Archive for December, 2007

2007 NFL – Preseason Prediction Review

December 31, 2007

Before the season, I sent my NFL season predictions to brother Steve. I will share them with you here. You will notice some great Nostradamus-like predictions and some serious crack-induced predictions. For the record, I had San Diego vs. Dallas in the Super Bowl.

NFC North: Detroit 11-5, GB 10-6, CHI 7-9, MN 5-11
NFC West: AZ 11-5, STL, 10-6, SF 8-8, SEA 7-9
NFC South: NO 12-4, TB 9-7, CAR 7-9, ATL 6-10
NFC East: DAL 10-6, WASH 10-6, PHI 7-9, NYG 6-10

AFC North: BALT 12-4, CLEVE 9-7, PITT, 6-10, CINCY 5-11
AFC West: DEN 12-4, SD 10-6, OAK, 7-9, KC 6-10
AFC South: INDY 12-4, HOU 9-7, TENN 6-10, JAX 5-11
AFC East: NYJ 11-5, NE 10-6, MIA 8-8, BUFF 6-10

I tend to want to just remember the picks that were close to being accurate: GB good, NFC North decent overall, Chicago crappy, TB good, Wash good, Dal good, Phil mediocre, Car mediocre, Cleve good, Cincy bad, Indy, good and Hou not bad. However, I can’t ignore the horrendous picks I had either: StL being good, NO being great, NYG being well below .500, Sea being sub-par, Balt being great, Pitt being bad, Den winning division, Jax and Tenn stinking and perhaps the worst division of picks, NYJ being 11-5 and Miami being 8-8.

This was fun and next year, we will post all of our pre-season NFL picks on packergeeks.com so that we can be held fully accountable for the predictions we make.

Packers 2007 Regular Season Review

December 31, 2007

Surprising is probably the word that would best sum up the Packers 2007 season. Even though I shouldn’t be surprised because I picked them to be 10-6 this year, I am surprised anyway (which may be an indication that when I made my 10-6 prediction before the season I actually didn’t have much faith that it would happen and I was just being a homer).

I’ve learned that I like the staff that McCarthy has put together. Despite our doubts re Bob Sanders, he has proven this year, that once the players adapted to his system, it can be quite effective. There is still room for improvement, but this defense has kept the Packers in several games this year. And, if you think about the last time Favre was at his best, it wasn’t when his offensive line made the offense a machine (during the Sherman years), but it was when his defense could help keep the team in games (1995-1998). I also think Mike Stock deserves credit for bringing excitement back to our return game and ensuring solid coverage – as well as bringing along 2 young kickers. And, though we can’t be sure exactly how he’s contributing, I suspect Joe Philbin has been a solid assistant for McCarthy, if for no other reason than that he and McCarthy are on the same page when it comes to calling things as they are.

And then, of course, we have Mike McCarthy, possible Coach of the Year. TT took a chance on McCarthy and now it’s obvious to the rest of us why he did. McCarthy has a lively offensive mind, a refreshingly aggressive approach and he’s not afraid to say what he’s thinking. One of the best characteristics Mike McCarthy has is his honesty. He doesn’t play the Belichick game of dodging questions and being evasive. When asked before the Dallas/GB game last month why the game was important, he didn’t launch into the “one game at a time, we’re not looking beyond this game” crap most coaches and players bore us with daily. He said that the game was important because it had possible implications for home-field advantage in the playoffs, something most coaches would never say when there are still 4 games left on the schedule. He was being honest, but he was also being confident. And, McCarthy’s confidence in his team is one of the biggest factors behind the Packers’ success this year. Going for it on 4th down, trying onside kicks, throwing 70 yard bombs on the first play of overtime, etc – aggressive coaches necessarily have more confidence in their teams and this is a welcome contrast to the previous Packer regime.

I continue to be impressed by the team that Ted Thompson (mostly) has put on the field. There are many high quality players who are young, hungry and talented. Packer fans have reason to be excited not just about this year, but for years to come. That said, the time is now to win a Super Bowl. We’re not sure how much longer Favre will be playing and given his experience in the playoffs, we are in the best position we’ve been in for a long time to win the whole thing. After the Dallas game, some speculated that the Packers tried lots of long passes and trick plays because they felt they were an inferior team going into the game. I disagree, I think this coach and this team are just confident and they had good reason to believe that any play they tried could work out. I expect to see more of this exciting brand of football in the playoffs too, as McCarthy just isn’t the kind of guy who will fall back on conventional, boring football to be safe.

While it would be easier to be pessimistic about the playoffs so that I can head off some of my own potential disappointment if things don’t go well, I’m having a hard time being genuinely pessimistic right now. I have bought into McCarthy’s plan and I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if the Packers get to the Super Bowl. The biggest hurdle in the playoffs will be the first game, but if the Packers handle that, then the pressure will largely be off them and I think there is a good chance they’d get to the Super Bowl. If they get there and win, I’d be a bit surprised, but not shocked because if I’ve learned one thing about the team this year, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Hey…

December 31, 2007

What ever happened to SARS? How could the disease that at one point was going to bring down the human race (judging by CNNs 24/7 coverage of it), simply vanish?

Packers/Detroit Recap

December 31, 2007

The Packers looked good yesterday handling a poor Lions team. While fans shouldn’t get overly excited about this kind of a victory, one important thing happened: the Packers handled a team they should handle. One the keys to being a championship team is being able to beat up on weak teams. Teams on the rise who aren’t at the championship level, often struggle here and there in games they should win. Not the Packers of 2007.

I think it was also functional for our back-up players to have the opportunity to play in a real game in case they are thrust into action in the playoffs. Tramon Williams once again looked good, as did Koren Robinson and Bubba. I think the biggest play of the game though, may have been Jon Ryan’s 73 yard punt that was downed at the 1. That was huge for his confidence and hopefully it will serve as a reminder to him that the Bears game was an aberration and that he is actually a good punter.

Nick Barnett vs. Umpire Jim Quirk…

December 29, 2007

Last week, many of us saw umpire Jim Quirk drag Barnett away from a potential scuffle last week. Many of us probably wondered why the guy was being so aggressive. Barnett even indicated in an interview afterward that he was not able to breathe at one moment. Weird incident and as McCarthy said, unprofessional behavior.

To me, one of the more remarkable things about this whole situation is that the umpire Jim Quirk was fined one game check for the incident – which amounted to $8150. For some reason, I was under the impression that NFL refs didn’t make much money. I’d guess (conservatively) that Jim Quirk works 14 games a season, (not including playoffs where he likely would make much more) – that would come to some $114,100 a year. Keep in mind that is for about 4-5 months of work. Now, being an umpire is one of the more vulnerable ref positions on the field (they are the ones who often get knocked over when players run across the middle). Still, I’d get knocked down a couple times a year to make $114,100 working less than half the year.

Week 17 Spread Picks

December 28, 2007

NE @ NYG (+14.5) – Huge spread here. I can see Coughlin doing something stupid like playing his starters most of the game, having 2 or 3 of them get hurt and still getting crushed. Then Eli will make that loser face again and nobody will be sure if he is elated or suicidal.

BUFF @ PHILLY (-7.5) – Buff has been my go-to pick all year because I just like Buffalo. (And I’m not sure why really. Sure, I like Lee Evans and Tim Russert, who’s a huge Buffalo fan, but I’m still not sure. Maybe it’s because they are a small market, cold-weather team. Maybe it’s because I like eating buffalo meat). I do think Philly right now is the best non-playoff team in the league. Philly rolls in this one.

CINCY @ MIA (+2.5) – I have grown tired of Parcells and his ways. He will have an awfully difficult time NOT involving himself in GM/coaching roles. Has anyone ever noticed that he is just not fun to look at? He has a Mike Shermanesque body and he almost always has a scowl on his face (because he’s just been defensive about something).

SF @ CLEVE (-9.5) – Cleve needs this game and while they choked last week when they needed that game, I think they’ll get some revenge here on the poor SF. Now, this is assuming the quarterback with the highest winning percentage in NFL history is still having back problems and unable to play: the 2-0 Sean Hill.

DET @ GB (-3.5) – The Packers will win this one because McCarthy is pissed off about the Bears loss. Anyone else ticked off at the emphasis so many announcers (especially Aikman) put on the “Green” in Green Bay? Drives me nuts.

CAR @ TB (+2.5) – Tough game here. I can see Gruden coaching hard for a win for momentum sake, but Carolina has been a quality road team this year. TB is a pride-team though, so I have a hard time seeing Carolina winning here.

JAX @ HOU (-6.5) – Jax will go to the bench quickly in this one and no back-up corner can hang with Andre Johnson (even with the spice-man throwing to him).

SEA @ ATL (-2.5) – I would love to see Seattle lose by 30 so that their momentum for the playoffs might be in question. But that won’t happen, they’ll probably eke out a win and then crush whoever they face in the first round b/c of home-field advantage.

NO @ CHI (+2.5) – I want New Orleans because it may help wipe away the cocky, celebrating faces of the Bears players which I have come to resent.

STL @ ARI (-5.5) – Bulger apparently called Warner for advice on how to deal with his concussions and Warner told him to wait until he is ready to come back. There was seriously an article about this advice he gave this past week. Seriously. St. Louis here because that is lame/non advice. Warner is lame.

MIN @ DEN (+1.5) – Great quotes from Champ Bailey after Phillip Rivers trash-talked Jay Cutler. Read them here. Big game for MN, though a Wash loss at this point is unlikely.

SD @ OAK (+6.5) – Sapp is a moron. I’ll take Oakland here though as I think J-Marc may play so well that everyone begins to question why Oakland chose to waste a season NOT developing him.

PITT @ BALT (+5.5) – tough game – crack pick warning. McGahee is apparently out leaving Balt with officially zero offense. However, Roth will sit this one out and right now, several Ravens players apparently hate several Steelers. Taking Balt.

KC @ NYJ (-5.5) – blowout alert. Though there is the small side story of Edwards going back to NY for the first time, this game won’t be close. It will be Pennington’s last a Jet and he’ll go nuts. Great quarterbacks do that. By the way, why wouldn’t Chicago make a hard play for Pennington in the offseason?

DAL @ WASH (-7.5) – Sizeable spread here. I think Wash will win assuming Gibbs doesn’t break another rule costing 15 yards and eventually, the game. I will be rooting, however, for Wash to blowout Dal to leave Dal questioning a little bit how they have attained a rather lofty reputation despite some clear weaknesses.

TENN @ INDY (+6.5) – I know Indy will try hard to win this game. But Tenn has to win and I think Vince will have a huge game against a second-string defense. What happened to Jeff Fisher’s mullet? I miss that.

Review of Week 16 picks (7 wins 9 losses)

December 28, 2007

Weekly review of my spread picks – bad week for me last week.

Lowlights:
NYJ @ TENN (-8.5) – If Pennington starts, it will be hard for me to root against him, but I will anyway because I think this could be a pounding by TENN. (nice call – a 4 point crappy game).

DEN @ SD (-8.5) – This is the kind of game Shanahan may be able to squeeze out. SD has already clinched but I can see some more second-guessing of Norv when he pulls LT early in the second half. (nice call again…blowout by SD)

Highlights:
WASH @ MN (-6.5) – After the Wash victory last week, I Salisburied and claimed they would roll over MN en route to the playoffs. I said this with serious, serious conviction. Now, I’m not sure they’ll cover. (Looks like the Salisbury in me was right this time).

Favre back for 2008? Here we go…

December 27, 2007

Read this Pete Dougherty article from Packersnews.com. Interesting look at not just the Favre situation, but the overall needs heading into 2008. While I don’t disagree with the likelihood that Favre is enjoying himself this season and is particularly enjoying having more influence over offensive play-calling, I’ll hold out for the possibility that a deep playoff run may be enough to convince Favre to go out on top (or nearly on top). I hope not, we’ll see…

As far as needs for 2008, I think Dougherty is mostly on, though I would add we may need to look at filling Poppinga’s spot. Now, Poppinga has played better recently, in his defense, but he continues to be a liability in coverage and overall hasn’t been as good as a few of the linebackers we could have picked up last off-season (or some of the high quality linebackers in the 2007 draft). And, if Rouse continues to make plays, even though I do see some serious potential still for both Bibgy and Collins, I think Rouse needs to get on the field and start.

Of course, if I were defensive coordinator, I would have benched Poppinga mid-season and gone to a new regular line-up – not a 3-4 or a 4-3, but a 4-2! I would have replaced Poppinga with Rouse – yes, I would have started 3 safeties. Rouse is faster than Poppinga, better in coverage (could have helped with the tight-end coverage problem), as good a tackler, more instinctive and he has shown play-making ability Poppinga hasn’t shown all year.

Bench Jennings

December 26, 2007

The only good news to come out of Sunday’s game is that Greg Jennings’ ankle injury is not serious. McCarthy said at his press conference that Pat McKenzie said it was a mild ankle sprain.

That’s great. But it would be crazy, given Jennings history of injuries and trouble with that ankle, to play him against the Lions. Just sit him. We’ll need him in our first playoff game.

McCarthy Rips Refs, Wears Terrible Outfit…

December 26, 2007

I am no fashionista. I think old jeans and a flannel is dressing up. I rarely spend more than $50 on an article of clothing.

But even I know that Mike McCarthy’s aqua mock turtleneck and black blazer is hideous. I mean awful.

Okay, on to more interesting news: McCarthy was unusually critical of the officiating crew from Sunday’s loss to the Bears. Or at least to the ref who put Nick Barnett in a sleeper hold and took him down to the turf. The entire transcript is here (along with a photo of McCarthy in his full aqua glory).

Here is the part on Barnett:

I tell you what, I’ve never seen anything like that in all my years. I didn’t see the whole thing, but I thought the official was totally out of line, the way he grabbed Nick around his neck and pulled him out of there. There was a lot going on throughout the game on both sides of the ball after the play was over. Their offensive line was getting after Nick there a bunch down the stretch, and that goes on in these type of games. I didn’t see the whole thing, but I saw the end of it, and I thought it was totally unprofessional, I thought it was totally out of hand.


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