Thursday, January 20, 2011

Packers in the NFC Title Game

Lets go back in time for a minute.  Back to early September.  Having a fun family night and enjoying a good dinner of Safeway Chinese Food.  I am not a fan of fortune cookies, I never actually eat them and I rarely open them up and read the fortune anymore.  Not sure why I did it but I opened up the cookie and read the fortune.  It said, "Your sports team will be very successful this year".  About as generic as you can get right?  Of course,  after the Packers lost in the Wild Card round of the Play-Offs last year to Arizona, I was expecting a "very successful year" this year. 

Back to present day.  Only a few days left until the Packers take on the Bears for the NFC Title.  I was hoping the roles would be reversed and Green Bay would be the number 1 seed and have home field advantage but to have them need to win the last few games of the regular season to get in and get in as the 6th seed then win road games against 2 very tough teams has really given me hope for this game and even the Super Bowl.  The game against the Eagles was just a fight.  Kind of sloppy with neither team really breaking away and the game came down to the last play, an interception thrown by Michael Vick in the final minutes.  No one had planned on Green Bay rookie running back, Starks, having a break out game and running for over 120 yards, setting a Green Bay play off record.  Having a running game gave the Packers a new dimension and now teams would have to defend against the run and not just the pass. 

The Falcon game was very exciting for me.  I was expecting a very tough game and during the first quarter it looked like it.  The Green Bay defence pulled in another interception and this time ran it back to a touchdown in the final seconds of the first half.  The game was pretty much a blow out after that.  That INT took the crowd out of the game and turning it into a Packer home game for the 4th quarter (as many Falcon fans had started leaving near the end of the 3rd).  Giving them their second play-off win, we awaited the winner of the Seattle and Chicago game.  I was hoping the Seahawks could pull it off and bring my Packers here to Seattle for the title game.  Oh well. 

Off we go to Chicago.  I saw the horrible field conditions during the Hawks game and I can't imagine it getting any better by this Sunday.  Without a running game, I would be a little worried about our receivers slipping all over the field, now we can run the ball as well.  Given the weather and the field conditions, I'm guess this will be a low scoring affair, just like the last meeting.  In the final game of the regular season, the Bears came to Green Bay.  The Bears had nothing to play for and the Packers were on the verge of another play-off appearance with a win.  Yet the Bears played their starters and not only started them but played them the whole game.  They knew something.  They didn't want to face the Packers in the play-offs.  Division rivals, the oldest on the books and having only met once before in the play-offs, this game has all the makings of a classic match up with the winner emerging from the rubble with a ticket to the Super Bowl. 

I am very confident that we can come away with a victory this weekend.  The Packers showed they have what it takes to get the job done.  They are entering their 5th week in a row of a "Do or Die" situation and have come away with wins each week.  Defence has stepped up in a big way.  In previous meetings with the Bears this season, Cutler was sacked 9 times, intercepted 3 times and when the play-offs were on the line, the Packers offence was held in check but still managed to shut down the bears and get a win.  Early in week 3, the Packers had just lost their starting running back and many other offensive and defencive players.  The bench players that have been asked to step up, have, and in a big way. 

Here's to a great game.  Lets go out there and give them hell.  I think I will try to make some Nachos.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Post Season Thinking, Part 2

Points Per Reception League

I won't say that I never had a chance, but really, I didn't.  I thought I changed my Draft strategy enough to get some good players, and while I did, this league can be a beast at times.  With teams regularly scoring over 100 points I think my average was around 65 or 70 at most.  I was able to pull off a few impressive victories over some well established teams. 

I have a few good players to build on for next year.  I thought I had a few for this year but they mostly turned out to be busts.  I have already dumped them off.  I have a couple of good players that I can use to try and make a trade or two, we even trade for draft picks so if I don't get a home run on a player I can possibly get a few more picks in. 

I am positive that I will keep my players from Green Bay, Rodgers and Jennings.  When those two had good games, they equal about half of my entire teams output.  Even on a bad week, they still scored me lots of points.  I was told by another guy in the league that, other teams in the league would kill for them.  Basically one TD equals 6 points for each guy, not even counting all the yardage and catches every game. 

So, now I get to play the trading game.  There was a flurry of offers that came about heading into the play-offs.  All the big teams that made it in wanted to stock up on good players to help them make it through.  I turned down about 6 or 7 offers.   They all wanted Rodgers and/or Jennings.  Of course, I was making all kinds of offers, none of them involving either of those 2.  I was trying to get someone who was desperate enough to make a trade with me for someone that I probably will not keep going into next season.  That didn't happen.

So, for right now, all my hope lies on doing good research this off-season and even paying attention to the NFL Draft this spring.  Landing a coveted rookie is always a good start, some young player that will land on a decent team that will provide lots of scoring opportunities.  I may only keep a few guys in hopes of getting a few high picks and grabbing a couple of good running backs, heck, they don't even need to be that good, just better then what I had this time.  I ended my season starting the 3rd string running backs from San Diego and Arizona, yes, I was that hard up. 

Oh yeah, almost forgot.  I have both Seattle running backs.  Should I even think about keeping just 1?  Should I be locked up for wanting to keep both?  I think Lynch showed something of a spark late this year.  Maybe that will be enough for someone to offer a trade for him.  I'm not sure I would draft him so why would I keep him?  That's what I was thinking when I kept Marion Barber and Ronnie Brown this season.  I'm sure I will be pulling some hair out in the days leading up to the next Draft.  But that's part of all the fun.  Its a big gamble.  Deal me in.

Post Season Thinking, Part 1

Better late then never.  Yes, I know, I should have posted how well(or not) I actually ended up doing in my leagues right when it all ended.  But I'm doing it now!  I"ll split this up into 2 separate parts, one for each league. 

Standard League

I made the play-offs as the last seed.  The way this system works can get a little goofy at times.  The top record from each division gets in and gets a bye in the first round of the play-offs.  Then the rest of the teams get seeded based on record, not division rank.  I'm not going to complain that I have a tough division, but every team from my division made it in.  Only the Division winner made it in from the other one.  I had to win my last few games to get in and I was able to.  Then some tough decisions had to be made.

After getting into the play-offs, one of my studs got himself injured.  Adrian Peterson.  I'm really happy that I didn't NEED him to win, of course it may have helped.  I rode the first few wins on the back of Arian Foster from Huston.  He was probably the best pick of my Draft if I had to pick just one, late in the Draft and having already picked a good stable of well known running backs, I had my eye on Foster going in.  I was relying heavily on the play of Philip Rivers, the QB from San Diego.  Not sure what happened down the stretch, but he came up short and had a few bad games, just shear luck that he didn't cost me any wins.

The tough part was deciding to sit or start Peterson.  During the first week of the play-offs, Peterson was hurt but all signs pointed to him starting that week so I plugged him in and didn't think twice.  Then came game time late Monday Night and there he sat on the bench and in my starting line-up.  I looked at my computer screen in almost disbelief that my number one pick would not be playing.  At this point I had already won the game and any points from Peterson would not have helped anything.  But what about next week?  As I researched my line up for the following week, I left Peterson on the bench and put in Mendenhall from Pittsburgh and was able to pull out another win as I watched the Vikings stadium collapse and the game get moved to a Tuesday night. 

Through all this, I was able to get into the Finals.  The big money game.  Winner takes $200 and loser gets $100, so I can guaranteed at the very least $100, but who wants to settle?  I researched my line up once again and put my best team forward, at least I thought I did.  I could have changed out a couple of guys an not much would have changed.  There was one little thing that no one could have foreseen.  I had to choose between two Defences that week, Green Bay and Arizona.  I went with Green Bay, after all they were playing the Giants and Eli Manning was on a INT streak like no other.  I figured at least one of those would come back for a score.  I started Green Bay and didn't even think twice about it.  Well, I'm sure many of you know what happened next.  Yep, Arizona went on to score over 20 points that week, returning 2 INTs for scores and racking up the sacks.  Green Bay did well, just didn't score.

This is what did me in. This was the tough choice I made and stick by it.  I didn't start Peterson that week, even tough he played, but it didn't matter, he didn't score enough to make a difference.  It all came down to needing 12 points from my kicker on Monday Night.  It could have happened, but Atlanta played all its starters and of course got all the touchdowns it wanted and no Field Goals(that I needed).  Who could have thought Arizona DEF would score more then Green Bay?  I didn't. 

But, I came in second, which given how tough it was to even make the play-offs, is nothing to shake a stick at.  I was able to get a few post-season wins, which I had been lacking in the last several seasons.  I've only missed out on the play-offs once, but haven't won a play-off game since the last time I won it all, I can't even remember how long ago that was. 

Every time I log back onto the website and check the forums or the news, I always take a few seconds and look at my team page and think of what might have been.  I have hope for next season.  Just when you think all the sleepers are having break out years, there is always that 1 guy that no one is thinking about that can lead your team to victory.  Just have to find him then keep my mouth shut about it until after the Draft, HAHA!