Here we are...the last of the regular season prop bets. I'm going to have to give myself a little dap, pat myself on the back, toot my own horn (which is quite difficult)...all that stuff as I went 7-1 in last week. Along with that, I've been invited to stay in the Presidential Suite at the Packers Therapy Hotel and Casino bankrolled by PokerListings.com. Going from the doghouse to the penthouse was unexpected to be sure. Thanks again to Chris and Dave for the opportunity and for the love all season. As a side note, the past episode founr Dave allowing himself to get back on the bandwagon...quality stuff. Other than the Giants limited score, that game went as I had imagined. Eli turned it over, Starks wasn't active, Kuhn scored, yada, yada, yada. Rodgers was a beast and we saw ALL KINDS of Manning Face...what a game. That dominating performance should give this team a load of momentum heading into the Bears game.
One down, one to go...officially. In all reality, the Packers have been in the playoffs since the loss to the Patriots. One loss in the last two weeks of the season and the season was effectively over. Yes, the Packers can still get in with a loss and some help but for this team to have a real shot they need to have some momentum.
This latest win over the Giants is a confounding one. Is this a good win or are the Giants in a free-fall? Did we learn anything about this team or did they just roll over a team that was crushed by the collapse at the hands of the Eagles the week before? These are questions fans may never learn the answer to but one thing is for sure...the offense played well. Whether or not the Giants defense played poorly, Rodgers played well and this offense looked like it did back in week 13. It wasn't all gravy though...let's get to it, shall we?
- Rodgers is back: As opposed to the Miami game following his first concussion, Aaron Rodgers looked great against the Giants. With a regular season career-high 404 yards and 4 touchdown passes, he looked like a guy who is going to make sure this team makes it back to the playoffs.
- Running Game: It wasn't spectacular but they got the job done and it made the play-action part of the passing game flourish. Hopefully McCarthy has got something here and they're clicking at exactly the right time.
- Defense: Another sack by BJ Raji, 4 interceptions of Eli Manning, 90 rushing yards for the Giants and only 17 points allowed...pretty darn good. These guys are playing well despite the late-season injuries to Jenkins & Zombo. These guys will probably be lining up again in week 17 as both haven't been able to practice much if at all.
- Bears Confidence: Okay folks, it's down to the last game of the regular season and the Bears are still playing well...when is the collapse coming? No one believes in these guys...except for these guys. Hell, God could be against them but as long as the players believe they're winners, things will go their way. The Bears aren't going to lose it, the Packers need to win this game.
- Penalties: Week 3...Packers team-record 18 penalties. Since then, this team has, for all intents and purposes, turned it around and are now in line to set another team-record for fewest penalties in a season. Many would say this is a positive...and it is. However, I worry that there may be another landslide of penalties and wouldn't it be ironic and horrendously embarrassing if this team buzzes past that possible record, commits 10+ penalties and loses because of it.
- Special Teams: Ugh...the Packer struggles coupled with Devin Hester is almost enough to turn one's stomach. This guy is THE most dominant kick returner in the NFL, possibly ever. He housed one in that September game and has since claimed his NFL-record 14th return. He's the X-factor in this game, period and if Shawn Slocum's crew isn't ready and play him poorly, the season will be over for the green & gold.
Aaron Rodgers certainly does wear that Pro Bowl jersey well, although that will not be the case this season. Inexplicably, Rodgers was left off of the Pro Bowl rosters despite being one of the leading vote-getters just a few short weeks ago. Perhaps it was because of his injury and he sat out a game during the peak of voting time, but Rodgers will stay home because Michael Vick, Matt Ryan, and Drew Brees will all be in front of him (because of injuries and the Super Bowl, it's likely that Rodgers will end up being there, even though we'd rather have him not there because we'd rather have him preparing for the Super Bowl, but that's not what this article is about).
Vick I understand, he's an MVP candidate and I really think he's the best football player of all-time, although I'm probably overstating that a bit (a lot?). But Rodgers is a better quarterback than Matt Ryan, it's just that everyone happens to have a boner over Atlanta right now. Drew Brees sure didn't look like a Pro Bowl quarterback on Monday Night Football this week, and he's had an overall down year. The fact that Rodgers didn't get in is more surprising to me than the fact that Chad Clifton did.
That's right, Chad Clifton somehow made the Pro Bowl. Good for him though. He joins Greg Jennings on offense, although neither of them will start. The defensive side of the ball for the NFC will be very green and gold, as Clay Matthews, Nick Collins, and Charles Woodson have all been named starters. Again, we'd rather have no Packers in the Pro Bowl as that would mean we're preparing for the Super Bowl, but it's more about the actual nominations than the game itself.
Full rosters of both the AFC and NFC can be found here.
As far as the game on the court, Keyon Dooling played his best game as a Buck on Monday. He finished with 15 points, 9 assists, and 4 rebounds. CDR is upset with how he is playing, and so are Bucks fans. He plays so well at times, but Monday night he played like he was on my rec league team. Another 37.3% shooting night for the Bucks, and yes, this is getting real old. Almost every time Josh Smith touched the ball the crowd booed him. We treat him like the league treats LeBon James, because he said one thing about Milwaukee. That is awesome. Al Horford owned us with 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Champs Sports Bowl - #22 West Virginia (9-3) vs. North Carolina State (8-4) - 6:30pm ET - ESPN
Winks: West Virginia was apparently close to a BCS game, which is a crime. The Big East was terrible this season, and yet they are still throwing crap UConn into the mix, while a team like Boise State is already done playing football!?!? Yeah, when I do exclamation points and question marks together, you know it's real. Let's give West Virginia the benefit of the doubt though, and go with them.
Lemmy: Let's make one thing clear: North Carolina is a waaay better team than they are given credit for. The proof? How about a 3 1/2 point spread in favor of West Virginia. The Mountaineers put together another solid season and we mean no disrespect to their football team when we say that N.C. State is in a very good spot here. That said, N.C. State is in a very good spot here. Facing a relatively beat-up WVU club with a very sketchy history in bowl games, we are siding with the Wolf Pack of N.C. State.
Insight Bowl - #12 Missouri (10-2) vs. Iowa (7-5) - 10pm ET - ESPN
Winks: Let's talk about Iowa for a second. What a disappointment they were this season. At one point, they were 7-2 this season, with their only losses to the ranked Arizona State Wildcats and then our beloved Badgers. Then they did the unthinkable and lost to Northwestern. Then they lost to Ohio State. Then they lost to Minnesota!?!?! (the double punctuation again). I think that Iowa could win this game, and will put up a good fight, but ultimately I think Missouri is the better team and they'll get the victory.
Lemmy: We are going to pull a Drew Magery here and talk about something completely off-topic when we are supposed to be using this space to write about a game. We still can't help but wonder how the Big Ten arrived at the conclusion that Leaders and Legends would fly as division names. We know this subject has already been beaten to death, and we know that they have already announced that they will likely take a mulligan on this one, but how does this even happen to begin with? If Northwestern didn't ruin this conference, we weren't sure anything could. Yet, here we are, watching the Big Ten slowly slip into insanity. Anyway, we doubt Iowa will be Leaders at the end of this game. The Hawkeyes have had a bit of a slide to end a once promising season, and while they are still a quality football team, Missouri is simply better. And sometimes, that's all that needs to be said.
Saito, who will be 41 in February, posted a 2.83 ERA, 11.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9, and 43.6% groundball rate in 54 innings for the Braves this year. He dealt with hamstring and shoulder injuries and has had serious elbow issues in the past, so the deal reflects the health uncertainty despite Saito's fantastic numbers.
Saito probably becomes the best pitcher in the Brewers bullpen with this move. Zach Braddock has the potential to put up similar numbers, and John Axford was impressive as a closer last year. However, Saito’s command takes the cake from both of these youngsters. The one downside to Saito is his age. At age 40 don't expect to see Saito pitching in many consecutive days, but will probably be good for 50-60 innings in 2011.
Advocare 100 Independence Bowl - Air Force (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6) - 5pm ET - ESPN2
Winks: Doing a quick briefing of this game online, since I know nothing about either team, it appears that Georgia Tech and Air Force have the top to rushing programs in the country (327.0 and 317.9 respectively - Wisconsin, by the way, averages 247.3). So don't expect a lot of passing. This is a tough game for me, even though I still don't think teams with 6-6 records should partake in the postseason. I'm going to go with the military base though here and take Air Force, because even though they've lost to Utah, TCU, and Oklahoma, they have played the tougher competition and it will serve them will tonight.
Lemmy: In this time of war (we think... foreign affairs have taken a backseat to Free Picks lately), we have one rule: never bet against the men of our armed forces. This supercedes our rule of never citing an arbitrary opinion as the basis of a gambling strategy. In reality, we don't know much about these two teams other than to know that Georgia Tech is entirely outmatched by a far superior Air Force squad. Air Force it is.
UPDATE: Well there we go, crisis averted, Lemmy's pick is up. Just who the hell is this Lemmy guy anyway, you ask? The mystery is solved.
1. Power of the G-Force - After going out to New England last week to watch the Packers in hostile territory, I can't tell you how refreshing it was for me to return to a game at Lambeau Field with all the fellow Packer faithful. And seriously, it was nothing but Packer fans at this game. There were maybe a total of 500 Giants fans in the entire stadium, and that's being generous. Good on Packer fans for knowing how big this game was and making sure they held on to the tickets.
In the last couple of years, I've been lucky enough to attend nearly every home playoff game and I've been to a handful of regular season games in that time as well. Let me tell you, if I just went to the game and didn't know the situation, I would have been convinced this was a playoff game. Technically you can say that it was, as the Packers could not afford to have lost if they wanted to gain entry into what we now refer to as "the tournament". And if the game was going to fall under playoff-like circumstances, then the fans were going to make this a playoff like atmosphere. There was no doubt that on Sunday that was the case.
There were so many moments in this one where the crowd was as loud as I've ever heard it. In the beginning of the game when we went up 14-0, after every Eli Manning interception, and especially when Rodgers slid after a run instead of taking a hit. The whole "KUUUUUHN" thing has always been fun, but now fans are doing it in any short yardage situations even if John Kuhn isn't in the game. It's almost like a glorified Rudy situation, and Mike McCarthy played along by putting him in the game when he was summoned. Not only that, but Kuhn would then immediately score even though 70,000 fans told the Giants exactly who the ball was going to.
Between all of that, the unprompted chants of "Go Pack Go", and the "Bears Still Suck" chant in the games' final moments, this was hands down the best regular season game I've ever gone to at Lambeau, and the best regular season crowd I've ever been a part of.
2. His Head Never Clearer - As a crowd, we definitely had plenty to cheer about, and one of the objects of our affection was the return of our starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. After the game, Rodgers joked about how he had to play well just to get his job back, and with the way he played on Sunday he would have won his job back from nearly every quarterback in the league. Rodgers came back from the concussion with 404 yards passing and four touchdowns, and also had a pair of nice runs in which he ended the play safely each time. Furthermore, the offensive line did a very nice job keeping the strong Giants pass rush away from their quarterback, as Rodgers was only sacked twice and didn't feel much pressure at any other point in the game. Not every throw was perfect, but when they weren't, you had guys like Donald Driver making ridiculous one-handed catches. Actually, there were quite a bit of perfect throws. Rodgerz Rulez!
3. Six Appeal - Dom Capers, we salute you. All that the Giants were really able to do on Sunday was connect on two plays, both bombs from Eli to one of his top receivers that went for scores. Other than that, the Giants offense looked unremarkable against a swarmy Packers defense. While Eli was actually only sacked just the once, the Packers line put on enough pressure and the secondary did a good enough job in coverage to force Manning into four interceptions, each throw looking more horrendous than the last. The Giants fumbled twice as well, including a fumble by Hakeem Nicks that seemingly every Packer defender had a shot at before we finally came up with the ball. Huge credit on that play goes to Desmond Bishop for a ridiculous back-handed save to prevent the ball from going out of bounds, by the way. Six turnovers is quite impressive against any team, but especially an offense as explosive as the Giants.
4. Things that Need to be Corrected - The kick return situation was a little suspect, Nick Collins dropped a sure pick six interception, James Jones dropped two easy passes, Brandon Jackson hates momentum, Jordy Nelson fumbled.... ah forget it. Not every game is perfect. The Packers won 45-17, and it was the best crowd that I've been a part of in quite some time. No need to talk about the negatives. Not today.
5. One Down, Five to Go - Last week, we laid out the plans that for the Packers to win the Super Bowl, they needed to win six straight games. Two at home, three on the road, and then one on a neutral setting. It's a tough task indeed, but you can't win six straight games without winning one first, and the Packers did that against New York. So now, a win next week puts the Packers in the playoffs, and that's really all you need to know. Sure, if both the Giants and Buccaneers lose the Packers can still get in with a loss, but that's no fun. And I don't want to see us lose to the Bears again. The game has been moved to 3:15pm to accommodate a larger audience, because that's how awesome Green Bay is. If we do win next week, it's looking more and more likely that we'll end up traveling to Soldier Field for a Wild Card round game, playing an opponent in back-to-back weeks for the second time in two years. Again, we are not going to get ahead of ourselves, as it's one game at a time. At this point there really is no next game if you don't win the one in front of you. Take care of business this week against Chicago, and then we'll talk. And if you are going to Lambeau next weekend, make sure you do everything you can to make this week's crowd look like nothing more than an exhibition. A game against the Chicago Bears to get into the playoffs, it doesn't get much bigger than that. As the G-Force towel in my room says, you have to be "Proud 2 B Loud".
PS. Mike McCarthy - best coaching performance of the season. Sorry about anything bad I said last week.
Lemmy: When we think Little Caesers, we think of Pizza, Rome and Toledo Rockets football. Notice that Florida International is not a part of that corporate brand name association. Toledo makes another apperance in this pizza bowl and should make use of the shorter travel time and familiarity in this particular game. While FIU has been a nice story down the stretch, we still remember the brutal 0-4 start to the season and think that the problems they had against stiffer competition should rear their ugly heads in Detroit. Et tu, Toledo?
Merry Christmas everyone. What better way to spread some holiday cheer than to open presents from Santa, eat a delicious ham with your family, and then head to the movieplex to watch the instant family classic that is "Yogi Bear". Speaking of which, I saw this on EW.com last week and hopefully this is not the ending that penetrates the eyes of your children in your local theatre tonight.
Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl - #24 Hawaii (10-3) vs. Tulsa (9-3) - 8pm ET - ESPN
Winks: No need to sit around the fireplace and spend time with your family tonight, there is a mediocre college football game on for you to watch! This game excites us about as much as Rex Ryan likes shoes, and we'll probably forgo watching this one. But if you do, look for a Hawaii victory. The WAC is a better conference than people give them credit for, while Conference USA definitely not. Neither team has scored less than 21 points in a game at all this season as well, so definitely go with the over.
Lemmy: Mele Kalikimaka. Enough said. Hawaii.
Another guy that seems to have found his game again as well is Andrew Bogut. He had a huge block with a just under a minute left, and also drew a charge. When the offense is clicking it is always nice to see the defense step up. Andrew Bogut and Larry Sanders each had four blocks for the Bucks. Milwaukee also did a good job of pressuring the ball, as the Kings forced 25 turnovers.
Also Wisconsin fans know it is now how you start the game, but how you finish it. Milwaukee went on a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter to help them gain control of this game. It seems that when the Bucks win they always go on a run that defines the game for them. I wish they could just play solid for a whole game.
A record of 12-16 is not where I saw this team on Christmas Day, but with all the injuries I guess we will take it. I really feel that if this team can just make the playoffs they could be a threat at any seed if they are healthy. I think as the season moves on this team will gel, and could cause some issues in the playoffs for anytime.
FEAR THE DEER!!!
Coming into the season, one of the strengths of this Bucks team was thought to be its depth, and on Tuesday night that was definitely proven to be true. Without Brandon Jennings, Drew Gooden, or Corey Maggette, the Bucks were still able to not only beat the Lakers on their home court, but actually get into their heads and disrupt their entire psyche. It's almost laughable in a way just how the Bucks were able to beat LA, using third-string point guard Earl Boykins in a 22 point effort, which included his complete takeover of the fourth quarter. Lead by 5'5" phenom, the Bucks cruised past the Lakers by a score of 98-79.
Perhaps it was a case of Los Angeles looking past a depleted Bucks team, but make no mistake about it - the Bucks earned this victory. Milwaukee held a small lead throughout most of the game, and then took over in the fourth quarter thanks to Boykins, John Salmons (20 points), and a terrific defensive performance.
"In the second half, we were as good as we've been all year on the defensive end," Scott Skiles told reporters after the game. "To hold that team to 33 points, and 13 in the fourth quarter, that's a difficult task."
It was easy to tell that the Lakers were getting frustrated, as they have been quite used to beating Milwaukee. They took a six game winning streak into this contest, some games which were blowouts and some which were heartbreaking Milwaukee losses at the hands of a Kobe Bryant game winner. But the strong defensive play of the Bucks got into the Lakers heads pretty hard, and that frustration lead to a Kobe Bryant ejection with 2:07 left to play in the fourth quarter. In fact, let's watch it unravel.
The call that led to Kobe's frustration actually came one possession after Bryant did tried to do the same thing to Andrew Bogut, only worse. Using his shoulder to pound into Bogut's chest on a drive, it was actually Bogut that was called with the blocking foul. But Kobe got his comeuppance and was tossed from the game, and then just to add insult to injury it was Boykins that knocked down the pair of free throws after the technical.
With the victory, the Bucks move to 11-16 on the season and actually would hold the eighth seed if the playoffs ended today (and yes, I realize that there is still another four months of regular season basketball to be played, I'll try not to get ahead of myself). I'd like to see the Bucks stay around that mark as they venture through the next couple of weeks without Jennings, and then really start to click a make a run come early January. One thing they must do though during this time is still beat the teams that they are better than even without Jennings, and we'll see if they can do that Thursday night against the 5-21 Sacramento Kings.
Beef O'Brady's Bowl - Southern Miss (8-4) vs. Louisville (6-6) - 8pm ET - ESPN
Winks: Okay, I know that bowl game sponsors get made fun of all the time, but I really can't believe that Beef 'O' Brady's is going to pick up any more business by sponsoring this thing. Any press is good press though I suppose. Neither team playing in this game has never really done anything to impress me this season, but that's what you'll get from the opening bowl games. I went with Southern Miss in this one because I think I picked against the Big East every chance I could have.
Lemmy: In true Stock Lemon fashion, here's our pick with absolutely no explanation whatsoever. Southern Miss?
Just a quick little Bucks post here for you, because I'm not going to force Gweeds to have to go through the misery of that game again. It was a game that never really was in doubt, as Portland got out to a 20 point lead early and never really looked back winning 106-80. It was the first game of many that the Bucks will be without Brandon Jennings, as the young guard will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. Jennings actually broke his foot against the Spurs, played a little bit against the Jazz, but now will be shelved for a little more than a month.
The first night of the Keyon Dooling era didn't really go too well, as he got the started and played about as much as backup guard Earl Boykins. But the Bucks will at least have a chance to put the Blazers game behind them as they head to the Staples Center tonight against at 9pm Central. The Bucks lost to LA by 11 the last time these two teams got together this season, and now without Brandon Jennings I'm probably expecting a similar outcome to last night. But hey, that's why they play the game, right?
First of all, many thanks to the gang for keeping things afloat here while I was out in Boston watching the Packers lose another heartbreaker of a game. Turtle did a nice job already of summarizing the Packers 31-27 loss out in New England, but now that I'm finally sober I thought I'd chime in as well.
1. Not What We Expected - Don't get me wrong, the trip itself was amazing. Boston is a cool city, it was my first time out that way, and I'm a sucker for cities rich with history. For the most part, the people were friendly, but that all changed after the game was over. Honestly, Patriots fans are assholes. Before and during the game we got your typical away fan banter, but after the game, after they game they won, it was blitzkrieg on anyone wearing Packers apparel. It's almost like winning makes them more angry. I'll have much more to say on the topic in a Winks Thinks I'm planning this for week, but for now let me just tell you if I ever do go back to Boston again, it won't be for the hospitality.
As for the game, when we first learned that Flynn was starting, we like most other Packers fans were expecting the worst. But the more Patriots fans started to cock off to us, the most confident that I began to feel. Sure, up to this point the Packers season hasn't gone as expected, but when you slice it down we have a good football team. It's not like we were the Carolina Panthers coming in to Foxboro on a Sunday night, but the predictions were coming in that way. I do understand why though a little bit, as the Patriots seem to be the unquestioned best team in football right now. But maybe a little more credit should have been given to the Packers, because even though they were starting a backup QB for the first time since 1992, the guy that would be under center really wasn't that bad.
2. Meet the Flynnstones - I may have been one of the few that didn't think Matt Flynn played poorly last week, but the big problem so far in his young career is that when he makes a mistake, it's about as costly of a mistake as you can make (and can we please alert everyone that he's not a rookie? I mean, he's close enough, but still). Even though there was the interception that was returned for a touchdown and the lack of urgency on the final play of the game, you have to commend Flynn's effort for taking this team into hostile territory and performing the way he did. The former LSU quarterback finished with 251 yards and three touchdowns, including the second quarter strike to James Jones which was one of the prettiest passes I've seen from any quarterback all season throughout the NFL. There's a chance he may have to play again next week, and even though we need Rodgers back if we're going to make a play for this thing, it's nice to know that Matt Flynn actually has the goods when needed. And to think, we drafted him just case in Brian Brohm didn't pan out.
3. McCarthyism - I became pretty furious after the game that the loss should be solely attributed to Mike McCarthy, but I do not want to be one of those people on the "Fire Mike McCarthy" bandwagon. My only real gripe against McCarthy is that sometimes I think he outcoaches himself, and that at times he's a bit timid. My biggest reason for this is in the area of challenging plays. If I can remember correctly, McCarthy, in his tenure, has always been one of the more successful coaches against the challenge. But lately he doesn't seem to want to throw the red flag. This makes two straight games where there was a play in question that I would have liked to see challenged (possible Jennings TD last week, disputed catch by the Patriots on a drive that lead to a touchdown). Besides that though, for now I'm staying with Mike and will remain on his side. The caveat to that thought is that he has to make the playoffs. Yes, he's dealt with a lot of injuries this year and has done a good job of doing so, but with the position we are in now, we absolutely need to get in.
4. Precious Mistakes - As much as some people want to blame McCarthy, as a whole this team is just making too many mistakes. The aforementioned Turtle did a nice of job of explaining them in his Pack Fan / Bears Fan series, and I won't dwell on them here mainly because I don't want to speak of that Dan Connolly kickoff return ever again. But when I rewatched the game thanks to DVR technology after I got home, it was the dropped interceptions by Woodson and Shields that I felt hurt the most. Given that those plays were still early in the game, I think either one of those interceptions might have changed everything. Sure, the announcers say that we have nothing to hang our heads about, but this was another game that we lost even though we could have won. All six losses have been that way, and that's not very comforting.
Still, with the way that people are giving the Packers credit for how they played in this game, for me it's drawing eerie similarities to that regular season finale between the Patriots and the Giants a few years back. When the Giants nearly beat the Patriots to prevent them from going 16-0, I remember Eli Manning being interviewed after the game with the biggest grin on his face. Here, his team had lost, but the Giants were celebrating as if they won the Super Bowl, and lo and behold that loss allowed them to win it just one short month later. Maybe the Packers can build off this game in a similar fashion, and get their revenge seven weeks from now.
5. Time to Win Six Straight - You wanted the Packers to make the playoffs? Well, we're in. However, for us the playoffs start now. The Packers really can't afford to lose either of these next two games against the Giants and the Bears, and it's nice that we get them both at home. Because if we do get into the postseason, every game will be on the road. The Wild Card round would likely be in Chicago, and the rounds after that in possibly Philly, Atlanta, or New Orleans. It's not going to be easy, but at least we hold our own fate to getting into the real postseason (thank you Tampa Bay and New York for letting that happen). At this point, getting to the playoffs would be enough for me, especially in this season littered with injuries. Once you're in the playoffs though, you never know what could happen. The problem is that we have to get there first.
- McCarthy Knows What He's Doing: Yes, I'm saying it. This guy knows quarterbacking and Matt Flynn's preparedness and the gameplan formulated by McCarthy and his staff proves it. At times he took overtook the mantle of Captain Check-down from Mark "Dirty" Sanchez and Matt "You Gotta Hit This" Leinart but he was taking what the Patriots were giving him.
- The Packers Have a Running Game?: Hell, I don't know. One week they do, the next it's as anemic as any other team in the league. Future Hall of Famer James Starks was inactive apparently due to excessive talent but Dimitri Nance, Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn carried the load exceptionally and exceeded everyone's, YES EVERYONE'S expectations.
- Playoffs? Playoffs??!?: Yep...and the Packers are actually in control of their own destiny for once. Due to the EPIC, EPIC collapse of the New York Giants on Sunday and the heroism of former-Packer, current Lion kicker Dave Rayner in nailing the game winner in overtime to beat the Buccaneers, the Packers need to win out to secure a Wild Card spot.
- *BONUS* BJ Raji's a BEAST: Two more sacks for this dude. Comparing him with his Patriots counter-part, the two looked similar in pressing the pocket and Raji made Brady uncomfortable a number of other times as well.
- Youth and Inexperience: One of the reasons the game was lost. As was eluded to earlier, the final play of the game was a chaotic mess (no matter what McCarthy says). Flynn looked like he was trying to call a time out, huddle the team and call a quick play all at the same time. It was slightly embarrassing and cringe-worthy. On top of that, the play ended with a strip-sack and a heart-breaking loss. Flynn played extremely well but the inexperience showed at times. Hopefully he came away with a lot of confidence and experience to grow on. He still hasn't learned to slide however.
- Missed Opportunities: Here's a list of play that very well could/should have changed the final result:
- Charles Woodson's dropped interception in the first quarter (Drive resulted in Patriots TD)
- Sam Shields' dropped interception in the first quarter
- Poor tackling on Offensive Lineman Dan Connolly's return at the end of the first half (Drive resulted in Patriots TD)
- James Jones finishing route instead of breaking it off and allowing the interception return for a touchdown
Also, in general, there was a lot of poor tackling, Flynn held the ball too long on a number of occasions (another outcome of his inexperience) and there were quite a number of dropped balls which is just a lack of focus that the Packers couldn't afford Sunday night.
- Mixed-bag Offensive Line Play: Obviously, they did well in the run-blocking area but the pass blocking left a lot to be desired, especially in blitz situations. When the Patriots brought extra heat, Flynn was in trouble and looked a bit lost in those situations. It was an improvement over Week 14 but both the Giants and Bears have good, proven defenses and the Packers will need balanced line play if they want to make the playoffs.
Get ready for what promises to be a fun ride this baseball season, because your Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly landed Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke. News of this trade kind of came out of left field as I never really heard anything too encouraging about the Brewers chances of landing Greinke. In fact, I saw an article about the winter meetings that said the Brewers basically had no chance of acquiring him.
From the Journal-Sentinel blog, Bernie's Crew:
"The rumored agreement would send shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, and right-hander Jeremy Jeffress to Kansas City in return for Greinke, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and approximately $2M."An update to the report states that the Brewers will also send righty pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Royals. I think most fans will agree this is a no-brainer deal for the Brewers, especially since he's under contract through 2012. Plus, with the anxiety and depression issues he's had in the past, Milwaukee might be the perfect place for him which could help when it comes time to sign a new deal. The Brewers desire to pay the kind of money he will likely command may be the only thing standing in the way of Greinke being in Milwaukee for many years to come.
So, with all the changes in the past few weeks, let's take a look at what the Brewers roster could look like.
1. Zack Greinke
2. Yovani Gallardo
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson
RP. Manny Para
RP. Zach Braddock
CL. John Axford
C. Jonathan Lucroy
1B. Prince Fielder
2B. Rickie Weeks
3B. Casey McGehee
SS. Craig Counsell/Yuniesky Betancourt
RF. Corey Hart
CF. Carlos Gomez
LF. Ryan Braun
Count me in on that. All that stands in the way of these new-look Brewers now is a physical. I don't think I've ever been more excited about another man's doctor visit.
There's something special about the bromance between us here at The Bucky Channel and our good friends at Stock Lemon, and we're teaming up this year for our edition of college bowl projections. Obviously, we'd much rather be doing projections for a college football playoff (which Mark Cuban apparently wants to fund) but for now we'll go with the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach. And thus, our college bowl projections begin:
New Mexico Bowl - BYU (6-6) vs. UTEP (6-6) - 2pm ET - ESPN
Winks: I've made it a habit to never pick BYU in any sort of college football or college basketball pool, stemming from the fact that I dated a Mormon all throughout high school. Crazy lifestyle, that religion. But everytime I pick against them, they always seem to win, so I'm going to bite the bullet and go with them here. Neither team really has an impressive win on their belt, and this shouldn't even be a bowl game, but whatever.
Lemmy: Potential Free NCAA Football Pick Alert! We agreed to engage in a little friendly bowl pick'em with our friends here at The Bucky Channel, but if you had the UNDER on number of games we would pick before trying to pimp out site, you would be a winner! Just like our Free NCAA Football Picks (52% of the time...). At -12, BYU could qualify for one of our system plays, so obviously we will take them straight up. Just like the Mormon religion, BYU is very offensive and there is no way the injury-riddled Miners of UTEP will stop them.
uDrove Humanitarian Bowl - Northern Illinois (10-3) vs. Fresno State (8-4) - 5:30pm ET - ESPN -
Winks: Northern Illinois has the better record, but I think Fresno State comes from the tougher conference and they get the nod. Sure, the bulldogs were shutout by Boise State, but they only lost to Nevada by a single point. And Nevada is good. I just don't think that the competition that Northern Illinois has played will prepare them for this game, something which I'm sure my buddy Doug Free disagrees with (buddy = partied at my house once in college, has no idea who I am).
Lemmy: This one is a little less of a sure thing. We are banking on a Northern Illinois collapse more than we are a powerful performance from Fresno on that all-nature Boise State bluegrass.
R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - Ohio (8-4) vs. Troy (7-5) - 9pm ET - ESPN
Winks: Before Ohio's loss to Kent State in the final week of the season, they were riding a seven game win streak, and had they won the final game I might have took them based on momentum. But Troy's resume impresses me more, especially the three point loss to Oklahoma State at the beginning of the season. Let's go with Troy in the nightcap.
Lemmy: On paper, this is a horrible slate of opening bowl games. The teams are less than marquee, but at least in the case of the Troy-Ohio showdown, they are evenly matched. Good for football viewers, bad for pick 'em participants (even worse for compulsive gamblers). We'll side with Troy here, paper thin defense and all.
Many thanks again to our friends at Stock Lemon, and make sure you check them out for their predictions against the spread this bowl season. Looks like we agree on all the games so far, let's see how long that keeps up. We'll keep teaming up with Lemmy here all the way up until the national championship game, so make sure you come back here for shitty analysis on all your mediocre bowl games!
That last video wasn't terrible, but it really was nothing more than audio. So let's give out a little bonus potpourri posting this morning, sent to me by reader Chris Kuehl. It's pretty self-explanatory what the video entails, as it's called "Damn it Feels Good to be a Packer". If you don't know what song that is in reference too, you're either too young or too old, but that's okay. The following video is shot pretty well, and the rule here regarding Packers fans videos is that as long as it's better than the droll Pat McCurdy put out earlier this season, we'll post it. So with that being said, here are the Lambo Boys:
Saw this posting over at Zugzwang the other day, I thought it was timely enough to use as our Potpourri posting for the weekend. Basically, as much as I hate Brett Favre, The Bucky Channel can't seem to get enough of him. Anyways, few people have summed up the whole drama regarding Favre's exit from Green Bay and his time in the league thereafter better than sports talk radio host Steve Czaban has. Have a listen:
Quite honestly, I wrote this post on Wednesday afternoon to be published this morning, because right now I'm hammered somewhere lost on the streets of Boston. And as Favre's streak ended last weekend, I'm not sure yet if as of this posting Aaron Rodgers' short streak is going to come to an end as well. Did I really shell out nearly a grand for this trip to Boston to watch Matt Flynn get crushed on a Sunday night? We shall soon see (unless Rodgers is starting, in which case I look dumb here. Oh well. Just as long as someone gets me hope safe that's all I care about right now.)