Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Chargers Getting Screwed

January 13, 2008

When we started Packergeeks, we intended to spend most of our time on the Packers but also to offer lots of commentary on broader NFL issues. Mostly for reasons of time, we haven’t done as much of the latter. We’ll do more of that going forward this year, and a lot of it next year.

So let me say this about today’s Colts/Chargers game: It is one of the worst-officiated games I’ve seen in ages. Virtually all of the bad calls have gone against San Diego. One phantom pass interference call early in the fourth quarter was the kind of utterly baffling flag that will surely start conspiracy theorists tongues wagging. Does the NFL want to see a Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady AFC Championship? A holding call on San Diego immediately before halftime was at least suspect. It negated an interception return for a touchdown that would have put the Chargers up 14-10 going into halftime.

The Colts were the victim of one awful call, too, when officials ruled that Reggie Wayne stepped out before he crossed the goal line. They were wrong and the call was reversed on a challenge.

But as I say, the overwhelming numbers of bad calls have gone against the Chargers. I say this as someone who has many good friends that are Colts fans. Moreover, I think Phillip Rivers throws like a girl, whines like a bitch and generally sucks. Plus, I’d like to see Norv Turner fail, largely because his hiring was inexplicable. I’d like to see GM AJ Smith lose in the same round he did last year, which caused the Chargers to fire Marty Schottenheimer.

It’s 21-17 now, Chargers. If they end up losing, the officials will have had a major role in the loss.

UPDATE: See here for a San Diego view of a potential Colts-Pats championship game.

UPDATE II:  Chargers win 28-24.  Gutty performance, as they won without Ladanian Tomlinson in the second half and with a hobbled Antonio Gates.  (Others will point out that Phillip Rivers got hurt in the third quarter and did not return.  I won’t.  His replacement, Billy Volek, is better.)

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.

Week 16 Spread Picks

December 20, 2007

PITT @ STL (+7.5) – Stephen Jackson and Polomalu will get their hair entangled on a play in the first half. There will be a very strange game delay as two of the NFL’s tough guys untangle their long flowing hair. Rams may upset here.

DAL @ CAR (+11.5) – Is Dallas crashing? I hope so. I would love for Owens to resume his toxic ways and for Romo’s excessive smiling to catch up with him.

KC @ DET (-4.5) – Who cares?

OAK @ JAX (-12.5) – When the TV flashed to Lane Kiffin last week, I swore, he looked like he was 17 years old. It’s an odd sideline really, with a child for a coach and a wooly mammoth for a D coordinator.

HOU @ INDY (-7.5) – I expect Houston to finish strong and be good next year knowing that Sherman won’t be there to disrupt progress anymore.

PHILLY @ NO (-2.5) – I hesitate here – Philly is playing well and they are just the annoying kind of team that would go in and foil someone’s playoff hopes. But I think NO will pull it out in large part because McNabb will play just poorly enough to resume calls for his ouster…

CLEVE @ CINCY (+2.5) – Interesting game, two former defensive minds coaching two offensive machines (though Cincy’s machine may be broken now).

NYG @ BUFF (+2.5) – Please, please Buff, knock the Giants down some more. I just want the meltdown to continue. I do think the Giants would be a desirable playoff opponent though for the Packers if they could make it that far.

GB @ CHI (+7.5) – I learned today on ESPN’s D-List (a Milwaukee radio show) from Brandon Lang that the Packers are 11-2-1 against the spread this year, one of the best spread records in NFL history. This will be an interesting one as Bears are going to want this one badly.

TB @ SF (+6.5) – For any of you who mysteriously remained tuned in to the MN @ SF game the other week (MN in a blowout), you got to see one of the best moments in the NFL this year. Sean Hill, a 6 year back-up QB got into a game for the first time, and threw his first NFL touchdown pass. He went nuts, the 7 people left in the stands went nuts and it was just really cool to see someone really wildly excited just to be playing in the NFL.

ATL @ ARI (-10.5) – How can a team with Boldin and Fitzergerald be 6-8? It just doesn’t make sense. You don’t need a RB, a defense, special teams or even an offensive line. You especially don’t even need a QB of merit – this team may simply dissolve when one or both of these guys leaves.

MIA @ NE (-21.5) – Right now, Miami is like a very low self-esteem teenager who was just given a compliment by a teacher in class for something which leads him to suddenly have this wind of confidence that makes him think he can probably do anything. So, he asks out the hot cheerleader who laughs at him and he’s back to square one. (Look for Miami to make a game of it off nothing but adrenaline in the first half, then NE to wake up – Gado will get lots of national attention after this game).

BALT @ SEA (-9.5) – In a way, it’s sort of too bad Billick’s time in Baltimore may be limited (despite what I regard as a fake recent statement of support by the team) because I’ve noticed lately, he is actually looking more and more like a raven, seriously, look at him and then look at the helmet.

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.

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.

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.

Questions Answered

December 18, 2007

Greg Bedard comes through with another edition of his “Mondays with Mikey’s Men,” which, the awful alliterative appellation notwithstanding, is one of the best features of Packer reporting available. Lots of questions answered, including a Justin Harrell update and a discussion of our problems defending the run against St. Louis. Great stuff. Read the whole thing, as they say.

Cowboys Coming to Lambeau…

December 17, 2007

next year. Hopefully they will be returning to Lambeau for the second time in a year.

“We’re Playing for Home-Field Advantage”

December 17, 2007

That’s what Mike McCarthy just told reporters at his Monday press conference. Good. That’s exactly the right attitude. I’m for resting players who are dinged up — McCarthy did this with Nick Collins yesterday and may have to do it with Ryan Pickett going forward — but if you’ve got a shot at home-field advantage you need to do everything possible to get it. It could matter, especially since Brett Favre is 0-9 in Dallas over his career.

Here is Greg Bedard on McCarthy’s presser.

That Eerie Feeling…

December 17, 2007

Here’s what I wrote last week after watching the ugly end of the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions:

The Lions would have won if Paris Lenon, former Packer and Andy man-crushee, would have fallen on a Tony Romo fumble with less than two minutes left. Instead, he wanted to be the hero, so he scooped it up and then dropped it, when a Cowboy lineman fell on it. Dallas scored the game-winning touchdown. I have an eerie feeling that play could be the difference between the NFC Championship at Lambeau Field or at that “pretty” Dallas Stadium.

As you surely know by now, Dallas lost to Philadelphia yesterday, 10-6. And while I am pleased to see further confirmation that the Cowboys are not a good 12-2 team (in addition to their loss to Detroit, they should have lost to Buffalo), it’s difficult to think that the Packers could have had homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with two more wins and an unspectacular play by Paris Lenon.There is still a chance, however. Dallas plays Washington in Washington the last game of the season. Even with Jason Campbell out and no Sean Taylor, the Redskins have played reasonably well. (In fact, the original “eerie feeling” post played up a potential Cowboys loss to Washington and mentioned Philly in passing.) If the Redskins can beat the Vikings next week, they would be 8-7 heading into the Dallas game, a mark that would give them a decent shot at the playoffs. (They would have a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings — giving the Vikings a win against Chicago tonight — but New Orleans has a better conference record.)Of course the Packers still have to beat the Bears (in Chicago) and Lions (at home) before this becomes an issue. But…

Monday Review

December 17, 2007

The Packers played fine yesterday in their 33-14 stomping of the St. Louis Rams. Fine, but not excellent.

The Rams are a better team than their record indicates and they came in 3-2 over their last five games. Their running game was strong — at one point Steven Jackson had 12 carries for something like 108 yards — and their run defense was surprisingly stout.The Packers’ offensive line seemed to regress a bit, especially in the running game. There were very few big holes for Ryan Grant to run through, especially early in the game. Pass protection was okay, however.

All in all (and I’m not looking to restart an old argument) the win yesterday reminded me of the win against Carolina: Decent, not great. They could have looked past this one and they didn’t, which tells us good things about Mike McCarthy and his staff, especially given the other top NFC teams that lost yesterday (Dallas, Seattle, NY Giants).

Mike McCarthy’s postgame press conference is here.  

Jason Wilde is here

UPDATE: McCarthy was asked how the offensive line performed: Just OK. I thought the protection part of it, they did a great job of the pressure recognition, declarations. I don’t think we were fooled one time. I thought the communication was outstanding on the boundary as far as what they were trying to do, who’s bluffing and picking up the disguise and so forth. I thought they did a very good job of that. The run-blocking unit as a whole, it wasn’t our best day. We weren’t as productive as we would have liked to have been in the run game. But I thought their performance was OK.   

Mike McCarthy on Favre

December 17, 2007

“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime player. He’ll go down as one of the greatest or the greatest player in the history of the National Football League. But just the way he goes about his business I think speaks volumes about him as a person. He’s a joy to coach, he’s a big part of our success this year as he’s been throughout his whole career, and you love to see him just keep breaking these records.” Packers Will Win Super Bowl

December 15, 2007

They rank the Packers #3 in their Power Rankings this week and predict that the Packers upset the Patriots in the Super Bowl and that Favre will “pull an Elway.”  It’s here