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Week 7 Recap/Week 8 Preview: Hitting Their Stride

Last Sunday’s game with the St. Louis Rams, in my opinion, was as big a game as any for the Packers so far this year. I know they were playing the 3-3 Rams, but it was big because the game was going to show if the Packers were back on track. Coming off of a season defining win against Houston the week before, were the Packers going to continue their positive momentum close to the halfway point of the season, or was there going to be another let down similar to the game at Indianapolis where they lost a 21-3 halftime lead? In this game, there was no let down, and The Packers continued their positive momentum and took care of business on the road, beating the Rams 30-20. The game actually wasn’t as close as the score showed, the Rams scored a garbage touchdown with 15 seconds to go bringing the score to 30-20. Aaron Rodgers was stellar again, going 30/37, for 342 yards and 3TD’s (0INTs). Most importantly, Rodgers and the offense closed the deal and threw the proverbial dagger into the Rams’ hearts when they had to. The previous game with the Texans was never a close game, so still prior to the game with Rams, we had not seen the Packers strongly close out a game. In the fourth quarter with less than 9 minutes to go, the Rams were within a touchdown of tying the game at 20. However, on a third and nine on the St.Louis 39 yard line, Aaron Rodgers rolled to his left to avoid pressure from the Rams defensive line, and threw and absolute laser over the middle of the field to Randell Cobb for a touchdown. The Packers effectively closed out a game, and that was the last thing that I needed to see from them before I could be 100% confident that the Packers were officially “back”.

A few takeaways from this game before we get to the Jaguars coming up this week. My first takeaway from the game against the Rams is that wide receiver Randall Cobb is making a case that he should be the #2 receiver in the Packer offense, behind Jordy Nelson. With Greg Jennings struggling with injuries this year, Cobb has really stepped up and the Packers receiving core hasn’t really missed a beat without Jennings being on the field for the majority of the season. Cobb is currently 2nd on the Packers in receptions (37), 3rd in targets (43) 2nd in receiving yards (435 yards), and 3rd in touchdowns (3). Cobb adds another dynamic to the Packer offense, and that’s speed. Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley (when’s he’s not dropping passes) have always been great route runners and physical at the line of scrimmage, but Cobb gives the Packers offense that breakaway guy that can beat you on straight speed alone. Did I mention that Cobb had the longest run of the day against the Rams as well with a 19 yard run in the first quarter. Randall Cobb lead the team in touchdowns and had the longest run of the day, that just shows the flexible and dynamic he can be for the Packers offense going down the stretch.

Another takeaway from the game on Sunday, is that I think we can say that Aaron Rodgers is officially “back”. I know Packers fans were frustrated with him early in the season, and some of them started using the whole “Well he shouldn’t shoot so many commercials, he should focus on football”. First off, if somebody becomes one of the most marketable stars in their profession, I can never blame that guy for making more money. If Pizza Hut, State Farm, and Wisconsin Ford is going to go to Aaron Rodgers and say “we’re going to give you a bunch of money to appear in a 30-45 second commercials”, what absolute clown says no to that? Certainly not me, not you, and not Aaron Rodgers. So all the “Aaron Rodgers is making too many commercials” arguments can officially stop now. When Rodgers was throwing up MVP numbers last year, I didn’t hear anybody complain about him running his own record label. The numbers that Rodgers has put up in the past two games are Madden on easy difficulty type numbers. Combining the last two games for Rodgers, he’s gone 54/74 (73% completion percentage), 680 yards, with 9 TD’s, and 0 INT. See…like I said, Madden on easy difficulty type numbers. The last two games has now put Rodgers first in the league with 19 touchdown passes, 4th in the league with 1,979 passing yards, and 1st in the league in quarterback rating. Rodgers is now where we expected him to be heading into the season. Packer fans, breath, exhale. Good. Now we’re back to normal.

Not to be a downer from the praise I just laid on the table, but my last takeaway from the Rams game is that I wasn’t a big fan of the Packers rush defense. Now yes, Steven Jackson is a great back and the Rams are a good running team, but giving up 109 yards on 22 carries (4.9 yards per rush average) creates a little bit of concern for me. Now particularly for this week because Maurice Jones Drew for the Jaguars is out with a sprained foot, but down the line for when the Packers play the Vikings twice, the Giants, and the Bears again. All of those games will determine the North division and where seed the Packers could potentially get for the Playoffs. Especially for when the weather starts to turn to cold and snowy like conditions, more teams are going to run the ball. Not a huge concern, but should be fixed now so it doesn’t turn into a huge problem later on in the year.

WEEK 8 PREVIEW: GREEN BAY PACKERS VS. MO-JO LESS JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Maurice Jones Drew for the Jacksonville Jaguars is the type of running back that has always created havoc for the Packers; he’s a powerful runner, can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he is the entire offense for the Jaguars so you know he was going to get between 35-45 touches during the game. However, with Mo-Jo getting injured with a sprained foot last week, all of the fear I had about playing the Jag-eee-wires (insert Chris Berman voice here)  vanished like free condoms at a college community health center. So with that being said, this Sunday’s game with the Jaguars is like your friends setting you up on a blind date. I know this is a stretch, but bear with me. So your friends are setting you up with somebody who’s interests are the same as yours, sense of humor is the same as yours, and you guys are a match made in heaven. Two days before the date, you then creep on your blind date’s Facebook account, check out her pictures and see what comments she’s made and what comments she’s liked. You see she’s been to football games (check), she liked a comment that was quasi-inappropriate about Michael Jackson (check), and she posted herself that she hates reality TV (check). So you’ve not only heard about this person who’s a perfect match for you, but you’ve also seen it for yourself that this person might be a great match for you. The only way that the blind date goes horribly wrong is if something drastic happens or there is just horrible luck administered to the date. The same can be said this weekend against the Jaguars, I feel like the only way the Jaguars pull this one out is if something drastic happens, or the Packers just have one of those games where every call and bounce goes in the opposite direction.

Now many of you are probably thinking that Charles Woodson being out is pretty drastic, and I would agree with you if the Packers were playing the Giants, 49ers, Bears, or Vikings. However, they’re playing the Jaguars. Saying the Jaguars are “offensively challenged” is like saying that Enron was “a little sketchy”; both statements are severe understatements. The Jaguars offense is last in the league in points per game (14.7), last in the league in yards per game (235.8), 25th in the league in rushing yards per game (91 yards per game), and last in the league in passing yards per game (144.8). Then on top of all of that, the Jaguars are missing a player who was 74.8% of their rushing attack. Again, something drastic or nutty has to happen for the Jaguars to give the Packers a scare this week. I think that even a Woodson-less Packers defense will be able to handle the Jaguars offense on Sunday. Expect Clay Matthews to have a big game this week, the Jaguars are tied for seventh in the league in sacks allowed (18). Clay’s had to have been licking his chops during film study this week. First prediction of the preview; by the end of the game, you won’t be able to make out the name and number on Blaine Gabbert’s jersey from the dirt and grass stains that’ll be there from his back being thrown into the ground from Clay Matthews and Co.

(So in the days leading up to me writing this preview, I tried a little experiment. I went around my office and told them that I will give them a name of a NFL Quarterback, and then they should tell me the first thing that comes to mind. Whenever I said Blaine Gabbert, these are the responses I got: HA!!!, awful, sucks, ugh, and eeeeesh. Not good for your franchise future. GO GET TIM TEBOW NOW!!!!)

From an offensive standpoint for the Packers, again, the only way they don’t dominate the game is if the blind date suddenly turns gothic or if the blind date’s car gets hit with a meteor ridden by a pink and blue unicorn. The Jaguars defense is ranked 28th overall, and they are facing the hottest Quarterback in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers. If Andrew Luck in his third professional game can pass for over 300 yards, and a severely washed up Carson Palmer can get his corpse of a body to throw for 290+ yards against the Jaguars D, I can only imagine what kind of numbers Aaron Rodgers is going to put up.

I understand that this is a short preview, but I feel that me continuously saying the Packers are going to crush the Jaguars would get a little repetitive and almost put a reverse jinx on the Packers. From the numbers and rankings, the matchup favors the Pack.

PREDICTION

GREEN BAY PACKERS                        35

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS                 3

 

 


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