

* Play Jayrone Elliot as a pass rusher.


* Good game, OL. Need Bulaga healthy.

* In an effort to stay positive, I move on. Yes, I'm bummed that home field will likely not go thru 1265 Lombardi Ave. But, we just received a wake-up call. And, I'd we win out we get the #2 seed and a 1st round bye. I'll take it.

This week - it's the Bucs. It's Lovie. It's Josh McCown. Ironically, we faced them in Week 16 post the Week 15 collapse in KC in 2011. This should be a home game for the Packers. If you're in attendance, be loud!

The Bucs have weapons at WR. Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans are tall, fast, athletic, and both are great at winning the jump ball. They're match-up nightmares. The Bucs have great depth at RB with Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey and Mike James. But, the Bucs OL cannot give protection or open holes. They lack muscle. EDS has started 14 of 15 games for the Bucs at Center. Logan Mankins is a star at LG. But, outside of that, the Bucs have a patchwork OL.

Defensively, Lovie will go to his famed Tampa 2. But, the Bucs defense is banged up. Especially upfront as they'll be missing two starters. Once again, the Packers OL should dominate. Michael Johnson has great length and has given the Packers problems previously. I don't think it happens on Sunday. With Mason Foster and Lavonte David, the Bucs have a pair of undersized, but speedy LB's. Impact defenders who play much bigger than their size. Danny Lansanah also starts at LB for the Bucs. Long time readers know that I felt he had a future in the NFL. Happy to see he has another shot. Alter rain Verner is a playmaker at CB. Dashon Goldson is a heavy hitter at Safety. But, the Tampa secondary lacks depth. I expect Rodgers to have a Super day.

Early in the game, expect Tampa to try to establish the run game. They'll run it right at our belly. Attacking the middle of the field. But, Mike Daniels mans up. So, does Letroy Guion. Tampa slows down the game. But, then the Packers take over. It's play-action. Rodgers to Nelson on 15 yard post routes. The Bucs have no answer for this Packers offense. Lacy pounds away. Moving the pile. Then, it's Rodgers to Cobb for a TD.

Packers 38
Bucs 20

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

10-3. First place in the NFC North. Tied for first in the NFC. Staring home field in the face. But, the win over the Falcons serves as a reminder that an NFL game is a marathon. Thus, I listen to Bob Sinclar's Western Dream album. My aim is to ensure that I'm mentally fit for a full 60 minutes. Against Atlanta, at halftime, it seemed as though the R-E-L-A-X message was taking too literally. The Packers relaxed too much and the game quickly tightened.

I sip a Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett. It's a robustly sour beer that has a heavy consistency carrying throughout. As I taste, I'm reminded that this beer was crafted for consistency from start to finish.

Here are my quick vibes over the last week:

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. Thankfully, McCarthy stayed aggressive throughout. The shot to Nelson was a thing of beauty. It was vintage McCarthy who seems to masterfully have his finger on the pulse of the team and the games in which they play.

* Aaron Rodgers. Ring the chorus: MVP! MVP! MVP!

* Jordy Nelson. FOREVER! One of my favorite Packers. Ever.

* Randall Cobb is a go-to receiver on 3rd down. He's so tough minded. Fearless. Powerful for his size. Stick around, Randall.

* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! With the spin! With the shoulder boom! With animation in his step!

* James Starks goes Green & Yellow Hornet as he seals the deal! Slashing thru the ATL defense.

* AQ81! with another big catch on 3rd down. Statistically, he hasn't been a star this year, but man, he's made some monstrous plays.

* An awkwardly lazy special teams performance until Crosby's late kick.

* Good hands on the onside kick, Jordy Nelson & Jarrett Boykin.

* There was a Brandon Bostick sighting! Boy, did he look clumsy.

* Clay Matthews gave a monstrous effort. He wanted this win. Loved his energy and activity. I really hope this role becomes a permanent move for him.

* Sam Baarington brings muscle. A shoulder laden tackling intensity. He'll plug holes. But, he can't run.

* I appreciate AJ Hawk's approach to the demotion. He doesn't want to be a distraction. Wish the media wouldn't attempt to create division. I know it's their job to report on the topic. But, really, it's a performance based demotion. Carry on.

* Aaron Rodgers. Cerebral. Artistic. Surgical. Carving up the ATL defense. With his mind, his arm and his legs. A true athlete. A Titletown, U.S.A. legend.

* Another absolutely dominant performance from the OL. Each of them playing hard. Lang's hustle downfield doesn't get enough attention. Loved seeing Bakhtiari clearing the hole on the early 2nd Quarter rushing TD by Lacy.

* Fun to see Kuhn with the ball early in the game. He's a Shepherd for the Packers Kinfolk.

* Ummmm, time to make a play, Julius Peppers. Saw him in the action on two downs. Once, he couldn't wrap Ryan to the ground and the other, he was dominant at the line on the 2nd & 2 on the Falcons second drive of the game.

* Letroy Guion! With the tip. And the athleticism. Wish he'd have held on. Thought he had a great first half.

* Catch the ball, T-Mon.

* When it was clear the Falcons were going to be passing the ball, I was begging to see Jayrone Elliot. Stunned to not see him get one snap on the defensive side of the ball. Too conservative, Dom.

* I've said it before. I'll say it again. If our starting OL is healthy, I think the Green Bay Packers will be Super Bowl Champions.

* I like how McCarthy continues to introduce new formations. He's creative. Interested to see what Lacy does as they continue to utilize him as a receiver.

* Another shout out to AQ81! as he continues to stock pile big plays! He's turning into a weapon for the MVP.

* Morgan Burnett with a huge pick! And, he was plugging holes. But, he looked awfully slow on the big play to Julio Jones start the second half.

* The 10-yard TD pass to Nelson at the end of the 1st half was complete brilliance from Rodgers. We are blessed to watch him as the QB of the Green Bay Packers.

* Time to move Sean Richardson to ILB in the dime. Brad Jones isn't the answer. Neither is AJ Hawk. Sam Barrington can't play the role either. I'd also prefer Lattimore over all of them when Clay is rushing and we have only 1 LB on the field.

* Good work on the blocked FG, Brad Jones.

* Liked seeing Lane Taylor and JC Tretter on the field at the goal line.

* Demetri Goodson was a decent special teams performance.

* Good to see Brandon Bostick make a special teams tackle. Thought he was broken into two after the play. He's so soft.

* It was great to see Clay bouncing off blockers and hitting a ball carrier.

* Ras-Davon with the best performance of any CB.

* I will choose to not be too critical of the 2nd half. We relaxed. We got too conservative. It gives McCarthy a speaking point. A reminder that the journey needs to be enjoyed. And, that as a team, we must power through and not lose focus. 10-3. In control. Carpe diem!

For the fun of it, I made drastic changes to my mock draft. And, yes, I believe that the best talent in college football is found in the PAC-12, the SEC and the ACC. Take a look:

Round 1.) Nate Orchard, OLB, Utah.
Round 2.) Trey Flowers, DE/OLB, Arkansas.
Round 3.) Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA.
Round 4.) Tyeler Davison, DT, Fresno State.
Round 5.) Tony Washington, OLB, Oregon.
Round 5.) Curtis Riley, CB, Fresno State.
Round 5.) Gerald Christian, TE, Louisville.
Round 6.) Kasen Williams, WR, Washington.
Round 7.) Quayshawn Nealy, ILB, Georgia Tech.

This week - it's the Bills. In Buffalo. A hostile environment. With a lot on the line for both teams as the Packers fight for home field throughout and the Bills battle for a potential playoff berth.

Kyle Orton scares me. He beats the Packers. Often. In 2011, I was in KC in December in Week 15. The Packers were 13-0. It felt so right. I hope Week 15 in 2014 has a different ending. I wish I was headed to Buffalo to support the Packers.

I'm hoping Orton plays as he did in Lambeau Field in 2008.

The Packers must dare Orton to hit receivers outside the hash marks. Test his arm strength. Take away the middle of the field. He can't hit a corner route. He'll look for Scott Chandler on short routes and on quick releases down the seam. Chandler is a solid TE with great hands and an ability to make a catch it traffic. Hyde should be able the match-up with him. Orton will also target Sammy Watkins & Robert Woods on slants, WR screens and short crossing routes. Watkins is lethal after the catch. Buffalo will pound the ball at our nose. Between the tackles with Fred Jackson & Bryce Brown. Jackson is a grinder. Brown is elusive and can find space, but he has a pension for putting the ball on the ground. Buffalo has a big, physically intimidating OL.

The Bills have the best front 4 in football. Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcel Dareus, and Jerry Hughes. It'll be the stiffest test our OL has seen all year. Corey Graham and Stephon Gilmore are worthwhile CB's. Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers are journeyman at LB. Nigel Bradham is inexperienced, but talented. Aaron Williams & Bacarri Rambo are a below average safety combination. Buffalo does not have depth in the secondary. The Packers catch a break with Da'Norris Searcy missing the game.If we can protect Rodgers, the MVP will have another MVP performance. But, protection is a huge concern.

Spread them out. Attack with short routes and double moves. I expect Jordy to have a big game. I also think Adams' shifty route running will give him opportunities to get open. We can test them on the outside. Short 7 yard stop and curl routes will work. Bulaga will be tested as he doesn't handle speed well.

Hopefully, we see a lot of base defense from the Packers. 4-2-5 alignment. Hyde over the TE. Clay & Barrington plugging the middle. An 8th man in the box. Creating havoc over the middle of the field. All within 15 yards. No zone. All man-to-man. Providing clutter for Orton to try and force the ball into traffic. Get your hands up, DL! Play Elliot as a pass rusher. He will run around Seantreal Henderson and Cordy Glenn. Orton cannot move. He's looking for the short route.

I expect Clay to get an interception this week.

It'll be a dog fight. But, the Packers capitalize on a late TD to widen the margin.

Packers 27
Bills 16

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

To celebrate, I pour an Avery Grand Cru Beast. More than 18% ABV. I pour because it's robust. It's strong. It's bold. You know, all of the feelings that were on display post the epic victory over the Patriots. But, I'm reminded to R-E-L-A-X. So, I put on Culture's "World Peace" album.

Here are my quick vibes from the last week:

* Thought the Lambeau crowd showed up in electric fashion. Playoff atmosphere. The weather may be cooling off, but the intensity is heating up. Past teams didn't seem to care about the road going thru Lambeau. This team is hungry for Titletown U.S.A. to host the playoffs.

* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. Against New England, McCarthy was the dictator. He offered a variety of looks that the Patriots hadn't prepared for. He had 5 receivers on the field. Often. He had Cobb in the backfield. Often. He kept the Patriots guessing for the entire game. He kept adjusting before NE could catch up.

* Aaron Rodgers. MVP. And, it's not even close. Only JJ Watt has an argument.

* Super Bowl teams are often tested throughout the season. They learn the art of perseverance. They win in a variety of ways. Recently, we've seen the Packers win on a legendary 2-minute drill in Miami. We saw the Packers absolutely dominate the Viqueens, Bears and Eagles at home. We saw a victory on the road in which the ball wasn't bouncing our way and the Packers pounded away on the ground. Then, against NE, the Packers had a CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE only thwarted by an Adams drop as he was walking into the end zone. The drive was an 11-play, 65-yard drive that ate up 5:10. But, the drop forced the Packers defense to rise to the occasion. The defense elevated and to force NE into a 47-yard FG that was pushed wide right. This team is winning in a wide variety of ways. That feels Super.

* Early in the game, Rodgers reminded me of Favre a bit. Uber focused. Pressing a bit. High on a lot of throws. Animated!

* The Packers may have only sacked Brady once, but they were in his face often.

* Clay looks so passionate coming around the edge.

* Awesome to hear the Lambeau faithful forcing a timeout less than a minute into the 3rd Quarter. Great volume, G-Force!

* When AQ81! is the lead blocker, EDDIE should follow his lead more often than not.

* DAVANTE ADAMS! Wish he would've caught the final pass, but man, what a breakout game. An elegant route runner. He catches the ball with his hands. He still needs to work on his footwork down the sidelines, but his route running is already significantly above average. He has a grand future. He also showed toughness as he went up in traffic and came down with the ball.

* Way to Lively Up, Richard Rodgers! Still not a great blockers as he often chooses the wrong guy, but he has displayed tremendous hands. Great over the shoulder grab.

* 4 weeks in a row in which AQ81! has made a big play! His third down reception was enormous. It's fun to watch Aaron Rodgers' relationship with AQ81! as the MVP gives the TE enough attention to keep him happy and always gives him a congratulatory finger point after a big reception.


* Each week, Randall Cobb shows that he deserves more $$$. He'll be a Packer for the foreseeable future and it has to excite the MVP that he'll have Nelson, Cobb, and Adams at WR for the next couple of years.

* Corey Linsley is human. Was surprised that he was late on the inside blitz on 3rd down inside the Red Zone.

* Another stellar game out of the OL. Bakhtiari, Bulaga, Linsley, Lang and Sitton. Wow. We are blessed. Hope Bulaga takes a hometown discount and sticks around for a while.

* On the biggest defensive 3rd down play of the game, it wasn't Clay, Pep, T-Mon or Sammy Swagga that made the play. Instead, it was a combination of Mike Neal & Mike Daniels. Monstrous!

* On the first drive of the game, Linsley was a true stud. Getting to the second level. Putting his hat on a LB. Creating yards.

* Sam Barrington setting the tone early with back-to-back tackles on the opening drive to get the defense off the field. Barrington and Clay compliment each other well. I didn't like seeing Barrington lined up outside covering a RB. That'll eventually be exposed.

* Another strong game from Clay. He looks like a natural at ILB.

* Crosby has to make that kick.

* The aura around this team is magical. The vibe is healthy. The teamship is grand. Mike McCarthy is tremendous at building a Locker Room.

* The first 4 offensive plays went to EDDIE. He was dominant as he grabbed 51 yards on those 4 plays.

* Early in the game, Belichick was planned to keep a 3rd CB on Adams. McCarthy & Rodgers sensed this and attacked this match-up. Knowing they'd have success and that NE would adjust, he had a back-up plan. As Belichick changed that strategy, McCarthy brilliantly moved Cobb to the backfield and used Cobb, largely, as a receiver.

* Randall Cobb looking like Dave Meggett. How great was that HB Circle wheel route?!?!?!

* I liked seeing Jarrett Boykin getting involved. Nice little 6-yard pick up out of the backfield.

* JP with the tipped pass!

* Really nice tackling, T-Mon.

* Get healthy, Sammy Swagga. You, too, Jamari Lattimore.

* When AJ Hawk was on the field, he was victimized. On crossing routes and in the run game.

* Quite possibly the best game of Datone Jones' career. Good pressure. Attacking. Doesn't have the stats. Had the energy.

* Mike Daniels was a MAN!

* I want to see more of Jayrone Elliot. Speed rush. From the outside. Up the field. Especially against stationary QB's like Matt Ryan and Kyle Orton in the coming weeks. As he comes up the field, I'd have a LB coming to the inside on a blitz. Elliot could be the next addition in the continued evolution of this defense. Sure, he struggles against the run. But, that's not what he is at thus point. He's a one-trick pony, but it's a talent that we lack without Clay at OLB.

* HaHa with another big game. Physical. Aggressive. Intense. Fearless.

* Great grab, James Starks!

* Liked Jayrone Elliot and Sean Richardson on special teams coverage.

* Though Burnett missed a couple of tackles and got beat a couple of times, I thought he was steady.

* EDDIE meaning business on 3rd & 1 is an exciting buzz.

* Really, really impressive tackling by T-Mon. Worth mentioning again.

* Sam Barrington plugging holes!

* Rodgers throwing on the run and making it look easy.

* Guion & Boyd continue to work hard.

* As the remains an issue and kickoffs continue to fall short of the goal line, I get the feeling that DuJuan might break one. However, I'm more concerned about our kickoff coverage unit making the tackle than I am the prospects of Harris getting loose.

* Brandon Bostick. I've never liked him because he can't stay healthy. But, still, his athleticism cannot be denied. I'm still waiting to see him used as a mismatch down the field.

* It's noteworthy that James Jones has 60 catches on the season. EDS has started 11 of 12 games for Tampa and is healthy, once again. I'm hoping he starts 15 games. I want two compensatory picks.

* The MVP continues to use his legs to grab chunks of yardage.

Saw a bunch of college football this past weekend. Made great progress on desired NFL Draft prospects. Most of it confirmed what I've already been writing. Added a new target for late in the Draft. As always, it's rare for me to list an OL, I only list if I've watched the player and I have the Packers picking #32. I'm still seeking additional DL to add beef to the line. Also, thank you to CBS DRAFT SCOUT for your guidance. Here goes:

1.) Hau'oli Kikaha, OLB, Washington. With Danny Shelton, DT, Washington likely off the board, I go with Kikaha who is the best pass rusher in CFB.
2.) Trey Flowers, DE, Arkansas. Long. Elephant style player. His length changes games. He's athletic. Both quick and powerful off the snap.
3.) Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State. Ballhawk. Smooth tackler.
4.) Jake Ryan, ILB, Michigan. Instinctive player. Natural defender. Looking for more game speed at the position than he brings, but I haven't found it yet.
5.) Gerald Christian, TE, Louisville. Big, athletic target who can get down the seam.
5.) Kenny Bell, WR, Nebraska. Big target. Elusive. With return skills.
5.) Curtis Riley, CB, Fresno State
6.) Cameron Botticelli, DL, Minnesota. The WI native reminds me of Don Davey. Surprisingly athletic. Deceptively strong. Really smart. Good nose for the ball.
7.) Sam Eguavoen, ILB, Texas Tech. Heavy hitter. Plays with passion. Inflicts pain.

This week - it's the Falcons. Whenever I think about the Falcons v Packers, I think of the 2nd Quarter of the Packers January of 2011 NFC Divisional win over Atlanta. To date, in my opinion, it was the best Quarter played by the Packers in my lifetime. 28 points. The 5th play of the Quarter capped off a 13 play, 81 yard TD drive that ate up 7:56. BJ RAJI as the FREEZER capped off a 10 play, 92 yard TD drive that chewed up 5:44. After a Sir Charles sack & a T-Mon pick, it was Rodgers to James Jones for a TD that completed a 7 play, 80 yard drive as the Packers were in a 2-minute offense. Then, we saw Clay with a big sack to knock the Falcons to the brink of FG range and on the last play of the Quarter is was T-Mon with the pick and a 70 yard return for a TD. GREATEST QUARTER EVER!

This years Falcons team finds themselves tied for 1st place in the NFC South. Somehow. They've won 3 of 4 and sit at 5-7 on the year. It's a must win game for the Dirty Birds. It's also a must win for the Packers as they aim to secure home field throughout the playoffs.

With Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, the Falcons are a threat to put points on the board. Both Roddy White & Harry Douglas did not practice this week. While the injury report isn't out yet, if they cannot play, Atlanta will have Devin Hester and Eric Weems running routes. Previously, both White and Douglas have given the Packers problems. At TE, Levine Toilolo is a big target. Bear Pascoe is a decent possession receiver. With Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman, Atlanta has a wide variety of running styles at RB. The ATL OL is bad. Really bad. Except Jake Matthews, Clay's cousin. I fully believe that the Packers will have at least 3 sacks this week. They might get 5.

Look for Jones to get 10 targets. Mostly, on WR screens and deep balls. ATL will force the Packers secondary to make tackles. Additionally, they'll run Jackson up the gut as a bully to the Packers defense. Ryan will eat up click between plays. And, he'll mix in a blend of screens to Rodgers and Freeman who'll annoyingly pick up first downs.

Defensively, Atlanta leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, Osi can still rush the passer and has been a nightmare for the Packers, but he's what they have as a pursuer of the QB. Biermann can play the run. Paul Soliai is a tremendous run stopper. Tyson Jackson hasn't developed as a pro prospect. Jonathan Babineaux is just a guy. Prince Shembo is still learning the LB position in the NFL. Robert Alford will have a cast, if he plays. William Moore & Dez Southward will hit you, but both can be beat deep. Desmond Trufant was drafted too early and is overrated. Robert McClain can be beaten.

Other than Jones, the biggest concern is Hester returning kicks. On occasion, the Packers have struggled to cover kickoffs. We have to tackle Hester.

With ATL expected to run the football in an attempt to eat clock, I expect to see Capers mix it up again. He's offered a wide mix of looks. Look for some early down action with Guion & Pennel on the interior. Era specially if Boyd and Daniels are limited due to injury. Both are big, beefy defenders who should be intent on plugging holes. ATL wants to see 3rd & 4 or less. Often. If so, they'll feel comfortable. If it's 3rd and long, Ryan will be under duress all day.

Give help on Osi. Just a chip. Spread them out. Give the game to Aaron Rodgers. On MNF. Playing in his 100th game. On National TV. For the world to see. Rodgers goes for 350 and 3. The defense is in Ryan's face early and often. It's a Lambeau celebration and the mystique of the 2014 season continues to build.

Packers 38
Falcons 20

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.