Aaron Rodgers is introduced to the Lambeau Field opening day crowd 2012.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph
Because it’s the divisional round of the National Football Conference Playoffs, we thought we would have a bit of fun here at Lombardiave.com – at least some of us.
In addition to providing our weekly predictions, a few of the staff have also provided you with their Packers superstitions. We all have them to varying degrees and thought it would be fun to share. We did it earlier this week with a post of various superstitions that fans from our Facebook page provided.
So, here we go. Enjoy.
Staff writer – he’s got so many superstitions that he can barely get himself to sit still for the games.
Jerry Bulone: I am probably the most superstitious person there is when it comes to the Packers, so superstitious that I will not even submit a pick during the playoffs, for fear that I might jinx them.
I have too many to even count. The silliest one is I will switch where I am watching the game when the Packers start to play bad. I moved to six different rooms during the Kansas City game last season, before I gave up and went to bed.
My superstitions get multiplied in intensity during the playoffs, which basically consists of me doing everything the exact same if they win in the opening round.
This year I had to work for the opening game against Minnesota, since I do not work this Saturday, I am relying on something I did in the divisional round in 2010 .. .taking my kids to KOSI (a science museum in Columbus).
I recorded the Giants playoff game last year. Suffice to say, I haven’t recorded a game since … there are just so many, but I realize I already sound crazy enough.
So while I may not be watching the game Saturday, believe me it’s in their best interest!
Tim Thomas: The Packers have an extremely tough game upcoming against the San Francisco 49ers as the winner of this game will be the favorite in the NFC Championship. The Packers offensive line will be tested by the 49ers’ ferocious defensive front 7 as Aldon Smith headlines one of the NFL’s best pass rushing groups in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers will also have the challenge of picking apart the San Francisco defense through the air.
However, the Packers have the NFL’s best receiving corps and this will make the 49ers’ job a lot harder.
Colin Kaepernick will have trouble against the Green Bay secondary as Tramon Williams are known for their ability to force turnovers. Clay Matthews and the Packers pass rush will need to make Kaepernick feel some pressure to make him rush throws and turn the ball over.
The overall experience of the defense will be huge as the Packers know what it takes to go on the road and win in the playoffs. Frank Gore could have a very good game as Green Bay will not be able to cheat on the run this week as Colin Kaepernick is no Joe Webb.
This game has instant classic written all over it as I think the Packers survive and go to the NFC Championship.
Green Bay 28, San Francisco 27
Tim’s Superstitions: I do not have any real superstition but whenever the Packers are in the playoffs, I wear a Green Bay jersey the Friday before and the Monday after playoff games. I also will wear a jersey every day of the week leading up to the Super Bowl if the Packers get the Super Bowl like I did back in January and February of 2011.
Bill Walton, Staff Writer and his family.
Ask Bill about his superstitions and 20 minutes later he might be finished.
Bill Walton’s superstitions: We always sit in the same positions on the couch. We never eat during a game unless it’s during halftime- even when at our local hangout (Tailgaters) for games not available locally (which is most of them). We all wear the same jerseys for every game. Under those jerseys we all wear custom T shirts my wife had made that have a picture of a Cheesehead and “Respect The Cheese” on them.
Always on the couch between us is our vintage Cheesehead, a Packers pillow, and a small stuffed Packers teddy. A Packers Nerf football is always jammed in beteen me and the side of the couch. Whenever it looks as if the Packers need some good juju, we rub the Cheesehead, which is showing some serious signs of wear!
Whenever the opposing team attempts a FG, we hex the kicker. Now obviously we know these things don’t always work, but we’ve been doing things this way for years and don’t plan to change. Why? Simple. Because there is no way on God’s green and gold earth we want to contribute to some far-reaching butterfly effect that ends in the Packers losing a game!
Prediction: I expect the Packers to play the role of last year’s Giants in this year’s playoffs. Green Bay is relatively healthy, they have the best quarterback in the NFC, their defense is improving each week, and at the end of the day they are the only team left standing that has recently climbed the mountain to the top. By no means will this be an easy game because these two teams are matching strengths against strengths. The Packers do have one thing the 49ers don’t. Aaron Rodgers. He and he alone is the single player in this game who can take it over. Both teams will make plays on both sides of the ball. Both teams will score and both will appear to be in control at various times, but in the end 12 will be the difference.
Wife Deneen thinks the Packers will prevail 28-13. Son John believes as well, picking the Pack to pull out a close one 24-20. I think Rodgers goes home in style and adds to his legacy by throwing, running, and outright outplaying the 49ers on the way to a 35-21 Packers victory. Go Pack GO!
Correspond with Bill on Twitter by clicking here.
Jason Hirschhorn, Staff Writer
This law student loves his Packers and for the second straight week picks Green Bay to win.
Jason Hirschhorn – Follow him on Twitter by clicking here
Game Superstition: I don’t really have any special superstition anymore. I always wear a jersey during games, but that’s not anything unique. I did have one, however, during Green Bay’s 19-game winning streak. That streak began on December 26, 2010, when the Packers slaughtered the Giants 45-17. I was in attendance, and it was a particularly cold night, so I wore a pair of long, green thermal socks to keep my feet from freezing. Well, after they won, I joked to my friends that “it was the socks.” They in return informed me I had to keep wearing them. So I did, and the Packers won in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, and most amazingly in the Super Bowl. The socks were a funny inside joke, a footnote (excuse the pun) to a memorable championship run.
Well needless to say, the same friends who encouraged me to wear them for the playoffs demanded I wear them during the regular season. I was living in Chicago at the time, and early in the NFL season Chicago can be very hot and humid. Yet I soldiered through it, in long, green thermal socks. I didn’t mind too much because they were winning. While I certainly wasn’t pleased when they finally lost in Kansas City, I was happy to finally give up the silly socks. Now they’re reserved only for cold games in which I am attending in person.
Prediction: When breaking down this week’s Packers/49ers matchup, it’s impossible not to realize that each team has evolved so much that it’s almost a new matchup. Green Bay’s chief problems opening weekend were pass protection, the ability to cover the tight end, and Aaron Rodgers not taking advantage of the easy conversion opportunities the defense was giving him.
The pass protection is not perfect, but it was evident last week against the Vikings – a team with a very good defensive front seven – that the offensive line’s current configuration and scheme is creating clean pockets often enough. While they normally possess a similar if not stronger front seven, the injury to Justin Smith will take a huge bite out of what they do. Smith not only creates J.J. Watt-like havoc from the 3-4 DE position, but he also calls the DE/OLB stunts for the defense. To put it more simply, he’s the one who directs Aldon Smith.
Accordingly, if Justin Smith is able to play it will make Aldon Smith more dangerous. If Justin Smith has to take plays off or leave the game early, this will greatly reduce the pressure on Rodgers from two defensive positions.
As for covering the tight end, there are two elements at work here for Green Bay. Brad Jones, the team’s best coverage linebacker, has taken over not only starting ILB duties in the base defense, but also in the nickel and dime. In addition, since Colin Kaepernick took over at quarterback for the 49ers, Vernon Davis’ role has been significantly reduced. So reduced that over the last quarter of the regular season, Davis’ combined stats essentially match the production he had in the Green Bay game alone.
Finally we come to Rodgers and the short passing game. This has been an issue off and on for most of the season, but it appears stabilized now. Last week, Rodgers found DuJuan Harris and Greg Jennings many times for check downs that turned into big gains. In addition, James Jones has developed into a go-to target on third downs. The combined effect of these progressions will keep the Green Bay offense on the field longer and put more points on the board.
The 49ers probably have a higher ceiling than the Packers, but they are still a very, very young team with inexperienced players at so many key positions. That doesn’t always mean very much, but I think it does here.
Packers 24 – 49ers 21
Tommy Marquardt, Staff Writer
We’re hoping Tommy is enjoying a swig or two of his Wisconsin beer every time the Packers score a touchdown.
Thomas Marquardt: Even before last week, I looked at the 49ers as our biggest obstacle on the road to the Super Bowl. I think that is still the case and I think the winner of this game will make it to Mercedes Superdome in New Orleans.
The 49ers best defensive player (DE Justin Smith) is not 100 percent and that will likely be a big factor in the game. If the 49ers are forced to blitz to put pressure on Rodgers, he will have a field day.
Colin Kaepernick is starting his first playoff game, and while I think he is talented, Dom Capers will show him looks he hasn’t seen.
Prediction: Aaron Rodgers returns to haunt the 49ers and Clay, BJ and Charles finish the job.
Packers 27 Niners 21
Superstition: I always have to have a Wisconsin beer when I’m not at the game. Miller Lite is OK, but if things aren’t going well, I’ll switch to Pabst, Leinenkugel or Blatz. I watch games from everywhere, so sometime this can be challenging.
Patrick Hughes, Staff Writer
Patrick isn’t as nervous today as he was when the week started. In fact, he’s downright confident that the Packers will make it out of San Fran with a win.
Patrick Hughes: At the beginning of the week I was very nervous about this game. I kept thinking San Francisco has a mean defense. They have a lot of weapons on offense. This Colin Kaepernick kid is getting a lot of press and has been pretty good in the half season he played. The game is in San Francisco. Because of all these reasons the Packers might, gulp … lose.
However, as the week progressed my confidence in the Packers began to rise. The team overall is healthy. The defense for all its misgivings contained Adrian Peterson last week and has steadily improved throughout the season. Though the Packers offensive line is a concern, the offense overall has many weapons. And despite all this chatter about Kaepernick, the Packers have the reigning MVP in Aaron Rodgers.
Because of all these reasons this should prove to be one H-E-Double Hockey Sticks of a game!
What you hope for is by the time playoff football comes around the team functions like a well-oiled machine. Everyone from the equipment manager to Mason Crosby understands that their role is vital to the machine humming along without a breakdown. The key components to the Packer machine are the offensive line and the linebackers. If the O-Line can give Rodgers time he will get the ball to playmakers.
The linebackers are critical to containing Frank Gore and keeping Kaepernick from gaining yards on the ground.
My estimation is that the Packers need to force Kaepernick to beat them through the air. Contain Frank Gore. Get on the score board early, make the 49ers play catch up.
Marshall Newhouse needs to make a name for himself and take the injured Justin Smith out of the equation. If they can do these things I see Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb and Aaron Rodgers making the best music to come out of San Francisco since Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. Packer fans’ hopes for another Super Bowl championship will not fade away.
Packers 28, San Francisco 24.
Ray Rivard, Lombardiave.com Editor
Tags in for me this week as it only helps to ensure the Packers play well.
Ray Rivard – Follow me on Twitter by clicking here
I was feeling a lot like Patrick Hughes a week ago. In fact, on Sunday, the day after the Packers dispatched the Minnesota Vikings in their Wild Card Weekend game at Lambeau Field, I dejectedly mentioned to my wife that it’s been a great ride again this year, but there’s no way the Packers could go to San Francisco and survive.
Monday I was feeling a little better. ‘Why not?’ I asked myself. The offensive line played well against a strong Vikings defensive front, Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson are back and playing like they should, the team has a full cadre of receivers, the running game is as good as it’s ever been and not only that, but we’ve got the reigning MVP, Aaron Rodgers, who is playing as well now as he has at any time during his career.
And when you think about it, as poorly as the Packers played in that first game of the season, they still had a shot at the end to pull out a win.
I felt better and better about things as the week went on and this morning am feeling like this just might be another Packers team that comes from the depths of their injury-riddled season to another Super Bowl run.
So, with all that said, I feel that if the Packers can protect Aaron Rodgers in the pocket, if the play calling gets Aaron Rodgers out of the pocket, if they can spread the 49ers defense out and if the Packers defense can contain both Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore, the Packers have a great shot of leaving Candlestick today en route to the NFC Championship Game.
Throw in a couple of Mason Crosby field goals and I think the Packers, led by Aaron Rodgers will get the job done today.
Packers 26 49ers 21
My superstition: For years, the tags have always had to be facing in … that is, the tags on my bath towel. Each day when I fold and hang my bath towel the tag has to be facing in. If I forget and it somehow is facing out, the Packers play badly. Don’t tell me why, but it seems to work. Like the beer commercial and their “labels out” mantra, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work. Well, this seems to work for me, so it’s not weird.
GO PACK GO!