Black, Blue, and Ornery: NFC North News for Friday, December 28th, 2012
It’s cold outside and the snow is falling yet again, but that isn’t stopping us from bringing you your NFC North News for Friday, December 28th, 2012.
I don’t know about you, but I am enjoying the more relaxed pace of this holiday week. It’s been a chance to refresh and rejuvenate as we tool up for the playoff run ahead of us.
I am probably the worst person in the world to watch movies with, since I have a hard time suspending disbelief, I am extremely critical, and I have an annoying tendency to narrate.
But I have to say, after watching Flight last night, I walked out of the theatre last night really impressed. It’s rare that I actually care about the characters in a movie, but I found myself rooting hard for the main character (Denzel Washington) in this film, long after I had run out of sympathy for him. It’s a sign of just how well written the movie is that I was pulling for a character I didn’t even like.
If you get a chance to see Flight, by all means do so. It’s not the typical action, vigilante, man-against-all-odds flick I was expecting. I honestly think Washington should get Oscar consideration for his performance, which was at times almost uncomfortably true to life.
And if by some weird coincidence you happen to see Denzel in the cinema tonight, wish him a happy birthday for me. He turns 58 today. Also celebrating birthdays today are British actress Maggie Smith (78) of Gosford Park and Harry Potter fame, model and actress Sienna Miller (31), and comic book legend Stan Lee (90), creator of such superheroes as the Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man.
NFC North News
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There are some records an NFL quarterback can justifiably feel proud of — most consecutive games with a touchdown pass, for example, or most consecutive pass attempts without an interception — and then there are records that are, well, dubious.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is closing in on one of those records this season. Through 15 games he has thrown 685 passes, an astounding 45.7 attempts per game, and is a virtual lock to break Drew Bledsoe’s record of 691 this week. As is so often the case with record of volume like this, it hasn’t been a sign that the team was doing well. The Lions sit at 4-11, while Stafford’s efficiency has plummeted from 41 touchdowns last year to only 17 this year. Meanwhile, his interceptions have held steady at 16.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan insists that it was never the plan for Stafford to shoot for Brees’ record. It was an unfortunate side effect of a team that struggled with injuries in the run game and found itself frequently trailing in the fourth quarter.
Well, that’s what happens when you have an offense that treats the first three quarters like kindergarten nap time.
On a week in which they need a victory and some help from a divisional rival to get into the playoffs, the Chicago Bears found out that five of their players had received Pro Bowl recognition this year. Four of them were on defense. It’s reflective of how the Chicago Bears’ season has gone to this point. Defensive ends Henry Melton and Julius Peppers, cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall all received invitations to Hawaii.
Melton in particular seemed thrilled at the news. “It’s an amazing feeling,” the Chicago Tribune quoted him as saying, “. . . and I just appreciate it.”
Meanwhile, Jennings took to Twitter to express his jubilation:
Just living a young kid dream right now!! Taking everything in and still counting my blessings!! Thank you everyone!!!!
— Tim Jennings (@HennOrJenn26) December 27, 2012
Congratulations to the inductees. As a Packers fan, I admit I hope they have all the fun in the world out there in Honolulu. As a football fan, I have to say it’s unfortunate some of these amazing talents probably won’t be in the postseason this year. They deserve a chance after all their hard work.
As they prepare to battle for their playoff lives at home this week, the Minnesota Vikings are keenly aware of what their top priority is: stop Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers quarterback has feasted on the Vikings in recent years, amassing a passer rating of over 140 in three of the previous four contests. In their most recent match-up, the Vikings were able to hold Rodgers to a passer rating of only 98, although the Packers still came away with a victory. They rushed with only four, refusing to give Rodgers the one-on-one coverages he exploited to such explosive effect last year. They plan to do more of the same this week.
It’s a game plan a lot of defensive coordinators have implemented against Rodgers this year, and although it hasn’t prevented the Packers from racking up 11 wins, it has taken a toll on his individual statistics. Rodgers’ completion percentage is about the same as it was last year (he has completed the same number of passes in two more attempts), but his average yardage per attempt has dropped 1.5 yards, with the result that he has accumulated 713 fewer yards than he did last year.
Nevertheless, I am actually more confident in this Packers team heading into the postseason than I ever was in last year’s squad. They might not be as flashy as the 2011 team was, but they seem to be more fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball. If they win this week, they secure the No. 2 seed, while if the Vikings win, they knock the Bears out of the playoffs and make it as the sixth and final seed.
I’ve been rooting for the Vikings all season and hoping they’d make the playoffs. It’s too bad they’ll have to beat my favorite team to do it.
Green Bay Packers
If there is one player other than Aaron Rodgers the Green Bay Packers cannot afford to lose right now, that would probably be wide receiver Randall Cobb, who has done everything for them this year. Unfortunately, Cobb has been struggling with an ankle injury he sustained in last week’s blowout of the Tennessee Titans and has yet to practice.
Head coach Mike McCarthy is saying all the right things, expressing optimism that Cobb will be on the field for the season finale against the Vikings, but I have a suspicion they will shelve him for this week. Ankles are tricky things that tend to linger if they are not allowed to heal, and the Packers need Cobb for their playoff run. With wide receiver Greg Jennings back in the lineup and the running game showing signs of promise, Green Bay can probably beat Minnesota without Cobb; and even if they can’t, the worst that happens is they fail to secure the No. 2 seed and settle for the No. 3 seed instead.
Green Bay has been blessed to get some of their key players healthy at the right time. Hopefully Cobb will be able to answer the bell for the first round of the playoffs. Until he returns, wide receivers Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross, who had an excellent punt return last week, will have a chance to prove their mettle.
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lmao! someone posted:
"Here's one: Name one HOF-worthy player McNabb played with during his time with the Iggles, TO excluded. The clock is running......."
and another responded with:
"Jon Runyan, Jevon Kearse."
i replied with
@First job: Beat the Packers What have you missed?
@First job: Beat the Packers There are some that are 100%?
so im talking to my friend about writing and this website and she goes..ive never watch a football game before..
i paused...and was like and you call yerself a 'Merican!?
You should have slapped her.
@Godfather Reggie 3000 You want her to write for us?
Is she a pug owner?
@Maized and Confused idk why, but i typed that and keep reading it in a Monty Python voice.
I was going back and looking through the funniest videos I have seen this year, this one is top 5:
@AtlFalconsfan0125 funny thing is..my dad was actually watching this movie a month or so ago.
"Donovan McNabb was much-maligned during his time with the Eagles but now that the team is struggling toward the likely end of Andy Reid's tenure as coach he says Philadelphia's fans didn't know how good they had it when he was the team's quarterback."
@Godfather Reggie 3000 McNabb taught Ponder well
@Godfather Reggie 3000 I've been saying this to Charger fans here the past 8 years or so... they bitch about not winning a Super Bowl, I tell them that Browns fans would kill to be in the position they used to be in year after year.
@AtlFalconsfan0125 Django Unchained. Seems like you have a fair shot of getting sex and violence in that one.
Is that really a question?
"Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been historically better in domes; in his past nine indoor games, Rodgers has completed 71 percent of his passes, thrown 27 touchdowns and two interceptions while averaging 317 yards per game, according to figures compiled by the Packers."
"Jay Cutler is 6-1, with 11 touchdown passes and one interception, against the Lions in his career."
I hope history is a good indicator of what is going to happen this weekend.
@adambballn He's kind of a big deal.