3-0. 3 wins in the NFC. 2 wins on the road. A tie breaker win over the Saints. Another destruction of Ray Nutler at Soldier Field. And the Packers aren't playing remotely close to their best football.
Obviously, only so much analysis can be derived via statistics, but consider this: After 3 games, the Packers have 64 first downs. The opposition has 65. On third down conversions, the Packers are 18/37. The opposition is 18/39. The Packers have 1,210 yards. The opposition has 1,243 yards. The Packers have run 185 plays at an average of 6.5 yards per play. The opposition has run 196 plays at 6.3 yards per play.
The difference? The Packers are plus-4 in turnovers and, for the most part, they've won the Red Zone. Sure there have been times in which the offense has not been able to punch it into the end zone, but the defense has thrilled with two major stops in the Red Zone against the Saints, another crucial Red Zone stop against Carolina and just prior to the half, they held the Nutler-led Bears to 3 points inside the Red Zone.
It's always a glorious day when the celebration is in the visitors locker room at Soldier Field. While nothing can match the 2010 NFC Championship game, it was a true treat to grab a 2-game lead over the hated Bears 3 weeks into the season. Further, it's comedy to me to hear Bear fans cry foul play over the officiating. Especially the punt return. Watch the replay. Bush gets grabbed. Top left portion of the screen. Fox's camera angle grabs it. Unfortunately, the normally reliable Joe Buck and Troy Aikman butchered the analysis and Fox's game production team failed to produce the proper camera angle via replay. But, if you watch the replay, the live action shot clearly depicts a hold. That's two weeks in a row in which Fox's team has failed to perform.
For the record, once again, we can confidently say: The Bears Still Suck! After all, for the 3rd time in 2011, the Packers beat the Bears.
Quick Packer Points from the Bear game:
* Cheers to Marshall Newhouse. He stepped in admirably. When Bulaga went down, I was concerned. If you've followed the blog long enough, you know I think highly of Newhouse. Regardless of how he performed in the preseason. I've still believed in him. Nonetheless, the Bears DL gives cause for concern. Newhouse was a savior.
* In the non-breaking news category: Aaron Rodgers > Ray Nutler. As Bears fans were whining about the officiating, they should be realizing that the difference in the game was found in the QB play. Trailing only 17-10 at the half, Nutler went 2-9 in the 2nd Quarter. In his defense, he did have 2 dropped balls. In comparison, Rodgers went 6-8. While the Packers only generated 3 points in the Quarter, they did make it a 2-score game. Further, the drive that gave the Packers a 3-score lead was initiated in the waning moments of the 3rd Quarter when two Rodgers completions totaled 18 yards. Thus far, Aaron Rodgers is the league's MVP.
* Playing both sides of the coin, I didn't like to see Rodgers bitch out Newhouse and then get a delay of game penalty on the next play.
* Great to see Ryan Grant running like the Ryan Grant we knew and loved from '07-'09. He looked like a back capable of another 1,200 yard season. He had great vision. He hit the hole hard. He was making good decisions.
* James Starks had his worst game as a Packer. Indecisive. Almost intimidated by Briggs. Put it behind you, young man!
* J-Mike to Hawaii? If he stays healthy, he absolutely will be there! The Bears could not defend him.
* Greg Jennings is absolutely ridiculous.
* Jordy Nelson - Lock him up!
* Is Scott Wells really our best OL right now? He's playing like it.
* It hurts me to see Double-D unable to get separation when guarded by a LB. Love the guy. Packer HOF'er. But, the end is near.
* Randall Cobb is lethal! Get him the ball. The bubble screen is an option. Unleash, the kid!
* James Jones scares me everytime he touches the ball. Why did he go out of bounds near the 4:00 mark in the 4th Quarter? Granted, the Bears bailed him out by calling a timeout, but nonetheless, Jones made a boneheaded decision.
* Tom Crabtree can block.
* Nice to see DJ Smith making special teams tackles.
* J-Bush! 2nd on the team in sacks. Trailing Jarius Wynn. Ahead of the Claymaker. J-Bush's sack was due to terrific effort.
* Morgan Burnett is a Predator. Love this guy! Play him in CF. No need to put Peprah back there. Peprah is best in the box. He has limitations in the air. Burnett has the potential to have 8 interceptions this year. He's playing at an extremely high level. He's taken better angles to the ball than he did in the preseason and the early portions last year. He leads the team in tackles, interceptions and he's tied for the team lead in forced fumbles.
* Sammy Swagga scares me.
* Ryan Pickett and BJ Raji dominated the Bears OL. Both were unblockable and paved the way for Desmond Bishop to make plays in the backfield. Thus, Matt Forte's line reads: 9 carries, 2 yards.
* While the Claymaker left without a sack, he was still a dynamic difference maker.
* Small note - AJ Hawk is tied for 9th on the team in tackles. He's tied for 11th on the team in solo tackles. Consider this: Hawk is a 3 down player. He has 5 solo tackles in 3 games. DJ Smith plays special teams. He has 4 solo tackles. We need more out of AJ Hawk.
* After 3 weeks, our defense has 10 sacks and they've forced 7 turnovers. I'm hoping we can make a run at a 40/40 season.
This week - the Donkeys from Denver come to Lambeau. An afternoon game at Lambeau! My, how I love those games. Total fiestas!
It's up to the Lambeau faithful to bring it. Sure, the Brewers might be playing at the same time. Stay focused. We need this one. It's a classic trap game. AFC opponent. Trapped between a game between a Divisional Rival and a new Conference Rival, the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons game will be played in Prime Time. We can't look past the Donkeys. And, the fans must play a role. Be loud. Be proud. Stay passionate. Help get the defense off the field!
While the Packers have owned Ray Nutler, they have not fared as well against Kyle Orton. While it's true Orton has merely been a game manager versus the Packers, he does possess a 3-1 record as a starter when he's faced the Packers.
While the Packers look to be going without Ryan Grant and Bryan Bulaga this weekend, the Donkeys will be getting the likes of Champ Bailey, DJ Williams and Elvis Dumervil back into the regular rotation of the line-up this weekend. Dumervil is a speed rusher. He'll challenge both Clifton and Newhouse.
But, even with the return of the stars in the Denver defense, the most storied franchise in the history of the NFL will have too much offensive firepower for the Donkeys. I asked for it last week and it didn't come as Alex Green was not healthy, so I am going back to it. The Donkeys will use a pressure defense. Von Miller is a stud. He'll be coming with conviction. So, will DJ Williams. So, will Brian Dawkins. And, when they inch towards the line, look for McCarthy and Rodgers to call for the screen. And Alex Green is coming at the Donkey defense! Maybe I'm just begging for it, but wholeheartedly expect Green to make a big play this week.
When the Packers are in a 2-TE set or a 2-back set, I fully expect the Donkeys to be able to man up against us. But, when McCarthy spreads 'em out, the Donkeys don't have enough firepower to keep up. Cassius Vaughn and Jonathan Wilhite cannot stick with James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. In fact, it could get ugly. Look for Rodgers to connect with as many as 9 receivers. Look for Rodgers to notch over 300 yards. Look for Rodgers to toss 3 TD's.
I'm really intrigued to see how Denver tries to defend J-Mike. Will Von Miller be asked to guard J-Mike 1 v 1? He can't do it, but I'm curious to see the gameplan.
While the Packers have totaled 10 sacks thus far, they have had far from a lethal pass rush. In fact, it's bad significantly below average for most of the year. Enter Vic So'oto. Stoked to see this guy get after it!!! He'll get pressure early on. And, hopefully, as the season progresses - call me crazy - but, he might be able to legitimately take some of the pressure of the Claymaker.
In Brandon Lloyd, Eric Decker and Eddie Royal, Orton has underrated weapons. Our secondary must be ready. You know Orton is prone to a mistake. Look for Sir Charles to find the football this weekend. Orton throws two big picks.
I am expecting our rookies - Cobb, Green, and So'oto - to make a play this weekend.
Ultimately, turnovers are the difference once again.
I fear a letdown. I fear it from the fans. I fear it from the team. This game scares me. It'll be closer than any of us would like.
Packers 30. Donkeys 20.
DVR the Brewer game. It's football season! We must dominate with home field advantage.
Go Pack Go!