Posts Tagged ‘James Starks’

Flying Ace Aaron Rodgers is the Man in Command!

A few weeks ago, we wrote a feature about Aaron Rodgers being accustomed to being overlooked.  He was snubbed for the Pro Bowl.  He was not offered any Division I college scholarships coming out of high school.  He was passed over in the draft to a much lower spot than predicted and, finally, he had to live in the shadow of Brett Favre for three long years. 

Rodgers flourished “flying under the radar” in the past, but he no longer holds stealth status.  Instead, he is like a state-of-the-art fighter jet pilot.  On Sunday he will fly into Cowboys Stadium and try to blast the Steel Curtain to shreds on his way to winning the Lombardi Trophy.   Let’s take a look at Green Bay’s offensive weapons and what they need to do to overcome the Steelers’ #2 ranked defense.

Aaron Rodgers is indeed the “pilot” of Green Bay’s offense.   In the post season he has been soaring high, completing over 70% of his pass attempts for nearly 800 yards and an impressive 113 quarterback rating.  In those 3 playoff games, he threw for 6 TDs.  His accuracy and quick release have been a thing of beauty this post-season, rivaling the elegance and finesse of a seasoned Blue Angels pilot performing his aerial show.  Combined with his strength, often underestimated mobility and composure, Rodgers just oozes Super Bowl MVP potential.

Greg Jennings is one of Rodgers’ favorite downfield targets.  With 76 catches for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns, he received his first Pro Bowl bid this season.  Rodgers has other powerful weapons in his arsenal as well.  Twelve year veteran Donald Driver is the Packers all time leading receiver and has been selected for the Pro Bowl three times.  Jordy Nelson and James Jones have made great contributions this year, especially in third and fourth down situations.  With a number of offensive passing threats, Jennings is less likely to be in double coverage, which gives the Packers a greater scoring opportunity.

Most of the season, the Packers’ running game has been practically non-existent.   More recently, RB James Starks has been able to contribute to the rushing game which has helped balance the offense.  During the regular season Starks was injured and played in only 3 games, rushing for a mere 101 yards.  During the post season, he has accumulated 263 yards.  Facing the Steelers’ #1 ranked rush defense will likely limit Starks’, but his power and speed will get him the tough, short yardage when most needed.

Keeping pressure off Aaron Rodgers is a necessity for the Packers’ offensive line.  Rodgers suffered two concussions this season and a brutal hit to the head in the NFC Championship game.  The Packers cannot afford to let Rodgers take a blow to the head on Sunday.  The O-line is an experienced group, including Pro Bowl tackle Chad Clifton who has been on the team since 2000.  Center Scott Wells and left guard Daryn Colledge have played in their current positions since 2006.  While the O-line is not an outstanding unit, it adequately gets the job done.  Rodgers’ mobility and ability to get rid of the ball quickly help make up for this average O-line.

As we look at the overall Super Bowl scenario it appears that, offensively, the Packers will be forced to almost exclusively rely on Rodgers since the running game will be limited.  The key for Green Bay will come down to how effectively they can contain the Steelers’ intense pass rush and how well the receiving corps matches up against Pittsburgh’s secondary.  The battle should be intense, but Aaron Rodgers seems poised and ready to take command, just like the celebrated fighter pilot he has become!

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Who Will Make it to the Super Bowl? Here are Our Predictions!

Today will determine who will be going to the Super Bowl on February 5th.  Will the Chicago Bears win today in the longest rivalry in the history of the NFL?  Or will the Green Bay Packers represent the NFC and make a run for the ultimate title?  In the AFC, will the Steel Curtain be lowered on the Jets or will New York find a way to soar above Pittsburgh’s tough, stingy defense?  Whatever the outcome, this is shaping up to be an electrifying day for gridiron fans!  Here’s our take on who emerges victorious today.

Chicago has home field advantage, but we think the Packers’ overcome the crowd, weather conditions and the Bears’ defense and win in a close game.  Aaron Rodgers is playing phenomenal football and we think he will do whatever it takes to win the game. The keys to a Green Bay victory are…

  1.  Keeping the game from being one dimensional.  Most of the season, the Packers relied almost exclusively on Aaron Rodgers and the passing game.  When they found a running game, they became a much more balanced offense that is simply harder to defend.  The Bears have the #2 rushing defense in the NFL, which will make it a real challenge for Packers RB James Starks.
  2. The Packer’s defense needs to pressure Bears QB Jay Cutler.  Last week against the Seahawks, Cutler had 274 yards passing and 2 TDs, but that was against a Seahawks defense that did little to pressure him.  The Bears have the #5 pass defense in the league, which means Cutler will be facing a much different situation than he did last week.
  3. The Packers need to stop Matt Forte.  Forte poses a threat as a running back and a wide receiver and is peaking at just the right time.  If the Packers don’t have an answer for Forte, he may just win the game for the Bears – especially given the frigid, wintry conditions expected at Soldier Field today.  Since the Packers are better at pass defense than run defense, Forte could be a real game changer.

 

The Jets/Steelers game is a tough one to call.  Big Ben has the experience to take the Steelers into the Super Bowl and is hard to pick against.  But the Jets are coming off a huge upset win against the Patriots and sometimes sheer momentum is enough to beat even the toughest opponents. We pick the Jets in what should be another close one!  For our prediction to come true here is what has to happen.

  1.  Real pressure on Big Ben.  Last week the Jets defense pressured Tom Brady, causing him to lose his rhythm.  Big Ben has the physical size, strength and mobility to escape that pressure.  For the Jets to win, they MUST find a way to disrupt the two-time Super Bowl winning QB.
  2. Contain strong safety Troy Polamalu and head hunter linebacker James Harrison.  If the Jets cannot control these two defensive dynamos, Sanchez is in for a very long day – much of it on the ground looking up at the sky!
  3. Make Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson key components in the offensive game plan today.  For the Jets to win, they must run a balanced offense, using their two RBs and using a game plan that allows Sanchez to make quick, short throws downfield.  This will be an enormous challenge, given the relentless rush defense of the Steelers.

Given all these seemingly impossible tasks, why have we picked the Jets over the Steelers?  Jets coach Rex Ryan has lost two AFC Championships in a row and simply won’t tolerate a third.  Combined with the momentum the Jets are on after last week’s defeat of the Patriots, we think he and his team will back up their season long tough talk with a victory over the favored Steelers.

Can the Packers Bring the Heat to Matty Ice?

Following the Raven/Steelers game on Saturday afternoon is the NFC Divisional Playoff featuring the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons.  The 13-3 Falcons are seeded number one and had a bye last week, while the Packers played a tough game against the Eagles.  Their win against the Eagles was their first road playoff victory since 1997!  Let’s take a look at this matchup which takes place at 8 PM ET on Saturday.

The two teams played in the Georgia Dome in Week 12, with the Falcons emerging with a 20-17 victory.  Falcons QB Matt Ryan is 20-2 at home and, to their dismay, the Packers find themselves playing in the Georgia Dome.  Ryan is having a phenomenal season, throwing for over 3700 yards and 28 TDs.  In high school, Ryan earned the nickname “Matty Ice” for his ability to remain cool and calm under pressure.  He has continued to show poise in the NFL and has led Atlanta to 13 4th quarter or overtime drives that resulted in wins.

How can the Packers rattle the unflappable Ryan?  Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Charles Woodson may just be the duo for the job.   Matthews was just named The Sporting News NFL Defensive Player of the Year.  That recognition was well deserved, as he is one of the leading pass rushers, recording 13.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception this season.  Last week against the Eagles, Matthews blitzed Eagles QB Michael Vick all game and was a key factor in disrupting the Eagles offense.  Matthews and Woodson will likely be a major part of the Packer’s strategy to contain Ryan and his offense. 

The Packers have relied almost exclusively on QB Aaron Rodgers and his passing game all season, as their running game has been virtually non-existent.  Last week they found success in RB James Starks, who rushed for 123 yards.  If Starks is able to build on last week’s success vs. the Eagles, this could greatly improve the Packer’s chances.  In their Week 12 loss against Atlanta, Packer’s RBs rushed for a mere 26 yards and Rodgers himself picked up 51 yards.   A new found rushing game helps balance the offense and control the time of possession and could be the big difference in the game.

Matty Ice may be unflappable, but he will likely feel some pressure from Matthews and Woodson.  While the Falcons have home field advantage and beat the Packers earlier this season, Rogers appears to be a man on a mission and seems unstoppable.  Coupled with a new, promising running game, they have an edge over their previous meetings with the Falcons.  Look for a tight game, with the Packers winning by 7.

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