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Green Bay Packers Get a Crack at Revenge against NFC West

Seattle's game-winning touchdown against the Packers

In recent seasons the Green Bay Packers have had a difficult time playing the teams in the NFC West. A case can be made that the Packers currently have more of a rivalry with teams like the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers than with their NFC North rivals.

After all, Green Bay has had no problem winning the division over the last four seasons, posting a 20-4-1 record over the Bears, Lions, and Vikings since 2011 (including playoffs). Over that same span, though with a much smaller sample size, the Packers are 3-7 against the NFC West, and are winless against the 49ers (0-4) and Seahawks (0-3).

Included among those losses are a number of postseason defeats. In Aaron Rodgers’ career as a starter, he has made the playoffs six times. Of the five times that Green Bay failed to win the Super Bowl, four of the Packers’ postseason exits were at the hands of an NFC West team: the Cardinals in 2009, the 49ers in 2012 and 2013, and the Seahawks in 2014.

What has made matters worse for Green Bay is that the defeats have often come in heartbreaking fashion. From the Cardinals beating the Packers 51-45 in overtime on a controversial call in 2009 to the Seahawks overcoming a 12-point deficit in the last few minutes last year, the Packers have been left stunned by the NFC West too many times in recent years.


Bart Starr’s goal to return home in November

bart starr

I think it’s safe to assume everyone watching this past weekend’s celebration at Lambeau Field was surprised when Bart and Cherry Starr appeared on screen to congratulate Brett Favre as joined Packer greats in Green Bay’s Hall of Fame. For me, that was the most emotional part of the weekend. Starr is the elder statesman of the organization, and a stroke would not keep him away from a celebration of this magnitude.

Yet the Starr we saw on television was not the Bart Starr we are accustomed to. He wasn’t the same legend we have seen emerge from the Packers’ tunnel to the roar of the crowd welcoming home its favorite son. Time has caught up with him, and he looked frail, like an elderly parent or grandparent we pray can live forever. There’s no question there are still lingering effects of his heart attack and two strokes that he suffered last October.  His message was brief, and he sat in a chair, unspoken proof that he has not yet recovered. While he offered his congratulations, his  voice sounded thin, and his wife Cherry did most of the talking. His stroke had affected his ability to talk, and I can’t help but wonder if he has not yet fully regained this ability as well. Painful reminders that no one–kings and queens, heroes and legends, and even football players–are not immune to wear and tear of the human condition.


How Did Green Bay Packers Fare in NFL Network’s Top 100?

Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers

The NFL Network has done a countdown that ranks the top one hundred players in the league as determined by other players during each offseason since 2011. The Green Bay Packers have had a player ranked 26 times over the course of the show, including six players on the “Top 100 Players of 2015.”

The six Packers to appear this year are Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Clay Matthews, Eddie Lacy, Julius Peppers and Randall Cobb. While it is difficult (if not impossible) to definitively rank the top players in the NFL, were the Green Bay Packers that made the list represented relatively fairly?

Aaron Rodgers- Number 2

Previous Ranks: number 11 in 2014, number 6 in 2013, number 1 in 2012, number 11 in 2011

Position Rank: 1st among quarterbacks

Too high, too low, just right? Just right. There are those who argued that the reigning MVP should have the highest spot, and therefore Rodgers was ranked too low. But Rodgers’ position at number two, behind J.J. Watt, is a fair placement for the Packers’ quarterback. Yes, Rodgers is more valuable than Watt (if the two players switched teams, the Texans would win more games than the Packers), but Watt was more than deserving of the number one spot. The gap in skill level between Watt and the next best defensive end is greater than the distance between Rodgers and the second best quarterback.


Planning a Trip to Packers Training Camp?

training camp

The Green Bay Packers has finished minicamp and are scattered to the four corners in what is equivalent to the NFL’s summer vacation. With that, there will be little activity out of 1265 Lombardi Avenue until the team reconvenes at the end of July for Training Camp ahead of the 2015 regular season. Tickets for the annual Family Night–a night practice under the lights, mind you–were sold out within 48 hours. Fans love attending Training Camp.

But there’s still nearly a month where fans can still absorb the entire Training Camp experience and take in the events around Green Bay  without missing out any of the experiences.

Plan ahead. That’s the first and foremost rule. It may not be Mackinac Island or Disney, but Green Bay is a destination for summer travelers. The vast majority of hotels in town are with a short driving (read: not walking) distance from the stadium. But there are some a few blocks away. Call early, because those are the first to fill up.

That said, Highway 41 from Appleton to Green Bay is a complete pain in the butt. It has been so since I got my drivers license in high school in the 80’s and remains one to this day. It is constantly under construction, though I’m wondering what anyone has to show for it in the 20+ years since. Familiarize yourself with local maps and consider other ways to navigate town. Your sanity will thank you for it later.


PACKERS FOOTBALL FRIDAY: Who’s the #1 contender?

Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl

The Green Bay Packers have either won the Super Bowl or the NFC North in each of the last 5 seasons.  It has been an incredible run.  In Game of Thrones parlance the Packers are the Kings in the North.  The Packers are prohibitive favorites to win the North again, requiring a $300 bet to win $100.  Admitting that the Packers are the clear favorite is easy, but identifying the #1 contender for the title is a little more difficult.

Each of the Packers’ NFC North mates have finished second during this half decade of dominance.  The Vikings scrapped their way to a 10-6 record in 2012 behind a monstrous season from Adrian Peterson, the Bears fell victim to “4th and great” in 2013 and Detroit came in second during the Packers’ 15 win season of 2011 and their 12 win season last year.

2015, from what I can tell, is going to be very interesting.  Last season’s #1 contender, the Detroit Lions, have lost what defined them as a team.  Ndamakong Suh and Nick Fairley are gone.  Everything that they did on defense was predicated by those two occupying between 3 and 3.5 blockers on every play and freeing up everyone else on the defense to make plays. The 3rd place finisher in Minnesota certainly appears to have the arrow pointing up.  The Bears Still Suck.

Contender #1: Minnesota Vikings


Why deflated balls are a big deal


Fans across the NFL–including Packers fans–have likely had their fill of Deflategate. And as I post this column, the NFL Players Association is drafting Brady’s appeal to his four game suspension. Four games–a quarter of the season—all for a bunch of flat balls. Oh, that as well as a $1 Million fine and forfeiture of next year’s first round draft choice as well as their fourth round pick in 2017.

I could rehash the entire Wells Report and the whole Free Brady outrage, but I won’t.  Instead, let’s break down the apologist’s arguments and point out the painfully obvious and –oddly enough–how this scandal affects the Green Bay Packers.

  • Excuse #1: Big whoop, it’s just a bunch balls. And the advantage it gave the Patriots did not tip the game in their favor during their victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game.

Yes, it’s true. The Patriots walloped the Colts. Probably would’ve done it, flat balls not withstanding, but why have rules if they are only suggestions? And guess what, the NFL has rules specifically addressing the condition of its game balls. In fact, the NFL rules pertaining to balls are pretty clear:


Wisconsin Badgers in Green Bay


While the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team has been getting national attention with their National Championship berth last night, their football team is a perennial Top 25 program as well. As of January, a total of 33 former Badgers were on NFL rosters, two of which were a part of the Green Bay Packers.

Backup quarterback Scott Tolzien and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis are the lone Badgers currently in Green Bay. While playing in Madison, the two were both big contributors on the offensive side of the ball, but only overlapped briefly during the 2010 season.

Over his three years with the team, Tolzien really only saw playing time during his junior and senior seasons. Over that span he started 26 games and threw for 5,164 yards, 32 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He led the Badgers to a 20-14 win in the Champs Sports Bowl over Miami following the 2009 season, but lost in the Rose Bowl 21-19 to TCU in 2010. Tolzien also decimated the Wisconsin single-season record for passing completion in his senior season, along with winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Here are his career stats:

Scott Tolzien Stats

Abbrederis was an impact player during his four years in a Badger uniform. Over his career, Abbrederis totaled 202 receptions, 3,140 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. On top of his receiving stats, he also tallied 291 rushing yards (2 TD)as well as 1,387 return yards (1 punt return TD).