Pressure intensifies each week for Badgers, Packers

The stakes grow higher each week for the University of Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers.
Both teams are off to fast starts with the Packers (4-1) more of a surprise than the No. 8 Badgers (5-0, 2-0 in Big Ten).
Wisconsin had a "cupcake" nonconference game last weekend, crushing Kent State, 48-0, at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers' stingy defense pitched its third shutout of the season. Wisconsin also used some timely play-action first down strategy to prevent Kent State's defense from keying on star tailback Jonathan Taylor, who still rushed for 189 yards and had a school record five total touchdowns.
The Badgers entertain a much stronger opponent this Saturday in the likes of Michigan State, 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in Big Ten play. However, I'll still pick the Badgers by at least 10 points.  
The Packers, meanwhile, surprised the Cowboys and their fans, 34-24, in Dallas last weekend. Next, they greet the Detroit Lions in a crucial NFC North game at Lambeau Field on Monday night. Actually, the perennial NFC North doormat Lions (2-1-1) may be more of a surprise than the Packers are this season, considering they are in second place behind Green Bay. With the early betting line giving the Packers a 41/2-point edge, the Lions come into Green Bay with nothing to lose. The Packers, on the other hand, can earn their third straight division victory after opening the season with victories against the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.
I would like to pick the Packers by at least a touchdown, but the Lions always seem to make it interesting. It may come down to a last-second field goal. And then, anything can happen.

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Packers lose game in trenches

There are several reasons why Green Bay suffered a disappointing 34-27 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field on Thursday night.
Poor play calling? Special teams? Injuries? Poor decision-making by quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the last play of the game?
Many armchair quarterbacks say it was the last play of the game. Green Bay relied solely on Rodgers' arm on all four downs with less than a minute to go and the ball on the one-yard line?
"Why not run the ball at least once with only 3 feet to go for a touchdown?" they holler.
To me, the loss began long before the last 20 seconds of the game. It began in Green Bay's trenches on both sides of the ball. While the last play of the game will be long remembered in Packerland, it was the way the offensive and defensive lines struggled throughout the night.
Green Bay's defensive line simply couldn't hold its ground. Philadelphia's offensive line opened gaping holes time and again.
Meanwhile, the Packers' offensive line, could only create creases for their running backs to squeeze through. I agree it certainly didn't help when running back Jamaal Williams was lost to injury on the first play from scrimmage, but let's face it, Green Bay's line simply can't run block.
Statistics don't lie. Green Bay's offense gained 414 yards through the air, but I'm sure the original game plan didn't call for Rodgers to attempt 53 passes either. The Eagles managed 160 passing yards from timely tosses by Carson Wentz, who had 26 fewer attempts than Rodgers.
The Eagles rushed for 176 yards (5.3 yards per carry) compared to Green Bay's 77. Why pass if you can run the ball at will, right?
Now, the Packers have a couple days of extra rest before traveling to Dallas for another NFC matchup on Sunday, Oct. 6. It may not be near enough time considering Green Bay's growing injury list, including All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams.
Question: Do you think the Cowboys and other opposing staffs, will emphasize their rushing attacks against Green Bay?  
The blueprint is out for all to see now.

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Surprising Packers win 2nd straight

Surprise, surprise!
The Green Bay Packers are 2-0 in the NFL after the first two weeks of the 2019 season.
Who would have thought the Packers would be atop the NFC North Division after most NFL preseason polls predicted them to finish third behind the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings this year?
Personally, I was hoping for a 1-1 start at best.
Forget it after Green Bay's 21-16 home victory over the Vikings on Sunday. Coupled with a 10-3 surprising victory in Chicago in the season opener, Packers' fans are on a high.
Sunday's triumph started with a bang with the Packers jumping to a quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Least be said everything was going their way. But the vaunted Vikes' defense stiffened and proved it by shutting out the Green and Gold the final 44 minutes.
Mike Pettine's Green Bay defense once again did what it had to do, playing steady throughout the game and eventually forcing four stops in the final 20 minutes.
Let's not forget about the offense either. Aaron Rodgers was vintage Rodgers for the most part. Running back Aaron Jones continued to show flashes of stardom after gaining 116 yards in 23 carries for a 5.0 average, including one touchdown. Jones was also the Packers' second-leading receiver with four catches for 34 yards.
I said last week that one game does not make a season. However, winning your first two games of the season against two tough division opponents sure makes it a lot more pleasant in Packerland heading into Sunday's home encounter against the Denver Broncos.

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Wisconsin sports fans enjoy great weekend

If you are a baseball and football fan of Wisconsin sports, you definitely have a little hitch in your giddy-up today.
The Milwaukee Brewers, Green Bay Packers and University of Wisconsin Badgers all posted victories last weekend.
The Badgers (3-0) kicked off the weekend with a convincing 35-14 Big Ten victory over rival Michigan on Saturday. It was supposed to be a classic Big Ten matchup between the No. 11 ranked Wolverines against No. 13 Badgers. However, Wisconsin made it look easy jumping to a 35-0 third-quarter lead before the Wolverines could even score.
On Sunday, the surprising Packers (3-0) bolted to a 7-0 lead before holding off the Denver Broncos, 27-16, at Lambeau Field.
Also on Sunday, the Brewers won their fourth straight game and completed a weekend sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates in their final home stand of the season at Miller Park. The Brewers, despite losing All-Star outfielder Christian Yelich to injury earlier this month, have a Major League best 17-4 record in September and are in the heat of the National League playoff race for not only a wild-card berth, but also the NL Central Division title with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Despite St. Louis sweeping the rival Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, and holding a three-game edge on the second-place Brewers entering the final week of the season, the Redbirds and Cubbies meet the final three games of the season in St. Louis. The Brewers, meanwhile, finish the season with three games at Cincinnati and three more against the Rockies in Colorado.
It should be another interesting week in Wisconsin.

Pettine's defense breathes new life into Packers

One game does not make a season.
However, I guarantee there are more NFL fans smiling in Wisconsin than in Illinois these days.
Thursday's 100th NFL season opener was a classic - "Da Bears" vs. The Green Bay Packers.
The NFC North Division game was just what I expected... D-E-F-E-N-S-E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Packers won, 10-3.
If second-year defensive coordinator Mike Pettine didn't receive the a game ball after the huge road victory, there is something wrong in Packerland.
Pettine, thanks to general manager Brian Gutekunst's key offseason free agent acquisitions and draft picks, Green Bay is quickly building a solid defense for the future.
Unfortunately, the offense has a way to go under a new offensive scheme and first-year coach Matt La Fleur, but I feel good that it will come around sooner rather than later.
Did you notice the extra giddy-up in Packers' veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers' step when he gave Pettine a celebratory shove just before the final whistle signaled victory? Rodgers almost seemed relieved, realizing that he and the offense don't necessarily need to produce at least 28-30 points a game to win this year.
I know. One game does not make a season.
Did you notice Rodgers was also quick to heap praise on Pettine and La Fleur in postgame interviews. Mike McCarthy who...?
Packer fans need not look at the final stats. It's apparent the Packers must improve their modern-style La Fleur offense. However, Pettine has a creative defense for years to come.
Green Bay faces another strong division foe in the Minnesota Vikings a week from now.
Yeah, I know. One game does not make a season.

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