NFL Week 12 Thanksgiving Edition: Renewed Acquaintances

Megatron emerges for battle

Just when you’ll start welcoming and hugging family members as the aroma of another Thanksgiving gathering warms you and yours, a football game will kick off in Detroit. This was one of the games the young Detroit Lions had circled from the beginning of the season. Who knew the defending Super Bowl Champion Packers would come in undefeated at 10-0?? With a win the Lions will send another message to the NFL that they are for real and will be a force that could make the NFC Championship Game. A loss will relegate them to maybe only going as far as the wildcard round. The 37-13 loss to the Bears coupled with one here would be a confidence zapper for a relatively young team. A win by the Packers and they are one step closer to immortality where they’re trying to finish the 2011 season undefeated. If they were to do this and repeat as Super Bowl champs, they would have a legitimate shot at being the greatest team in NFL history.

What has been lost amidst the hyseria of this game is what happened the last time these two teams played and what significance it held. A fired up Lions defense chased down (4 sacks) and knocked out Aaron Rodgers with a concussion while winning 7-3.  At the time of Rodgers flash knockout, he was 7 of 11 for 46 yards and an interception. He was having serious trouble locating receivers amidst silver helmets coming at him. Matt Flynn had to finish the game and fared no better. His stat-line was what you’d expect for a cold player coming off the bench going for 15 of 26 for 177 yards and another interception. The Lions were stymied by the NFL’s #2 ranked defense and hounded Drew Stanton to a sub par performance. The stat-line of 10 of 22 passes for 117 yards wasnt’ glowing yet he did throw a touchdown to TE Will Heller which provided the difference.

This was the last game the Packers lost with Aaron Rodgers as a starter. We know how he came back hot two weeks later and led the Packers to their 13th title. Yet there was a 3-10 football team that proved to themselves they could play with the best of their division and went on to win their final 3 games finishing with a 4 game winning streak. It was Detroit’s winning the next game 23-20 that kept a 10 win Tampa team out of last year’s playoffs. This was where the Detroit Lions as we now know them were born. Their confidence took off as they watched their division brother wreak havoc in last year’s playoffs, knowing they handled Green Bay better than everyone else that tried. Throw in the riches of the draft and the health and availability of Matthew Stafford and this team is NOT afraid of Green Bay.

NFC NORTH W L T PCT HOME ROAD DIV CONF PF PA DIFF STRK
Green Bay 10 0 0 1.000 5-0-0 5-0-0 3-0-0 8-0-0 355 212 +143 Won 10
Detroit 7 3 0 .700 3-2-0 4-1-0 2-1-0 5-3-0 301 219 +82 Won 1
Chicago 7 3 0 .700 5-1-0 2-2-0 2-2-0 6-3-0 268 207 +61 Won 5
Minnesota 2 8 0 .200 1-4-0 1-4-0 0-4-0 2-5-0 200 271 -71 Lost 2

Rodgers about to fire a pass in last year's Super Bowl

However this won’t be an easy game for Detroit either. The Packers are on pace to score the second highest  point total in NFL history with 568. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t slowed down for anyone. Look at these stats!! Rodgers is 238 of 329 for a whopping 72.3 completion rate while throwing for 31 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. Yikes!! He’s on pace to throw for 49.6 touchdowns, or in layman’s terms, tie Tom Brady’s all time record of 50. Each team is a pass first, run to keep them honest type offenses. The Packers rank  21st, while the Lions rank 22nd in rushing. For all of Rodgers prowess, Stafford’s growth this year has been immense. In his 10 games, he’s completed 61.3% of his passes for 25TDs and 10 interceptions. He’s on pace to throw for 40 touchdowns in his first full season! You have to be kidding me?!? Well we did say in our Pre Season Spectacular that his growth on the field was what the Lions needed from him this year. https://taylorblitztimes.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/2011-detroit-lions-preview/

Then we have former NFL Defensive Player of the Year in Charles Woodson going against Calvin “Megatron”Johnson. First we have Woodson, who has been everywhere this year with 45 tackles, 5 interceptions with 1 returned for a touchdown, 2 sacks and a fumble forced. Woodson’s Opimus Prime had better be ready for Megatron comes in with 59 receptions for 974 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Lions have spread the ball around more as of late but with the bright lights showing, Johnson is going to want the ball. This will be a tremendous battle. What could prove to be the shift in this Thanksgiving Day tilt is the fact that the Packers field the 30th ranked defense in all of pro football to Detroit’s being ranked 9th. Its imperative the Lions pass rush generates hits and sacks on Rodgers to knock him off his rhythm, they can’t afford to watch him stand in the pocket like the picture on the left. Of the Lions 27 sacks this season, 17.5 have come from the defensive line.

Prediction: The Detroit Lions will win this game. Emotion, crowd noise, and having more to prove will be the difference. The Packers are in the driver seat for the conference and the division and a loss won’t affect them. If there are no crazy bounces of the football we think the Lions in a fairly high scoring affair.  This game could be an all time classic!! Happy Thanksgiving

 

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2011 Predictions Continued …and the winner of the AFC is…??

On the heels of a great Packers win over New Orleans 42-34, we are about to talk about the other conference?? Yes we are!! We did the NFC side of the ledger already and it’s time to pack what we’ve studied and written about throughout this tense summer. Last year, our crystal ball was a bit hazy but we became undone by a couple of upsets. We had the Baltimore Ravens facing the New England Patriots last summer but they each were knocked off in the divisional round before the championship game. Alright…we have some new D Cell batteries (do they still make those?) for my crystal ball and we’re going in. Who will win the prestigious Lamar S Hunt trophy and represent the AFC in Super Bowl XVLI??

Our choices to make the AFC Championship race are as follows:

1. New York – AFC East Champs w/ homefield advantage throughout playoffs.

2. Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West Champs w/second seed in the playoffs. If the Jets stumble in the divisional round, Chiefs would host the AFC Championship Game.

3. Baltimore Ravens – AFC North Champs. Will participate in the wildcard round and can only host the AFC Championship if #3 seed and lower meet. Will host the 6th seed wildcard weekend.

4. Houston Texans – AFC South Champs. Will participate in the wildcard round and can only host the AFC Championship if # 4 seed and lower meet. Will host the 5th seed wildcard weekend.

5. New England Patriots – The top record of  non divisional winners and will face the 4th seeded team on the road during Wildcard weekend. Could only host the AFC Championship if #5 and #6 teams were to meet. (Has never happened)

6. San Diego Chargers – The second best record of non divisional winners and will face the #3 seeded team on the road during Wildcard weekend. Cannot host playoff game no matter what.

The regular season is over and the vanquished turn their attention toward the draft and other improvement methods, the big boys of the conference decide it’s championship. Wildcard weekend would have the brakes halt the Charger season in Baltimore. The Ravens battle hardened group would stifle Phillip Rivers and Ryan Matthews in the cold of the Northeast. This would bring about the end of the Chargers season and quite possible the tenure of San Diego coach Norv Turner. The Patriots would be down in Houston to take on the upstart Texans.  Tom Brady would be too much for the young Texans and would win a shootout. It would be the second time Brady had it out in that stadium having won Super Bowl XXXVIII over Carolina there.

Having gone the wildcard route two times before, they proved themselves formidable by making the AFC Championship twice. For the first time ever the Jets would be enjoying home field advantage. With two weeks off before the divisional tilt, the team would finally come into the playoffs healthy. A raucous Meadowlands crowd and a fierce defense greet Tom Brady and the Patriots offense and dominate from the start. In a game that would mimic their 2010 playoff outing, stellar play by the Jets corners on the slow Patriot receivers. That crowd and that defense at home would be enough to slow Brady down, however Mark Sanchez would have his best playoff  game to date and the Jets pull away in a strong win 30-17.  Plaxico Burress would be the receiver the Patriots would have a hard time stopping.

In the other divisional round the Chiefs would host the Baltimore Ravens for the second straight year. With four former head coaches amongst their staff, Kansas City would be well schooled with what to do.   This time the Chiefs come into the game with Jonathon Baldwin and Steve Breaston to go with Dewayne Bowe to give KC three big receivers. This game would be hard hitting like the 2010 playoff game but the Chiefs were taught by these same Ravens, the difference between regular season and playoff intensity. So they would pay them back in kind, hit for hit. The running attack of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones would be solid enough. The Ravens secondary would not holdup as Matt Cassel would pass the Chiefs to a solid win 31-14 win. The underrated Chiefs defense would get to Joe Flacco with Tamba Hali and pass rush specialist Allen Bailey, the physical specimen drafted out of Miami.

The race for the Lamar S Hunt trophy, emblematic of achievment in the American Football Conference, would come down to these two old AFL antagonists.  The New York Jets would represent the AFC in Super Bowl XVLI after a 24-14 win in the chilly confines of the Meadowlands which would send them off in a ticker tape style similar to when the Giants beat the Redskins in 1986. Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez come through.

 

 

 

 

 

2011 Regular Season Picks: Week 1

Here we are folks, the gunlap to Super Bowl XLVI. It all starts with week one and we’re going to get into it right now. Winners in bold

Saints @ Packers: Packers should win this one relatively easy. 31-16

Steelers @ Ravens: We have the Ravens in a tight game 20-17

Falcons @ Bears: Falcons Have to think the Bears will slow down the Falcon offense. Yet will outscore the Bears in this one 24-16

Bengals @ Browns: Browns will win first game for new coach Pat Schurmur. Can’t think of a score

Colts @ Texans: The long reign of the Colts is over with the upstart Texans beating an undermanned Colt team. Texans 30-10

Titans @ Jacksonville: Titans Two rebuilding teams yet the Jaguars aren’t over the release of David Garrard.

Bills @ Chiefs: Too many playmakers for the Kansas City team to lose.  Chiefs 24-13

Eagles @ Rams: Eagles have been rusty but should squeak out a win in first week. Can’t think of score

Lions @ Buccaneers: These are two up and coming teams…have to take the Bucs at home.

Panthers @ Cardinals: Panthers should run the ball successful enough.

Vikings @ Chargers: The Chargers win this one.

Seahawks @ 49ers: Seattle wins this one. More stable at quarterback and defense

Giants @ Redskins: Giants ground game and defensive pass rush will dominate this one.

Cowboys @ Jets: Jets get off on a winning track to get themselves headed for first Super Bowl since Namath.

Patriots @ Dolphins: The Patriots normally win this early season trip and will this time also. Patriots

Raiders @ Broncos:  The Raider ground game wins this one for the silver and black

TOTAL RECORD= 0-0 We’re undefeated baby!!

See you next week, folks.