Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

It was rich in Holiday Cheer. 14-1. The most victories in franchise Regular Season History. Defeating the Bears for the 4th time in the 2011 calendar year. Proving, in fact, that the Bears do still suck! In convincing fashion. Whether it was Nutler, Hanie or McCown as the QB for Chicago, the Packers owned the Bears in 2011. It was a magical year. Purely dominating our old rivals. Bears fans will claim injury. But, last I checked, the Bears had Urlacher, Tillman, Briggs, and Peppers all playing on the defensive side of the ball. All were neutralized. In return, the NFL’s MVP connected on 5 TD’s without his best weapon, Greg Jennings. Ultimately, as the most cherished theater in American sports echoed with “Bears Still Suck” chants, the play on the field showed that the Lambeau Faithful was quite accurate in our assessments.

Quick hits from the thrashing of the Bears:

· Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s MVP. He beat Brees head to head. He didn’t have a 2-interception game all year. Brees has had multiple 2-interception games. He has thrown for more TD’s than Brees. He’s averaged more than an extra yard per attempt than Brees. Rodgers is your MVP. No doubt in my mind.

· Mike McCarthy, you own Lovie Smith. And we love you for it. When Lovie Smith was hired in 2004, he said his top priority was to beat the Packers. Well, Lovie, you went 0-4 in 2011. Cheers to you, Lovie!

· Jordy Nelson running the deep route to perfection.

· Clay Matthews making big plays! In the 1st half, it was almost as if he was the only one on defense who showed up. He baited McCown with a magic touch. And the interception was a game changer.

· Desmond Bishop, welcome back. You were missed.

· I’m not in panic mode, but I’m starting to wonder whether DJ Smith should be starting over AJ Hawk.

· We’re going to need improved Safety play in the playoffs. Both Burnett and Peprah appear to be a step late in pass defense.

· J-Mike, stay confident, young man. You’re a threat. Defenses key on you. You’re a match-up nightmare. In order for the Repeat to come to fruition, we’ll need you in a BIG WAY!

· Good to see James Jones step up and get the offense in rhythm with the crossing route in front of his nemesis, Peanut Tillman.

· I enjoy watching Brandon Saine run.

· Hope Starks can stay healthy for the stretch run.


· Thought TJ Lang did a remarkable job as well.

· Big ups to Evan Diedrich-Smith!

· The Packers OL > The Bears DL. Music to my ears.

· BJ Raji is struggling. Even when he gets a push, he’s not finishing plays.

· I’m beginning to wonder about Mike Neal. CJ Wilson is getting more push than him and that scares me.

· T-Mon has to get his MOJO back. Giving too much separation. Doesn’t seem overly inspired. When he’s “on” – he’s as good as it gets in this league. His body language hasn’t seemed like himself.

· J-Bush & P-Lee are absolute difference makers on special teams. Brad Jones played well on special teams as well. Fun to watch.

· Tim Masthay is LEGIT!

· Randall Cobb brings a dimension to Packers football that hasn’t been seen since Desmond Howard left. Rossum did some good things, but not to this level. Packer historians are reminded of Travis Williams! Cobb makes a 10-yard return look so exciting. Hope his injury isn’t serious.

· Let me repeat, Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s MVP. G-Force, don’t take this for granted.

· Speaking of the G-Force. Even when the game is in doubt, the crowd needs to stay elevated. This defense needs our help. We have to make it tough on the opposition. Play our role.

This week – it’s Detroit. And frankly, I’d rest our stars. No Aaron Rodgers. And if he plays, make it one series at the most. But, seriously, save the roster spot. Make him inactive. Jennings and Starks are already ruled out. I’d do the same with Bulaga as there is no need to push him. I would also sit Woodson and Matthews. Pickett would not play. Neither would Raji. I’d work Green, Wilson, Neal, and Wynn on the DL. Run them hard. I’d play a lot of 2 down lineman. Give some of the LB’s a shot. I’d like to see Davon House. T-Mon would see limited action. So would Bishop. We’d see more of DJ Smith and Robert Francois. We’d see more of So’oto and Lattimore. I’d like to see MD Jennings at Safety. Jennings was a ball hawk in the preseason. I’d like to see him in the rotation.

Offensively, I’d give the game to Brandon Saine. I’d like to see him touch the ball 20-25 times. I’d like to see him catching passes. With the Packers likely to only have 3 WR’s in the lineup, we’ll see a lot of double TE’s. With J-Mike likely to get limited reps, I’d like to see Ryan Taylor getting his shot. The same with DJ Williams running down the seam. Give the kids the reps that they didn’t get during mini-camps. I’d also test Clifton to see if he’s good to go for the Run to the Repeat.

Frankly, it could be argued that it’d be in the Packers best interest to lose this game. Assuming the 49ers beat the Rams, the #6 seed would travel to New Orleans. If the Lions win, the Falcons would get their third crack at the Saints. Traditionally, the Falcons have battled the Saints well. It’d be a rivalry game. Remember that the Falcons beat the Saints in New Orleans in 2010. In ’09, they battled the Saints and eventually fell by 8 points. In ’08, they fought hard against the Saints, only to lose by 4 points. If you can’t tell, I’d prefer to not play the Saints in the playoffs. I’m not scared of New Orleans. In fact, I think we’d beat them. But, I’d like to make the Saints road to the NFC Championship as difficult as possible.

With that said, the Packers are playing for 15-1 with their back-ups. I’d like to see Flynn in control of the offense. A good performance by Flynn could potentially affect his status with the Packers next year. It’d also affect the compensatory pick we’d get for him. It’d be fun to see him play well.

Look for the Lions to try and attack us with Kevin Smith. The formula is to run the ball against the Packers. Smith will pound it at us. Then, they’ll send Calvin Johnson on deep routes and dump the ball to Smith underneath. The Lions will pester us. Eat the clock. Almost stunningly, the Packers are OK with the Lions strategy. The Packers would like to keep the clock moving as well as the #1 motivation for this week is to stay healthy. And, when the Packers get the ball, we see a lot of short passes. We set a lot of Saine pounding the ball. Saine pushing the pile forward. Then McCarthy calls play action and he hits Jones on a deep ball.

As the Lions spread the ball to Burleson, Pettigrew, Johnson, Smith and Titus Young, they find some efficiency. They move the ball, but break down near the Red Zone on a couple of occasions. Additionally, the Packers force 2 big turnovers. Flynn throws for 200 yards and a TD. Saine rushes for 80 yards and a TD.

The Lions haven’t won against the Packers on the road since 1991. It’s not happening this year. Even with our back-ups.

Packers 23. Lions 20.

Before I sign off, I had to give a huge shout-out to my good mate, Pat Hoeft. He's started a clothing line named "GEEBZ" - get after his line. It's fun stuff. Check out his website at You'll like what you see. Well done, Pat!

Go Pack Go!

Happy New Year,

Talkin’ S-Mac.!/buzzboy3

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

For the first time in nearly a full calendar year, we've tasted defeat. We were beat up. We were humbled. We lost discipline. We lost focus. And, for the first time in over a calendar year, we were out-coached. But, no need to panic, we're still the Champs. We still have the MVP throwing the damn ball. We still have a first round bye. We're still a victory away from having home field throughout. We're still the class of the NFL. And, really, what better way to clinch than to beat the Bears on Christmas Day in a Lambeau celebration? The Bears Still Suck!

Quick hits from the Chiefs game.

* We struggled to find rhythm. As a team, we were frustrated. Annoyed. Pestered. McCarthy didn't stick with what was working. We had success running the football. Randall Cobb is a weapon and should be used. We didn't stick with what was working.

* Defensively, we lost containment. Zombo and Walden were not discipline. They were exposed.

* The DL was abused. Beat up. Donde esta, Mike Neal? Neal must arrive soon. At some point, Neal has to make a play.

* Where was Clay?

* Rodgers is the MVP. Enough with this Brees noise. Head to head, Rodgers beat him. With that, as defenses continue to press us at the of scrimmage and drop two safeties, Rodgers must remember to dump it off to the underneath route when it's not there over the top or down the field.

* Jordy Nelson couldn't get open. It was almost as if the Chiefs new the route before the play. They were cutting beneath crossing routes as the WR's were coming out of their breaks.

* Prior to going for it on 4th & 8, on 3rd down, Rodgers had Cobb wide open. He overlooked him. I wish he wouldn't have.

* Ryan Grant had his stride.

* Stating the obvious, the OL must get healthy...meaning Bulaga & Clifton. Clearly, its present state is a huge concern.

* J-Mike. WTF.

* Bummed me out when Kuhn failed to get 3rd & 1.

* AJ Hawk must nowhere to be found.

* DJ Smith played decent, but I wish he would have dropped deeper on the seam route to the TE.

* Sir Charles was our best defender.

* James Jones couldn't get off the line of scrimmage. He was a huge disappointment.

* No forced turnovers. With this defense, we won't win much without them. With that, I'd expect our offense to score 20 points every game. So, in part, the defense put us in position to win. And the offense lacked tempo. The combination equaled defeat.

This week, it's the Bears. The hated Bears. On Christmas Day. It doesn't get better. Win and we clinch home field throughout. Win and the Bears are officially eliminated. It'd cap a perfect 4-0 over the Bears in 2011. It'd include a January 2nd bash that got the Packers into the playoffs. It included the Halas Trophy at Soldier Field inside the visitors locker room. Trump card forever. Pop Tarts! Now, we can put the dagger in their 2011 Season while clinching home field throughout. That's fairly epic and sheer domination. Word.

We know them. They know us. We're both banged up. They're coming after the MVP. We have a banged up OL. It's their strength against our weakness. We'll have to establish Grant, much like we did against Chicago in the earlier match-up at Soldier. With that, the play action will open up. Finley is a tough match-up for the Bears. He must be focused. He seems like he's lost confidence. Get J-Mike the ball early in the game. Make him feel involved.

The Bears will try to run the football in bunches. They'll want to model the Chiefs game plan. They'll coach McCown to play it safe. Expect to see less of Marion Barber and more of Khalil Bell. He is a decent back. He can catch. Runs hard. Not a HR threat but he'll move the pile.

But, in the end, the injured Packers have far more talent than the injured Bears. The Packers defense makes a big play. Hester is limited. Rodgers throws 2 TD's. It's a Lambeau celebration as the chorus of "THE BEARS STILL SUCK" echoes loudly throughout the greatest sports palace in America.

Packers 23. Bears 16.

Go Pack Go. The Bears Still Suck. Have a Merry Christmas.

Talkin' S-Mac.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

13-0. 19 straight. In dominating fashion. It took 23 minutes for the Packers to completely dismantle an Oakland Raiders team that is battling for an AFC playoff berth. For 23 minutes, the Packers were hitting on all cylinders. The offense poured on 31 points in the first 23 minutes. The defense forced 2 turnovers in the first 23 minutes, which led to 14 points. The special teams was on point for the first 23 minutes as Crosby drilled a FG into windy conditions, Cobb had an impressive 10 yard return and on each Oakland Kickoff Return our pursuit was top-notch. The last 37 minutes were slightly more than a walk-through.

Quick hits from the victory over the Raiders:

* Another brilliant coaching display by Mike McCarthy. As an offensive play caller, he's in rhythm. He understands this team. He's found the tempo of this team. He sees the mismatch. Early in the game, the Packers were quick to the line of scrimmage and the Raiders defense was on its heels the entire game.

* Congratulations to Aaron Rodgers for throwing #39. Looking forward to seeing the record breaking #40 at Arrowhead!

* It took me four years to feel this way, but my apologies to Ted Thompson. I wanted DeSean Jackson. You took Jordy Nelson. You were right. I was wrong. As DeSean Jackson pouts. Jordy Nelson produces.

* Get healthy, Greg Jennings.

* James Jones, it's all in the shoes.

* Double-D running crossing routes like it's 2004! 18.8 yards per catch.

* Randall Cobb with the ball in his hands is pure excitement.

* Rodgers' cadence at the line of scrimmage was a thing of beauty. The Raiders came out antsy to pressure the NFL's MVP. Rodgers slowed down their pace with heavy voice fluctuation.

* Good to see Ryan Grant finding open space.

* Ryan Taylor finds the end zone!

* TJ Lang played extremely well.

* Admirable performance by Evan Diedrich-Smith.

* Mason Crosby is having a Pro Bowl year.

* Huge shout out to DJ Smith. The guy was absolutely disruptive early in the game. In addition to the interception, he was all over the field. Reading screens. Taking down Bush when it looked like he had yards in bunches. He played with personality. He closes quickly on the ball. He's fun to watch. He struggled getting to the QB on the blitz, but he comes with a vengeance.

* If you've been following this blog for long enough, you know that in 2009, I wanted the Packers to use a late round pick on Robert Francois. I've been a fan of his for a while. Happy to see he's making plays. Again, he displayed solid cover skills. He's making it seem as though he should be our 3rd down ILB when the opposition is in an obvious passing down. He drops well. He moves laterally well. In 3 weeks of action at ILB, he has 2 interceptions and another near interception. He also forced a fumble that was returned for a TD. Solid game by Francois.

* Rodgers. MVP

* After watching Smith and Francois, the Packers don't need to draft an ILB.

* Sir Charles with another pick!

* Sammy Swagga with a pick!

* Is it just me or has Ryan Grant regressed with regards to pass protection? Seems uncertain. Slow to react.

* No reason to get Sherrod snaps with Rodgers at QB. Sure, Newhouse has struggled on occasion, but he hasn't been so bad that we'd need to risk Rodgers back-side.

* Rodgers. MVP.

* Last year, at this time, T-Mon was playing as one of the best cover CB's in the league. He was at the line of scrimmage. Jamming WR's in the chest. Playing physical. Against the Raiders, you could find T-Mon 8-12 yards off the line of scrimmage. It's possible that he was simply respected the speed of the Raiders WR's, but I like to see T-Mon challenging receivers.

* After Woodson's pick, I loved seeing the Claymaker beg for the ball. He wanted the pitch from Sir Charles so badly!

* The Packers special teams cover units are playing at a level that we haven't seen since the days of Lamont Hollinquest, Keith McKenzie, Mike Prior, Bernardo Harris, Travis Jervey, and Terry Mickens. Love to see the hard work of J-Bush, P-Lee, MD Jennings, Crabtree, Saine and Ryan Taylor.

* Find the end zone Erik Walden! Touch pay dirt, young man!

* The Raiders had some success pressuring the Packers up the middle of the gut. Wonder if others will come aggressively with inside blitzes in the coming weeks.

* Morgan "the Predator" Burnett making tackles in the open field is a fun sight.

* Charlie Peprah is a solid safety when he's kept in the box as an 8th man.

* Nice to see Frank Zombo grab his 1st sack of the season. It'd be fun to see Mike Neal do the same.

* After 13 games, the Packers have forced 32 turnovers and generated 27 sacks.

* In the compensatory pick column for next years NFL Draft, it's worth noting that Anthony Smith was placed on IR this week. I still think Cullen Jenkins is probably worth a 5th round pick. So is Daryn Colledge. And the combination of Ras-A-tari, Spitz, Anthony Smith, Korey Hall, and B-Jack are probably worth two 7th round picks as well.

This week - the Packers are off to Arrowhead. My wife and I are heading to Kansas City as well. Going with a crowd of friends. Bringing the G-Force. With a vengeance. We'll be witness to the 20th straight win, a Packers QB record for TD passes as Rodgers strikes for #40 and as Bob McGinn reported this week; Mike McCarthy will accomplish something Vince Lombardi never did by going unbeaten on the road. To top it off, a win gives the Packers home field advantage all the way to the Super Bowl. I'm stoked!

The Chiefs are 5-8. But, they can't be overlooked. Arrowhead is a hostile environment. And - although I expect the stadium to be 1/3 Packers fans - the Chiefs aren't going down easily. Romeo Crennel will have his time ready to play. The defense will be fired up. And - a small piece of history reminds me of a 13-0 Denver Broncos team facing a 5-8 New York Giants team in New York, only to lose to New York 20-16. In this league, if you want to win, you must be ready. Every game of the year.

Once again, the Packers will face an under-appreciated defense. Tamba Hali can flat-out rush the passer. Last year, Hali had 15 sacks and this year he has 9 sacks. Justin Houston has 4 sacks in the last 2 weeks. Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson are stout at the point of attack against the run. Derrick Johnson is a total stud at ILB. Johnson is a tremendous pass rusher when he comes on the blitz. Brandon Flowers has been a solid NFL CB. He's able to man-up with most WR's in the league. Brandon Carr can be beat, but he'll also man-up against a WR and try to run with you. Kendrick Lewis is a young and improving Safety. The Chiefs defense will fight us. They'll compete. They'll mix it up and bring a variety of blitzes. If the Packers, can protect Rodgers, the Chiefs defense can be beat on double-moves over the top.

Offensively, the Chiefs are beat up. It appears as though Kyle Orton will make his first start as a Chief. As I mentioned earlier in the year when Orton started for the Broncos, Orton has fared well against the Packers throughout his career. He's 3-2 in his career as a starter against the Packers. He possesses the ball control skills to pull of the upset. Expect the Chiefs to throw a bundle of bubble screens to Steve Breaston, Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin. The Chiefs will also try and control the line of scrimmage by pounding the ball with Thomas Jones and Jackie Battle. Then - the Chiefs will spread the Packers out and jam the ball at you with the elusive Dexter McCluster.

With Mother Nature looking to keep the rain away until Monday, the weather looks like it'll be in the high 40's to low 50's at Kickoff. Sunny skies. Football weather for the Green Bay Packers. A classic AFC v NFC battle. A rematch of the 1st Super Bowl.

Protect Rodgers. Don't turn the ball over. Don't let the dangerous Javier Arenas get loose on a Punt Return. And the Packers will win by a large margin.

I can't be convinced that Orton has a full grasp of this offense and even if he does have an understanding, just a couple of days ago he wasn't even throwing the ball in practice. Orton might know our nuances, but the Packers defense has too many playmakers. Turnovers will be had. At least two of them.

Earlier in the year, when Orton was a Bronco, he had success against the Packers throwing it deep. Look for Orton to use the height advantage that Baldwin presents on a couple of fly patterns. As the Packers keep 8 in the box to protect against the bubble screen and the Chiefs ground game, it'll be up to Burnett to provide help over the top. Burnett grabs a jump ball interception this week.

Look for the Claymaker to have a big game with 2 sacks.

Rodgers throws for 250 more yards and 2 more TDs, eclipsing the Packers single season TD record. Jordy finds the end zone. So does Finley.

Playing loose, the Chiefs keep the game close for a half. But, they can't run with the Champs.

Packers 34. Chiefs 20.

Celebrate Home Field advantage.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.!/buzzboy3

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

12-0. 18 straight. In thrilling fashion! We were battle tested. On the road. In December. Against a desperate team with a Super Bowl MVP QB, a Super Bowl winning coach, and a formidable front 4 on the DL. We were victorious. This cannot be overstated. This was a Championship type win. And it was only fitting that on the day of this victory, the Packers clinched the NFC North Crown for the 1st time with #12 as the starting QB. Pardon me, while I sip a Zyr Gibson as celebration.

Quick hits from the victory over the New York Giants:

* Sure, once again, there were faults. Again, we struggled to stop the run. We struggled to run the ball. We couldn't pressure the QB. Our pass protection was sub-par. Our secondary was soft. Still, the Packers found victory. Welcome to the 2011 Green Bay Packers. It's apparent that these "flaws" are a part of this "unflawed" Packers team. And - in some ways - the beauty of this Packers team is our ability to overcome these deficiencies. Clearly, improving the DL is the #1 priority of the off-season. Until then, we have to hope Raji impresses. We have to hope Mike Neal rids himself of rust and becomes the guy we all hoped he'd become.

* The defense gave up 35 points - including a late drive to tie the game. The final drive didn't bother me. I expected Eli to perform in the end. He's done that throughout his career. Sure, I was disappointed we couldn't get pressure up the middle to force him to throw off his back foot, however in the end it didn't shock me that we didn't get the late stop. But, what bothered me about the defense was their play during the 3rd Quarter. Up 28-17. We let the Giants move down the field with little to no hassle. Normally, that's when the Packers have been flexing their might. They've been able to get off the field defensively and then McCarthy has called the deep ball to find a 3-score lead. Our defense failed us. Then, on the following Giants possession, Masthay had pinned the G-Men deep and we not only let them out of their own territory, but the Giants also moved the ball down the field for a FG. Defensively, we didn't seize the game when we had a chance to deliver an early knock-out punch.

* Mike McCarthy has been an aggressive play caller. With supreme confidence, an elite QB and a drive to keep Defensive Coordinators confused. We saw the Cobb pass against the G-Men. Soon, we'll see the reverse to Cobb. And, we'll see the swing pass to Cobb.

* Aaron Rodgers. MVP. The two words are synonymous. 369 yards. 4 TD's. BRILLIANT!

* Double-D! Old man showing he's still got game. That smile is priceless. And the wink was sensational. Stoked that was caught on camera!

* Jordy Nelson's route running has improved tremendously in 2011. He's in tune with Rodgers. And the footwork down the sideline was beyond spectacular.

* The greeting between Greg Jennings and Aaron Rodgers after the final pass was FANTASTIC! Teammates. In unison. Greatness!

* Be great, Greg Jennings!

* With Starks hurt, Brandon Saine is our best RB. I wouldn't be surprised to see Kuhn get enhanced touches as well. Clearly, Grant is not the same player that he was prior to the injury.

* This was Marshall Newhouse's worst game of the year.

* Bulaga is our best OL in 2011.

* Diedrich-Smith struggled. Badly. But, he was a starter in a win. And we didn't have to fully change the offensive structure in the process. Be thankful.

* Catch the ball, J-Mike. Catch the ball!

* Sad to see AQ81 is done for the year.

* CM3 making plays! Loved the pick-6. Long hair - Don't care!

* Charlie Peprah covering anyone in the slot is a scary proposition.

* Liked the effort of DJ Smith & Robert Francois. But, the results left a lot to be desired. Both get a pass as it was their first start and the victory was sweet. Francois has the potential to be our best pass covering ILB.

* Erik Walden is one step away from being a really good OLB. He has 30 QB hits. Yet, he only has 3 sacks.

* In 12 games, this defense has forced 27 turnovers and has generated 26 sacks.


* J-Bush playing legitimately as a gunner.

* Tim Masthay dropping bombs!

* Don't be surprised to see Ryan Taylor earning playing Time from the line of scrimmage over the last 4 weeks.

* If you didn't buy a share in the '90's, by one now. Be an owner of the world's greatest sports franchise!

* A quick look at the potential compensatory picks heading into the 2012 NFL Draft. Cullen Jenkins has started 12 games and he's produced with 5.5 sacks. Daryn Colledge has started 12 games at Guard for the Cardinals. Ras-A-tari Bigby has played in 11 games for the Seahawks, starting 1 game. In those 11 games, he has 11 tackles, 1 sack and 1 pass defensed. Anthony Smith has played in all 12 games. He's yet to make a start, but he has produced 2 passes defensed and 10 tackles. Korey Hall has appeared in 9 games. He's without a carry or a catch. Jason Spitz has made 5 appearances in 2011. As a reminder, B-Jack has been out all year due to injury. With the way the season has progressed, though the formula is unknown as to how compensatory picks are distributed, I'd project that the Packers will get 2 5th round picks and 2 7th round picks. Had B-Jack played this year, these picks would have likely been better.

This week - it's the Raiders. Watch yourself, G-Force. Don't sleep on the Raiders! Much like Tampa Bay, almost awkwardly, the Raiders are better suited for a cold, sloppy weathered game than the Packers are. The Lambeau Faithful must be ROWDY!

While conventional wisdom would suggest that this game could be similar to the '93 game vs. the Raiders in which LeRoy Butler invented the Lambeau Leap, this game has the potential to be dangerous. The Raiders run the football. They rush the passer. They're tough minded. They're physical. They punish you at the line of scrimmage. They have speed at WR. Much like Brandon Jacobs and LeGarrette Blount, Michael Bush is tough to bring down. And, if Darren McFadden plays, he's an absolute weapon.

This vintage AFC-NFC game - the rematch of Super Bowl II - shouldn't be a trap game. There's no reason to look past Oakland, but I just hope the Packers are focused from the start. There cannot be a lull to start this game. We can't offer the Raiders hope early in this game. The Packers must grab an early lead. With temperatures expected to be in the low-to-mid 30's, this is December football in Green Bay, WI. If behind early, the Raiders will want to get on the bus. Fresh off the dramatic victory in New York, the Packers should be relaxed.

Carson Palmer has been Jeckyll & Hyde. He's had moments of fine play. He's had moments in which he's been disastrous. He'll give us chances to make plays. We must get snatch the football. Big plays are in front of us on the defensive side of the ball.

It doesn't take a genius to figure it out but there are two keys to this game: Our ability to force turnovers and our ability to protect Aaron Rodgers.

Defensively, the Raiders are talented. They pressure the QB with a highly underrated DL. Lamarr Houston is better than he gets credit for. Richard Seymour is a Pro Bowler. Desmond Bryant never gives up on a play. Tommy Kelly will beat you up.

The LB core of the Raiders is also underrated. Aaron Curry has been much better as a Raider than he was as a Seahawk. Rolando McClain - if he plays - is absolutely legit. And Kamerion Wimbley is a very good 3rd down speed rusher who will absolutely challenge Newhouse. Wimbley has 6 sacks in the last 4 games.

While I'm not impressed with the Raiders secondary, they benefit from the successes of the front 7. The pressure of Oakland's front 7 is relentless and thus the weaknesses of Stanford Routt, Lito Sheppard, and Chris Johnson are often disguised. There is not one CB on the Raiders who can cover any of our top 5 WR's. But, we'll have our work cut out for us as we attempt to protect the NFL's MVP.

The Raiders are loaded with speed at WR. Early in the game, after a couple of run plays, expect the Raiders to call play-action and to test us deep. Carson Palmer hasn't played in weather like this in a long time. The ball will be under-thrown. It'll end up in the lap of T-Mon. TRAMONDOUS!

If the Raiders come out with the 2-deep Safety look. The Packers will spread out the defense with 3 WR's, J-Mike and a single back. Through a variety of quick hits, Rodgers moves the ball with ease. The play-calling and route design by McCarthy is at a PhD. Level. His play-calling doesn't allow the physically dominant Raiders to get pressure.

The Packers get an early lead as the Raiders play ball-control. They don't abandon the run. We see a lot of Bush. A lot of Kevin Boss testing our LB's. Keeping the sticks moving. And the Raiders will annoy. But, the Faithful stays strong.

Ryan Grant has been a mudder in his career. It'll be interesting to see if he can get loose this week.

Rodgers throws for 250 yards and 3 TD's as he keeps his 2-TD streak alive and extends it to an NFL Record tying 13 games. James Jones gets into the end zone. So does Jennings. So does Nelson.

Packers 30. Raiders 20.

Bring the noise, G-Force. Bring the noise! A win gives the Packers an all-important 1st round bye.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac!/buzzboy3

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

11-0. A win this week and the thought of 19-0 can begin. The Run for the Repeat is about to take the first crucial step as the Packers are not only on the cusp of clinching a playoff berth, but we're also on the brink of earning a 1st round bye and capturing the 1st NFC North title in the career of Aaron Rodgers as a starting QB. It's so close I can taste. After all that Rodgers has accomplished in his short career, it'd mark the 1st time Rodgers entered the post-season as a Regular Season Champion. It'd further the legacy he's already created in 4 short years as a starter. And he's performing in what is among the toughest divisions in the NFL.

A couple of quick hits from the Thanksgiving Feast in Detroit:

* It's worth leading off with this: BJ Raji dominated. He was moving the pile. He was getting a push. He collapsed the pocket. He recorded a sack. Hopefully, this was the game Raji needed to jump start this DL into another dominating playoff run.

* Once again, the Packers had a two score lead in the 2nd half and the Packers got the ball back. What did McCarthy call? The dagger! Of course. This time - it went to James Jones. Right when it looked as if Jones might disappear for the rest of the Run for the Repeat, Jones comes out and grabs three balls for a team-high 94 yards. We're deep and we're unpredictable because you never know whose number McCarthy is calling next. But, whether it's been Jennings, Nelson, J-Mike, Jones, Cobb, or Driver - more often than not - the Packers have walked away from the play as a winner.

* And, suddenly, our playmakers are making plays on defense. Look out. The Claymaker with a pick and although he didn't record a sack, his pressure was solid. Sir Charles with a pick. T-Mon got his hands on a couple of balls. The cast looks like it's getting smaller on Morgan Burnett's hand. Big plays are coming.

* Sometimes even a hot fire needs to be stoked. Such was the case with Aaron Rodgers on Turkey Day. While Aaron Rodgers presently has a warning label that reads: "CAUTION: FLAMMABLE" - his red hot right arm caught potency after the thuggish defensive line from the Detroit Lions went cheap on him in the 2nd Quarter. Granted, two of the hits weren't called for penalties, but clearly, they were late hits that were meant to inflict harm. After the game, ESPN Analyst said it best, and I paraphrase, "As a coach you either teach that style of play or you discipline that style of play. And in the case of Schwartz, it appears as though he teaches that style of play." They went after Rodgers in a dirty fashion. Rodgers responded with another near flawless performance. Aaron Rodgers, ladies & gentleman, is the unquestioned MVP of the NFL thus far. Consider this - and I thank my cousin Ryan for pointing this out to me - but, presently, Rodgers is 17th in the NFL in passing attempts. He's 4th in completions. He's 1st in TD's. He's 1st in yards per attempt. He's 3rd in yards. Of the starting QB's in the league, he's thrown the least amount of interceptions. He's 1st in completion percentage. He's yet to lose a fumble. His team is undefeated after 11 games. It's almost unbelievable to consider the level of QB play that were witnessing out of the XLV MVP.

* Of course Charles Woodson was picking off a pass in Detroit. He went straight gangsta on Matthew Stafford. That play was inhumane. One of my favorite defensive plays of the year. Straight gangsta, man. Straight gangsta! Giving him 53 interceptions in his Hall of Fame career.

* Marshall Newhouse, dude. His best game of the year. Might he be the Left Tackle of the future? At times, he's showed it's legitimately possible. Should the Run for the Repeat end in the XLVI crown, I'll couple him with Bruce Wilkerson as saviors. For the most part, Wilkerson shut down Vanden Bosch.

* Champions have depth. And, on Turkey Day, the depth came through. Struggling though the most physically taxing portion of the schedule, the Packers endured the injuries that you had to assume were on the horizon. Bishop, Hawk, and Clifton all went out. In came DJ Smith, Robert Francois, and Evan Diedrich-Smith. DJ was abusive. 5 solo tackles. 1 assist. He was a menace to the Lions OL on the pass rush. He gets low. He hits with might. He was fresh. He wanted success. He found success. He has a future in this league. Francois came up HUGE with the interception that preceded the deep ball to James Jones. Francois also pitched in with 3 solo tackles. And all Evan Diedrich-Smith did was pin Suh to the turf with an epic pancake. He frustrated Suh so vigorously that Suh's retaliation led to his ejection. Pure domination.

* Another solid game for Sam Shields.

* Mason Crosby drilling a couple of big kicks.

* Say what you want about Dom Capers' defense, but man, 2 of the 3 three games, this defense has looked pretty dominant. And on the season the team has 25 sacks, picked off 22 passes, recovered 3 fumbles, has 27 tackles for loss and has scored 3 touchdowns. They give up a boatload of yards, but they have a pension for making the big play.

* Another 4 catch day for Jordy Nelson.

* Rodgers connected with 9 different receivers. How great was it to see Saine catching the swing pass and falling forward after contact and grabbing extra yards!?!? He's not a life saver as a back, but he provides a decent option. I like his moxie. I like his approach. He is a competitor. I've thought this since the first time I watched him play. And there he was - grabbing big yards after contact. These plays were supposed to go to Alex Green. Saine is making the most of his chances.

* Greg Jennings. Man. A 5 catch, 74 yard, 1 TD game is so ho-hum. What a superstar!

* J-Mike - mate, I got your back. Through thick and through thin. But, mate, you gotta hold onto the ball.

* Glad Walden kept himself out of jail. He's playing his best ball of the year.

* I'm curious to see what happens to Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders GM job. It'd be a bummer if we lost him. He's a key to continuing to build on this franchise during the offseason. He's been a staple. If Oakland grabs him, they're getting a real talent.

* Didn't agree with P-Lee's ejection. Once again, I want to reiterate that J-Bush and P-Lee have had very good seasons and have been weapons as gunners on special teams.

* Have to love Matt Flynn's beard. After watching a number of back-up QB's over the past couple of weeks - especially last weekend - it wouldn't surprise me if Ted Thompson gives Matt Flynn the money he wants during the offseason to keep him around.

This week - it's the Giants. The Packers and the Giants have developed a mini-rivalry over the last couple of years. In '07, we know what happened in the NFC Championship Game. Then - last year - the Giants were the team that allowed the Packers to get into the playoffs after DeSean Jackson danced all over the New Meadowlands and then the Giants came to Lambeau and Aaron Rodgers went bananas on the Giants secondary. Rodgers threw for over 400 yards and 4 TD's as the Packers routed the Giants 45-17.

Don't be fooled by the Giants performance last Monday Night in New Orleans. They're a physical team. They can win games with their front 4. They can pressure the QB. They can make life miserable for the oppositions offensive play caller. With that said, the G-Men are beat up on the DL. Tuck is playing at less than 100%. Osi got banged up against the Saints. Still, JPP is an absolute beast. When Kiwi puts his hand in the ground and rushes the passer, he's also a legitimate threat. Tollefson can also put pressure on the QB. Canty gets a push. They have depth on the DL. They'll try to expose Diedrich-Smith as a weakness as Sitton will be out. They'll try to attack Newhouse to see if he's sturdy enough on the outside. They'll run stunts to try and confuse our inexperienced guards. If we're not prepared, it could be a long day for Aaron Rodgers. The G-Men made a mess out of Tom Brady - in New England. This will be a tough task for our OL. Expect our TE's to chip the Giants ends. Expect Kuhn or Starks to be kept in the pocket to help block and then they'll jump out as safety valves for the NFL's MVP.

If Rodgers has time, he'll torch the Giants defense. The New York LB core is beat up. They can't cover. They don't play well in space. The Packers will own the middle of the field if Aaron Rodgers has time in the pocket.

The Giants secondary has gained depth with the return of Prince Amukamara. Amukamara is a talented CB. Ross can play. So can Webster. But, oddly, the safeties, Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips have not lived up to expectations. They can be beat down the middle of the field. In the past, Jordy Nelson has given Rolle nightmares. It'll happen again on Sunday. Look for Nelson to grab a deep ball.

Last year, the Packers attacked Corey Webster down the outside of the field with Greg Jennings. Webster couldn't run with Jennings. I expect the Packers to target this same match-up on Sunday.

Offensively, Eli Manning has some talented options, if they're healthy. Victor Cruz has emerged as a legitimate threat. Hakeem Nicks is an absolute weapon. When healthy, Mario Manningham has been tough to defend. Ramses Barden has disappointed, but physically, he has all of the tools to be a big time target and a match-up nightmare. Jake Ballard has been a great resource for Manning. With these receivers, Manning has had the best year of his career.

The Giants running game has been in flux. Brandon Jacobs is still a staple in the ground game. Ahmad Bradshaw has been out for nearly a month with a foot injury. DJ Ware has some wiggle to him, but his skills are limited. And while Da'Rel Scott is a Giants-fan favorite, he's yet to have the game in which he bursts onto the scene. And frankly, in the little I've seen of Scott, I'm not concerned that he's going to be someone that beats up. I'm hoping Bishop and/or Hawk can play this week. While Smith & Francois both played well last week, it'd be asking a lot of them to perform at that level for a 2nd week in a row.

Look for the Packers to force turnovers once again. They'll pick Manning off twice and force a fumble. Manning will float the ball down the middle. Burnett better be ready. He'll have an opportunity to swing momentum.

Rodgers gets just enough time. His receivers make plays after the catch. J-Mike has a big game as he scores twice.

Packers 34. Giants 23.

The playoff berth is clinched. Essentially, so is the Division Crown. And, so is the 1st round bye. It's a celebration. 3 of the last 4 are at Lambeau. The other is at Arrowhead. I'm making the trip to KC. 16-0 is within reach. So, is 19-0. Let's get it!

Go Pack Go!
Talkin' S-Mac.