Thursday, December 29, 2011

Drew Brees is 2nd-Place-Awesome, Sanchez is the Worse NY QB , and the Bears Still Suck

  • Aaron had a 142.7 passer rating on Sunday.

  • The Packers had no penalties, no turnovers, and allowed ZERO sacks! So impressive, especially since I think a lot of fans were bracing for a rough week for Rodgers. I don’t think this erases the concerns on the offensive line, but it’s really nice to see that patched-up group play so strongly.

  • Rodgers' passer rating this season on throws to Jordy Nelson entering the game was 156 and it was a perfect 158.3 Sunday night.
Well done, sirs.

  • Packers have beaten the Bears four times in 2011. Tee hee.
My only regret is they could only destroy Jay 3 of those times.

  • Dallas and NY Giants will be fighting for the last NFC playoff spot on Sunday. It all depends which Giants team shows up. I just can’t put money on the Cowboys. They’re so soft!
"I wish I could just play hockey... 3 periods, then hit the showers."

  • Speaking of soft, did you see Jermichael Finley get denied the endzone by a safety?! Chicago’s Major Wright (who is 5’11”, 204 lbs), stood Finley (who is 6’5”, 247 lbs) up at the 2-yard line. Finley did score on the next play, but come on, JMike!

  • Aww, yay for Drew Brees! He’s so awesome! Still not the MVP, though.
You picked a bad season to have MVP numbers.

  • Did the Jets actually think they could win when allowing Mark Sanchez to throw the ball 59 times? What exactly did they expect? Both quarterbacks in the game were terrible - Eli Manning went 9-for-27! Nine for twenty-seven!! It’s just hard to resist the anticipated schadenfreude I will feel next week if/when the New York Jets get KO'd.
"I'm going to keep talking smack even though you just embarrassed us."

  • Five defensive players from the two worst defensive teams - the Patriots and the Packers - were voted to the Pro Bowl. I’ll defend the Packer selections to the death, but … just saying.
"I will harvest your soul if you do not vote for every single Patriot."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chicago at Green Bay

Oy. It’s that time of the year where the injury lists are getting longer and longer. The Packers have enjoyed a pretty healthy season so far - especially relative to last season - but injuries are becoming a concern.

Obviously, the offensive line is the biggest problem. Clifton is still out, as is Bulaga, while Sherrod’s been placed on IR. These injuries force T.J. Lang to right tackle and Evan Dietrich-Smith will take over Lang’s position at left guard. Not exactly the line you want when facing games against Chicago and Detroit in the next two games.

We’re all missing Greg, too. Though the Packers have a great receiving corps (when they’re not dropping passes), Jennings is the Pack’s primary deep threat who takes a lot of pressure off of Nelson, Jones, Driver, and Cobb. Chicago is also pretty good at preventing throws of more than 20 yards, so the receivers need to step up in a way they failed to last week and give Rodgers some relief from the heat he’ll be feeling from the Bears’ pass rush.

"Please come back, Greg. And don't ever leave me again."

The defensive line is ailing as well.  Ryan Pickett has still not been cleared to practice after suffering a concussion two weeks ago at Oakland and will not play.  Mike Neal is questionable with a shoulder injury and Howard Green is dealing with a sore foot, but is probable.  I can’t imagine the non-existent pass rush will suddenly develop in the midst of these injuries. Clay can’t do it all by himself, people.

"Uh, teammates? You can join in at any time."

Chicago has it even worse, since their talent is not as well-balanced as the Packers’. Cutler won’t be playing because of a broken thumb, so no pictures of Jay getting sacked =(.  Matt Forte’s out. Those two were pretty much the sum of the Bears’ offense. Receiver Johnny Knox is gone from the season after suffering a blood-chilling back injury (seriously, do NOT look it up! It’s horrible!). And back-up RB Marion “Got Tebowed” Barber is doubtful due to a calf injury. Devin Hester and Lance Briggs have not been practicing as both are struggling with ankle injuries.

I just really miss moments like these.

The good news for the Packers is that James Starks and Brandon Saine will both be back, giving the Packers a chance to establish a running game that would not only give Rodgers a break, but would also make things easier for the offensive line that’s settling into new positions.

Now, as for the Bears’ QB position, I fully support benching Caleb Hanie. He was terrible. Hideously ugly stats. I suppose the fact that the Bears are still not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs is the reason they are starting Josh McCown over rookie Nathan Enderle. Enderle, according to Mike Martz, is “too much of an unknown” to get the start. 

I wonder if Josh always looks this scared.

While the Bears are always pretty solid on defense, I don’t know that they can generate many points with all their injuries. I know I said this last week, but McCown is a far cry from Kyle Orton.

If the Packers win this week, or if San Fransisco loses, I hope the Packers don’t play Aaron Rodgers for more than a quarter or two against Detroit - I worry about him taking gratuitous hits behind a makeshift offensive line.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Please, Santa, bring me a Green Bay Victory! 

"Merry Christmas, Marisa! Also, I love you fervently."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Worst Week Ever in the History of Mankind

  • Ugh. So I should never make predictions. Ever. Because I also thought the Raiders game would come down to the final minutes.

  • But Packer fans aren’t too upset. Not having the chance to go 16-0 sucks, but it’s no biggie. It was an off-day, a game with a lot of starters out, and it’s better to have an offensive off-day now rather than later, like in the playoffs. The Pack still have the best record in the league, and only need one more win or one more San Fran loss (though the 49ers were uncooperative Monday night) to secure home field through the playoffs.

  • There are certainly areas of concern. The defense was very impressive in the redzone, but horrible everywhere else, no more so than on the final KC drive. Absolutely embarrassing to let the Kansas City Chiefs march on you like that. The Packers run defense is terribly overrated, for the same reason their pass defense is underrated: the Packers so often jump out to early leads that opponents are forced to abandon the run and so the Packers’ run defense rarely gets challenged. Add to that the fact that there are fewer and fewer teams who rely on the rushing game for more than short-yardage plays and to set up the pass. The run defense crumbled in crunch time. Even without your best tackler in Desmond Bishop, that last drive was completely unacceptable.
"Right this way to the endzone, sir."

  • The offensive line wasn’t much more fun to watch. It was terrible to see Derek Sherrod’s brutal injury; Josh Sitton just got back; Bulaga’s out for at least one week; Clifton might start practicing this week, but probably won’t be ready to play; Newhouse got absolutely abused by Tamba Hali; the injuries at right tackle forced the remaining starters out of their natural positions, where they struggled. Depending on Bulaga’s injury, the Packers might need to sign somebody off the street, since they only have one uninjured backup, and he’s a rookie with no game experience. Yikes. Rodgers has been taking far too many hits as it is. This can’t help. An injured line might force a change in personnel (keeping extra blockers on the line of scrimmage) which will hurt the Packers’ strength -  receiving threats. Aaron Rodgers might have to reconcile himself to throwing the ball away a lot more frequently if he’s 1) not getting the time he needs from his line, and  2) has fewer people to throw to. The running backs will need to play a big part in the passing game, providing a dependable checkdown for Aaron.
Ahh! Be careful with him! That's my future husband!

  • On the other side of the ball, the Packers’ defensive line didn’t have a single sack on Orton. Not one!!

  • I have absolutely no idea what was going on with those two offensive pass interference calls on Jordy Nelson. Just absurd. Sorry, officials, Jordy’s just that good at creating separation. The first one, he at least touched the guy, even if he didn’t push off. The second one ... I’m at a loss for words … he wasn’t even within arm’s length of the guy!
Careful, J., don't get too close to that defender.

  • I’m kind of done with Jermichael Finley.  The drops are infuriating. Yes, he came back with a strong second half, but his case of the dropsies was not limited to this week - he’s been doing this for a few weeks now. To be honest, I was done with him last week when he allowed the interception in the endzone. Despite my uncertainty of the legality of that interception (doesn’t the interceptor have to have sole possession AND two feet in bounds at the same time??), the point is that Finley let a defender who is way smaller than he take the ball from him. How do you let that happen?? Also, not a big fan of his attitude.

  • Aaron Rodgers had his streak of consecutive 100+ passer rating snapped. And his streak of consecutive 2 touchdown games - one game shy of setting the NFL record. I hate this week. I hope the record books have an asterisk and fine print that says: ‘*This is Jermichael Finley’s fault.

  • For all the miserable things in this game, the most important was no takeaways. You can put up with the Packers’ defense giving up big yards because they offset that weakness by leading the league in takeaways. When your offense isn’t rolling the way you’re used to, and you’re still giving up big plays, you have to force turnovers. It’s the Packers’ first game this season without a takeaway and, not coincidentally, their first loss.
That's how I feel about that stat, too, Charles.

  • A bright spot for the Packers on Sunday?? Hmmm... Tim Masthay was pretty good! Yay! Go Ginger!

  • At least the Bears lost.  And the Vikings. And the Steelers. And the Jets. =)
These pics are way less fun when it's Caleb instead of Jay.

  • Once again, Dan Orlovsky let down a nation by ruining his chance to be the only NFL player to ever go 0-16 twice. We were counting on you, Dan.

  • The Patriots’ terrible defense just got even worse with the loss of DE Andre Carter.

  • The No Fun League reared it’s ugly no-fun head again, refusing to let Reggie Bush slide into the snow-covered endzone unpenalized. Boo.

  • Every time I’m almost close to being sort of ready to jump on the Baltimore Ravens’ bandwagon, they have a deeply concerning loss. San Diego’s playing well, sure, but the Ravens couldn’t even keep it competitive.

  • C’mon Giants! Don’t you want to be in the playoffs?! I just don’t understand how a team with this gifted a defense can play so soft at times!
What's going on, Justin??

  • I like Tim Tebow. I hate the constant Tebow coverage. The coverage is a microcosm of why sports analysts are stupid. They’re forced to come out with definitive declarations every week.  Remember when the Broncos got trounced by Detroit and everyone said, ‘See, you can’t win with Tebow at quarterback’? And then they won a bunch of games, and it was all, ‘Tebow’s going to change the future of the game?’ Well, now we’re back to, ‘Tebow can’t play QB in the NFL.’ Why don’t we all just take a deep breath and let the guy get double-digit starts under his belt before we try to define his career, hmm?

  • The Patriot receivers are so annoying! Hernandez and Edelman, in particular, feel compelled to run their mouths after every single completion!
Blah, blah, blah, I'm the greatest.

  • Also, why are Bill Belichick’s shorts so short?
It's a brilliant coaching tactic, I'm sure.

  • Eli Manning had a 45.5 passer rating Sunday. Tee hee. (I have a split personality when it comes to the Giants - I adore their defense, but hate stupid, little Eli Manning.)

  • Drew Brees and the Saints are terrifying. The Packers barely squeaked by them in the opener, the rematch of which could very well be the NFC Championship. They’re shockingly underrated in the Super Bowl conversation, too.

  • How awesome is it that Carolina’s trick touchdown play was inspired by a 1990's kids' movie?

  • Redskins’ QB Rex Grossman didn’t appreciate Giants’ safety Antrel Rolle saying that the Giants would beat Washington 99 times out of a hundred: “"Ninety-nine out of 100 times they are going to beat us? And we beat them two in a row this year. I am not going to the casino with him anytime soon."
"Heh. I like our odds, boys."

  • Some sports analysts, desperate to find something to write about, confuse what the MVP award is all about. Don’t worry about what the award is actually called - it’s an award for the best player in the NFL. Barring a 235-interception final two games, that man is Aaron Rodgers. The problem is that some writers mistake the MVP award for the biggest-drop-off-from-starter-to-backup award. Rodgers is no less deserving of the honor because Matt Flynn is a solid backup. That has nothing to do with it. By that logic, the MVP could be a some little-used special teams player who has no backup. HE HAS NO BACKUP! THEREFORE, HE IS THE MOST VALUABLE TO HIS TEAM. Sure. Whatever. So if Matt Flynn suffers a season-ending injury, Rodgers would then be the MVP? Even though Flynn hasn’t played meaningful snaps this season? Makes no sense. Brees and Brady will probably garner a couple of votes, but this award clearly belongs to Rodgers.

Yes, sir, you put that belt on.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Week 15: Green Bay at Kansas City

The Packers have their final road game on Sunday at Kansas City.  “Any given Sunday,” and all that, but the Chiefs’ advantages end at home field.

Their coach was just fired. Their starting QB is benched. Kyle Orton has had the chance to play - and throw 3 touchdowns - against Green Bay’s defense, so he has that going for him. Then again, Kyle also threw 3 interceptions against the Pack and lost the game 49-23. And his index finger on his throwing hand is dislocated. Kansas City’s Tyler Palko is so bad that he not only was benched for an injured player, but he is not even the backup. Stand-in coach Romeo Crennel has said that rookie Ricky Stanzi will be the backup if Orton is unable to play. 

Orton counts the number of plays he's run in KC.

The Chiefs are 5-8 with nothing to play for. The Packers are playing for home field through the playoffs. And, regardless of the question of the wisdom of trying for 16-0, the Green Bay players really, really want 16-0, so they won’t sleep on the Chiefs.

The Packers are a bit dinged up this week. Ryan Pickett is out with a concussion, and Desmond Bishop is still out with a calf injury.  A.J. Hawk is probable to play, and Josh Sitton has a good chance to play after missing the last couple of weeks with a knee injury.  The running game is somewhat of a question mark as both James Starks and Brandon Saine are game-time decisions. Even if they both are cleared, I would guess Ryan Grant will still get the bulk of the carries and have an opportunity to continue his strong play from last week. C’mon 14-0!!

"You guys just stop right there."

And I didn’t even have to mention Aaron Rodgers in this post. Depending on if he plays the whole game, Aaron can pad his already-ridiculous stats.

"Hmm, what other records should I break today?"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Grant Runs, Bears Pout, and Harrison Tries to Maim

  • The Buffalo Bills have not won in the United States since Week 5. 
  •  I do not know what to say about Tim Tebow. The game is more on Marion Barber than Tim Tebow, but still! I had to wonder if maybe Matt Forte was paying Barber to lose the game.
"Look on the bright side, buddy - maybe you'll get injured."

  • Jordy Nelson has scored a touchdown in every home game this season.

  • Is Tampa Bay ever going to win another game again?

  • Santana Moss must be on New England’s payroll. He very carefully gave the ball to Jerod Mayo to lose the game for Washington.

  • All you Ryan Grant haters can sit down! I told you he’s good if he’s given the opportunity to get into a rhythm. Sunday’s game was only the second game this year in which Ryan at least 10 carries.

  • Denver’s Matt Prater hit a 59-yard field goal to send the game into overtime! That’s nothing - he hit a 70-yarder in practice!

  • I feel bad that the Vikings were cheated out of an untimed down at the ½-yard line when the officials failed to see Detroit’s DeAndre Levy try to decapitate Joe Webb.

  • Atlanta is 20-2 against teams with losing records under Mike Smith. You may shrug and say that a good team’s supposed to beat bad teams, but not many teams take care of business that consistently.

  • I find it hard to be mad at David Stern’s Big Brother move because I love, love Chris Paul and would have had to shun him Amish-style if he had signed with the Lakers.
Please don't go to evil LA, CP3!

  • The Houston Texans made the playoffs for the first time in playoff history! It’s nice that T.J. Yates’ parents got to be there and see it all! ...Well, at least they got to be there.

  • Arizona’s penchant for playing spoiler has given the Pack a bit of breathing room on their way to wrapping up home field through the playoffs.

  • It’s nice to see the Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul terrorizing someone else. I like him - as long as he’s not playing the Packers.

  • The Packers’ receivers are excellent, but not having the team’s best receiver in the lineup will still hurt. It’s time for Jermichael Finley to close his mouth and start catching passes.
You want $$? Start catching passes from the league's best QB.

  • How nervous does the Marshall Newhouse-Derek Sherrod rotation make Packers’ fans?? And is the ghost of Chad Clifton any better, if Clifton does return this season?

  • Finally! The NFL suspended James Harrison. It was absolutely the right call. Harrison makes millions and millions of dollars a year and has proven that financial deterrents will not make him play legally.  He had an open field shot at Colt McCoy. He had plenty of time to aim for a legal part of McCoy’s body, plenty of time to turn to lead with his shoulder. But he clearly and intentionally led with his helmet. Harrison, for his part, says the hit should not even warrant a fine.  Harrison claims that McCoy ducked his head at the last second, causing the helmet-to-helmet collision, but the video obviously shows that Harrison is a liar.

  • And now for the Browns: What the @*$% were you thinking! Your quarterback gets drilled by Harrison and lies on the ground, dazed, while medical personnel attend to him. So you take him to the sideline and check out his … hand??? The Browns reportedly never administered a concussion test before sending McCoy back into the game a couple of plays later. The Browns defended themselves saying McCoy didn’t complain about the hard hit. So?? You just saw him lying prone on the field! How do you not check for a head injury! I’m glad that McCoy’s father has publicly criticized the Browns for their totally inexcusable neglect.

  • I’m  a pretty big football fan, but it never even crossed my mind to watch MNF with the Seahawks and Rams. I still do not know who won.

  • The Oakland Raiders are clear about the rules of the game, right? Especially the ones about how you can’t cross the line of scrimmage before the play starts? Given the pre-snap penalties they were racking up, I just thought I’d check.
"Soooo, I can"

  • The Packers have set the team record for points scored - and there’s still three more games to play!

  • Poor, poor, poor little Dan Bailey. When the Giants called a timeout just before Bailey’s kick went through the uprights, you know the Cowboys’ rookie kicker must have been replaying last week’s debacle over and over in his head.
Awww, they're all having fun without him.

  • Detroit’s Cliff Avril’s penalty didn’t matter since the Lions still won the game, but how - HOW?? - do you jump offsides when the other team is without timeouts and trying to spike the ball to stop the clock??

  • 19 different Packers have scored touchdowns. Cathy and I can name all 19 for you, if you’d like.

  • Is Chicago done? They’ve lost their last three games and are 7-6. They have an easier schedule than Detroit, but I think the Giants will beat them out for the last wild card slot.

  • Also, in other news, the Chicago Bears were huge sore losers after their loss to Tim Tebow and the Broncos.  Steve Young said it best when he advised the Bears, “He Tebowed you. Just take it like a man and walk away.”

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Week 14: Oakland at Green Bay

Ugh, I really wish the Packers would stop playing teams coming off bad losses who have something to prove. The Oakland Raiders just lost their division lead to the Denver Broncos after being destroyed by the Miami Dolphins. What is going on here? The Miami Dolphins?!

The Oakland Raiders are talented - it all depends on which Carson Palmer shows up. Palmer’s hard to peg. His games have been very up-and-down and it’s difficult to know how much to attribute to the fact that he joined this offense six weeks ago. Palmer threw six interceptions in his first two starts with the Raiders, but only three in the last four games. 

Good Carson? Or Bad Carson?

 This is a big week for the Packers’ defense. They need to force turnovers against Palmer. I’m concerned that Desmond Bishop is out for a second straight week. Again, D.J. Smith has done a good job in his stead, but Bishop is an excellent linebacker, and the Pack could really use him against the league’s fourth-ranked rushing offense. Michael Bush and Darren McFadden provide a potent one-two punch for the Raiders. For as much as the Packers’ defense has been criticized, I trust them to make plays in crunch time. Charles Woodson has been cleared to play, after suffering a concussion last week, and A.J. Hawk has practiced, so he has a chance to play.

James Starks has been ruled out for the game, also. I very much approve of holding Starks out. Even if he could play, he has had an ankle injury in each of the last three weeks. Let him rest. The Packers will need him down the stretch as the weather gets colder. Ryan Grant and Brandon Saine are serviceable against a weak run defense.

With the Packers at 12-0, I’m super stressed about an upset, but I just can’t see the Packers losing at home. Next week at Kansas City is their last away game, which concerns me more as there is a definite home-field advantage for Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. But, I mean, Aaron Rodgers. That’s kinda the end of the argument, right? Aaron Rodgers. Have you seen him play this season??

Just try to stop him and his dreamy blue eyes.
I think this week will be closer than it should be (as so many games have been), but the Packers move on to 13-0.

P.S. The boring Thursday Night Football match-up provided a couple of interesting subplots that will be explored in my next post: 1) James Harrison needs to be suspended, despite early reports that he will only be fined; 2) What in the heck were the Browns thinking allowing Colt McCoy back into the game after he clearly, clearly suffered a concussion?? I’m no doctor, but if a player does not know who he is or where he is, he probably should not be put back on the field of play. 

More next week. Go Pack Go!