With one game left to play in this 2013 regular season, the Packers still find themselves with a chance to win the NFC North (somehow). They round out their schedule with a visit to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears. The winner of this game will win the division and host a playoff game.
With that, here’s a smorgasbord of Packers-related quick hits heading into this week.
Yes, I know, some of you are tired of this topic and story but he is the face of the Packers franchise so this isn’t going away. Some early reports have supposedly leaked out about Rodgers’ already being ruled out for this week’s game against the Bears. Until the team announces it, it’s never official. Still, I am sticking with my proclamation from Sunday which is that I don’t think Rodgers plays this week.
I have no sources and no inside scoop. This is just my thought and I’m done with allowing myself to wonder if Rodgers will be cleared to play and then find out, for the seventh week in a row, that he is not. The pattern has established itself and the Packers don’t tell anybody anything when it comes to injuries. If the bone wasn’t healed enough last week, how much is really going to change in seven days?
This also brings up a good question that was brought up by Jason Wilde during last Friday’s “Green and Gold Today” show on ESPN Milwaukee. Wilde wondered about the possibility that the Packers have already decided that Rodgers isn’t returning this season and just have not told him yet. That sounds like a ridiculous game plan and I’m sure Rodgers would figure it out on his own. I hope that’s not what is happening.
Still, as long as the Packers wait to tell the world what it going on with #12 until late in the week, that gives everyone the better part of five days to theorize and debate. If nothing else, this is keeping @JSComments alive and well on Twitter.
McCarthy is not fun to listen to in a press conference and I don’t think many would disagree. Beyond that, he’s a good head football coach and I hope he stays in Green Bay for some time. I know that his play calling and clock management has come under question this season and I do agree with that. But overall, McCarthy is more good than he is bad for the Packers. His overall record as head coach says so.
Looking at the injury situation that faces McCarthy and this team, seemingly every year, it’s a miracle that he can field a team let alone one that can still win on any given day without their best player. You have to give McCarthy credit for the production that this team has seen on offense and for what backup quarterbacks Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn have done.
I know there was that little matter of the five game winless streak after Rodgers went down, but as has been said many times, there is going to be a drop off between your starting quarterback and your backups. If there isn’t, you either have a quarterback controversy (ahem, Chicago) or your starter isn’t that great.
Whether it’s the players rallying each other or McCarthy’s own relationship with them that has kept the Packers together, the credit goes to the head man. He takes the criticism when things don’t go well and so it should also be acknowledged when good things are happening as well.
While some teams are just inconsolable year after year (Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars), the Packers have maintained one of the highest standards in quality of play and winning percentage over the past two decades.
NFC North Division
I tweeted earlier that this division title is like the plague. No one wants anything to do with it, seemingly.
The Lions had it all but gift-wrapped and ready to ship to Detroit. The talent on that team offered no excuse why it’s not already there. Still, they managed to lose a Monday nighter at home (although they do beat most teams with a kicker not named Justin Tucker in that scenario) followed by a total collapse against an inconsistent Giants team. Their latest loss eliminated them from playoff contention when just one week ago, they were in total control and in the driver’s seat. We say that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is “Jay being Jay” when he has a bad game. I think we can coin a new verb: Lioning. It’s the process of squandering the most certain of outcomes year in and year out.
With both the Packers and Lions losing earlier on Sunday, the Bears went into their Sunday night tilt with the Philadelphia Eagles knowing that they could lock up the division with a win. They, instead, suffered one of the worst losses to the Eagles, 54-11. Now, the division title comes down to this week’s game in Chicago.
The only reason someone will win the division after this week is because the regular season is over and someone has to be declared a winner. Otherwise, I’m convinced this race would go on for months. I expect to see a much different Bears team than was in Phily. The Eagles are playing some very solid football lately and the Packers are not consistent. It’s a different matchup and despite Jay being Jay, Chicago’s offense holds the edge over Green Bay’s defense. Fortunately, the Bears have to play defense too and they’re nowhere near as good on that side of the ball. Should be an interesting game, Rodgers or not.
The Minnesota Vikings also lost but who cares? They’re already eliminated from postseason contention and are one Sunday away from sparing their fans the loss of another three-hour time block. One friend who is a Bears fan asked me if I was ready for the “Toilet Bowl” this week between the Packers and Bears. With the Vikings hosting the Lions this week, that’s the real toilet bowl. The biggest gain from that contest is which head coach gets canned fastest?
Rant alert. I’m biased, but Packers fans are some of the best and most knowledgeable. Still, there are those who see social media as a privilege and outlet with which to berate players who they aren’t happy with. To each his or her own. It’s a free country and you can say what you want. Just don’t be shocked or appalled when that person responds in kind or not too favorably to your tirade.
Friends, tweeting at a player and calling them out for a bad play or game is not cool. I’m sure some of you swear you can truly play better than some of these guys (like my 37-year old self over M.D. Jennings). Great. But think before you tweet or post on a Facebook page.
We all get frustrated and believe me, my irritations are verbally directed at players on Sundays too. But there’s a huge difference between them and me: they’re on the roster and I’m not. It’s out of my control. I doubt that something I say on Twitter is going to make Jennings or Marshall Newhouse pull their heads out of their backsides so why waste the keystrokes?
I can’t tell anyone how to live or think but this is a sport. It’s one component of life and one that is purely meant for entertainment. If you’re a gambler, that may not be true, but I digress. These players are human, just like we are. Everyone makes mistakes. Just be glad that this last regular season game is still a meaningful one, even though we all hoped it wouldn’t be when the season started back in September.
As I have joked on Twitter before, I seem to have this occasional knack for seeing into the future and being right about my predictions. I have also been wrong about plenty.
A few examples:
Before this season started and during one of our PackersTalk.com podcasts, I predicted that Aaron Rodgers was going to be lost for some amount of time due to injury. I had no idea when, how or for how long. I just felt like this was a year they were going to have to get by without #12 for a while. Ouch.
Last week on Twitter, I suggested a screen against that poor-tackling Dallas Cowboys team and one play later, Starks is in the end zone on a screen.
Yesterday, I warned the Twitterverse that the Steelers were going to gimmick coming out of the first half, or simply run Le’Veon Bell up the middle for long yardage. The Packers got a third down stop and the Steelers set up to punt. Only they didn’t. They faked and there was no one anywhere near the Steelers receiver. Sometimes I hate being right.
So let’s have some fun with this. I don’t have a crystal ball and I am not a “medium”. I don’t see dead people and I can’t communicate with them either. I just get some strong senses about things and some of them happen to be true. So what do I foresee for the rest of this season and into next?
First of all, Rodgers is not going to play this week. That much I have already covered.
The Packers will come out of next week’s game with no new injuries but they will not be division champions. The Bears team that comes out this week will look more like the team that beat the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago.
BJ Raji will not be a Packer next season and the departure will be more on the bitter side. I have no idea if he plays for the Vikings.
Sam Shields will remain a Packer
John Kuhn has played his last home game as a Packer. Marshall Newhouse and M.D. Jennings too.
There will be a major injury next season to a key contributor. Who and what are unknown. This isn’t just based on someone being hurt every season or the rash of Packers injuries. I’m talking about a key contributor, although I don’t foresee that it’s Rodgers.
Dom Capers will return next season as defensive coordinator
Next season, the Packers will finish around 11-5, probably win the North and may win a playoff game. They may even win another but they won’t make it to the Super Bowl. This is a bummer because it will be in Arizona where I reside.
2015 is going to be a special year. Don’t know why, just see it that way.
The Lions will remain no threat to the Packers.
The Bears will still suck, even after winning the North.
That’s all for now. Obviously some of these may or may not happen. Hopefully some do and some don’t! I’ll be back after the holidays so wishing you and yours a happy holiday season!
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: