10-3. First place in the NFC North. Tied for first in the NFC. Staring home field in the face. But, the win over the Falcons serves as a reminder that an NFL game is a marathon. Thus, I listen to Bob Sinclar's Western Dream album. My aim is to ensure that I'm mentally fit for a full 60 minutes. Against Atlanta, at halftime, it seemed as though the R-E-L-A-X message was taking too literally. The Packers relaxed too much and the game quickly tightened.
I sip a Crooked Stave Nightmare on Brett. It's a robustly sour beer that has a heavy consistency carrying throughout. As I taste, I'm reminded that this beer was crafted for consistency from start to finish.
Here are my quick vibes over the last week:
* An aggressive Mike McCarthy is a good Mike McCarthy. Thankfully, McCarthy stayed aggressive throughout. The shot to Nelson was a thing of beauty. It was vintage McCarthy who seems to masterfully have his finger on the pulse of the team and the games in which they play.
* Aaron Rodgers. Ring the chorus: MVP! MVP! MVP!
* Jordy Nelson. FOREVER! One of my favorite Packers. Ever.
* Randall Cobb is a go-to receiver on 3rd down. He's so tough minded. Fearless. Powerful for his size. Stick around, Randall.
* EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! With the spin! With the shoulder boom! With animation in his step!
* James Starks goes Green & Yellow Hornet as he seals the deal! Slashing thru the ATL defense.
* AQ81! with another big catch on 3rd down. Statistically, he hasn't been a star this year, but man, he's made some monstrous plays.
* An awkwardly lazy special teams performance until Crosby's late kick.
* Good hands on the onside kick, Jordy Nelson & Jarrett Boykin.
* There was a Brandon Bostick sighting! Boy, did he look clumsy.
* Clay Matthews gave a monstrous effort. He wanted this win. Loved his energy and activity. I really hope this role becomes a permanent move for him.
* Sam Baarington brings muscle. A shoulder laden tackling intensity. He'll plug holes. But, he can't run.
* I appreciate AJ Hawk's approach to the demotion. He doesn't want to be a distraction. Wish the media wouldn't attempt to create division. I know it's their job to report on the topic. But, really, it's a performance based demotion. Carry on.
* Aaron Rodgers. Cerebral. Artistic. Surgical. Carving up the ATL defense. With his mind, his arm and his legs. A true athlete. A Titletown, U.S.A. legend.
* Another absolutely dominant performance from the OL. Each of them playing hard. Lang's hustle downfield doesn't get enough attention. Loved seeing Bakhtiari clearing the hole on the early 2nd Quarter rushing TD by Lacy.
* Fun to see Kuhn with the ball early in the game. He's a Shepherd for the Packers Kinfolk.
* Ummmm, time to make a play, Julius Peppers. Saw him in the action on two downs. Once, he couldn't wrap Ryan to the ground and the other, he was dominant at the line on the 2nd & 2 on the Falcons second drive of the game.
* Letroy Guion! With the tip. And the athleticism. Wish he'd have held on. Thought he had a great first half.
* Catch the ball, T-Mon.
* When it was clear the Falcons were going to be passing the ball, I was begging to see Jayrone Elliot. Stunned to not see him get one snap on the defensive side of the ball. Too conservative, Dom.
* I've said it before. I'll say it again. If our starting OL is healthy, I think the Green Bay Packers will be Super Bowl Champions.
* I like how McCarthy continues to introduce new formations. He's creative. Interested to see what Lacy does as they continue to utilize him as a receiver.
* Another shout out to AQ81! as he continues to stock pile big plays! He's turning into a weapon for the MVP.
* Morgan Burnett with a huge pick! And, he was plugging holes. But, he looked awfully slow on the big play to Julio Jones start the second half.
* The 10-yard TD pass to Nelson at the end of the 1st half was complete brilliance from Rodgers. We are blessed to watch him as the QB of the Green Bay Packers.
* Time to move Sean Richardson to ILB in the dime. Brad Jones isn't the answer. Neither is AJ Hawk. Sam Barrington can't play the role either. I'd also prefer Lattimore over all of them when Clay is rushing and we have only 1 LB on the field.
* Good work on the blocked FG, Brad Jones.
* Liked seeing Lane Taylor and JC Tretter on the field at the goal line.
* Demetri Goodson was a decent special teams performance.
* Good to see Brandon Bostick make a special teams tackle. Thought he was broken into two after the play. He's so soft.
* It was great to see Clay bouncing off blockers and hitting a ball carrier.
* Ras-Davon with the best performance of any CB.
* I will choose to not be too critical of the 2nd half. We relaxed. We got too conservative. It gives McCarthy a speaking point. A reminder that the journey needs to be enjoyed. And, that as a team, we must power through and not lose focus. 10-3. In control. Carpe diem!
For the fun of it, I made drastic changes to my mock draft. And, yes, I believe that the best talent in college football is found in the PAC-12, the SEC and the ACC. Take a look:
Round 1.) Nate Orchard, OLB, Utah.
Round 2.) Trey Flowers, DE/OLB, Arkansas.
Round 3.) Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA.
Round 4.) Tyeler Davison, DT, Fresno State.
Round 5.) Tony Washington, OLB, Oregon.
Round 5.) Curtis Riley, CB, Fresno State.
Round 5.) Gerald Christian, TE, Louisville.
Round 6.) Kasen Williams, WR, Washington.
Round 7.) Quayshawn Nealy, ILB, Georgia Tech.
This week - it's the Bills. In Buffalo. A hostile environment. With a lot on the line for both teams as the Packers fight for home field throughout and the Bills battle for a potential playoff berth.
Kyle Orton scares me. He beats the Packers. Often. In 2011, I was in KC in December in Week 15. The Packers were 13-0. It felt so right. I hope Week 15 in 2014 has a different ending. I wish I was headed to Buffalo to support the Packers.
I'm hoping Orton plays as he did in Lambeau Field in 2008.
The Packers must dare Orton to hit receivers outside the hash marks. Test his arm strength. Take away the middle of the field. He can't hit a corner route. He'll look for Scott Chandler on short routes and on quick releases down the seam. Chandler is a solid TE with great hands and an ability to make a catch it traffic. Hyde should be able the match-up with him. Orton will also target Sammy Watkins & Robert Woods on slants, WR screens and short crossing routes. Watkins is lethal after the catch. Buffalo will pound the ball at our nose. Between the tackles with Fred Jackson & Bryce Brown. Jackson is a grinder. Brown is elusive and can find space, but he has a pension for putting the ball on the ground. Buffalo has a big, physically intimidating OL.
The Bills have the best front 4 in football. Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcel Dareus, and Jerry Hughes. It'll be the stiffest test our OL has seen all year. Corey Graham and Stephon Gilmore are worthwhile CB's. Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers are journeyman at LB. Nigel Bradham is inexperienced, but talented. Aaron Williams & Bacarri Rambo are a below average safety combination. Buffalo does not have depth in the secondary. The Packers catch a break with Da'Norris Searcy missing the game.If we can protect Rodgers, the MVP will have another MVP performance. But, protection is a huge concern.
Spread them out. Attack with short routes and double moves. I expect Jordy to have a big game. I also think Adams' shifty route running will give him opportunities to get open. We can test them on the outside. Short 7 yard stop and curl routes will work. Bulaga will be tested as he doesn't handle speed well.
Hopefully, we see a lot of base defense from the Packers. 4-2-5 alignment. Hyde over the TE. Clay & Barrington plugging the middle. An 8th man in the box. Creating havoc over the middle of the field. All within 15 yards. No zone. All man-to-man. Providing clutter for Orton to try and force the ball into traffic. Get your hands up, DL! Play Elliot as a pass rusher. He will run around Seantreal Henderson and Cordy Glenn. Orton cannot move. He's looking for the short route.
I expect Clay to get an interception this week.
It'll be a dog fight. But, the Packers capitalize on a late TD to widen the margin.
Go Pack Go!