Tag Archives: Packers

NFL Divisional Playoffs: Packers vs Cardinals (Preview)

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Green Bay Packers (10-6) vs Arizona Cardinals (13-3)

January 16th 8:15 PM ET/ 7:15 Central

After being consistently inconsistent throughout the Regular Season the Packers managed to pullout a Wildcard victory against the Washington Redskins this past weekend on the road 35-18.

The Packers were able to run the football thanks to Running Backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Combined both players rushed for 116yds and 2TDs. Through the air Aaron Rodgers was able pass for 206yds and toss a couple of touchdowns passes. Offensively the Packers were in sync and found the rhythm they had been missing since the earlier portion of this season.

On the defensive side of the ball Green Bay sacked the quarterback 6 times, stifled the Redskins rushing attack (allowed only 84yds) and forced the Redskins to turn the ball over.

The four biggest takeaways from that game is:

  1. Green Bay has found their niche offensively.

  2. Aaron Rodgers finally had a game where he was protected.

  3. Both Green Bay RBs were effective.

  4. The defense was able to dictate what the opposing offense did.

Things are coming together at the right time for the Packers.

Underdogs for a majority of this season the Arizona Cardinals have been a dominant force both offensively and defensively.

The Cardinals average 30.6ppg (good for 2nd) and tally the most yards per game (408.3) offensively. On the defensive side Arizona has forced 33 turnovers (19int 14fumbles), accumulated 36 sacks and have scored 6 defensive TDs.

With guys like Carson Palmer,  David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown on the offensive end and playmakers like Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Dwight Freeney, Calais Campbell and others on the defensive end the Cardinals have the pieces to be successful.

Prediction: carrrds wins 43-35

The last time these two teams met the Cardinals won 38-8. They were able to sack Aaron Rodgers 8 times and forced him to turn the ball over. With Arizona sporting an elite secondary and Aaron Rodgers having to deal with an inconsistent receiving group ( James Jones, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers) I don’t see the Packers winning.

Fun Fact: Carson Palmer is 0-1 (0-2) in Playoff games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Legend on His Last Stand

This is a photo of Charles Woodson announcing his retirement.  This was at The Oakland Raiders Practice Facility in Alameda, California.  December 21, 2015.
This is a photo of Charles Woodson announcing his retirement. This was at The Oakland Raiders Practice Facility in Alameda, California. December 21, 2015.

“Charles Woodson is one those players that comes along and reminds you why you love the game.” Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie said it best after this past week Charles Woodson announced his retirement. Woodson has been elite on every level of football imaginable. Tonight will be his final game at the Coliseum, and it is
time we all reflect on what Charles Woodson brought to the game of football.

Charles Woodson flying for an interception against against Ohio State. November 22, 1997.
Charles Woodson flying for an interception against against Ohio State. November 22, 1997.
In college he became a starter two games into the season. He was then named to the All Big Ten first team by coaches and second team by the media leading his in interceptions and takeaways. He had a memorable game that showcased his ability to show up in the big games. Charles Woodson had two crucial interceptions against the 2nd best team in the nation at that time and rival Ohio State. A strong year by the kid out of Fremont, Ohio, but that was only the beginning. In his sophmore year he was named to the Chevrolet Defensive Player of the year, set a new school record of pass break ups, named to AP First Team All American, and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe award. All of that aside though the year we all remember him for is 1997. In 1997 he had many games you can point out as the games that led to him being named the Heisman winner. Against the Michigan State Spartans, Woodson had an acrobatic sideline interception that became a highlight on Sportscenter for the next week. His game against Ohio State in particular was special.He had a 78 yard punt return, a interception in the end zone, and a 37 yard reception that ended up leading to the only offensive score that game for his team. That win became the win his team needed to appear in the Rose Bowl where Woodson again showed up big and got an end zone interception helping to lift the Wolverines over the Cougars and become National Champions. That year he won the Heisman with 268 more votes than Peyton Manning and other college greats Randy Moss and Ryan Leaf to become the only defensive player to ever win the award. Just for a little bit more of how crazy his impact was on the college level, ESPN had him ranked as the 11th best college football player ever. Whether or not you agree with that ranking or not the fact there is even an argument for a defensive back to be considered the 11th best college football player ever is damn impressive.

Woodson then became the 4th overall pick chosen by the Oakland Raiders. In his rookie season he led all defensive backs in tackles with 64, was third in the league in interceptions, had one interception returned for a touchdown and started all 16 games for the Raiders being the first one to do so for the franchise since 1971. He became the AP Rookie of the Year after that great start to what would be a historic career.

 Charles Woodson tackling Tom Brady on what would be remembered as the Tuck Rule play. January 19, 2002.
Charles Woodson tackling Tom Brady on what would be remembered as the Tuck Rule play. January 19, 2002.
In 2002 Charles Woodson became part of one of the most memorable and controversial plays in the history of the game. In a snowy blizzard of a game in the AFC Divisional Round on January 19, 2002, Brady was driving down the field and on a CB blitz Charles Woodson appeared to have stripped the ball from Brady. From most of the nation’s perspective it had been a clear fumble and would have sealed the game in the Raiders’ favor. The refs had overturned the call because what is now known as the Tuck Rule.

In 2003 Woodson and the Raiders managed to reach the Super Bowl where they faced off against their former coach, Jon Gruden. Woodson had appeared to be hobbled during the Super Bowl, but it was not his fault alone in the blowout loss against Tampa Bay and actually managed to grab one interception in the losing effort.

In 2006 Woodson signed on to a 7 year deal with the Packers and was not all that excited to go there at first but has since has since appreciated everything the fans and the organization have done for him. His time with the Packers started a new chapter of his career and many might remember him as a Packer rather than a Raider when it is all said and done.He had more interceptions in his first four years with the Packers than he did in his first 8 years with the Raiders. On November 15, 2009 Woodson became the first player to ever record two forced fumbles, a sack, and an interception within a single game against the Dallas Cowboys. He was also named NFC Defensive Player of the Month 3 times within that season becoming the first defensive player to ever win the award 3 times in a single season. That led to him being named the AP Defensive Player of the Year.

In 2010 Aaron Rodgers and the Packers suffered many injuries specifically to there defense but went on a miracle run through the playoffs. Woodson was locking down everyone he faced in the playoffs but ended up breaking his collarbone when diving to defend a pass to Mike Wallace. He gave a speech that everyone on the team said inspired the championship winning effort they put on in the second half. That led to Woodson earning his first and only Super Bowl title as a player.

Charles Woodson holding the Lombardi trophy after the Packers beat the Steelers 31-25. February 6, 2011.
Charles Woodson holding the Lombardi trophy after the Packers beat the Steelers 31-25. February 6, 2011.
Soon after that Charles Woodson had to take a step back and play safety to truly utilize his talents. On February 15, 2013 the Packers released Woodson and he signed a contract with the Raiders in what seemed to be the place Woodson wanted to retire. On December 21st, 2015, just 3 days ago, Charles Woodson announced this would be the end of the road for him as he knew his body was giving him the signs that he needed to retire.

Now is where we figure out where we place Woodson in history. Most seem to believe he is one of the 5 best corners to ever play and I personally have him at number 4. Ronnie Lott had this to say about Woodson and whether or not he is the greatest. “Hands down. His body of work has shown that time doesn’t affected him.” It is hard to argue with Mr. Lott’s analysis there as Charles Woodson has been an elite player ever since he stepped into the league and even as he is having his last stand. Charles Woodson will leave with more pro bowls than Deion Sanders and Richard “Night Train” Lane, have more interceptions than Ronnie Lott and Ed Reed, and the only player in history with 60 interceptions and 20 sacks ever. We are seeing a surefire 1st ballot Hall of Famer on his last ride out. Let’s all sit back and acknowledge the greatness standing before us.

Top 10 Outside Linebackers of All-Time

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10. Andre Tippett

Tippett was a damn good player that had his career cut short to multitude of injuries. His third year in he recorded 18 sacks and followed that season up with 16.5 sacks the next year. From that point forward he was plagued with injuries. In 1985 he was crucial to the Patriots playoff run all the way to the Super Bowl. Causing havoc in anyway he could on the defensive end. He was best known for his jaw dropping hits that looked like they were ending careers out there. Tippett is considered one of the greatest Patriots to ever live.

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9. Cornelius Bennett

Bennett came on the scene being deemed the best defensive player out of college, and to this day is the highest picked Alabama defender ever. Impressive enough especially how many pro defenders Alabama pushes out every year. His numbers aren’t as good as they could have been with Bruce Smith another Hall of Famer on his team getting most of the attention on defense but it doesn’t diminish how great of a player Bennett was. He helped 5 teams go to the Super Bowl but lost all 5. Many others could have filled out this list at the number 10 spot but Bennett’s pass rushing ability and ability to stop the run was enough for me to put him over all of the rest.

Derrick Thomas #58

8. Derrick Thomas

Derrick Thomas for about a four year period was second to none as a pure pass rusher. Although I have seen many other lists and questioned why some put him within the top 3 he was without a doubt. Thomas came in an made an immediate impact winning rookie of the year in 1989. Thomas gets on this list because of how good he was in a short amount of time. If he could have sustained his production for a longer amount of time then he could have easily have been higher.

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7. Terrell Suggs

Suggs is a man among boys it seems like a lot of times. Suggs was part of a great defense headlined by Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Many seem to forget about him a lot, but he deserves a lot of credit for that stout defense. He won defensive player of the Year in 2011. There really wasn’t even a close second that year when he recorded 14 sacks, 2 interceptions, 6 pass deflections, and 7 forced fumbles. He performed well in many playoff runs as well in 2010 recording 5 sacks in just two games. Suggs has been the enforcer on a great defense for many years. Hopefully he won’t be forgotten behind the other great players he got to play with.

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6. Rickey Jackson

I’m not gonna lie, if it wasn’t for his longevity he wouldn’t be over Suggs for me. Nonetheless though Jackson dominated in a different aspect it felt like every game. If he wasn’t knocking around the QB he was covering the flat and hook zones effectively. Jackson was the best thing in New Orleans for a long time. Sadly his team was awful for most of that time and when he went to the Niners he just wasn’t the same guy, but was able to get a ring he deserved just for having to play for the Saints as long as he did.

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5. Demarcus Ware

Right when I thought it was the decline for Ware he came out this past season with 10 sacks. Ware at one point was the most dominating pass rusher I’ve ever seen. Ware struck fear into QBs and it sucks that he was forced to play on a team that didn’t use his great years to their benefit. Even though I had been pulling for Brady all of this season I would have loved to see Ware get one as well. I still believe it to be an atrocity that Ware did not win defensive player of the year in 2008. He had 20 sacks that season with 6 forced fumbles, and he did all of that while be double teamed it seemed like every down.

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4. Kevin Greene

How in the hell Kevin Greene is not in the hall of fame is beyond me. Greene is 3rd in sacks and even though you can debate whether or not he was one dimensional when it came to linebackers, he is still one of the best rushers in NFL history. If you can find me a guy who got 15 sacks and 2 interceptions at the age of 36 and not in the hall of fame please come tell me. Greene was sort of a journeyman which you don’t find often within this elite class of linebackers. He started out on the Rams, then the Steelers, then the Panthers, then the Niners, and then back to the Panthers.

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3. Jack Ham

Jack Ham was the 3rd guy you thought of when thinking of the greatest defense of all time. Regardless though Jack Ham was one of the best coverage linebackers ever. His takeaways rank 1st of all non secondary players. Most of the time if you’re the 3rd best player on your unit, you tend to go unnoticed, but Ham had a flair for stepping up in the biggest of moments. The four championships the Steelers won in the 70s are in large part to Ham’s heroics in late game situations.

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2. Derrick Brooks

It’s hard to quantify how good Derrick Brooks was. He was a leader and that dominating Buccaneers defense was centered around him and Warren Sapp. In 2002 Derrick Brooks had 11 pass deflections, 5 interceptions and 4 defensive touchdowns. The way Brooks could read a QB was the way Peyton Manning can read a defense. His football IQ was just out the roof. Right as the Raiders tried to make an impossible comeback, Derrick Brooks read the route perfectly jumping it and returning Rich Gannon’s throw all the way back for a TD to seal the game. Without Brooks there is no way the Buccaneers are in that Super Bowl game.

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1. Lawrence Taylor

Let’s be honest. Did this come as a surprise to anyone? Taylor is in a very elite class of defensive players to win NFL MVP. He won defensive player of the year three times. There’s only one other guy I can think of that effected the game in as many ways Lawrence Taylor did. If it wasn’t locking down the flats or hook zones, he was right in the QB’s face it the QB managed to barely escape his grasp. LT had the strength to throw linemen out of his way, and somehow seemed quicker than everyone on the field with him. Just sit and watch an entire game from beginning to end and you’ll be as convinced as I am that there isn’t another player in the same conversation as LT outside of maybe Ronnie Lott. Many give LT the title as the greatest defensive player of all time, and any of those people have plenty of reason to do so.

Top 10 Defensive Ends of All-Time

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10. Gino Marchetti

Known as the first true pass rusher alongside Doug Atkins, Gino was ahead of his time. He was adept at stopping the run, but best know for his pass rushing techniques. Teams used to double team and sometimes even triple team Gino but to no avail, as the rest of the Colts defensive line would step up and make a play. If there was a sack stat during his time, then we would know more about how well he rushed the passer, but sadly, the sack stat didn’t come into existence until 1982.

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9. Julius Peppers

Peppers came in with a lot of hype. Some may say he hasn’t completely lived up to it do to his inconsistency, but when this man had good years he had dominating good years.For the Panthers in 2004, Peppers recorded 11.0 sacks, 2 interceptions, 9 pass deflections, and 2 defensive touchdowns. If it wasn’t for the greatness of Ed Reed, he could have easily won NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Peppers could effect the game in various ways whether it was stopping the run, rushing the passer, or dropping into coverage. If he could have done those things on a more consistent basis, then he would be higher on this list.

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8. Jared Allen

Jared Allen is the best defensive end I’ve been able to fully watch as his career has unfolded. He almost went 9 straight years with 10 sacks each year but came a little short in 2006. Allen started his career in Kansas City, but he was able to truly take off when he became a Viking in 2007; recording 15.5 sacks his first year in Minnesota. I will always remember Allen for his playoff game against the Cowboys. His stats were not outstanding, but it seemed like on every single play, he was in the backfield in Romo’s face causing havoc. As of today he is 9th all time in career sacks and playing for the Chicago Bears.

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7. Chris Doleman

Recording one of the best seasons ever by an end with 21 sacks in 1989, Doleman gave O-Lines hell. Doleman, as physical as he was, only missed two games his entire 15 year career. He is 4th all time in career sacks with 150.5. You could argue for him to be higher on this list if you only looked at the stats, because as a straight pass rusher, he has an argument as a top 5 guy.

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6. Lee Roy Selmon

This is another guy that’s hard to show his impact on the game because of there being no sack stat in existence. He battled injuries at the beginning of his career but by 1978 he found his groove. He was named to five All-Pro teams, was named the NFC defensive lineman of the year four times, and won defensive player of the year in 1979. A back injury in 1985 caused a premature end to what could have been an even greater career than it already was.

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5. Howie Long

I like to compare JJ Watt to Howie Long. Howie Long was a rare case of overall speed, size, strength, and quickness. He was an essential piece to a championship Oakland Raiders team. He was able to affect games in all kinds of ways. He was also a member of 5 all pro teams and collected over 84 sacks.

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4. Doug Atkins

It’s hard to describe how good he was. There wasn’t a sack stat until 1982. He was 6’8 playing defensive end. He used to leapfrog defenders…..at 6’8. Atkins revolutionized the position along with Gino Marchetti. He was best at batting down the ball at the line of scrimmage and causing all kinds of havoc no matter if it was against the run or the pass.

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3. Bruce Smith

Bruce Smith made a living of abusing offensive lines. He’s the all time leader in sacks with 200, has two defensive player of the year awards, and has been selected to 11 all pro teams. You could make a case for Smith to be at the top of this list because he dominated for such a long period of time, and didn’t really experience any down years until the end of his career.

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2. Deacon Jones

Deacon’s numbers aren’t great but that’s in part to the fact sacks weren’t recorded until 1982. Deacon was the one that actually came up with the term “sack”. According to Deacon he had 20 sacks in 1963, 26 sacks in 1967, and 24 sacks in 1968. Regardless of the validity of those statistics, Deacon was an unstoppable force on defense. He was the leader for arguably the greatest defensive line in NFL history, the Fearsome Foursome.

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1. Reggie White

Nobody can convince me of a better pass rusher than Reggie White. He absolutely abused any man in his way to the QB. He has two defensive player of the year awards, 198 sacks (second all time), and a super bowl ring. He was huge in that super bowl championship; as he was in Drew Bledsoe’s face the entire game. Most of his stat stuffing years were in Philadelphia with the Eagles. From 1985 to 1993 he only had one season with less than 13 sacks, and even then he had 11. He was arguably the biggest free agent signed out of all of the years of the 1990s when he went to the Packers. Think about this. Reggie White had 198 sacks in a 15 year career which is second all-time. Kevin Greene in a 14 year career, who is 3rd on on the career sacks list, has 160 total sacks. That’s 30 more sacks White has over the guy one spot below him in career sacks. I want you to try and name anyone better because I sure can’t.

The NFL’s Most Underrated

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The Detroit Lions have somehow stayed under the radar despite overcoming the enormous issues the team has had so far this season. They lead the division and have earned it no matter how ugly it has been. I picked this team to take the NFC North this year and I am not backing down from that pick. Surprisingly, with Reggie Bush (missed 2 games) , Calvin Johnson (missed 3 games) , Golden Tate, and Matthew Stafford you would expect the offense to be prolific. Instead the Lions rank 25th in total offensive yards, 31st in rushing yards, and 24th in points per game. This offense should be much better than it has been, and despite many people pointing the finger at Stafford I believe there’s more people to blame for the struggles of the offense than just the quarterback. There has been horrible play-calling, all kinds of injuries, and the whole offense outside of Golden Tate looks lost. Without Calvin Johnson they look dazed and confused about what to do. “Megatron” is the most important piece to this offense and with him back look for the offense to start putting points on the board.

This year has been all about the defense for Detroit. A lot of analysts seem to believe the stats do not tell the story of who has the best defense this year, but I beg to differ. They rank 1st in total defensive yards, 5th in passing yards allowed per game, 2nd in rushing yards allowed per game, and 1st in points allowed per game. You do not rank in the top 5 of every defensive stat and not be a legit stout defense. They held Aaron Rodgers to only 7 points which completely astounded me, and right when the Falcons looked like they might have found a groove the Lions did not allow them to score a single point in the second half in London.

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With all the injuries that have been going around, there should be no reason why they hold the division lead. They lost all 3 of their tight ends at one point, Stephan Tulloch, a very solid MLB, took out his ACL this year in an embarrassing fashion, after celebrating for a sack that was not even his, Nick Fairley an important piece on the defensive front, Joique Bell missed a game. Even with those key injuries they are still sitting at the top of the division.

Ndamukong Suh is looking to leave this upcoming offseason, and seems like nothing will change his mind. It will be a huge hit to the squad with him out, because when he brings his A-game to the field there is not a single guy in the league on defense I would rather have than him. He is the guy drawing double-teams and opening things up for other guys to attack the quarterback. For them to ever win anything they must have Suh. And if this is truly his last year there they need to make the effort to make the most of this season.

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The Chicago Bears have been a disappointment to everyone, and the Vikings lost their season as soon as Adrian Peterson stopped playing. This division will come down to the Lions and Packers. Both teams do not have an easy schedule going forward and it will come down to the last game of the season. The teams will face off in Lambeau Field in week 17 which undoubtedly will be a very important game for both teams. The Lions have shown they can stop Rodgers, and if they stay healthy I see no reason in why they cannot win in Lambeau.

The sky is the limit in Detroit, and even though I still have the San Francisco 49ers taking the NFC this year, I have a strong belief in this team. I have this feeling I got last year from the Seattle Seahawks (without that home-field advantage) who I had predicted would win the Super Bowl last season. The Lions have something I do not believe Seahawks ever had. They have a hall of fame receiver and a quarterback who can make plays down the field. If they can mesh the potential of an above average offense with a stout defense they will be the one team nobody will want to face in the Playoffs. Next week they face the Arizona Cardinals in Arizona. If Carson Palmer truly does have a torn ACL, then the Lions will have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them. If they do that they will be standing atop the entire conference and people would be asking the question, “Are the Lions the real deal?” My answer in short is yes, but to prove my point they have to win this upcoming game against the best team in football the Arizona Cardinals.