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!