Archive for the ‘Game Preview’ Category

Packers/Broncos Preview

October 2, 2011
  • This should be a game the Packers win easily.
  • The Packers have significantly more talent than the Broncos. Our offense should be overwhelming for a dinged up and already poor Denver defense. It’s key that we start with an overwhelming drive – just make sure that any adrenaline they have coming into the game is shut down right away. Make they realize immediately that this is going to be a long afternoon.
  • Champ Bailey is a guy who can do some damage as is a healthy Elvis Dumervil. My guess is that if Champ plays and covers Jennings, Jennings could be somewhat limited today. Bailey is still decent.
  • This could be a big day for James Starks. Denver will be focused on defending the pass and probably particularly focused on Jennings and Finley. My guess is that Starks ends up having gaping holes to run through today.
  • I also think this will be a Driver, Jones, Nelson and Cobb game. These are the guys that Denver simply won’t be able to account for adequately.
  • Peprah was OK last week filling in for Collins. It’s nice to be able to put an experienced guy back there who knows the defense and generally knows what he should be doing. Replacing Collins is really difficult, but Peprah kept it together last week pretty well.
  • Morgan Burnett is an exciting player and I’m beginning to think we have a Collins Jr. developing back there. He is a good hitter and he makes plays. He did miss some plays last week and I noticed a couple bad angles, but that is to be expected.
  • We need to watch the middle of our defense – between Hawk and Bishop – in pass coverage. This is a major liability, so much so that an announcer (Aikman I believe) called it out. It’s interesting because you’d think that with a 3-4 defense, the defense would be LESS vulnerable to passes over the middle simply because there are 2 guys who could fill that space in coverage vs 1 in the 4-3. Somehow, this needs to be figured out as it’s an evident weakness.
  • Our run defense will need to have another good game – McGahee is still pretty good and Moreno can get it going at times.
  • Kyle Orton is not a bad QB. He can also get it going. They have some weapons in the passing game (Lloyd, Eric Decker) and if Orton gets going, they can actually be somewhat difficult to stop. I don’t think they’ll get it going today though.
  • Packers 38, Denver 16.
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Packers/Bears Preview

September 23, 2011
  • The Nick Collins loss hurts. Peprah did fill in nicely last year for Burnett when he went down. And Burnett has flashed some moments already of serious talent. But Burnett is not Collins and the Packers will miss Collins. Collins is fast, a good hitter, generally takes good angles and has a  knack for causing turnovers. He will be missed.
  • That said, it’s not all doom and gloom in the secondary. In fact, when considering the present state of the pass defense – a fair argument could be made that it’s simply not possible to play any worse as a pass defense. It can only get better from here. Tramon being back will help.
  • So far the Bears have given up 11 sacks in two games. That’s really bad. Now that Gabe Carimi is out, that could make them even more vulnerable. However, if Martz and Cutler truly do change the offensive game plan (like they’ve said they would) to run more and to throw quicker/shorter passes, they may be able to reduce the damage a bit. Only problem with that is that I’m not sure Cutler is well-suited to a quick passing game. There is just something about Cutler’s style – he doesn’t seem to play with the sense of urgency the great QBs of today play with. I think, at least sometimes, Cutler isn’t thinking/deciding quick enough and that’s part of the reason he gets sacked so much.
  • This is a strange game. I can see the Packers losing or the Packers winning comfortably. The thing I can’t see is a close, exciting game. If the Pack loses, the team will shrug it off and quickly move on. A loss for us would be far less damaging to the Pack than a loss for the Bears. And a blowout by the Packers, which is very possible, would result in the Bears being done for the year. As you may remember, I have the Bears going 5-11 this year. One of these weeks their team direction (down) will become very apparent.
  • Dom Capers needs to step up his game some. Not only has the D looked ragged, but already in just the first 2 games there have been some specific defensive play calls that were really bad. In game 1, with the Saints driving at the end he called a blitz for two of his most exhausted defenders (Hawk and Bishop) – one of whom continues to prove he’s too slow to EVER get a blitz call (Hawk). The call led to an easy completion by Brees of 20+ yards keeping the drive alive. At that moment, it was an incredibly bad call. But the horrendous pass defense needs to be figured out asap. I know Collins’ injury hurts but like I said before, it can’t possibly get any worse. Capers needs to figure out different blitz/rush packages to take advantage of the attention paid to Matthews. And/or he needs to start lining Matthews up all over to throw offenses off. If S’oto were healthy I think he’d fill this role nicely. But I’m not sure if he’s playing Sunday and the other guys aren’t cutting it. We may need to bring more regular pressure from Woodson and the CBs and safeties. Last week Cam Newton had a few plays where he had so much time back there that anyone could have completed a pass. If there is such a thing as a coverage sack, there ought to be such a thing as a no-pass-rush-completion.
  • If there is such a thing as a coverage sack, there ought to be such a thing as a no-pass-rush-completion. (I restated this as a separate bullet point because I like it.)
  • Forte is a huge part of the Chicago offense. Last week, we let RB Jonathan Stewart catch 8 passes for 100 yards. While we totally shut down the running game, we didn’t shut down the short passing game to Stewart. Forte can do this same thing to us and we need to do everything possible to wrap him up. I almost think we should consider having Woodson or Bishop or someone shadow Forte/have primary responsibility for him. Let the other guys beat us if they can, but don’t let Forte beat us.
  • Considering that the Bears play a cover 2 that for whatever reason seems to give Rodgers a bit of trouble (at least w/re to getting his WRs involved), I’d recommend that MM work particularly hard early on to get Starks and Grant involved in the passing game. Some running plays, play action, screens, RBs in the slot, fake handoffs – whatever. Get these guys involved to bring the safeties in and condense the field. Then take advantage of the inevitable cheating by the Bears’ safeties and take some shots deep – expanding the field.
  • Final prediction: Packers 31, Bears 13.

Packers/Panthers Preview

September 18, 2011
  • What Cam Newton did last week was impressive. I watched a good chunk of that game. Yes, there were coverage breakdowns on Steve Smith and yes there were some passes heaved up like Favre in Oakland where the WRs just made great plays. But Newton also accumulated hundreds of passing yards legitimately. The guy looked really good and the Packers better come ready to play assuming that what Newton did last week was standard and not flukish.
  • RT Jeff Otah being out for this game could be a real problem for Carolina. The key will be how Capers chooses to take advantage of this. Rookie Byron Bell will be replacing Otah and will no doubt be given lots of help in managing Matthews. Last week Matthews was double and triple teamed – rendering him mostly ineffective. But Matthews’ ineffectiveness wasn’t really the problem last week. The problem was that Capers and the defensive personnel did very little to take advantage of the disproportionate attention being paid to Clay. As I learning at basketball camp in 8th grade: two men on me, one must be free. Walden, Bishop, CBs, safeties all need to be brought in to take advantage of the extra attention Matthews will get – and to create chaos for Newton. (Not Hawk, he’s too slow.)
  • Despite being a bit nervous that Carolina may indeed have a quality passing attack, I’m more concerned today about Carolina’s running game. AZ is not a tough defense but they did a surprisingly good job stopping DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart last week – 56 yards on 19 carries total. While I think Pickett and Raji are stout run stuffers and I realize our defense is much better overall than AZ’s, I do worry about how well Jarius Wynn and the right side of our defense will do stopping these two. I would think it’s quite possible today that Howard Green will get a bit more playing time during the early downs. Somehow, the defense will really need to key on stopping these two because I’m convinced that most of this past week, Carolina’s practice was dedicated to getting the run game going.
  • While I expect Carolina to put quite a bit of effort into getting their running game going there are two factors that could disrupt this: the Packers jumping out to an early lead and Newton having success throwing to Steve Smith (and TEs Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey) early. Smith was tremendous last week, but he could pose particular match-up issues for the Packers if Tramon Williams doesn’t play (or plays at substantially less than 100%). Williams is not only fast but very quick and one of Smith’s greatest assets it his quickness. Yes, Shields is pretty quick too and could help out some if Williams can’t play, but I’m not keen on having Woodson or Bush defending Smith.
  • I don’t think Carolina can stop our passing game. Jon Beason’s injury is big and leaves a huge void in the middle of the defense. But the rest of the Carolina defense is not too intimidating. Yes, Ron Rivera is a defense dude, but I don’t think the personnel on defense should be able to do enough to deter our passing attack. I’m guessing that Rivera may call a bunch of blitzes or try other less conventional options to try to rattle Rodgers. But fortunately for us, Aaron Rodgers doesn’t rattle.
  • It will be interesting to see how much we use the running game this week. Considering Carolina plays a 4-3 defense, they’ll be a bit more vulnerable against the pass (assuming we can keep the pressure off Rodgers). And we shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage of that until we either get tired or we’re up by a lot.
  • While I don’t expect another return TD by Cobb necessarily, a few solid returns could seriously demoralize Carolina and squash any hopes they may have of pulling off the huge upset.
  • This game is an away game and the longer Carolina sticks around, the more the crowd gets into it and the harder it is for the Packers to pull out the win. So, I am hoping we start really fast (like last week) and not be afraid to be aggressive early on. That means no huddles, deep passes that stretch the field, throwing it to anyone and everyone and going for it on close-call 4th downs.
  • The Packers are the better team by a mile here but this is the NFL and Carolina was more competitive in their first game than many predicted. I don’t see the Packers running away with this one necessarily.
  • Packers 34, Panthers 24.