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Tag:football
Posted on: July 20, 2010 10:36 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2010 3:05 pm
 

The NFC North is Back!


The NFC North is the most storied division in all football. It has long been considered one of the best divisions until it saw a dip in playoff performance after the turn of the century. The NFC North is the oldest division in the NFL: a combined 303 years old (The Packers are 91 years old - founded in 1919; the Bears are 90 years old - founded in 1920; the Lions are 80 years old - founded in 1930; the Vikings are 49 years old - founded in 1961.); and these teams have been together as a division since 1967. 

These teams have made 10 Super Bowl appearances (Packers, Vikings - 4; Bears - 2) and have 4 Super Bowl titles (Packers - 3; Bears - 1). Of the top 5 NFL teams with the highest winning percentage throughout its franchise history, three of them reside in the NFC North (Bears: .577; Packers: .558; Vikings: .555).  For 6 years in a row (from the 1995 season through the 2000 season) one team from the NFC Central/North made an appearance in the NFC Championship game. After the 2000 season no NFC North team appeared in the NFC Championship game until the Bears made a Super Bowl run in the 2006 season. 

Then a slow rise began to take place. The Bears went to the Super Bowl in 2006 and the Packers lost in overtime in the 2007 NFC Championship game. The division took the 2008 season to revamp their teams. In 2008 the Packers named a new starting QB in Aaron Rodgers and in 2009 the Vikings (Brett Favre), Bears (Jay Cutler), and Lions (Matthew Stafford) each named a new starting QB.With each team retooled at arguably the most important player on the team the division started to show life not just in one or two teams, but in all four. Although the Lions and Bears finished under .500 they showed some important steps. The Packers finished 11-5 and lost a tough one in the Wild Card round. The Vikings took their run all the way to an overtime loss in the NFC Championship game making that 3 appearances in the last 4 years in that game. 

Now looking forward to the 2010 season the Packers and Vikings are heavy favorites to make deep playoff runs. You can safely predict that both the Packers and Vikings have a solid chance at making it to the second round of the playoffs. The Bears have a chance at being a Wild Card team, but you can be sure they will hover around the .500 mark by season's end. The Lions will be no push over either. With the weapons they have in Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson, and with Brandon Pettigrew and a revamped running attack the Lions will also be competitor (at least by their last 2 season's standards) winning 4-6 games.

Yes, the NFC North is back and you can bet these teams will make deep playoff appearances for year to come (yes, that even includes the Lions).
Posted on: July 20, 2010 10:35 pm
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Posted on: February 24, 2010 2:07 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2010 2:26 pm
 

Packers 2009 Season Review: Week 16-Wild Card


Week 16: Packers vs. Seahawks; W 48-10; 10-5
After a heart breaker in Pittsburgh the Pack just had to win one of their last two games to ensure a playoff spot. The Seahawks never proposed a threat as the Packers shot out to a 24-3 lead at the half and completely dominated the Hawks. The Pack air attack wasn't the dominating offensive presence for the first time this year as Rodgers only had 237 yards and 1 touchdown, and was only sacked once. However, the ground game was outstanding combining for 153 yards with Ryan Grant leading the way with 97 yards and two touchdowns, Ahman Green had 29 yards and 1 touchdown, and Brandon Jackson had 20 yards and two touchdowns. Greg Jennings led the receivers with 4 catches for 111 yards and Rodgers one TD throw went to Jackson giving him 3 total touchdowns. The defense was all the more impressive as the picked off Matt Hasselbeck 4 times. Atari Bigby led with 2 picks and Nick Barnett led with 6 tackles and 1 sack. The Pack were now in and with the close of week 16 it became aware that week 17 against the Cardinals didn't matter at all because win or lose the Pack were heading to Phoenix for the Wild Card game.

Week 17: Packers at Cardinals; W 33-7; 11-5
The question that arose for week 17 was how would these two teams play each other knowing there would be a rematch just a week later. It didn't take long to figure out what Mike McCarthy had planned. The Pack didn't change a thing and played the way they had for the past 7 weeks shooting out to a 26-0 half time lead which was more than enough when the game was over. Aaron Rodgers went 21 of 26 for 237 yards, one touchdown, and also rushed for a score, and was sacked only once. Grant went for 51 yards and one touchdown. Donald Driver led with 6 catches for 65 and Jermichael Finley grabbed Rodgers one TD throw. A.J. Hawk led with 6 tackles and the defense gathered in 3 picks one of which was returned for a TD by Charles Woodson. In a game that didn't mean much the Pack looked great but were playing against the second and third teams of the Cardinals most of the game. Still many were confident that the Pack could put together the first playoff win in the Aaron Rodgers era. 

Wild Card Round: Packers at Cardinals; L 45-51
Rodgers started off his first playoff start on a bad note throwing a pick on the very first play from scrimmage which led to a Tim Hightower score. On their second possession Driver fumbled on the second play which led to a Kurt Warner touchdown pass. On their third possession the Pack gained a first down then were forced to punt which led to a Neil Rackers field goal. On their fourth possession Mason Crosby's struggles continued as he missed a 54 yard field goal wide right in the second quarter. On the Cardinals' third play of the drive Woodson forced Larry Fitzgerald to fumble which was recovered by Clay Matthews and led to an Rodgers score on the ground. However, the Cardinal marched right down the field and Warner passed to Early Doucet for each of their second touchdowns. Then the Packs ensuing possession led to a Mason Crosby field goal at the end of the half as they trailed 24-10.

To start the second half the Cardinal marched down the field again as Warner threw to Fitzgerald for the touchdown. On the Pack ensuing possession Rodger marched them down and threw a TD pass to Jennings. The Pack the successfully recovered an onside kick and Rodgers again threw a touchdown to Jordy Nelson. The Cardinals then went down the field in four plays ending with a Warner touchdown pass to Fitzgerald. At the end of the third quarter the Pack trailed 38-24.

The third play of the fourth quarter found Rodgers throwing his third touchdown pass to James Jones. The Cardinals were then forced to punt and in three plays the Pack marched down the field and capped off the drive with a John Khun 1 yard touchdown run. With the score now tied at 38 the Cardinals simply moved down the field in 11 plays capped off with a Warner pass to Steve Breaston. The Pack then answered with a Rodgers pass to Spence Havner for a touchdown for the final score of regulation. At 45-45 the Pack got the ball in overtime first. Already with some officiating calls in question Aaron Rodgers found himself being sacked on the fourth play of OT and the ball being knocked out of his hands as Karl Dansby grabbed the ball and took it in for the game winning touchdown.

I'm not here to argue whether or not there were missed calls or anything like that. The Packer offense played great and the defense was awful. With so much controversy around the close of the game we forget that the Pack lost this game on their own. All game long the Cardinals did what ever they wanted on offense and the Packer offense showed its greatest weakness when Rodgers was sacked.
Posted on: January 20, 2010 5:20 pm
 

Green Bay Packers 2009 Season Review: Weeks 1-4

Some may consider the 2009 Packers season a disappointment. They lost both matches against Brett Favre and the Vikings, they gave the Buccaneers their first win of the season, and had a disappointing exit from the playoffs.  However, I submit to you that this season was not a disappointment.  After falling to a 4-4 record after a surprising loss Tampa Bay, many gave up on the Pack, but they responded and went on a tear winning the next seven of eight games and finished 11-5; 6-2 at home. After week 9 many said the Pack would finish 6-10 just like the prior season, but they didn’t. This amazing run the Packers made to reach the playoffs is unfortunately somewhat forgotten by losing in the wild card round, but that is not a reason to consider the 2009 campaign a failure, instead let us consider it a great success.

 

Week 1: Packers vs. Bears; W 21-15; 1-0

The Packer offense struggled to get going most of the game due in part to poor offensive line play (which was a continuous theme all the way into the playoffs). The Pack only gained 76 yards on the ground led by Ryan Grant with 61 of those yards and a touchdown.  Aaron Rodgers finished 17 for 28 with only 184 yards and one touchdown which was the game winner with a little over a minute left. He was sacked four times. Greg Jennings led the team in receptions and yards with 6 for 106 and a touchdown.  The defense allowed a couple of big plays, but ultimately kept the Pack in the game picking off Jay Cutler four times and had two sacks. Brandon Chillar led in tackles with seven. An exciting win for the Pack, but it showed signs of a long season ahead.

Week 2: Packers vs. Bengals; L 24-31; 1-1

A pumped up and confident Packer team welcomed the Bengals who seemed to be down and out after losing on a miracle play against the Broncos the week before. However, this was a back-and-forth contest that found the Pack on the losing end as they ran out of time in the red zone. The offensive line played even worse than they did the first week allowing 6 sacks. Grant ran for only 46 yards and Rodgers added 43 of his own, but only because he was running for his life. He also went 21 for 39 in the air for 261 yards and one touchdown. Donald Driver led the team in receptions and yards with 6 for 99 and a touchdown.  The defense played decent forcing Carson Palmer to throw 2 picks and sacked him twice, but allowed Cedric Benson to run all over them for 141 yards. Charles Woodson led the team with 9 tackles and two picks returning one for a touchdown.  A tough loss for the Pack considering they were in range to score, but simply ran out of time.

Week 3: Packers at Rams; W 36-17; 2-1

Against the Rams here in week 3 the Pack were looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Bengals and build momentum and confidence for the big matchup coming in week 4 against the Vikes. Fortunately the Pack focused in on the Rams and took care of business. The offensive line looked a lot better allowing only two sacks, but then again the Rams didn’t pose much of threat. Grant ran for 99 yards and the Pack overall ran the ball for 152 yards. Rodgers went 13 for 23 for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Driver led the team with 4 receptions and Jennings in yards with 103. The defense played well forcing 3 turnovers, but only sacked the quarterback one time. A.J. Hawk led in tackles with eight. Perhaps the Pack allowed more points than they should have, but overall a dominating win which was just what was expected.

Week 4: Packers at Vikings; L 23-30; 2-2

The much anticipated matchup against Brett Favre and the Vikings didn’t turn out at all like Packer fans hoped. Instead all critics broke loose with negative statements as Brett carved up the Packer secondary, the defense failed to put pressure on the aging quarterback, and the offensive line once again played disgustingly horrible allowing an astounding 8 sacks. Grant actually seemed to run the ball his best so far going for 51 yards with a 4.6 yard average, but the Pack were simply playing catch-up all game. Rodgers went 26 for 37 for 384 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. In short, Rodgers played well for the most part, but could take the blame for the pick and a sack or two. Jermichael Finley led the team in receptions and yards with 6 for 128 yards and a touchdown.  Rookie Clay Matthews personally kept the Pack in the game when in the second quarter he stripped the ball right out of Adrian Peterson’s hands and took 42 yards for a touchdown tying the game at 14. Nick Barnett led the team with 7 tackles. This loss gave way to all Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson haters and already some fans were giving up on the Pack. Now the Packers had three weeks to get their act together for the rematch at Lambeau Field.

 

Getting Back to The Basics  "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." ―Vince Lombardi

 

Posted on: August 26, 2009 2:30 pm
 

Best Wide Reciever Corp in NFL?

I have been watching a lot of film from the 2007 and 2008 seasons of the Green Bay Packers. As a Packer fan I knew we had a good group of receivers, but when I really started analyzing them I realized that we have the best top to bottom receiving corp in all football.  The names include Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Ruvell Martin, Jordy Nelson as the top five.  Let's look at a few reasons why most would not think that this is the best receiving corp.

First of all, you may be thinking if you're not a Packer fan that you have never even heard of the last three or at least one or two of the last three. Well, just because you have never heard of them or they are not big names arcross the NFL doesn't mean they aren't good.

Secondly, not a single one of these guys finished in the top five of any of the major receiving categories last year. Only Greg Jennings finished in the top ten in a few of them.  He finished 6th in receiving yards, 9th in average yards a catch, 8th in touchdowns, and 8th in yards per game. Once again in 2007 Jennings was the only to finish in the top ten in any category. He finished 4th in average yards a catch and 4th in touchdowns.

So now you are wondering then why I think this group of receivers is the best in the league. Well, the reason none of these guys have finished in the top ten in any category the last two years except Jennings is this: because they are each so good at what they do Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers have found it easy to spread the ball around to all five receivers as well as to tight ends Donald Lee and Bubba Franks.  Because the Packers use the five receiver set so often the opportunities for one guy to compile league leading stats greatly diminishes.

Let us also just consider the two starters Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Both of these guys finished with over 1,000 receiving yards in 2008. Therefore the two of them alone accounting for over half of Aarond Rodgers' passing yards. Driver finished with 74 receptions and Jennings with 80 receptions which means that nearly half the competions Rodgers threw were to these two men.

Now let us also consider that they have vastly improved in the turnover category. In 2007 they lost six fumbles, but in 2008 Jennings was the only one to lose a fumble and he did only once.

However, I could keep giving you stat after stat, but to truly see why these five guys are the best group in the business you'll have to go back and watch their performances the last two years. The yards after the catch and the fact that they are very difficult to bring down. These guys are tough in fact you rarely see Driver fall backwards when being tackled. He is always pushing and falling forward for that extra yard or two. Coach McCarthy even said that all five can line up in any spot on the line and play it well. Each one of them can play the slot and the wide out which makes the possiblities for the coaching staff endless.

No these guys aren't singularly the top elite receivers with Larry Fitzgerald or Randy Moss (although Jennings is close), but as a group they are undoubtedly in my (call it bias if you want) mind the best wide receiver corp in the National Football League.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com