Just about set for the week 15 Sunday battles to begin, so here's a quick Long Snap post to keep you abreast of the haps around the NFL. I'll post some links at the bottom of the page, but before we get to that, I wanted to talk about a conversation I had with a few NFL-loving friends last night over dinner: Can anybody beat the Packers, and, if so, who? I have gone full circle since writing earlier in the season that the Packers porous defense would be their downfall, and now I believe that they are going to become the NFL's first 19-0 team.
That said, there are no locks in life. Even though I no longer believe the Packers will lose, it's still fun to speculate. One buddy said the 49ers were a team that was capable. I've heard others speculate that the 49ers had the right makeup to stop the Rodgers juggernaut. I argued that even if they do, that they need to win against Pittsburgh to maintain home field advantage or they will likely not even make it to the NFC Championship.
Besides, San Francisco ranks at the bottom in red zone offense (they are pitiful), and even if their defense plays a near-perfect game, are four Fred Akers field goals really going to be good enough to outscore the Pack? I think not.
I think Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, if they happened to make it to the Superbowl, would suffer similar fates. No matter how good their defense plays, the glaring weakness of their respective offenses would put their backs against the wall, especially in a dome in Indy.
My best guess at who could really challenge the Packers in the playoffs (I see zero chance of them losing to the Chiefs on the road, or the Bears or Lions at home) is either Dallas or Atlanta. I like Dallas a lot on paper, and if they had one of those games where they didn't make any bonehead mistakes or choke miserably (a big ask, I know), I think they could handle the Pack. Atlanta is another team who is playing its best football and peaking at the right time. They have a great ground game, a well-balanced attack, and a quarterback with the ability to throw the deep ball and run a two-minute drill.
Other than that, I'm out of ideas. I think it's the Packers table to run, and they should run right through KC today.
Here are some must-reads from around the league today:
- Lions CB Eric Wright should be healthy enough to play vs. the Raiders in Oakland today, and if he is, he wont be taking anything for granted. Read this piece to know more about his circuitous route to the NFL.
- Bears RB Matt Forte is hinting that a return during the regular season is unlikely.
- As if things weren't bad enough for the Bears, Sam Hurd got busted for dealing pot and cocaine and was wearing an orange jumpsuit earlier in the week.
- The NFL will be discussing helmet hits again in the off-season, which is always a good thing, especially it if it helps to eliminate the type of dangerous hit that James Harrison put on Colt McCoy last Thursday.
- We knew it was just a matter of time: Tim Tebow and the Broncos were visited by Jesus this week. As Jesus said: "I just go where I'm called the most."
- Big Ben is questionable for Monday's marquis Steeler-49er matchup. In Ben speak I believe that means what it always means: of course he'll play, even if he can barely walk.
- A quick look at the NFL's playoff picture, and off you go.
Enjoy the games!