Saturday, December 29, 2012

College Football: Who Are You Watching Now?

Greetings, G-Force.

The NFL Draft is one of my strongest, innermost passions. I love to talk it. I enjoy the fantasy thought of it. So, here's a brief outline of who I'm going to be watching on Saturday - in anticipation of the upcoming NFL Draft. I expect to be actively watching 4 of the 5 games. If I'm not, I'll have it on DVR and I'll be sure to check it out prior to April's NFL Draft. As a side note, I won't be listing any of the OL.

Rice v Air Force

For Rice, I'll give a quick peak at three players: Jared Williams, DE/OLB; Luke Wilson, TE; Vance McDonald, TE; Sam McGuffie, WR. McGuffie is an interesting prospect. You may remember him from his Freshman year at Michigan. He played RB for Michigan and transferred to Rice. He also runs track for Rice. He recently switched from RB to WR and he also returns kicks.

For Air Force, Alex Means, LB, interests me.

West Virginia v Syracuse

West Virginia's WR's are of high interest for me. Tavon Austin is in the mold of Randall Cobb/Percy Harvin. He's smaller than both, but he's equally as lethal in the open field. He's littered with elusiveness. Great vision. Will be a dynamic KR/PR, slot WR option. Stedman Bailey is a sure handed WR who is great at winning jump balls and making plays in traffic. Geno Smith will be one of the top QB's drafted, but he won't be around when the Packers draft.

Syracuse's QB, Ryan Nassib, is a top notch QB who might pique the Packers interest in the mid-rounds. He can make all of the throws. Gamer. Can get out of the pocket and wing it. Shamarko Thomas, S, is a heavy hitter, but a lacks ideal height. WR's Alec Lemon & Marcus Sales are worth noting. I'll also be curious to see if Brandon Sharpe, DE/OLB, has the ability to disrupt the Dub-V passing attack.

Navy v Arizona State

Frankly, this will probably be one of the few Bowl games that I won't tune into for very long.

Texas v Oregon State

Texas has two highly touted players on defense in Alex Okafor DE/OLB and Kenny Vaccaro, S. Both are likely to be drafted in the first 2-3 rounds.

Oregon State has a great CB in Jordan Poyer. They have a number of Sr's on defense including Castro Masaniani who is a stout DL against the run. He's also had 2 sacks on the year. Andrew Seumalo has been a consistent DL as well for the Beavers. Anthony Watkins, S, might be a prospect in someone's camp as well. Markus Wheaton, WR, has been a great target and has exceeded 1200 yards. TE, Colby Prince has NFL size. It should be noted that Oregon State's best player, Scott Crichton, OLB/DE, is only a Sophomore.

TCU v Michigan State

I'm uber excited for this game. It'll be one of the more interesting Bowl games. It's not going to be filled with an abundance of offensive prowess, but the teams match up well. And I've seen each team play on a couple of occasions this year, so I have good familiarity.

TCU has a young team. Matthew Tucker, RB, is probably the best NFL Draft prospect at the skill positions for them.

Michigan State will potentially have a number of prospects in the first couple of rounds of the Draft - depending on who all declares. Le'Veon Bell, RB; Dion Sims, TE; William Gholston, OLB/DE, and Max Bullough, ILB, would all be drafted in the top 3 rounds. Bullough is one of my favorite players in all of college football. Tough nosed defender. A leader. A 3-down player. Plays the run, drops in coverage and is a stellar blitzing LB. I'd love him in Green Bay. I was excited to see Anthony Rashad White, DL, play this year. White and Jerel Worthy formed a great tandem last year. But, this year, White has seemed winded. He's been less dominant than I expected. He's lacked the energy that I saw last year. Still, I like his game. Excited to see him vs TCU. CB Johnny Adams is a physical defender, despite his size.

Enjoy Bowl Week. It's College Football Heaven.

Go Pack Go!


Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 28, 2012

My Take -> Week 17

Greetings, G-Force.

In the holiday spirit, the Packers dropped double-nickle on dem Titans! Mek We Dweet! Gon' straight up Pop Tarts on the Tennessee franchise. Beauty! Yes, 55 points! 55!

Here's some vibes from the game:

* Dom Capers mixing it up was a thing of beauty. The disguise was elite. Let's make that defense the defense that defines the Green Bay Packers. Stay away from the vanilla. Let's pursue the QB!

* Interesting to see Clay Matthews shadowing Jake Locker. Not the first time that we've seen Clay shadowing a QB, but it provided a glimpse of what we'd see if the Packers played the 49ers in a playoff game.

* The Claymaker was an absolute beast last Sunday. In all facets of the game. His intensity is unmatched.

* For only the 2nd time in his career, AJ Hawk had two sacks in a game. Might have been Hawk's best game as a Packer.

* Sammy Swagga is just as he did at the end of the XLV Season.

* Mike Neal. Yes, Mike Neal. He's been a difference maker and has been a key point in allowing Capers to mix things up.

* T-Mon continuing to play at a TRAMONDOUS level.

* Brad Jones has been steady. And improving weekly.

* Mike Daniels showing good ability against the run.

* BJ Raji was an complete stud against the Titans. Bullying folk. Against the run and the pass. He even batted down a pass! Get your hands up, BJ!

* Saw a lot of true 3-4 defense. With Pickett, Raji, Neal, CM3, Moses, Jones and Hawk. Liked what I saw. Might we see the same thing this week?

* Keep plugging holes, Ryan Pickett.

* The Walden/Moses rotation seemed to produce more consistent effort and fresher legs.

* I like the Moses, Neal, CM3, Daniels/Raji pass rush combination. A LOT!

* Casey Hayward showing slot blitzing skills. Kid is a playmaker.

* Sammy Swagga and Morgan Burnett - do a lil' dance, baby. Enjoy yourselves!

* The secondary is playing well right now. Having a pass rush helps. There's a lot of big play potential. Two interceptions last week and extremely close to an abundance of other turnovers. Big plays are coming from the defensive side of the ball.

* Aaron Rodgers won't win the MVP award this year, but when he's playing his best football, he's the best player in the NFL.

* Greg Jennings and Aaron Rodgers were inches away from 3 BIG plays. If they find there rhythm, this team could find that Super feeling.

* James Jones has really developed a nose for the end zone.

* Really wanted Double-D to haul in that last pass. Wanted him to get the standing ovation. So did McCarthy. Would have sealed the 55-0 shutout and Driver - who was playing his last regular season game at Lambeau Field - would have reveled in the applause.

* Hard to watch Cobb get injured. That said - he has to be our kick/punt returner. For this year any way. He's a weapon and a threat every time he touches the ball. When he went down, I immediately thought that I had to alter my mock draft for next year. It's my belief that the Packers will draft someone in the Cobb/Harvin mold who can return kicks and continue to add to that phase of the team. Tavon Austin in Green Bay next year?

* Great return, Jeremy Ross. Even with my previous comment regarding a draft pick, Ross will get a shot to be the return man next year.

* Ryan Grant in the end zone. Beauty! Grant ran hard. Looked like his '07 self.

* DuJuan Harris is fun. Great patience. Yet hits the hole with conviction. Plows forward. Great bounce to his step.

* Imagine this offense if Jordy Nelson and Rodgers can find their rhythm? A plethora of options.

* J-Mike is playing solid football right now. He's become the go-to guy for Rodgers in the 2-minute drill. Like what I'm seeing out of him.

* 8 players had receptions.

* Keep doing your thing, Don Barclay. On Harris' TD run, it was great stuff to watch Barclay clear out the lane. Sitton blowing his man up and getting to the second level. EDS showing the athleticism to slide and help. Harris showed the patience required for the hole to open up. Perfection.

* The Green Bay Packers have a running game. One that is good enough to feel Super about.

* Really like Robert Francois on special teams.

* Contrary to last year, the Green Bay Packers seem to be playing their best football at the right team of the year. Oh, and we're getting healthy.

This week - it's the Viqueens. In the dome. Prior to the 49ers loss to the Seahawks, a piece of me thought that I'd find schadenfreude in the thought of the Packers losing, which would prevent the Bears from making the playoffs. But, with the 49ers loss, the Packers are staring the #2 seed and a 1st round bye in the face. And, with parity in the NFC at an all-time high, a 1st round bye is extremely advantageous. Additionally, it'd give another week for Cobb and Woodson to heal and another week for Nelson and Jennings to seek cohesion with Rodgers.

AP should be this years NFL MVP. Without him, the 'queens would have little-to-no offense. Sure, Kyle Rudolph is a solid player. But, Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson aren't scaring anyone. Neither is Christian Ponder. With AP, the whole dynamics of the offense are changed. On any given play, there is a touchdown waiting to happen. He is THAT good.

The 'queens defense is rock solid. Jared Allen always gives the Packers issues. Kevin Williams is legit. Brian Robison is a fighter. But, the guy who is really coming on as of late is Everson Griffen. Griffen was USC's replacement for the Claymaker. He had a quiet start to his career, but he's been playing at an elite level over the last couple of weeks. The Packers are going to have to establish a running game in order to slow down the 'queens pass rush. And, when the Packers do throw, it'll be up to Rodgers to get rid of the ball quickly. If not, this could be a long day for the Packers offense.

Minnesota is quietly building some other really nice pieces to their defense. Harrison Smith looks like a future All-Pro at Safety. He's a sure tackler who is smart, aware and plays the ball well in the air. Chad Greenway is consistent. Antoine Winfield still has gas in the tank. Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson are serviceable.

Add it all up and add in the fact that the 'queens have a playoff berth on the line and Minnesota is a dangerous opponent. Plus, it's in the dome.

Since divisional play began in 1967, there's never been an NFL team to have back-to-back undefeated seasons within their division. With a win, the Packers would be the first to accomplish this feat. McCarthy has always been adamant about taking care of divisional opponents. It'd be a monumental feat if the Packers could beat the Viqueens on Sunday.

In order for Minnesota to win, they'll have to play mistake free football. AP will need to break the NFL's rushing record. Christian Ponder will have to consistently convert 3rd downs. Kyle Rudolph will have to be a consistent threat on the play-action roll-out passes. And, defensively, the 'queens will have to be able to apply significant pressure with just 4 rushers. It's possible. But, I don't see it happening.

This Packers team is headed in the right direction. Their best football is in front of them. While the Viqueens have been a cute story this year, I can't envision Minnesota stopping this Packers offense for 60 minutes. And, when push-comes-to-shove, I don't foresee Christian Ponder stepping up in the pocket, avoiding the rush and making the big 3rd-down throw. If Ponder doesn't turn the ball over on Sunday, Minnesota has a chance to milk the clock and keep it close down the stretch. But again, I don't see that happening. Expect the Packers defense to force a couple of turnovers.

Harris, Grant, and Rodgers combine for more than 100 yards. Rodgers throws 3 more TD's. We haven't seen many long TD's from our passing game this year, but Jennings gets deep for a big one. Minnesota hangs tough for 45 minutes, but the Packers pull away late.

Green Bay 27. Minnesota 16.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Take -> Week 16

Greetings, G-Force.

I offer you my best Bill Murray voice with this one: We came. We saw. We kicked it's ass!

A tie game. Hotly contested. Bears with the ball. A minute before halftime. The NFC North Title lingering in the balance. Ray Nutler under center. And, in vintage Nutler fashion, he hits Casey Hayward right between the numbers! Yes, trump card was on display again. On the road. Soldier Field, once again, hoisted the trophy. In the Visitors Locker Room. And, again, Bears fans were in a rage over Ray Nutler. My good buddy, Grammy, texted me in the 3rd Quarter: "Stopped watching game. May not watch another game until they get rid of Cutler. I'm done supporting that fuck. I'm playing Madden instead. Just traded Cutler for a 3rd round pick." Meanwhile, my good buddy, Tommy Datullo, was texting me prior to the Bears final possession,  "Don't worry. This fking loser will throw a pick."

Trump card refreshed. The Green Bay Packers own Soldier Field. And, damn it feels good to be a Packers fan! The NFC North title is ours. And, it tastes sweet. Yes, oh, so sweet.

The Packers have overcame an abundance of hurdles so far in 2012. We had a victory stolen from us by the refs. We have battled immense injuries. We have persevered. We are Division Champs.

No, I'm not on a high horse. We aren't playing at an elite level, but we're getting closer. 

* Didn't like the way McCarthy called the game. Got away from the run in the 1st half. Really disappointed that it took a vintage Nutler play to generate points in the 2-minute offense. When the Packers got the ball with 2:11 to play in the first half, I expected points. Instead, we got a 3-and-out. 

* Ray Nutler hit Casey Hayward right in the chest. Then, he pouted on the sidelines. Like the cry baby that he is. Yoda would calmly say to Ray: Ray Nutler, Cry Baby, you are.

* Getting points before the half was crucial as it positioned the Packers to take a 2-score lead when they got the ball to start the 2nd Half. Thank you, Ray Nutler!

* Huge play of the game: Down 7-0. Bears with all of the momentum. 3rd & 6 from the Green Bay 34. Rodgers to Cobb for 31 yards. Brilliance!

* Rodgers won't be the MVP. McCarthy won't win Coach of the Year. But, the Packers have dealt with as much adversity and injuries as anyone and we are 10-4. Division Champs, baby! And, this is mostly due to Rodgers & McCarthy.

* I love holding Trump Card!

* Welcome back, Claymaker! 5 tackles. 1 assist. 2 sacks. 1 pass defensed. All-around football player. He did a remarkable job against the run.

* Randall Cobb had 6 catches. 3 of them were on 3rd down. 1 was on 4th down. All were first downs. Budding superstar! 

* Speaking of Cobb, he's likely to be the 1st player in the history of the NFL to have 1,000 kickoff return yards & 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

* Aaron Rodgers makes plays that Ray Nutler dreams of.

* Well played, Don Barclay! Be a savior, young man!

* BJ Raji. Looking like he's arrived.

* Tough to tell if it was the Bears OL or not, but the 4-man rush of Moses, Matthews, Neal and the Daniels/Raji rotation applied some significant pressure. Dare I say, Championship type pressure.

* Odd to say maybe, but Mike Neal is a key to the long term success of the Packers. Playing thru pain, Neal was relentless in his pursuit of Ray Nutler. 

* Jerel Worthy has 2.5 sacks on the year. 1.5 of them have come against Nutler. I'll take it.

* If our defensive front can apply that type of pressure for the rest of the year, we will be tough to beat. Our secondary will make big plays and make the most of opportunities.

* T-Mon is playing his best football since the XLV title game.

* Sammy Swagga playing at Pro Bowl levels over the last 2 weeks.

* Mike Daniels brings energy. 

* Ray Nutler for President!

* J-Mike = Ballin'!

* Rest up, Jordy! We're going to need you. 

* Be Great, Greg Jennings. Get your form back.

* James Jones with the HAT TRICK!

* Good game, Ryan Pickett. You, too, Brad Jones. The goal line stand was enormous.

* Mason Crosby, that was pathetic. Almost as bad as the fake punt. What were you thinking, Mike McCarthy? The game was over!

* Up 14. Division on the line. With the ball. 5:14 to play in the 3rd. A 3-score game Would have been a dagger. A classic "Championship Drive" was waiting in the wings. Rodgers to Cobb for 27 yards on 3rd & 10. Ryan Grant bursts thru the hole for 14 yards. And, then, inexplicably, he fumbles! Unbelievable.

* Sometimes the defense needs to provide the dagger. And, in Soldier Field, that man was Sammy Swagga.

* In 2 games against the Packers, Brandon Marshall totaled 7 catches, 80 yards, 1 TD, 1 tear infested press conference. Well done, Dom Capers.

*  Liked the force that DaJuan Harris & Alex Green ran with. Both were fighting for yards.

* This team is starting to show signs that we are ready to make a Super Bowl run. There are glimpses that show we are ready. Then, we follow it up with a fumble, an awful pass interference and an idiotic fake on a punt with the game in hand. We've put one complete game together all year and that was against the Texans. I don't have conviction that we have an XLVII run in us, but I see positive things happening, which offers hope that our best football is still in front of us.

After the game, Ray Nutler proclaimed, "It's not a rivalry anymore. It's a domination." Yes, the Bears still suck!

This week, it's the Titans. At Lambeau Field. I've always felt that one of the more glorious moments in sports is when my Dad pipes in John Lennon's "Happy Christmas" and he belts out "And, so this is Christmas..." Snow in the air. Lambeau smiles all around. Victory in the air. That's sport. That's football. That's picturesque beauty! Bring it G-Force!

The Titans are better than their record suggests. They have a fast, hard hitting defense. For those that have followed the blog, you know that I enjoy Colin McCarthy & Akeem Ayers. I thought both would look good in Green & Gold. They'll be tough to run on. Derrick Morgan provides another stiff test for Don Barclay. Though the Titans depth is limited in the secondary, they do have a solid core with Jordan Babineaux, Altereaun Verner, Jason McCourty & Michael Griffin. Prior to getting drafted, I really enjoyed Verner's game at UCLA. 

The Titans offense is not lethal, but they're fairly healthy. Jake Locker can frustrate you with his toughness and mobility. He's fearless. And, he has a knack for Knowing where the chains are. Chris Johnson is a big play waiting to happen. So are Kenny Britt, Nate Washington and Kendall Wright. The Titans are not a push over.

Look for the Packers to pack the box. Give help covering Britt over the top. Expect Raji to have a good game. Neal as well. The Titans will be pesky. They'll annoy you. Frustrate you. Keep it close. Make you believe they can win. Plus, nothing comes easy for this Packers team. Let's make Lambeau a tough place to play. With a slippery track, we can make it a tough world for Chris Johnson. Jake Locker will be in an environment that he's unaccustomed to. 

It'll be tight for a half, but Tennessee cannot run with us for 60 minutes. Harris pounds forward. Keeps the clock running. The yardage marker as well. I enjoy this run game. The Faithful elevate in rowdy fashion.

Green Bay 28. Tennessee 16. 

The college football regular season has ended. With that, here's a mock draft for you to follow during Bowl Season. I'm not advanced with respect to OL knowledge, so once again, I will refrain from drafting OL.  I'm working off of the assumption that thePackers have the 32nd pick of the draft. Additionally, I'm giving the Packers a conditional pick in both the 5th & 6th rounds. Finally, as always, I only comment if I've watched him play previously.

Round 1: I would love to get Sheldon Richardson, DL, Mizzou. The DL needs help as well and I love Richardson's versatility. He can drop in zone coverage. He can move to an end in the 3-4. He can hold the point with only 2-down linemen. He's aggressive in pursuit. He dominates SEC games. I want him. Even if he has attitude concerns. With that said, it is unlikely that Richardson lasts until #32, so my pick is Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford. Ertz has Ted Thompson written all over him. A gifted TE that Thompson would call a "football player." You can spread him wide. He is fearless when the ball is in the air. A match-up nightmare. Plus, Thompson loves his TE's.
Round 2: Chase Thomas, OLB, Stanford. Wish I wasn't picking two players from the same school, but I'm enamored with the maturity level of a number of players on this Stanford team. Thomas is an ideal 3-4 OLB. He can drop in coverage. He's a high effort guy. He attacks Tackles with a vicious approach. An all-around football player. Other: Philip Thomas, S, Fresno State. Ballhawk. Finds the ball in the air. Only saw him play once. Against a pathetic Colorado team. Thomas finds the ball. He reads plays well and takes good angles when the ball is in flight.
Round 3: Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State. If Bullough declares, I want him. He'd bring attitude and intensity to our defense. A 3-down ILB. He stops the run. He can blitz. He can cover. He gets sideline-to-sideline. He's a leader.
Round 4: Stedman Bailey, WR, Dub-V. I love me some Mountaineer football. Bailey is a great at winning jump balls. He's a gamer. Catches the ball in traffic. He's sure handed. He has a pension for making big plays.
Round 5: Chris Jones, DL, Bowling Green. A bit undersized, but he's a fearless pass rusher. Provides a strong push with maximum effort
Round 5: Josh Evans, S, Florida. While Matt Elam gets most of the praise, Evans steadily goes about his business. He will knock you backwards, he has a knack for making a play on the ball. He takes good angles when going in to make a tackle. He has a shot to be a legit NFL player.
Round 6: Abry Jones, DL, Georgia. Battled injuries. When healthy, he plugs holes and balls with the best of the SEC. Good rotational player with a football mind. Gets a solid push. True play disruptor. Anthony Rashad White, DL, Michigan State. He's been inconsistent. Hasn't had the year that I thought he would, but he has the potential, if motivated, o be a solid rotational DL. 
Round 6: Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas. A classic pick. Super talented. Cannot stay healthy. When he is on the field, he is a baller. Definitely one to watch. Other: Marquess Wilson, WR, Washington State. 1st round talent. Poor attitude. Not a team player. Likely to be a Cowboy. All of the talent in the world. Struggles to be focused. Enjoy his talents. Not sure of the mental make-up.
Round 7: Ryan Radcliff, QB, Central Michigan. His arm passes the eye test, but I believe in BJ Coleman. Call me foolish, but Coleman will be our back-up QB next year. Nonetheless, it is tough for me to imagine Graham Harrell being back with the Packers. Need to invest in another QB. Radcliff wen to Iowa and came away victorious. He was cool, calm and confident. Caught my eye.I like Harry Peoples, WR, UL-Lafayette. He's in the Randall Cobb mold. Just get him the ball and let him work.
More to come after the Bowl season.

Go Packk Go! 

Merry Christmas to all!

Talkin' S-Mac.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Take -> Week 15

Greetings, G-Force.

Oh, what a win! Dramatic fashion! On a picturesque evening at Lambeau Field, it started off in awful fashion. But, once again, this Packers team showed its resiliency, mental mettle and will to win as they outfought the Lions over the course of 60 minutes. Nothing comes easy for this Packers team, but due to sheer determination and a fortuitous fumble return, the Packers can clinch the NFC North Championship at Soldier Field.  But, before we dive into the Bears game, here's some vibes from the victory over the Lions:

* DaJuan Harris! Yes, that's right, I just kicked it off with DaJuan Harris! Amazing! After the game, Aaron Rodgers said "he has the chance to be special." That is enough to get me excited. Harris displayed great vision, quickness, and power. He seemed to have a turbo button inside of him and appeared to add a speed dimension to our offense. After watching his YouTube video, it's clear that he can catch the ball as well. I fancy he'll be more involved in the action this week. It wouldn't surprise me to see him utilized via the screen.

* Don Barclay! If he keeps this up, all Packers fans will be yelling: LET'S GOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS! LET'S GOOOOO DRINK SOME BEERS! The Dub-V grad has made an enormous impact on our running game and he's a battler in the passing game as well. He will be tested in grand fashion this weekend as I expect to see Peppers lined up across from him on Sunday. Sure, the Bears will use a rotation, but they'll expect Pappers to be dominant when he matches up with Barclay.

* Hopefully, after this year, Harris & Barclay will add to the legend that is Ted Thompson.

* Aaron Rodgers, the reigning MVP of the National Football League, delivers a belt and a Lambeau Leap post an epic 3rd down TD run.

* Thought Alex Green showed some power with the football.

* The game winning TD was a 7-play drive. All 7 plays were run plays. That's two games in a row in which the run game has produced crucial drives in the 4th Quarter. 

* After the 7-play TD drive, the defense got the stop! It was time for an attempt at a "Championship Drive." Cobb had just ran elegantly down the sideline on the punt return for 13 yards. McCarthy came out in a wishbone formation with Greg Van Roten & John Kuhn as FB. It looked like a run play. McCarthy called play action and looked for the HR. In 2012, we haven't been able to hit the deep ball. Once again, we didn't, but the beauty is found in the fact that if we keep running the ball, defenses will have to trust the run and that play will be open. Further, we've shown the play action on film, so defenses may expect the bomb, which could open up the offense even further.

* On the big play of the "Championship Dive", Rodgers found Cobb for 38 big yards on 3rd down. Oddly, the Lions only rushed 3. The Lions pain was the Packers gain. Cobb is clearly the go-to guy for Rodgers.

* For those that are new to the blog, let me remind you of the CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVE. Championship teams know how to deliver the dagger. The have an internal knockout punch. Such as having the ball early in the 4th Quarter with a 2-score lead and delivering the points required to make it a 3-score game and put it out of reach. Or when you have the lead and the ball with under 6 minutes in the 4th Quarter. A 2-score game clinches victory. Championship teams find those points. The last two weeks, the Packers sealed wins late like Championship teams do.

* Rumble On, Mike Daniels. He is our best DL right now. Not because he recovers a fumble that is blown out of a QB's hands by the ghosts of Lambeau and then returns that fumble for a momentum changing TD. Daniels gets a push nearly every time he's on the field. And, when you work hard, you create your own fortune. 

* I believe in Mike McCarthy. It's not always pretty, but he wins. Often. Not to put the cart before the horse, but if the Packers finish 12-4, it'd be an absolutely remarkable achievement by McCarthy. All along, we've known that this team would both evolve and improve as they season grew old. We are playing an abundance of youngsters. Well, who knew, but we are establishing an identity that's based around a commitment to running the ball and we've displayed a character centered around intestinal fortitude. We've been punched in the gut. We've responded with authority and a never say die attitude.

* EDS as a pulling guard! Showing some agility. Might see him as a FB some this week. I expect Lang to be back at LG, which would make EDS the extra blocker instead of Van Roten.

* BJ Raji providing a push. Keep working, big man.

* Brad Jones knows where he should be. He's a hard working player. A smart player. He's in the right place, he's just not good enough to finish every play. Still, I admire his effort, intelligence and desire. Reminds me of Ron Cox from the '96 Packers team.

* Liked seeing a feisty AJ Hawk in the 2nd half.

* T-Mon gon' nose-to-nose and toes-to-toes with Calvin Johnson and playing extraordinary!

* Welcome back, Sammy Swagga! Play On, Playa!

* I will always remember Frank Zombo for his HUGE sack in the 3rd Quarter of the XLV victory. Sadly, he looks awful right now.

* Walden & Moses look exhausted. We need the Claymaker back. Immediately.

* Casey Hayward is a stud! Love his work in the slot. Now, hang onto the ball, mate.

* How is that a 15-yard penalty on Morgan Burnett?

* Good game Josh Sitton & Marshall Newhouse.

* When I watch Nick Fairley, I hope Jerel Worthy's career follows in similar footsteps. Worthy looks like he can't play at this level, but Fairley looked like an average playe last year. Both were beasts in college. Fairley has returned to beast status. Hopefully, the same happens for Worthy next year.

* Has Jerron McMillan hit the rookie wall? Sure seems like it.

* Well done, Mason Crosby. Find your stride, bro.

* J-Mike looking sure handed and fighting for yards. I likey!

* Ryan Grant. Good to see you again.

This week, it's Bear week. Once again, the Packers travel South to attempt to win a title at Soldier Field. Please, let me remind you:

Halas Trophy. Soldier Field. Visitors Locker Room. Trump Card. Forever!

As we look to write another chapter in the rich history of the NFL's most storied rivalry, the Packers aim to clinch the 2012 NFC North title. If the Packers are serious about making an XLVII run, this is the type of game that is a must win. In sports, teams can hold mental advantages over another team. Think about the Cowboys relationship with the Packers in the mid 90's. The same applies for the Packers and Bears right now. At present, the Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers own the Ray Nutler-led Chicago Bears. 

Thus far, the 2012 Packers have done well when they've faced heavy adversity or difficult situations.They beat the Bears when they were in danger of going 0-2 to start the season. They beat the Saints when 1-3 was a possibility. Then, they manhandled the Texans as 2-4 was staring them dead in the face. They've found ways to win without a number of Superstars, such as Clay, Sir Charles, Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson. They've played all year without emotional leader, Desmond Bishop. The OL's depth has been decimated. Through it all, the Packers have found ways to win.

Contrary to the Packers, the Bears have struggled with adversity. They have not played well with injuries. They have not made the necessary in-game adjustments. They were once 7-1. Now, they're 8-5. Lovie Smith's job appears to be in jeopardy. This week, I worked in Chicago and three things were mentioned on multiple occasions:

1.) If you want Lovie Smith to be fired, you should root for the Green Bay Packers this week because if he wins the Division, he won't get fired.
2.) This defense looks old. Briggs, Peppers and Tillman look like they've aged over th last 4 weeks.
3.) Should the Bears move on without Ray Nutler? His contract is up after next year and he wants to be paid as though he's a top 5 QB. It was even hypothesized that the Bears could trade their first round pick and Nutler for a top 5-10 pick in the draft.

All real. I swear. Yes, that's how the Chicago media is painting the picture prior to the game with the NFC North title on the line. During the 5:00 rush hour traffic and over the lunch hour. Unbelievable. Seriously.

We can't let them out of this funk. Let's knock them further into their misery. With conviction. On the road. At Soldier Field. In the visitors locker room. Once again. 

Since 1994, the Packers record is 15-4 in the state of IL. At Soldier Field, the record is 14-4 as the two teams played in Champaigne in 2002. While this is a road game, it's been friendly confines for the Packers.

In order for the Bears to win, they will have to run the ball. And, they will have to stay patient with it. I expect to see them try an abundance of ball control. Starting with Michael Bush. Sure, Forte will get his share of touches. Forte will also catch the ball out of the backfield. But, look for Bush to get a bunch of carries. It is a big game for Ryan Pickett this week. BJ Raji as well. It wouldn't surprise me if the Bears take a similar approach that last years Week 15 opponent took on the Packers. The Chiefs ran the ball between the tackles. Mixed in some play action. Then, defensively, they rushed 4. Dropped 7. Tested Rodgers' patience.

If the Bears try to spread us out and Clay plays, the Packers should win by 10 points. They'll get in Nutler's face. Nutler will throw picks. We'll be in position to stick it to them. 

Double team, Marshall. Sammy Swagga & Hayward can handle Jeffery, Hester and Bennett (if he plays). Kellen Davis is a physical mismatch, but he has struggled to hold onto the ball. Beware of Forte out of the backfield. Then pounce when Nutler throws off his back foot. Make the most of your opportunities.

Offensively, start Lang at LG, Barclay at RT. Come out throwing the 12-15 yard post. If Tim Jennings plays, he'll be limited. Attack the side opposite Tillman. Just like the first drive in the '10 NFC Championship. Rodgers to Jennings. Good things happening. Moving sticks! Harris pounds away behind Barclay. We see Ryan Grant on the cutback. He Packers find an offensive rhythm. 

In his career against the Green Bay Packers, Ray Nutler has combined stats that read: 8 games. 1-7 record. 8 TD's. 16 Interceptions. He also limped out of the NFC Championship Game with an injury that the media questioned and Bears fans burned his jersey in the parking lot following the game. He was labeled a quitter. Yes, the Packers have dominated Nutler in his career. We can only hope that it continues for another week.

My prediction: once again, Nutler struggles. He throws a TD with 2 interceptions. He can't find the end zone when he hits the Red Zone.

Neither team is playing great football right now. But, the Packers are winning close games and the Bears are not. The trend continues.

Packers 27. Bears 23.

Once again, let's dance on Soldier Field as Champions! The Bears still suck!

Oh, and after NE beats SF, we will be in position for the #2 seed. And, I'm not going to get crazy here, but Atlanta has 3 games left - all within the NFC. While the Packers have 4 losses, 1 is to an AFC Team. Presently, Atlanta has 2 losses - both of them to NFC teams. Should Atlanta lose 2 out of the last 3, the Packers would own the tie-breaker. Assuming, of course, that the Packers win out. The #1 seed is in reach. But, we have to beat the Bears this week. Party On!

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.!/buzzboy3

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Take -> Week 14

Greetings, G-Force.

Suddenly, a first round bye is within sight. My how things can change from week to week. But, in order for the Packers to finish 12-4, the Lambeau Faithful will have to be much rowdier than they were on Sunday. Without Morgan Burnett going straight gangsta on the Viqueens, the purple wearing, dome playing football team might have come into the Frozen Tundra and left with victory. Thank you, Rasta Morgan! Here's some takeaways from the victory over the Domers:

* The sideline didn't seem as festive as it has in years past. Prior to the game, Cobb & Hayward appeared to be taking an active role in trying to be inspiring figures. Outside of them, I didn't see a lot of rallying interaction. 

* Loved Sir Charles Woodson's reaction after the bogus 15-yard penalty on T-Mon. He was in the refs grill with extreme intensity. Can't wait to get him back on the field.

* When it's all said and done, we might remember Morgan Burnett for making the biggest play of the year. Down 4. Viqueens threatening to go up 2-scores and holding all momentum in an agitated, frustrated, somewhat lifeless Lambeau Field. Banged up defensively, we were starving for someone to elevate and make a game changing play. Enter Morgan Burnett. Not once, but twice. And, with it, a trigger of life came to the Packers sideline, the Lambeau Faithful and the prospects of an improved Packers playoff seeding.

* AP is a beast. And, he showed as much on Sunday. But, outside of 3 absolutely stunningly amazing runs, I thought Raji, Jones, Pickett, and Hawk did a decent job on him. Sure, those three runs totaled approximately 150 yards, but the 3rd & 1 stop in the 3rd Quarter was monstrous.

* Erik Walden has extreme limitations and Frank Zombo is invincible. With the Claymaker comes back, I hope Moses starts opposite him; even though Moses didn't play well against MN either. 

* Aaron Rodgers. Man, we're lucky he's a Green Bay Packer.

* Wanted to see Don Barclay. Got my wish. Didn't want him to play due to injury, but it could be a blessing in disguise if Lang is healthy enough to play next week. Thought Barclay played well. We had success running right. Barclay was a big part in that.

* James Starks running with conviction! We're going to miss you, man. 

* Alex Green running hard as well!

* Welcome back, Ryan Grant.

* I like when Kuhn catches the ball out of the backfield.

* Good to see Greg Jennings again. He wasn't his Pro Bowl self, but he's a presence.

* Great catch, James Jones. 

* The more Randall Cobb touches the ball, the happier I am.

* Get healthy, Jordy Nelson. You, as well, TJ Lang. Cannot be stressed enough.

* Can't forget the enormous importance of the second Morgan Burnett interception. 

* It'd be great to get Woodson & Matthews healthy this week. Same with Nelson & Lang. It's December. Time to start peaking.

* D-House, T-Mon, and Casey Hayward all played with tremendous passion. 

* Though Jared Allen had a good statistical performance, I thought Marshall Newhouse played very well. 

* I see you playin', J-Mike!

* Wrap up, MD Jennings. 

* Brad Jones understands football. Doesn't always have the athletic ability to make the play, but he has the smarts.

* This team reminds me of the 2002 Green Bay Packers. We sneak away with victories without playing great football. The win-loss record is probably more favorable than it should be considering the brand of football that's being played. Nonetheless, we're 8-4 and we control our own destiny with respect to winning the Division. And, I still believe that we match-up really well with everyone outside of SF, NYG, and Denver.

This week, it's the Lions. Detroit hasn't won in WI since 1991. Yes, since 1991! But, we must be prepared for battle. Even though we escaped Detroit with a thrilling victory earlier in the year, don't be confused. In that game, we saw a good performance from our defense, but if Matthew Stafford would have been on target, it could have been disastrous. On multiple occasions, Stafford simply missed wide open receivers. I don't expect that to happen this week. So, we will have to tighten up the secondary, much like we did against the Viqueens. And, we will have to pressure Stafford like we did in Detroit. A win at Lambeau over Detroit and we are well positioned to win the Division. We would also be well positioned to gain a first round bye as it is tough to see SF winning their last 4 games.

We match up well with Detroit. We can punch them in the gut on both sides of the ball, even with their intimidating front 4 and our inferior OL. We have had a mental edge over them. If we protect Rodgers, big plays can be had. In abundance.

With the recent pains that the Lions have had at WR, it shouldn't be a problem for us to be able to give a strict double team on Calvin Johnson. While Johnson is as dynamic as there is in the league, Pettigrew and Scheffler are big time problems for our LB's. They will present enormous challenges for Jennings, Hawk, Jones, and McMillan. May I, once again, suggest that Robert Francois deserves snaps and matches up well against the Detroit TE's. Mike Thomas is the type of WR that previously annoyed the Packers, but with Casey Hayward on him, I imagine that Thomas' production will be limited. The key will be our ability to pressure Stafford. We need to knock him off of his spot. If we do so, we will generate either turnovers or sacks. And, possibly both.

The best guess is this: the weather plays a factor. Running games are important. Alex Green runs hard and finds patience. Follow the FB, Alex. John Kuhn also gets involved in the offense. We see Ryan Grant in action. We smash 'em in the mouth a bit. Rush for over 80 yards. Not groundbreaking, but it opens up a little play action. Greg Jennings finds his stride and lives his BE GREAT philosophy and tops 75 yards with a TD. J-Mike finds himself open. Rodgers, the NFL's reigning MVP, is in rhythm. One problem: so is Stafford. The Lions TE's presents immense issues. Johnson gets behind the double team. But, Stafford cannot handle the elements and throws a big interception.

It's a shoot-out. Mason Crosby makes a big kick!

Packers 27. Lions 24.

Go Pack Go!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Take -> Week 13

Greetings, G-Force.

We've had time to relax. We've had time to reflect. That beat down was painful. Here's some of my takeaways:

* This Packers team is better than all but three teams: SF, NYG, and Denver. In an era where match-ups dominate the landscape of an NFL game, the Packers possess a woeful OL. Props to TJ Lang. I admire him for sliding outside, but the reality is that he's a guard; he's not a tackle. Lang is an above average and a below average tackle. EDS is a below average guard. Jeff Saturday is done. He's gets no push. If I were Mike McCarthy, I'd consider playing EDS a center, moving Lang back to guard and giving Barclay an opportunity at RT. I can't fully blame Ted Thompson as I'm sure he figured Sherrod would be healthy. Instead our last 3 1st round picks - 2 of which were tackles - are done for the year and the depth of the OL went with those injuries. I also don't blam Ted Thompson for Jeff Saturday's failures. If Packers fans are honest with themselves, they'd all have agreed that Saturday was a good signing, a patchwork piece. Well, his game absolutely diminished in the off season. 

So, due to our OL struggles, I find it difficult to see the Packers getting to the Super Bowl this year. The NYG exposed us. Badly. As did SF earlier this year. They have beastly DL 's, which allows them to rush 4 and drop 7. Further, the NYG seem to have a leg up on us, much like the Cowboys did in the 90's. It's mental. We were defeated in the 1st Quarter. 

* Regardless, we have a legitimate shot at 12-4, if we can dominate our Division. While it is unlikely that 12-4 gets a 1st round bye, it might prevent the Packers from having to play both the 49ers and the NYG on the road to the Super Bowl.

* Dear Mike McCarthy, please don't try a 55- yard FG in a tie all game when your on the road and you have a slumping kicker who lacks confidence. Especially on the road against the defending Champions. That was a bad decision. Should have played the field position battle. 

* We needed an early turnover. Casey Hayward had that turnover in his hands. 

* Where's the Randall Cobb creativity? Find ways to get him the ball!

* WR screens can be a fine substitute for a poor run game.  So can a short slant.

* Dezman Moses has a future in this league. 

* Brad Jones has played well at ILB. He's not a punisher, but he's responsible and pays hard. Not bad for the 4th ILB on the roster.

* This is a completely different Jerel Worthy than the one I expected to see. Lacks push. Lacks fire. Lacks  energy. No quickness. Odd.

* Scary question: is CJ Wilson our best DL this year?

* We've saw a lot of bad Packers teams in the 80's. But, this team might be the most frustrating team I've ever watched. So many expectations. Were they unrealistic?

* Bottom line: this team needs to get healthy. Hopefully, Jennings plays this weekend. It'd be great to get Matthews back for the Lions game. Woodson for the Bears game. If so, we can make a run at 12-4, if our line doesn't completely falter us.

* This week, it's the hated Viqueens of Minnesota heading to Lambeau Field. As I write, I'm on a flight. Headed to Titletown, U.S.A. A win this week coupled with a Bears win over the Seahawks (don't get me wrong, I'm cheering for Seattle) and a Denver win over Tampa and the Packers are in a prime spot for a Wild Card spot. First things first, let's get to the playoffs.

Defensively, the game plan is simple this week.  AP is amazing. Crowd the line. Hope Harvin & Rudolph don't play. Force Ponder to beat. Come with an abundance of inside blitzes. Force Ponder left. Watch for the screen. Expect an abundance of play-action short passes in which Ponder safely dumps it off. Be prepared, defense. Watch the film! It won't be complicated.

Offensively, it's fairly simple as well. Max protect. The Viqueens are better than us at the line of scrimmage. Move the pocket. Roll Rodgers right, away from Jared Allen. Do not underestimate Robison as the dude is athletic. Look for the dump off to John Kuhn. WR screens to Nelson. Don't be afraid to pass out of multiple TE sets. If Rodgers has time we will see some big plays. They can't cover us. They'll try to frustrate us, so don't get cute. Attack with strafe.

Elite teams find their stride in December. There's still time for the Packers to righ this ship. But, it's going to take a different a focus, a renewed commitment and a heightened energy. From the fans as well. Pump on the volume, Lambeau Field. From play one. Leave hoarse or stay home. Gon' Pop Tarts this weekend, baby!

Packers 23 Queens 19.

Yes, it's another nail biter.

Go Pack Go!

Talkin' S-Mac.