Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, August 22, 2014 at 7:00 AM
The Green Bay Packers are still a serious Super Bowl threat when quarterback Aaron Rodgers is healthy. But, the past couple of seasons, they’ve clearly fallen behind Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC hierarchy. Bad defense doesn’t win championships!
Green Bay’s dress rehearsal game with the Oakland Raiders Friday Night will be televised nationally by CBS, which will set up the official league-wide regular season opener between the Packers and Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night September 4 (televised by NBC). The team has a chance to make a very clear statement about 2014 right off the bat. Struggle vs. Oakland and lose to Seattle…and you can pretty much write them off as a team that matters this season. Sparkle vs. Oakland and shock Seattle…and then the NFC picture gets even more interesting!
You’re going to watch Oakland/Green Bay tonight from the comfort of your couch. Let’s review last year’s strengths and weaknesses for each side.
OAKLAND’S 2013 STRENGTHS
*Surprisingly strong on the ground, averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry and 125.0 per gmae
*Hung tough before throwing in the towel in final month, 7-4-1 ATS in first dozen games
There really wasn’t a lot for the Raiders to hang their hat on last year. They were the worst team in a division that sent three to the playoffs. They couldn’t figure out what to do at quarterback, and they had some injury issues. To the degree there was any good news, it was that players and coaching staff should have learned a lot about what approaches and players didn’t belong.
OAKLAND’S 2013 WEAKNESSES
*Really, everything BUT the running game!
*Poor passing, with only 17 TD passes and 20 interceptions
*Poor third down conversion performance on both sides of the ball
*Second worst yards-per-play-allowed on defense in the AFC
A lot of areas need improvement. Be sure you look for that improvement in the dress rehearsal against Green Bay. And, remember that Oakland WAS a value team against market prices until throwing in the towel in December. Even if they were bad…they weren’t as bad as everyone had been thinking. And, that running attack did allow them to shorten games and hang within tall numbers.
GREEN BAY’S 2013 STRENGTHS
*Second in the NFC and third in the NFL at 8.0 yards-per-pass-attempt
*Second in the NFC and third in the NFL at 6.0 yards-per-play offensively
*Fifth in the NFC in rushing yards-per-game
*Above average in third down conversions
*Fifth in the NFC in defensive sacks
It’s great that the Packers could shine so much offensively with Aaron Rodgers missing many games with an injury. But, that’s tempered a bit by strength of schedule concerns. Jeff Sagarin of USA Today had them at #28 in the league out of 32 teams. You KNOW this is a great offense when Rodgers is healthy.
GREEN BAY’S 2013 WEAKNESSES
*Allowed 5.9 yards-per-play defensively, third worst in the NFC and fourth in NFL
*Allowed 7.8 yards-per-pass, fourth worst in NFC and sixth in NFL
*Only 11 defensive interceptions, second worst in NFC and fifth in NFL
Even though they played in some shootouts, the defense was poor at forcing turnovers. And, it was very easy to move the ball on this team if you knew what you were doing. The defense is SO FAR BEHIND Seattle and San Francisco right now that it’s very difficult to take the Pack seriously as a champion. They must improve dramatically on that side of the ball.
That sets the stage for Friday’s TV game for you. As we go to press, it’s not certain yet if Raiders/Packers will be part of the NETWORK mix. There are four other games on the schedule including the Battle of New York featuring the Giants and Jets…and Chicago at Seattle in a late start.
You can always purchase the final word right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about longterm service, call us in the office during normal business hours Friday or before the sports action starts Saturday at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about combination packages featuring football and baseball.
Our TV previews continue Saturday and Sunday with New Orleans at Indianapolis (CBS), and San Diego at San Francisco (FOX). Then next week, it’s a mix of baseball and football as COLLEGE action finally joins the schedule.
This is the most important week of football so far because everyone is in dress rehearsal mode. You’ve come to the right place…because it’s always SHOWTIME with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!