Three things to discuss while reading the first article by Gene Wojciechowski that doesn't suck (Favre's balls):
1. Packers Arrive in Dallas - It was nothing really more than a travel day for the Green Bay Packers, who left from Titletown early Monday morning and arrived in Dallas for a hotel check-in and a couple of media appearances in the afternoon. Tomorrow comes media day, so be sure to check out the late night talk shows tomorrow to see which goofy character they sent down to interview NFL personalities, as well as all the foreign journalists that are somehow less worthy of a press credential down there than The Bucky Channel. Lori Nickel has a few of the nuggets from today, but other than that it was pretty much a day that the Packers used to get settled into their new surroundings for the week.
2. Clay Matthews Wins DPOY... And Loses It Twelve Minutes Later - I checked my phone at about 7:15pm on Monday, and found out that Clay Matthews had won the Defensive Player of the Year award. By winning, that means that in two consecutive years, two different Packers won the award (Woodson last year of course). I returned to my humble abode about an hour later, hopped on my trusty Sony Vaio only to see that Troy Polamalu had actually won instead. What? Polamalu missed nearly the whole month of December, and while the Steelers did suffer in his absence, I don't think you can give the award to a guy who was off the field for such a duration of time. Actually, Polamalu probably deserves it just as much, even though he'll tell you otherwise. Actually, I'm sure Clay will end up winning this award at some point in his career (he lost by just two votes this year), and the fact that he didn't this year will give him extra motivation to dominate in the Super Bowl, so I don't necessarily have a problem with this. Matthews proved the class act, as he congratulated his fellow USC alum on Twitter (He also thanked the NFC for winning the Pro Bowl and then put dollar signs after that tweet. I guess it never struck me that the Packers players named to the Pro Bowl also earned the winners share for the NFC winning the Super Bowl. That's like $45,000 for nothing. Um, that'd be nice to make in one whole year. Extreme sigh).
3. Better Make Those Halftime Adjustments - Now that all the talk surrounding Jay Cutler has finally died down, let's bring up another member of the Chicago Bears. Matt Forte was asked by ProFootballTalk about how tough it is to take on the Packers, and he said the following - “They do a lot of different blitzes. They put a lot of pressure on your protection. You look at film and they blitz safeties, nickel guys, linebackers; they do cross-blitzes; they line up linebackers at defensive end and defensive ends at linebackers. It’s a lot to prepare for." Nice. I was watching NFL Playbook on the network the other day, and yeah, the Packers really do some crazy things on defense that I still can't even comprehend. Thing is, the Steelers have a pretty similar defense. I'm thinking that this Super Bowl is similar to ones we've seen in years past - a first half that is slow and low-scoring, and then a second half that is an offensive explosion. With the Packers winning, of course.
So that's it for today's post.... what's that? You want MORE info on some of the crazy Super Bowl prop bets this year? Well, if I must, here's what to expect out of the post-game Super Bowl MVP thank you via Stock Lemon.
Thank you Associated Press voters...we now have our next mini non-controversy controversy of Super Bowl week. Actually...this is a somewhat controversial issue. Troy Polamalu has been awarded the AP's Defensive Player of the Year award...an award many had penciled, if not inked, Clay Matthews' name to. While the vote was 17 to 15 in favor of Polamalu, it's still questionalble at best. Let's not get too detailed in this analysis as that would be too professional and not what you'd expect from us but we'd like to at least compare a few details.
Both CMIII and TP had one interception returned for a touchdown...though Clay's was 62 yards compared to 45 for Troy's. But, we're not going to delve in to size as a touchdown is a touchdown but we just can't get past how, when speaking of gameplanning for the Packers Defense, it always started with how to deal with Clay Matthews. Yes, Polamalu was in the same category but Clay seemed to continue to produce despite the increased attention...or at least allow others on the Defense to excel. While we concede that Clay's numbers declined after sprinting out to a blistering start, he still created nightmares for opposing offenses throughout this season.
We just don't see anything special about Polamalu's season versus the season that Matthews has had but we're, of course, biased due to the fact that we've seen all of the Packers games and...well, not as many Steelers games.
Needless to say, hopefully this gives the fans and the media something to talk about besides the team photo garbage. Instead of getting back-to-back DPOY awards, the Packers have a first and a second with a chip on his shoulder.
We are now one week away from the Super Bowl, and it can't get here soon enough. The Packers are leaving for Dallas on Monday, and McCarthy will try to keep things business as usual and treat this like a normal week (you know, besides having to deal with media day and countless other distractions). We still have seven days to go though, and here are three things to ponder while you spend the night in jail....
1. Okay, Now I Think This Whole Picture Thing is Over - The dumb thing about this whole team picture controversy is that even though I keep saying it's stupid, I still keep writing about it. I really could care less who appears in the actual photo, but I do find this whole "saga" newsworthy for two reasons. One, to me this is just another reason why I don't think Nick Barnett will be a Packer next season. Too dramatic of a guy for my liking. But two, I think this whole "controversy" just highlights how inexperienced this Packers team is when it comes to playing in the Super Bowl. Besides a couple of injures, we've heard nothing this week out of Pittsburgh, meanwhile in Green Bay there's a whole war of words going on about some stupid photograph. The experience factor that Pittsburgh has is really the only thing that's keeping me from betting my life savings on the Packers winning on Sunday. Still, this issue appears to be dead (for the third time) now that Rodgers has called Barnett to hash things out.
2. Rumors Swirl Around Trgovac, Perry - Safeties coach Darren Perry had been rumored as a possible candidate for the defensive coordinator job in Philadelphia, but apparently that is no longer the case (or they could just be saying that for negotiation purposes, you never know). Perry is in the mix however for the defensive coordinator gig in Oakland. Another man who has been receiving interest from teams is defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, but apparently Trgovac wants to stick around in Green Bay. If I had to guess on any of this, I'd say I take Trgovac at his word, but I think Perry might land one of those two gigs come the end of the season, if McCarthy lets him out of his contract that is.
3. NFC 55, AFC 41 - Even though the Super Bowl isn't for another seven days, NFL fans got their football fix on Sunday as the NFC topped the AFC in the annual Pro Bowl. I saw a lot of people on Facebook and Twitter complaining about how the Pro Bowl was a joke of a game, but I can't think that these people were just figuring this out today. I've always liked the Pro Bowl, and I like all-star games of any kind, but I realize that they are nothing more than sloppy exhibitions. If you think anything other than that, you will be disappointed. The game itself was a joke as was alluded to, but a high-scoring one at that. DeAngelo Hall of the Redskins earned MVP honors with one interception and a fumble return for a touchdown. This is a link to the box score, knock yourselves out.
1. Marquette Takes Down Orange - During the day on Saturday the Bradley Center was home of the Marquette Golden Eagles, and they finally finished off a ranked team. They once again led against a ranked opponent at the half, going into the locker room with a 42-31 advantage. But for some reason Marquette let Syracuse back in the game just to get me worried again. I sent a text to a friend at halftime that said, "this might be the best first half team of all time, this one is far from over." I really don't know why Marquette plays this way, but the team loves getting up early only to relax a bit in the second half. I just wish they could play with that intensity all game. Marquette was able to to win this one 76-70.
The big three for Marquette were huge in this one. Jae Crowder led the way 25 points, 8 rebounds and added a block. Jimmy Butler broke down the zone and finished with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. Darius Johnson-Odom finished with 17 points, 3 assists, and was 7-7 from the free throw line. This was a game that Marquette really needed, and they did what they needed to do to win. Syracuse plays a very tough zone defense, and the 42 points scored in the game were the most they have given up in the first half all season. Marquette is now 14-8 overall, and 5-4 in the Big East. Next up is Villanova on Wednesday, so this will be another important game for Marquette to build their resume.
2. Jennings Is Back As Bucks Beat Nets - Brandon Jennings didn't play a lot of minutes, but when he came back on the court Saturday you could feel the electricity from the crowd. I also think that may have sparked this team to get back on track this season. Carlos Delfino started at shooting guard, and man did we need a return to form from him. With Delfino able to sit outside the three point line, the Bucks now have a real threat just opens things up for everyone else. When he isn't out there we really don't have that bulls eye shooter, so the lane is never open. But things are about to change with Jennings and Delfino back now. Milwaukee was able to take down the Nets 91-81.
3. Guys Night Out??? - Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Braun had a guys night out Saturday, as they got court side seats to the Bucks game. Their appearance added to the number of winners in the Bradley Center, and it's kind of neat to see the top stars from Wisconsin teams hang out together. When both of these guys returned to their seats at the 4:15 mark of the third quarter, the BC erupted almost like never before. They got a standing ovation, and people were giving them high fives as they returned. I really think Braun was handling the attention better than Rodgers, because Aaron looked a bit shy at all the attention that he was receiving. Ryan was just taking it all in, because that is just the way he is. He was also playing more of a second fiddle to Rodgers as far as the fans were concerned, since it's the Packers that are on the forefront of everyone's minds in Wisconsin right now.
After the game Ryan Braun and Shaun Marcum made an appearance on Bucks Live (Marcum was at the game as well, in addition to John Axford, Ron Roenicke, and Badgers running back John Clay). Braun and Marcum's appearance on the postgame show was kind of funny, because they were asked about their defensive stances, except in regards to basketball. Marcum got in this stance that was perfect, and said that's what he was taught in gym class. Braun's on the other hand was a little lazy, but he got it down by bending his knees some more. Tony Smith talked about how you can't keep your feet together when playing defense, and then Braun related it to playing in the outfield. Things got weird when Marcum was asked about his defensive stance, because he kind of dodged the question. I really feel Tony Smith didn't realize he was a pitcher. Either way it was funny to see, and it's cool to see a guy who has never played a game with the Brewers be active outside of baseball already in his new community.
Three things to ponder after you watch the worst Packers related song yet...
1. Your Saturday Practice Report - With two weeks to prepare for the biggest game of their lives, McCarthy is still keeping things a bit light at practice and that's fine with me. The players were once again out of their pads, instead likely going through two-minute drills and some number one offense versus defense (the practice was closed to the media). Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV fills us in on McCarthy's thoughts on Saturday's practice.
2. Ranking the Super Bowl Players - Let's be honest, it's kind of a slow day. How slow is it? I'm about to bring up the Super Bowl photograph story again. Before I do that though, here's something actually kind of interesting to read - ESPN.com's Matt Williamson ranks every player in this year's Super Bowl from number 106 to number one.
3. Farewell, Nick Barnett's Twitter Account - Sigh. It appears as if the Packers photograph story isn't dead just yet. Apparently, Barnett said something again, and then Rodgers said something about how he should have been doing his rehab in Green Bay, and now Barnett is firing back at Rodgers on Twitter. This is the worst story of all-time, it really is. ProFootballTalk isn't even doing much to embellish this one, even though they have a history of trying to make the Packers look bad. I can't believe that the Packers are just one week from the Super Bowl and we're still talking about this stupid photo. This is why I hate Twitter most days. Actually, this is why I'm starting to hate Nick Barnett (although his Twitter account appears to be on the verge of shutdown). Long a favorite Packer of mine, I used to wear his jersey with pride. But not anymore. The only reason I think this story is somewhat relevant is that I'm thinking this is his swan song. After the Bishop signing, it appeared like Barnett was on his way out. Now it seems all but certain.
And did someone say they wanted advice on who to bet for in the Pro Bowl?
But the second quarter was back to what we are used to seeing from this Bucks team. Milwaukee let the Raptors right back into this one when Toronto started the second quarter on a 10-0 run. Then when the starters came back on the court Milwaukee didn't really go back to working the offense through Bogut. He was really shut down the rest of regulation. He had 18 points at the end of regulation, and like I said he had at least 12 of those in the first quarter.
In overtime though Milwaukee went back to what was working early, and Bogut scored the first six points of the extra period. That gave the Bucks a six point lead early, before the Raptors called timeout. They took Bargnani off Bogut, and stuck Amir Johnson on him. That new look from Toronto confused the Bucks a big, and they gave up that six point lead they had. Then with 44 seconds left Maggette made a very lucky, but huge three point shot to give the Bucks the lead. After that they played strong on defense, and made the free throws needed to escape with victory.
Six different Bucks scored in double figures on Friday night. All five starters plus Delfino off the bench gave the Bucks a steady offense. Corey Maggette was the team leader with 11 rebounds, while Carlos Delfino lead the way with 6 assists as he was playing point guard most of the second half. Milwaukee shot 55.3% from the field, and Maggette also led the way in scoring with 29. Ilyasova tied a career high with 25 points, before fouling out in regulation.
So the Bucks are looking to make it a three game winning streak with a victory over the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets. Game is on FSN at 7:30 Central time, but games never start on time at the Bradley Center. So maybe plan for like 7:40 or so. Just looking out for you, Bucks fans.
Tracy Morgan the person and Tracy Jordan the 30 Rock character. There is no difference. Here's your example:
TNT later issued an apology. That's a shame (h/t Deadspin).
After it was known that the Green Bay Packers were in fact heading to Dallas, I received multiple text messages and phone calls from friends proclaiming that they would be joining them. Five days later, all of said friends have backed out from those plans. The only guy that I really know that is going to Dallas is my old friend Gregg Wavrunek, and you can follow his journey there by checking out @news8gregg.
Granted, his trip to Dallas will be aided by his employer, WKBT-TV out of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Back when Gregg and I were co-workers, his was the only house in town that had the NFL Network at the time, and I fondly remember watching the Packers lose to the Dallas Cowboys at his place. I say fondly, because that was when we first realized what we might have in Aaron Rodgers, as he came in for a sad and grumpy Brett Favre. It was the only time in my Packers fandom that I've been that happy after a loss. I also fondly remember the wings that Gregg made that night, and I can say that they are sorely missed.
So have fun in Big D Gregg, and I'll trust that you'll deliver the folks of Western Wisconsin nothing but the finest in Packers journalism.
OMGOD. These are the types of things that are bound to happen now that the Super Bowl has entered the YouTube era. Kudos for the effort though. We're back today with a regular edition of our Road to the Super Bowl series, as hopefully my effort yesterday didn't drive you to shoot heroin in public.
1. The Rise of Zombo - While the Steelers continue to get the bad news about guys like Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Smith, the Packers for once have received some good news injury wise. Frank Zombo was back on the practice field on Friday for the first time since December 17th, and he'll likely be a go for the Super Bowl. But Zombo is aware that Erik Walden will still be the starter, ironically following Zombo's footsteps as a guy that came out of nowhere to replace the previous injured starter. Walden actually was the only player not to practice today due to an ankle sprain suffered on the Soldier Field turf, but he'll be fine by Super Bowl Sunday.
2. Coaches Being Courted - As is the case anytime your team reaches a Super Bowl, attention starts turning to your team's assistant coaches as other teams are looking to fill vacancies (or in the case of Mike Holmgren, clearly indicating that you're leaving for Seattle before the Super Bowl is even played and then your team giving a half-hearted effort in the Super Bowl because of the distraction (second parenthesis just to say that I'm purely basing that rage off of a blurry memory as a fourteen year old)). Dom Capers has already had a few go-rounds as a head coach, and I'm not even sure that he'd be looking to leave for that position again now or in the future. But some of his assistants may be looking for promotions, as it's been reported that the Eagles have requested permission to interview safeties coach Darren Perry once the Super Bowl has passed. Philadelphia is targeting Perry for their defensive coordinator position, but McCarthy could deny that request as Perry has one year left on his contract. Either way, we probably won't hear more on this until after the Super Bowl.
3. Things That Could Have Been Not Good - Because no good event can go off without a terror scare, Cowboys Stadium was put on lockdown Friday morning due to a suspicious looking package. The package in question turned out to be a piece of trash, but I find it newsworthy nonetheless. I've always been afraid that if there was another large scale terror attack on the United States it would come during a sports event, mainly because of how many people would be at the event and how many more eyes would be watching. I'm not even going to try and make a cheap joke here because that's too heavy to think about, so let's move on.
In lighter news, someone almost dropped the Lombardi Trophy today! Now that's a story!
And for some more prop bet bonus reading, Stock Lemon has your inside information on betting on the length of the national anthem, and whether you should put action on if a punt will hit the Cowboys scoreboard or not.
Yeah, this has been absent the last couple weeks but we’ve been busy celebrating around here…we know you understand. THE GREEN BAY PACKERS ARE IN THE SUPER BOWL! How awesome was it to have Willie Davis sitting on the sideline? Cold weather, crappy field, arch-rivals slugging it out...fantastic! Absolutely, it’s exciting but we feel the need to look back at the NFC Championship Game and review it for what it was. There was some good and even great that came out of it but there were also some things that weren’t so stupendous. Indulge us if you will. While we may piss all over your parade (someone has to bring you back to Earth), there will be positives. Let just start off on the good foot.
- We beat Da Bears…AGAIN: Good Lord, what was better? Earning a Super Bowl berth or beating the Bears for that opportunity? This was a close win for the Packers. It doesn’t matter that the differential was 7. This was a touchdown-only game and the Packers won by one score. It should be considered a 3-point win for the purposes of the “Can Rodgers/the Packers win close games?” argument.
- James Starks: This guy came to play. The field conditions dictated that it was going to be a grind it out, slugfest type of game and while it was heavier on the pass than many thought, Starks kept the play-action game in play. On top of that, he gashed the Bear’s Defensive Line and made Ted Thompson look like a genius.
- D-Fence: Did they look terrific or what? Pressuring the eighth dwarf, Mopey, sacking him, perhaps breaking his will and knocking him out of the game, containing Forte, a pick 6 by the NOSE TACKLE, two interceptions by an undrafted free agent… Dom Capers called a hell of a game and really threw a wrench into Mike Martz’s game plan. This was a great way for this unit to head to the Super Bowl.
- Masthay: Yep, it’s a 4-pack this week. We can’t ignore how well this Special-Teams Unit did against super-human, Devin Hester. While he was dancing to Soulja Boy, Slocum’s crew was busy concentrating on lane discipline and making sure he wasn’t a factor. More importantly, Tim Masthay’s phenomenal kicking was the biggest factor. No one was returning the bombs this guy was dropping on the Bears. He really came to play and should be commended for the way he’s played to close out the regular season and through these playoffs.
- Playing to the opponent’s level: The way the game started, it should have been a blow out. Rodgers drove this team with machine precision and determination on the first drive. The second touchdown drive was similar but once it seemed to be in the bag, they kind of stalled out. A freaky interception off Driver’s shoe and a horrible interception by Rodgers in the red zone highlight this point. This is not something the Packers can afford to do in Dallas. The game is not in hand until the clock says 0:00. This team has a habit of letting teams stick around and that is how embarrassing comebacks happen.
- Defensive adjustments: When Caleb Hanie came in for Collins, the Defense seemed a bit lost. While they did a good job and goated him into 2 interceptions, they were completely absent on the Bears touchdown drive after the Raji pick 6. The game was not over yet the players acted like it was. This team has got to do a better job of closing teams out.
After the way this team has played, as tough as they are, there’s no doubt McCarthy will have them ready.
1. Another Tidbit About that Stupid Picture Controversy - Quick little post tonight, as the Super Bowl news is at a bit of a lull today, and also personal matters have arisen. But no matter the issue, there's always time for The Bucky Channel! I was going to skip one altogether, but by golly I just have to talk about the picture controversy one more time! McCarthy was asked about the whole deal at his news conference today, and he was visibly upset that Nick Barnett and Jermichael Finley brought it up in the fashion that they did. Apparently Aaron Rodgers and Charles Woodson approached McCarthy and asked him to change the schedule so that everyone could be included, and now all is well in Packer land. I only bring it up because it's seemingly all anyone wants to talk about this week. "If that's the biggest issue that we have in our preparation, we are going to have a hell of a week," McCarthy said.
2. Another Could Have Been a Bear Story - We've all heard about how the Bears had James Starks on the phone, said they were going to draft him, but then didn't. Now the story about how Sam Shields could have been a Bear as well. He wasn't as close to being a Bear as Starks was, but still an interesting tale.
3. Another Steelers Injury - First Maurkice Pouncey, now it looks like defensive end Aaron Smith is out as well. Smith has been out for some good time, but was hoping to make his return in Dallas.
Sorry for the shortness, but to make it up to you, here's some info on prop betting on the Gatorade shower!
Things didn't look great in the first half for either team, and the Bucks had a scare when CDR went down hard. He was able to return in the second half, and said after the game his wrist was sore and that nothing felt broken. If this team wants to make a run here they can't afford another injury to anyone.
The team they did assemble had 44 points in the first half, limped along still in the third quarter, but somehow found some offense to score 34 in the game's final stanza. Not sure where this sudden output came from, but we as the fans have been waiting all season for it. Milwaukee was 10-20 from three point land on Wednesday night, with Delfino leading the way with five of them.
This weekend the Bucks better go 2-0, because they have the Raptors on Friday, and then the Nets on Saturday. That whole easy schedule thing is starting to show, and Milwaukee needs to take advantage of it bad. At 17-26 they are the 9th seed right now, but only two games out from the 7th. Clearly, the bottom spots in the East are wide open for any team to take. It is a matter of what team wants to step up, and make a run at it. With what the Bucks team knows they can do, I really don't see why they wouldn't buckle down for a big run here. But it's one game at a time as they travel to Air Canada Center Friday at 6:00 central time.
A few things to ponder while you watch a couple of lesbians enjoy the victory over the Bears...
1. Eleven More Days Of Insanely Pointless Stories - Now that John Stone has been hired by another dealership, we can all go back to our normal lives and get ready for the Super Bowl matchup itself. Or, maybe not quite yet. We still have a few days to go before the teams fly out to Dallas and the focus really starts turning to X's and O's, but until then we'll have to bide our time with stories about Clay Matthews' new endorsement deal with Suave and the fact that the Super Bowl is good for Green Bay area businesses (trust me, "fill in the blank is good for local businesses" is a local news station favorite). While these stories are all good and fine, I was a little frustrated about the issue of the players not injured reserve not being able to be a part of the team picture. Not so much the fact that those were the circumstances, but the fact that it was even a story. Thankfully that one has been put to rest, as the team photo will now be taken on Friday and will include everyone. Maybe I'm just not paying enough attention to Pittsburgh media, but it seems like all of these goofy stories are coming out about the Packers and the Packers only. Now these stories are nothing compared to the Eugene Robinson stripper and Barret Robbins jaunt to Tijuana news items, but they could be come distractions nonetheless. Just something for me to sort of worry about as we're eleven days away from the Super Bowl.
2. Preparing Without Pouncey - As for the actual on-the-field happenings though, I think at this point Steelers fans have a bit more to worry about. Pittsburgh guard Chris Kemoeatu says that Maurkice Pouncey, the all-star rookie center who suffered a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship Game, will in fact be out for the Super Bowl. You never root for a guy to be legitimately injured, but the absence of Pouncey would definitely be a positive for the Packers defense, especially B.J. Raji who would be apt to face him. I'm not sure definitively if Pouncey is really out, but getting ready to go after a high ankle sprain is a tall order to achieve in just two weeks.
3. Gilbert Brown and Lingerie - Fourteen years ago to the day, Gilbert Brown helped the Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl XXXI. Whether or not the Packers win next Sunday, Brown is hoping to bring another title back to Titletown this fall. Gilbert Brown has been named the head coach of the yet-to-be-named expansion team in the Lingerie Football League that will be based in Green Bay. The name of the team will be determined by the fans, and the team will play at least two home games at the Resch Center, but those are really all the specifics that we know so far. As for their coach, Gilbert Brown's post-NFL life keeps getting stranger and stranger. He was the coach a few years back for the now-defunct Milwaukee Bonecrushers of the CIFL (they have since moved to Chicago), and he now still coaches in the spring and summer for the La Crosse Spartans of the IFL. The Spartans were 3-11 last season, so how good of a coach GilbertBurger is remains to be seen. Maybe he's just better at coaching chicks in their underwear than he is coaching actual football players. We'll see.
And for you prop bet junkies out there, Stock Lemon has their take on who to tab for the game's MVP award.
Here's three things to think about today while getting fired for wearing a tie...
1. The History of Packers vs. Steelers - NFL Network replayed the game between the Packers and Steelers on Monday night, the one where Ben Roethlisberger threw a game winning touchdown at Heinz Field with no time left on the clock. The game, from last season, really exposed how bad the Packers defense and secondary can be on an off day, as Ben threw for more than 500 yards in that affair. You have to think that with the emergence of guys like Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, and Charlie Peprah, a performance like that from Old Rapey isn't going to happen again. Really though, between these two teams, that's about the only memory that we can draw back on to see how the two teams matchup together. The only other Steelers/Packers game I can even think of off the top of my head is the Yancy Thigpen drop back on Christmas Eve in '95. Despite how long these two teams have been around, and how historic their legacies are in the world of the NFL, they've barely come into contact with one another, especially as of late.
The Packers do hold the edge against the Steelers all time at 18-14, however the first nine of those wins came on a streak in the '30s and '40s when Pittsburgh was a joke of a franchise. In more recent history, the Steelers have taken seven of the last nine. And even though the two are not common opponents, the pure fact that these two clubs are atop the heavyweights of the National Football League makes this a very interesting matchup. I'm expecting very respectable and friendly interactions between the two fan bases when they meet in Dallas, as opposed to the three Steelers fans that watched the AFC Championship Game at the Packer bar I was at on Sunday that ended up trying to throw fistacuffs at a bartender.
2. Don't Say Cheese - Speaking of bars, there was a bar in La Crosse I used to frequent that had a picture of the 1996 Super Bowl team, and a good drinking game between me and friends used to be trying to name as many members from that squad as possible. If we try to do it with this year's photo, we'll have to remember not to look for Jermichael Finley, Nick Barnett, or any other Packers on injured reserve. Because the Packers are keeping the IR'ed guys in Green Bay until Thursday, as opposed to Monday when the rest of the team will fly out, anyone on the injured reserve will not be a part of the team photo. Because Twitter is the number one source of news these days, Barnett and Finley's comments about being neglected from the photo made national headlines. It'd be nice to see these guys get credit for their contributions to the team this season, but I feel the Packers reason for keeping them in Green Bay is just, as they'd rather focus their resources in Dallas on helping the players on the roster win the game as opposed to rehabilitating the ones that won't be suiting up. Hey, it's a weak story, but when you have two weeks before a game this is the kind of stuff that is going to be talked about.
3. Goin' Green - This is actually something I really found myself caring about, although I really can't explain why. As the "home" team, the Packers had the choice to wear either their white jerseys or their green jerseys for the Super Bowl, and they have chosen to wear their home greens. It's the jersey they wear at Lambeau, and one they must feel the most comfortable in. Even though I do like our green jerseys better, I was kind of rooting for them to wear their whites. Whenever I think of an Aaron Rodgers jersey, I always pictured it as white, some of which may be attributed to the fact that I never saw anyone wear white jerseys that said "Favre". The Rodgers jersey I bought is white for that reason, I wanted it to be different from Old Dongy. Also, I have fond memories of Rodgers wearing a white jersey in Dallas a few years ago on a Thursday night game where he performed very well after replacing Favre when the game was out of hand. For a long time, this was the only picture you could find of Rodgers on the web. Plus, we have won all three of these playoff games on the road, and I wanted to see the Packers continue with the white jerseys similar to what Pittsburgh did in Super Bowl XL.
Bonus Betting Alert! - Stock Lemon is running a series looking at Super Bowl prop bets, with their focus today on who will win the coin flip. Not your old fashioned heads or tails bet, but who will actually win the flip.
All week long, I was fairly confident in the fact that the Packers were going to beat the Bears and become the NFC Champions, and when the Packers took a 14-0 lead, my confidence rose exponentially. But late in the first half, a pass intended for Donald Driver's hands actually hit his feet and then found it's way into the arms of Lance Briggs. At that moment, I began to freak out. We had been dominating Chicago up until that point, but this was exactly the type of dumb luck that the Bears often find themselves taking advantage of. From that point on, I had zero confidence that the Packers would win the game, but that's mainly because I'm a bit overdramatic at times. The difference in this game was that when the Bears did find themselves on the receiving end of dumb luck, the Packers were able to stop them from capitalizing on it.
Take that Briggs interception for example. After that pick, the Bears were looking as if they were going to score before they headed into the locker room, destined to go into halftime with the momentum. But Sam Shields came up big and had a huge interception. Later, Brian Urlacher was a sure bet to score after picking off an Aaron Rodgers throw, but Rodgers manned up and make a tackle that prevented Chicago from putting points on the board. Even when the Bears tried to create their own Frank Reich type story by inserting Caleb Hanie into the game for an "injured" Jay Cutler and a terrible Todd Collins, the Packers defense was able to step up and stop a guy some defenders had never even heard of (from the mouth of Ryan Pickett). The Packers offense played brilliantly in the first half, but after that, they stalled out pretty hard. Thankfully, said defense was able to step up and bring another NFC Title back to Green Bay. The defense has performed brilliantly all posteason - a far cry from the days when Rodgers would set us up for a victory only to see the defense give it away.
I'm not sure where the moment that I realized we were going to the Super Bowl ranks in terms of my all-time best moments category, but I can't think of a Packer game where I've ever felt happier. It's hard to say that when I have experienced a Packers Super Bowl win in my lifetime, but again, at the time I was just a kid, only thirteen, unable to account for just how tough it was to get to the championship. I'm 26 now, and I feel I have a much better appreciation for what the journey is like to get to the Super Bowl, and how rewarding (as a fan) it is to get there.
Not saying that watching the game was fun though, as I actually had a terrible time. I was an emotional wreck for most of this matchup, and towards the end of the game I ended up doing the same thing I did during the NFC Championship game back in the 2007 season - I had to watch the game by myself. In a crowded bar, I had to find a corner where I could watch the game solo, because having to experience any potential heartbreak with others was too much for my soul to bear. When Chicago cut the lead to seven, I was already thinking of what parts of the bar I was going to destroy, and which items throughout the establishment that I was going to set on fire. But when B.J. Raji picked off the Hanie pass for a touchdown, I was elated and overcome with tears. I dropped to the floor, and a river of joy started coming out of my eyes. The Packers were five minutes away from the Super Bowl at that point, and victory would soon be ours.
Then however, Hanie led a blink and you'll miss it kind of drive that cut the Bears deficit down to seven, and once again I was in depression mode. After the Packers couldn't get any points on their next possession, I sunk even deeper into the depths of negativity. But when Sam Shields picked off his second pass of the game on a Bears fourth down, I could finally realize the fact that Green Bay was headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 13 years. I desperately tried to rejoin my friends for celebration of this moment, but no lie, as soon I made the initial jump out of my seat I twisted my ankle and laid on the ground in pain for the next five minutes. It's the closest I'll ever get to the Jack Shepard death moment - laying on the ground in pain, but satisfied about the result I saw above me.
To me, the best part about this victory was all the guys that stepped up that weren't the big name type players. On offense, Greg Jennings still gets my game ball on offense for his 8 catch, 130 yard performance, but James Starks was just as big of a difference maker as well. B.J. Raji was a stud on this day, with the aforementioned pick-six and also his use as the decoy on offense at the goal line that allowed Aaron Rodgers to roll out for a touchdown. Shields looks a hell of a lot better than he did in these two teams first meeting this year at Soldier Field, and in the last month Tim Masthay has played as well as any punter that's ever worn a Packers uniform. This 21-14 victory by the Packers was a complete team effort, all the way from number 53 on the roster up to the genius that is Ted Thompson.
It's been a difficult journey as Packers fans since the last time we hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, but it's so good to know that we're finally headed back to the 'ship. It's a feeling I still can't quite grasp, as it's something I've been waiting so long for. Since Super Bowl XXXI, we've gone through a Super Bowl loss to Elway and the Broncos, 4th and 26, home playoff losses to the Falcons and Vikings, the demoralizing loss to the Giants in the '07 NFC Championship Game, the Brett Favre retirement tour, and even this season alone the ups and downs of injuries and heartbreaking losses. But we're back in the Super Bowl, against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's way too early for me to have a prediction or even a gut feeling about the game, but as of right now I'm feeling good. This Packers team can overcome anything, and I truly believe that this is a Super Bowl winning team. We have four quarters left to execute that dream, and the next two weeks are going to be terribly long waiting for it. But hey, after 13 years of heartbreak and struggle, what's another two weeks?
From the bottom of my heart, Go Pack. I've never been this happy to be a Cheesehead.
NFC Championship Game - Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears - 2pm - Fox
All postseason long, I've been very confident about this Packers team. Aaron Rodgers is elevating to the next level. A running game has been discovering. We have four receivers that are all capable of being number ones. The defense has been incredible. The Packers are just hitting on all cylinders right now, and there's no way that they are going to lose this game. That's the point.
Here's the counterpoint. We are playing the Chicago Bears. They are the luckiest team in the NFL throughout the last ten years. They shouldn't have beaten the Lions either time this season, but they did. They should have played the Saints last weekend, but the Seahawks pulled off one of the biggest postseason upsets ever. They should have probably lost to those same Seahawks, but every time Jay Cutler tried to throw an interception, Seattle dropped it. They have a quality defense and their offense knows how to score. They know how to beat us. Soldier Field is worse than playing on a parking lot. The Bears could easily win this game.
Even though it scares the hell out of me that the whole world is picking Green Bay in this one, I'm going to do the same. First, my gut feeling all along says that we're going to the Super Bowl and we'll lose there. But in order to do that, we'll have to get there first. Second, we're a much, much better team than the Chicago Bears are. We should win this game. Third, and I think this is the most important factor in my prediction - this just feels like a Super Bowl year.
Here's the thing. There is nothing like the buzz that overcomes a city, a state, when their team is playing for a Championship. Remember when the Brewers were in the Wild Card race back in 2008? Milwaukee was electric for like two months. Everywhere you went, you could feel the excitement that was in the air, and that was because of Brewers baseball. I feel the same thing right now with the Packers.
For example, I was driving on the highway this afternoon and there was a semi truck in front of me, the back of his rig was about as dirty as they come. Instead of washing it, he had somehow wrote into the dirt the numbers of Aaron Rodgers, B.J. Raji, Donald Driver, James Starks, and Clay Matthews, with the phrase "Pack to the Super Bowl" underneath. It was such a stupid thing, but it really got me pumped up to the point that I nearly crashed my vehicle. Then again, I was also texting at the time, so that could have played a role as well.
When it's all said and done, my gut feeling has me worried as hell about this game, but it won't let me back down from my prediction. Even though all the praise is coming to the Packers this week, I still think that they will live up to the hype. For once in my life, something I root for might actually come true. Please don't disappoint me Packers, please please please.
Green Bay 27, Chicago 17
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers - 5:30pm - CBS
How can I even care about this game? Did you not just read all the nonsensical garbage I just wrote about the Packers game? Can't focus on this one, but let's go with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh 20, New York Jets 16
The problem with these Saturday Morning YouTube Potpourri posts is that usually the video that I want to post emerges earlier in the week, and by the time it's Saturday the post no longer becomes relevant. But what the hell do I care, we post game recaps five days after they've been played, so we can post a video two days after it went viral, right? Without further ado, here's the Brett Favre / LeBron James spoof.
Actually, since I know that video has been seen by whatever eyes still come across this site, let's make this a double edition. Here's an insanely stupid commercial that has already been banned from airing during the Super Bowl this year. Jesus hates Obama!
Jennings' Bucks team will be in Cleveland tonight, still minus Jennings. He hopes to be back next week sometime, which is good news. Carlos Delfino is finally active for this game, although I'm not quite sure if he's ready to see minutes. On the other side, Mo Williams will miss the game for the Cavs, so no need to have nightmares about him hitting another game winner on us. Maybe things are turning around for the Bucks after all. Maybe this team that doesn't kick it into gear until February. Only time will tell, but for now lets just focus on winning against Cleveland. FSN Wisconsin has the tip tonight at 6pm Central.
The Golden Eagles have to figure out how to close out these games if they want to ever be a ranked team. Marquette is a physical team that can get to the free throw line, but sometimes have a hard time making those shots especially down the stretch. Against Louisville they were 28-38 from the line, and then against DePaul on Tuesday they finished 19-29. If this team could shoot even a little better from the line I think they could close out games better.
This week, the Packers take the short trip to Soldier Field and it’s icy, concrete-esque playing surface. I see this game progressing in a similar fashion as the 2 previous match-ups this season. It’s going to be close but the field will not be as much of a factor as everyone has made it out to be for the Packers. It’s going to be tough for both teams but enough with the yada, yada, yada…let’s get to the gambling!
Aaron Rodgers Quarterback Rating
In the previous 2 Bears-Packers games, Rodgers has produced ratings of 92.5 & 89.7. In both games he had a touchdown and an interception. The Packers are a VASTLY different team from week 3 of this season and arguablely different from week 17. Rodgers is rolling and I’m going to have to take the OVER here. I don’t see him putting up a 140 but something in the 90’s is a valid expectation.
Jay Cutler Interceptions
Lotta talent, lotta dummy…look at cutlerface.com. This defense is playing well and they’ll catch the interceptions they dropped earlier this season. It’s a push number but I’ll take the OVER.
Sacks by Green Bay
The defense threw a 5-spot up on the Falcons who have a better offensive line. The Bears line has played better since the beginning of the season but so is the Packers defense. They had 3 in week 3 and 6 in week 17…OVER.
Sacks by Chicago
I don’t think Rodgers will play the part of Houdini as well this week as he did against the Falcons. On the other hand, the Bears have only sacked him 2 times this season. Rodgers has to be cognizant of the firmness of the turf and can’t give them the opportunity to slam him into that field. Tough number but I’ll go with the UNDER.
Made Field Goals by Mason Crosby
Tough field…tough defense. I don’t think he’ll fail but I see 3 as a big number in this game. UNDER
Green Bay Penalties
Same line as last week…and they squeaked under it. I think they’ll go UNDER it again.
Plays on Offense for BJ “The Freezer” Raji
This was a pleasant surprise last week. This game is going to be tough and if they get into a whatever-and-goal from 2 or less, he’ll be in there. I see there being at least one situation like that. OVER
Difference in Score
This is going to be a close game throughout but I think the final score will have a greater difference than 4. OVER
Can you believe that this team, depleted by injuries…at one point DECIMATED by them…is playing for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. This is a resilient team, a talented team and a team with loads of momentum. I think Packers fans can look forward to Super Bowl Media Day with the Packers cast of characters.
For Packers fans, the party that ensued after the victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional round ended much earlier than expected when Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk came in and peed in the punch bowl. Here we were as Packers fans, celebrating an incredible victory and an amazing performance by Aaron Rodgers, only to have our attention turned to a self-described "internet hack" and his character assassination of our quarterback. The discussion caught fire on Sunday, burned through the Internet on Monday, and then was seemingly dead by Tuesday. Rodgers was briefly asked about the situation in his presser on Wednesday, but by that time, it was old news. The distraction was all but over.
As I watched Rodgers during the press conference, it was a treat to see him so calm and collected, so laid back and loose, because that is not the mood of Cheesehead Nation right now, at least not of myself. It's bad enough for my nerves that Bears week is coinciding with the week of the NFC Championship, but the constant off-field distractions, especially regarding number twelve, have made me increasingly worried as the week goes on.
At first I figured, "you know what, Rodgers is going to take this negative criticism and turn it into one hell of a performance", but then something else started happening this week. The negative vibe caused by Florio actually ended up creating an incredible backlash against the writer himself, and it brought out a huge level of support for Aaron Rodgers. Not only are people fawning over him this week for realizing all the charitable things that he does for Green Bay, but Rodgers is now being thrown into the class of quarterbacks that has currently been limited to Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees. Troy Aikman said this week that he would want Rodgers as his quarterback if he was building a franchise from scratch. Even Brett Favre got into the act and said that Rodgers was an elite quarterback in the NFL. Wow.
So I worry, will all of this go to Rodgers head? The media (minus Florio) is in love with him, he's more loved by Packer fans than Favre ever was (right?), and he's a top quarterback in this game no matter who you ask. My fear is that these distractions will cause him to become a little too confident, a little too Raph, in the game against the Bears and it will affect him as such. But with this kid, I just can't convince myself that will be the case.
Rodgers has been dealing with controversy and off-field issues ever since he's come to Green Bay, as he spent the first three years as Favre's unwanted mentee. Then, after Favre left, Rodgers had to deal with the enormous pressure of replacing a legend. Trust me, no one replaces a legend, sans maybe Steve Young. Other than that, the Dolphins are still looking for a guy to replace Marino, the Broncos are still looking for a guy to replace Elway even though Elway is now there, and the Cowboys have perhaps replaced Aikman with Tony Romo, although you could argue the jury is still out on that one. But Rodgers ignored his critics, stepped in, got better with each game, and did the job. Now, the kid that was supposed to replace a legend is on his way to becoming one, at least according to the national media this week.
So to answer my question, yes, I think we should be worried about all the off-field distractions. Mike Florio. The newfound praise. The chick he's dating from Gossip Girl. With any other quarterback, I'd be worried. But this is Aaron Rodgers. A kid that comes off so cool, so unflappable, so calm. It's the perfect mold for the quarterback that you'd want to replace Brett Favre, and it's the perfect mold for the quarterback that is capabale of leading the Packers back into the Super Bowl.
And by golly, I think he's gonna do it. May Mike Florio be damned.
Another good thing was getting a win when John Salmons took the night off. I think he could have played if needed, as he was active, but Skiles felt like they could afford to keep him on the bench even with the game close in the first half. When they busted it open in the second half, I'm sure Skiles was real happy Salmons could just take the night off. With two more games this week they need him rested up. This team can't afford anymore injuries this season that are long term.
As far as the injuries we have now, it sounds like Delfino will be practicing Thursday. Also Brandon Jennings said he wants to be back when the Bucks play the Clippers for sure. He hopes to even maybe get back a few games before that. The Bucks take on the Clippers in L.A. on the 31st, so he should be back soon too.
So I said I wanted a 3-1 week this week, and as it stands right now the Bucks are 1-1. Next up are the Cavaliers, and they are starting to look a little better. Ramon Sessions is getting starts now, since Mo Williams went down with an injury. J.J. Hickson is also starting to find his game again, so this will not be an easy game. Should we win? Yes. But we still need to play a solid game. Saturday we have the Grizzles who handed a game to the Hornets on Wednesday, so they will be looking to get back into the win column also. Huge weekend for Wisconsin sports, so enjoy the weekend with a cold drink and some great sport viewing.
In lieu of Pack Fan / Bears Fan, we bring you a Tale From Twitter.
So, during the Packers – Falcons game, I was on twitter (@cavittation) finding out what kind of “insight” I might gain from Jason Wilde or Aaron Nagler or Chris from Packers Therapy to calm my nerves. The following is a timeline of those events. I’m serious…it’s not interesting enough for me to have made this up.
It all started after the kickoff return touchdown by Weems. James Starks had just muffed the ensuing kickoff out of bounds forcing the Packers to begin their drive inside their own 10.
@cavittation: Need a drive here...team crumbling.
The Packers put together a beautiful drive that includes James Jones tight-roping the sidelines for a big gain and BJ Raji blocking on a John Kuhn touchdown run. The Falcons followed with another strong drive until…
@cavittation: Need a turnover here...
…Interception by Tramon Williams in the end-zone…
@cavittation: Can I say I called that?
@PackTherapyDave: Before or after? Need to check the time on this tweet. RT @cavittation: Need a turnover here...
@cavittation: @PackTherapyDave During the Woodson sack...
As you can see, the Packers did what I said needed to happen. Don’t believe me, check this out…
With the ball back in Green Bay possession…
@cavittation: @PackTherapyDave If I say "Need a touchdown here..." will that happen?
…and Stonehands, errr, Jones catches a 20 yard touchdown pass.
@PackTherapyDave: Ha, he still bobbled it. I am just saying.
@PackTherapyDave: Keep it going. Tweet "score TD after the half" RT @cavittation: @PackTherapyDave If I say "Need a touchdown here..." will that happen?
Ahhh, that’s a cheap one. Let move on to the next one.
After Finneran sets the Falcons up at their own 35, a couple Packers pass interference penalties by Shields and Williams quickly get them into Packers territory and then this happened…
@cavittation: Need a stop here...
…Interception by Tramon Williams…70 yard interception return for a touchdown…
@cavittation: @PackTherapyDave It worked again...a pick 6 is a stop, right?
@PackTherapyDave: Now say "PackTherapy Dave will win the lottery" RT @cavittation: Need a stop here...
Yes, I may be “outta my gourd” or “off my rocker” but I’m not the only one…
@jasonjwilde: I have to say, I went into this game pretty confident that I picked correctly that the Packers would win, but I didn't know they'd dominate.
@cavittation: @jasonjwilde lotta time left sir
@PackTherapyDave: No,no. Your job is to tweet positive words. @cavittation: @jasonjwilde lotta time left sir
By the way, this replaces the whole Pack Fan / Bears Fan column?..article? Just be happy the Betting Lines are coming...
I thought that the article making fun of the whole Mike Florio/Aaron Rodgers situation was a one and done situation, but apparently ProFootballTrash.com is here to stay. New article released earlier this afternoon claiming that Brett Favre has sent more pictures of Favre Jr., only now they are being sent to Packers GM Ted Thompson. Very interesting, check it out here. (Probably NSFW).
Drew Gooden put up a double double for the Bucks off the bench. He finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Good to see him play well again, but we need him to be more consistent. Dooling and Ilyasova had a rough day as they finished a combined 7-24 from the field, with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. The worst part about all of that is they put up all those stats in 59 minutes of play. Never going to be easy to win games when two starters put up numbers like that.
Basically, here's what happened. In the past 24 hours, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk saw a video of Aaron Rodgers walking past a cancer patient and neglecting to sign an autograph, and then he got mad. Aaron Nagler of Cheesehead TV called him out on it, then Steve Hayes of Packergeeks took him to task. WBAY, the station that shot the video in the first place, did a story on the patient (Jan) and found out that Jan was mad that this might be distracting the Packers, and showed off a signed jersey she got from Aaron the week before. Then Florio responded, staying true to his original sentiment that Rodgers is an ass.
Soak that in, and then do yourself a favor and read the real story, at ProFootballTrash.com.
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