Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Weekend Reading

December 15, 2007

On the Packers and the Pro Bowl here.

On the Packers’ struggles in short-yardage here.On the promise of Will Blackmon here.

On the Packer offense versus the Rams blitz here.

On a Ryan Grant honor here.

On how a fellow Wauwatosa native beat us out to be the first Tosan to be inducted into the Packer fan Hall of Fame here.

On an outsider’s opinion about Packer fans here.

And Mike McCarthy on a variety of topics here.


Lambeau Rules

December 13, 2007

Don’t you get sick of these articles saying the same thing again and again and again about Lambeau Field?

The first place Lambeau Field hits you is right in the nose. It’s 9 a.m. on game day here, and already the alluring aroma of brats grilling on Weber grills is rarifying the eastern Wisconsin air. The smell wafts through the gray skies of a crisp November morning, drawing you into the Lambeau Field experience as if it were a trap play drawn up by Vince Lombardi himself…

Football hangs heavy in the air, too. Outside Lambeau, touch football games break out in the parking lots. An endless string of oversized inflatable Packers make the surrounding streets look like New York City during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Nearby, residents turn their homes into parking lots, while virtually every corner of the surrounding neighborhood plays host to a tailgate party.

One such party goes off at Brett Favre’s Steakhouse, which stands in the shadow of Lambeau Field. Here, behind an eight-foot-tall, black-granite monument to Favre, the parking lot is transformed into a giant outdoor celebration of the Packers and their iconic quarterback. Twenty-five bucks gains you admittance to an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink party that begins at 10 a.m. and rollicks under green-and-gold-stripped canopies until 30 minutes before kickoff – leaving just enough time to make it to your seats.

Nah, me neither.

ESPN QB Rankings: Favre is #3?

December 13, 2007

Here is an interesting ranking from ESPN of the top 64 quarterbacks in the NFL today. I’m not a huge fan of rankings — it’s a magazine gimmick to attract eyeballs by provoking debate. And I usually disagree with the analysis, which is the point, of course. But I think ESPN gets this just about right. Tom Brady is #1, that’s undeniable. Peyton Manning is #2, Favre is #3, Tony Romo is #4, and Ben Roeth… is #5.

I think a good argument could be made that Favre is better than Manning right now. Favre has a passer rating of 98.7, Manning has a 97; Favre has a TD to interception ratio of 24/11, Manning is 27/13; Favre has thrown for 3,678 yards (despite most of the Cowboys game) and Manning has thrown for 3,358. And on it goes. Apparently the judges gave bonus points for arm-flailing before the snap and whining after incompletions, so Manning got the nod. (All that said, both Romo and Roeth… have better passer ratings than Favre.)

Manning is good, sure. But anytime I have a choice between the two, I’ll take Favre.

Wednesday Practice Report: Facial Hair Special

December 12, 2007

From Greg Bedard. I like these little nugget-based updates.This is fantastic:

New practice squad DT Alfred Malone was on the field. He may be auditioning for that 53rd spot on the roster. Malone sported a ridiculously long chin beard – it sticks straight out – so Ryan Pickett is going to be forced to step up his game in the facial hair department. Malone’s chin beard puts Pickett’s to shame.

I like Malone already. This is exactly the kind of reporting we need to increase. Outstanding.I still believe that Aaron Rodgers’ fu manchu was the best facial hair on the Packers in the past several years. Excellent. And that comes from someone who does not generally like Rodgers fashion-sense, especially since he started to look like that UPS Whiteboard tool.

Greg Jennings — Stud

December 12, 2007

I had a long talk Monday with a friend about Greg Jennings. Our discussion started with an assessment of where Jennings ranks among the NFL’s elite receivers for the purposes of ranking him for next year’s fantasy football draft. I argued that Jennings is easily a #1 WR and probably ranks in the Top 10 WRs going into next years draft. (Our league is a standard league, with bonus points for receptions.) In fact, when I looked at the WRs this year on a points-per-game basis, Jennings ranks #9. Ahead of him were: Randy Moss, Andre Johnson, Terrell Owens, Braylon Edwards, Reggie Wayne, TJ Housh, Larry Fitzgerald. That’s good company.One thing that surprised both of us: We could not recall Greg Jennings being double-teamed by any Packer opponents this year, while Donald Driver still draws double-teams on a regular basis. Why is this? I think Driver, despite his age, is as good as just about anyone in running after the catch. He’s so quick and elusive — he looks like one of those waterbugs that zips across the top of a pond, changing directions every time he moves. So defenses are forced to choose who they’re going to double and they choose Driver.Now comes this article from Rob Demovsky. He writes:

Only three receivers in the NFL have more touchdown catches than Greg Jennings, and only one of those — Dallas’ Terrell Owens — plays in the NFC. Yet so far this season, not a single opponent of the Green Bay Packers has tried to double-team Jennings. 

The best news? Packers WR coach Jimmy Robinson said: “I wouldn’t for a second think that Greg’s reached his ceiling.”

A Thought on The Cowboys and the Playoffs

December 11, 2007

I watched the end of the Cowboys-Lions game on Sunday. It was ugly. 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. The Cowboys still have to play the Redskins in Washington at a time the Skins could be playing for their playoff lives. (The Cowboys also have the Eagles.) The game in Washington won’t be as tough as it might have been — with a healthy Jason Campbell and Sean Taylor in the lineup. But it won’t be a cakewalk, either.More to the point, the Cowboys simply aren’t the dominant team their 12-1 record suggests. They’re above average, at best. They should have lost to both the Lions and the Bills and got outplayed several other times this year. Yeah, yeah — good teams find a way to win. And it’s true that the Packers could have lost to the Redskins. But I like our chances if we go back to Dallas.The bigger problem could be our first-round game. Although it will almost certainly be at home, we will likely play the NFC’s 3rd place team, right now the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are playing very well, running a spread offense not unlike the one the Packers are running. And they will probably have DJ Hackett back come playoff time — he’s an explosive downfield receiver and a bigger scoring threat than Deion Branch. The Seahawks’ defense has been outstanding in recent weeks, too.If we survive, though, I like our chances in Dallas.UPDATE: Chris at “The Wisconsin Sports Bar,” has more.  He writes:

Believe it or not but right now the after Dallas and Green Bay I would put the Vikings as the team I would not want to play in the playoffs. Ever since the Pack took them to the wood shed the Vikings are 4-0 now three of the teams they have beat were the Raiders Lions and Niners not stellar competition but they did destroy the Giants. But the nice thing is if Minnesota is the second wild card Green Bay would not see them till the NFC Championship game and that game would be in Lambeau.    

Where to Watch Packer Games?

December 11, 2007

I’ve done these searches many times on Google. This is the best list I’ve seen. I’m adding it to our blogroll.  It’s a great resource if you find yourself out of town on a Thursday/Saturday/Sunday/Monday when the Packers are playing.Perhaps someone with a lot of time could do some research and find out how many of those bars serve Pabst or PBR Light. We could do another list of “All-Star Packer Bars.” Just a thought.

America’s Team – New England??? Schefter on crack???

December 11, 2007

Read this article in which Adam Schefter, a writer who has begun to bother me, tries to argue that New England is borrowing the Cowboys title of America’s Team this year. I’ll agree that we are all interested in whether New England can go 16-0 and they are an impressive team, but America’s Team wouldn’t cheat, they wouldn’t be led by a wanker of a coach and they wouldn’t have dirty players like Vince Wilfork (dirtiest hit of the season on Losman) and Rodney “fine me” Harrison. Yes, they are undefeated and are an impressive team, but no, they are not America’s Team and they will never obtain that title as long as Sweatshirt Belichick roams the sidelines. (Of course, I would also argue that Jerry Jones’ obnoxiousness should eliminate Dallas from consideration too – leaving the Packers as the only logical choice).

Ryan Grant — RB of the Future

December 10, 2007

There has been much discussion about Ryan Grant over the past six weeks, and one of the key questions is this: Can Grant be the Packers’ running back next year and the year after that? Or is a good fill-in who simply runs through gaping holes created by a spread offense?

I’m not exactly objective in the matter, as I liked Grant before the Packers acquired him. But there is growing evidence, in my view, that he is a very good running back. Of course he did well yesterday against Oakland (30th in run defense), but as we pointed out last week, he also did well against Minnesota, Detroit and Dallas, all of whom ranked among the Top 10 rushing defenses when the Packers played them. And he has four 100-yard games in six starts.

Jason Wilde gives us an interesting statistic about the Packer running game since the win at Denver. “Entering that game, the Packers were averaging 65.7 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry. Since Grant took over, they ‘ve averaged 115.6 yards per game and 4.5 yards per rush.”

Mike McCarthy: “I can’t say enough about Ryan Grant. I think he’s really coming into his own. You can see the comfort level that he has.”

Brett Favre: “I think he’s legit. He really can play…What we did today, to me, was as impressive as anything we’ve done this year.”

Here’s more of what McCarthy says about Grant. (It’s from a subscriber-only article by Bob McGinn at Packer Insider.) “I hope so.”

“Thing I like about him, he improves every chance he gets…I haven’t just cut this guy loose and run him 25 or 30 times, but I think he can be a 20 to 25 rush a game guy. He’s only going to get better.

Asked if Grant is a legitimate starting running back, McCarthy responded: “I think he can be. I think he needs to get a little stronger. He has the frame to do it…It was a great trade, especially at that time (Sept. 1). You usually don’t hit those. Great kid, too. Class act. Smart. Tough.”

But McGinn also got comment from a “personnel man” from the NFC East, who said: “Grant is doing well for them, but I don’t think by any means is he a legitimate starting running back in the NFL…He’s a crease runner. Runs hard in a crease and has some strength. But I think if you’re going into next year saying, ‘This is our guy,’ I don’t think many people will be scared of you.”

Another personnel guy echoed that point, going so far as to say that Ted Thompson has to draft a running back next year. “He’s probably better than I thought. But he’s run through some giant holes. He doesn’t have to face many eight-man fronts. I think Ted has to get a back.”

Sorry, I think they’re wrong. The offensive line has done better lately that it did at the beginning of the year. But not that much better. Does anyone think that either Brandon Jackson or Vernand Morency would be getting the same numbers Grant is getting? Of course not. (And, it must be said, that these guys have an incentive in downplaying Grant’s abilities as they, along with everyone else, overlooked him.)

I love that these personnel guys seem to think that their opinions matter more than performances on the field. If that were the case, David Carr would be a Pro-Bowler, Tim Couch would be in the Hall of Fame, Bob Sanders would washing cars somewhere, and Ryan Grant might be selling real estate.

Instead, he might be a 1000-yard rusher after starting only half the season.

UPDATE: More from Tom Pelissero here. A statistic that was true two games ago is true once again: Nobody in the NFL has rushed for more yards than Grant since Grant became the starter.

UPDATE II: Still more here, from Greg Bedard.

Week 14 Spread Picks

December 6, 2007

* CHI @ WASH (-2.5) Not sure here. Went with Wash despite the Sean Salisburyesque overstatement made to my wife after last week’s massive Gibb’s blunder “no chance, the Skins won’t win another game this year, maybe not even next year”.
* TB @ HOU (+2.5) When I think of TB, I have this permanent image of Ronde Barber etched in my brain. It is of him picking up a fumble and running for a TD. Why is this? Has he done this a lot? Houston though because I can’t figure out why TB is 8-4.
* STL @ CINCY (-5.5) St. Louis here because Cincy’s body language during the Pitt game last week was very bad. Also St. Louis ain’t bad – and will be the Packers toughest opponent toward the end here.
* MIA @ BUFF (-6.5) Maybe Miami is just really really horrible. For weeks, I’ve picked them hoping they’d cover and stop being redefeated, as it were, but they continue to disappoint and totally suck. I will pick them to win next week against New England just because it would be great if that happened.
* OAK @ GB (-10.5) Tough spread here. Oak is like those chicks in college (we called them EODs – every-other-day) who had some game in the looks department one day and the next you wonder what you were thinking. Oak has shown flashes this year but I’ll bank on this being the “other” day. (Actually, I always pick the Packers, that’s why I’m taking them here).
* NYG @ PHILLY (-2.5) I hesitate to write an Eli rip here considering he pretty much drove them down and led them to victory last week – but my hesitation has ended. Eli Manning is a dweeb. I can easily hear him saying meekly from the bottom of the pile “get off, gosh, you guys are so mean, get off…” Philly because of Akers.
* CAR @ JAX (-10.5) Here’s a game the “experts” and I are very different on (most of them have Jax in a blowout). Carolina is one of the top road teams in the league. I sense Jax may not be ready for this one.
* DAL @ DET (+10.5) Here’s another game, probably my crack pick, where I differ from most. Detroit may be on a slide, K Jones and R Williams may have said they want out of Detroit, and Kitna may have a bounty on his head, but I may be the only one who still thinks there is a reason Detroit started 6-2. Dallas overlooks them and pays (31-28 Detroit).
* SD @ TENN (+1.5) Tough one here. Both teams are decent – went with SD as they are in need of a statement game, this could be it.
* MN @ SF (+7.5) MN has been stuck for several years now because they tend to fade and lose games they need to win. Despite the great ground game and brilliant QB, MN will struggle in this game and if they win, it will be another Longwell game-winner.
* AZ @ SEA (-6.5) AZ because I want AZ. I’m getting a bit tired of Qwest Field and its loudness, which may be due to 70,000 fans having had 4-6 cups of coffee each while tailgating. Coffee is better for fan-cheering-cohesion as the people are extra alert and on-task – compared to beer which doesn’t always help with cohesion (but still is the way more appropriate tailgate beverage).
* KC @ DEN (-6.5) How can KC score points? KC has one good offensive player – Tony Gonzalez. They have no running game now, no QB, terrible receivers (though Bowe is at least emerging). How have they won 4 games?
* CLEVE @ NYJ (+3.5) The Cleve will pull this out because they need to for playoff reasons, but it will be close.
* PITT @ NE (-14.5) Surprising point spread this late in the year for a night game in the cold. Pitt will hang tough, will definitely cover, maybe win, but the story of the game will be Randy Moss not going full speed due to cold weather.
* INDY @ BALT (+9.5) In my confidence pool, at one point I put a bunch of points on Indy (thinking Balt still devastated after last week) and then I put a bunch of points on Balt thinking maybe they are decent. In the end, I’ll go with Balt just because I think games this time of year tend to be closer.
* NO @ ATL (+4.5) Redman starting now? Wow. Like most quarterbacks coming into a situation like this, he’ll ride big-time momentum and crowd excitement to a lead in the first half, then Brees will throw for 300 in the second half. Vick will say “damn” from his cell.