Monday, August 2, 2021

Green Bay Packers - 2021 NFL Season Preview

GREEN BAY PACKERS                                                    



2020 Record - 13-3-0

 

Head Coach - Matt LaFleur 

 

Key Additions - Randall Cobb (WR)

 

OFFENSE - With quarterback Aaron Rodgers back for another year, Green Bay has the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player. Rodgers passed for 4,299 yards last season with 48 TD passes and just five interceptions. He also scored three rushing touchdowns. Second year man Jordan Love is the backup quarterback. 

Aaron Jones leads the running attack for the Packers once again after going for 1,104 yards (5.5 YPC average) and nine touchdowns in the 2020 season. Jones also caught 47 passes for 355 yards and two more scores. AJ Dillon (242, 5.3, two TD) will likely get more carries with Jamaal Williams leaving in free agency this year. The wide receivers are led by Davante Adams, who hauled in 115 receptions for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (33, 690, six TD) and Allen Lazard (33, 451, three TD) are the other primary targets in the passing game. Devin Fuchness is in camp this year  to add depth as well as Randall Cobb, who had 38 receptions for 441 yards and three touchdowns in Houston last season. Robert Tonyan (52, 586, eleven TD) is the tight end and 15-year veteran Mercedes Lewis is another option at tight end. 


DEFENSE - Kenny Clark (Nose Tackle) and ends Dean Lowry and Kingsley Keke man the front line for the Packers while linebackers Za'Darius Smith (team high 12 1/2 QB sacks), Kamal Martin, Krys Barnes, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary (five sacks) round out the front seven. 

The defensive backs include Jaire Alexander and Kevin King at the corners along with safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, who had four interceptions a year ago. Adding depth in the secondary will be Chandon Sullivan, rookie Eric Stokes (Georgia), Vernon Scott and Will Redmond. 

Green Bay's defense ranked ninth overall last season, allowing 334 yards per game while giving up 23.1 points per game. The run defense allowed 113 yards while the pass defense gave up 221 yards per game while intercepting eleven passes. The Packers registered 41 sacks, which was tenth in the NFL. 

 

2021 SEASON OUTLOOK - As long as QB Aaron Rodgers is standing upright, the Packers are always in any game they play. The off-season drama between Rodgers and team management was a distraction, but as training camp opened, Rodgers was there and the differences appear to be settled in what could be his final season in Green Bay. 

Head Coach Matt LaFleur would like to see the team take the next step and get to the Super Bowl this season after falling in the NFC Championship Game for the second straight time last January. The Packers offense should hum along just fine (barring any major injuries to key players) once again this year after leading the NFL in scoring in 2020, averaging 31.8 points per game. Green Bay was fifth overall on offense (389 YPG) while ranking in the league's top ten in both rushing (132 YPG) and passing (257 YPG) last year. 

It it once again Super Bowl or bust for the Green Bay Packers, who should cruise to a third consecutive NFC North division title. What they do in the playoffs will depend on Rodgers and the defense coming up big when it matters most, which is something they have failed to do the last two years in the post-season.

 

2021 SCHEDULE 

Week 1 - at New Orleans 

Week 2 - vs. Detroit 

Week 3 - at San Francisco 

Week 4 - vs. Pittsburgh 

Week 5 - at Cincinnati 

Week 6 - at Chicago 

Week 7 - vs. Washington 

Week 8 - at Arizona 

Week 9 - at Kansas City 

Week 10 - vs. Seattle 

Week 11 - at Minnesota 

Week 12 - vs. L.A. Rams 

Week 13 - BYE 

Week 14 - vs. Chicago 

Week 15 - at Baltimore 

Week 16 - vs. Cleveland 

Week 17 - vs. Minnesota 

Week 18 - at Detroit 

 


Sunday, August 1, 2021

Detroit Lions - 2021 NFL Season Preview

DETROIT LIONS                                                                        



                                                    

2020 RECORD - 5-11-0 

 

Head Coach - Dan Campbell 

 

Key Additions - Jared Goff (QB), Tyrell Williams (WR), Breshard Perriman (WR), Alex Anzalone (LB), Jamaal Williams (RB), Quinton Dunbar (CB), Michael Brockers (DL)


OFFENSE - The Lions will have former Rams quarterback Jared Goff taking over this season. Goff threw for 3,952 yards along with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last year. Backing up will be Tim Boyle. The running backs are D'Andre Swift (521 rushing yards, 4.6 ypc average and eight TD along with 46 receptions and two TD) and Jamaal Williams, who rushed for 505 yards (4.2 ypc) and two touchdowns with Green Bay last year. Breshard Perriman (30 receptions for 505 yards and three TD with the N.Y. Jets) and Tyrell Williams come over this season at wide receiver via free agency. Also in the mix are Damien Ratley, Kalif Raymond and Quintez Cephus (20, 349, two TD). The tight end is T.J. Hockenson, who had 67 receptions for 723 yards and six touchdowns.


DEFENSE - Romeo Okwara (ten QB sacks), Michael Brockers, Nick Williams and Trey Flowers will be up front for the Lions while Jamie Collins, Alex Anzalone and Jahlani Tavai are the linebackers. Adding depth to the front seven is Charles Harris, rookie Levi Onwuzurike (Washington), Julian Okwara, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and rookie Derrick Barnes (Purdue). 

In the secondary are corners Jeff Okuda and Quinton Dunbar while Will Harris and Tracy Walker play the safety spots. C.J. Moore, Dean Marlowe, Corn Elder and Amani Oruwariye provide depth. Ifeatu Melifonwu (rookie from Syracuse) will also look to contribute this season. The Lions gave up a league high 517 points a year ago (32.4 PPG) and also finished last overall, allowing 420 yards per game (135 rushing and 285 passing). In addition, Detroit only picked off seven passes and managed 24 quarterback sacks in the 2020 season.

 

2021 SEASON OUTLOOK - A new Head Coach in Dan Campbell and new QB Jared Goff headline the Lions as the 2021 season approaches. After twelve seasons with Matthew Stafford (traded to the L.A. Rams for Goff), the Lions will see what Goff and company can do to improve the 20th ranked offense in the NFL last season. Detroit averaged 350 YPG while scoring 23.6 points per game, which was also 20th in the NFL. The running game was woeful, gaining only 94 YPG and this year Swift will look to stay healthy and make progress in his second season to help improve that area. 

Defense will be the key though for the Lions this season because they cannot be any worse than they were a year ago, can they? The Lions gave up 30 or more points in their final six games last season and that must change if they want to be competitive in the NFC North. Making the playoffs this season looks to be a long shot as they haven't done so since 2016. Campbell has promised a commitment to detail and his enthusiasm has been unbridled to this point. If that can remain so, perhaps the Lions will be headed in the right direction. For now, a 7-10 record would be an improvement from last season, but that is about as good as it will probably be this year.


2021 SCHEDULE

Week 1 - vs. San Francisco 

Week 2 - at Green Bay 

Week 3 - vs. Baltimore 

Week 4 - at Chicago 

Week 5 - at Minnesota 

Week 6 - vs. Cincinnati  

Week 7 - at L.A. Rams 

Week 8 - vs. Philadelphia 

Week 9 - BYE 

Week 10 - at Pittsburgh 

Week 11- at Cleveland 

Week 12 - vs. Chicago 

Week 13 - vs. Minnesota 

Week 14 - at Denver

Week 15 - vs. Arizona 

Week 16 - at Atlanta 

Week 17 - at Seattle 

Week 18 - vs. Green Bay 







Saturday, July 31, 2021

Chicago Bears - 2021 NFL Season Preview

CHICAGO BEARS    

                                                                                       

2020 RECORD - 8-8-0

Head Coach - Matt Nagy 

 

Key Additions - Andy Dalton (QB), Marquise Goodwin (WR), Desmond Trufant (CB), Damien Williams (RB), Jeremiah Attaochu (LB), Angelo Blackson (DL), Christian Jones (LB), Elijah Wilkinson (OL)


OFFENSE - The Bears parted ways with quarterback Mitch Trubisky and will look to veteran Andy Dalton (2,140 passing yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions with Dallas in 2020) as the starter, unless top rookie draft pick Justin Fields (Ohio State) can prove he is ready to go when the season opens. Journeyman QB Nick Foles provides depth as he passed for 1,852 yards with ten TD passes and eight interceptions a year ago in Chicago. 

The running game has David Montgomery (1,070 rush yards with eight TD and a 4.3 ypc average along with 54 receptions and two more touchdowns) as the main back along with veteran Damien Williams, who sat out last year (COVID-19 pandemic) after a big Super Bowl performance for the Kansas City Chiefs two years ago. Tarik Cohen missed most of last season with a knee injury, but will look to get back to the form he showed in past seasons. The wide receivers include Allen Robinson (102 receptions for 1,250 yards and six TD), Darnell Mooney (61, 631, four TD) and Marquise Goodwin, who comes over from San Francisco. The tight ends are Cole Kmet (28, 243, two TD), Jimmy Graham (50, 456, eight TD) and Jesse James.

 

DEFENSE - Up front will be Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols (five QB sacks). The linebackers are Khalil Mack (team high nine sacks in 2020), Roquan Smith (team high 139 tackles in 2020 along with two interceptions) and Danny Trevathan, who was second on the team with 113 tackles a year ago. Robert Quinn is also at linebacker along with free agent Jeremiah Attaochu. The secondary features corner men Desmond Trufant and Jaylon Johnson along with safeties Tashaun Gipson (two INT) and Eddie Jackson. 

The Bears defense slipped to 11th overall a year ago, allowing 345 yards per game while allowing 23.1 points per game. In addition, Chicago only had ten interceptions and 35 QB sacks, which is a far cry from the standard they set the two previous seasons.

 

2021 SEASON OUTLOOK - This could be a make-or-break season for Head Coach Matt Nagy, who has seen the team go 8-8 the last two years after winning the NFC North in his first season back in 2018. 

The Bears will have a lot riding on the quarterback spot with Dalton the presumed starter while rookie Justin Fields will look to get his chance at some point. Fields is the highly touted player the team traded up in the draft for, which was what they also did back in 2017 when they selected QB Mitch Trubisky. They are hoping it will pan out this time around. The offense averaged 23.3 PPG a year ago while finishing 26th overall on offense, averaging 331 YPG (103 YPG rushing and 228 passing yards).

The defense has to show better as well after slipping to the middle of the pack against the run (113 YPG allowed) and not forcing the turnovers like in the past. With Goldman back in the fold up front, it should ease pressure on linebacker Khalil Mack and perhaps help him to get back to double digits in the sack total. Goldman opted out last year due to health concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a definite force on the front line for the Bears defense.

Playing in the NFC North, the Bears could finish second (or third) again and perhaps challenge for a wild card playoff spot as they earned a year ago. Green Bay is still the team to beat in the division and Minnesota will likely bounce back from a sub .500 season this year, so the Bears will have to improve their record this season. Most likely, a 9-8 record will happen for the Bears in 2021 and that could be enough to get them back into the post-season.

 

2021 SCHEDULE 

Week 1 - at L.A. Rams 

Week 2 - vs. Cincinnati 

Week 3 - at Cleveland 

Week 4 - vs. Detroit 

Week 5 - at Las Vegas 

Week 6 - vs. Green Bay 

 Week 7 - at Tampa Bay 

Week 8 - vs. San Francisco 

Week 9 - at Pittsburgh 

Week 10 - BYE 

Week 11 - vs. Baltimore 

Week 12 - at Detroit 

Week 13 - vs. Arizona 

Week 14 - at Green Bay 

Week 15 - vs. Minnesota 

Week 16 - at Seattle 

Week 17 - vs. N.Y. Giants 

Week 18 - at Minnesota 

 


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Bucks, Lightning Win NBA, NHL Championships - Now It's Time For Football


Now that the Milwaukee Bucks have won the NBA Finals (four games to two over the Phoenix Suns) and the Tampa Bay Lightning repeated as Stanley Cup champions in the NHL recently by defeating the Montreal Canadiens, four games to one, pro football is ready to take center stage once again in the sports world. 

True, the 2020 Summer Olympic Games are getting ready to start in Japan in about a week or so, but they are already a year behind schedule because of COVID-19 and may be forced to cancel once again because Japan is having so many problems with the COVID-19 (Delta) variant and too many people in that country have not been vaccinated, which is furthering the problems of the rapid spread of the virus. 

Major League Baseball is entering the dog days and will have the "trade deadline" in the next few weeks as the teams vie for playoff positioning. The call here at Heftyinfo remains the same as in the March post of the MLB 2021 Season Previews. The Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. 

Stay tuned.

So, that leaves pro football as the mainstay in the sports world once again as NFL training camps will be starting in the next few days. Hopefully, the players will go with the flow as far as COVID-19 protocols are concerned (vaccinations) and the the season can go along without any hiccups, unlike last season when the schedule was all over the place halfway through the 2020 season. 

It's that time of the year once again. So, congratulations are in order to the Milwaukee Bucks and Tampa Bay Lightning  . . .  and now let's move forward. 

 

 


 

 

 


Monday, July 19, 2021

How About Some Common Sense People?

 

COVID-19 and any variants is a virus. 

It does not recognize political affiliation, so the people who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccination in the hopes the infections will continue rising and perhaps tank the American economy once again, are doing so in vain. 

These people are ardent supporters of Trump and will do anything it appears (including dying) in the hopes the economy going down the drain once again will make President Joe Biden look bad and perhaps pave the way for a return to the White House for disgraced former president Donald J. Trump. 

Guess again people. 

How about some common sense people? 

Get vaccinated and do your part to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has been the main topic in the medical world since late 2019. This is getting old people and not getting vaccinated doesn't help. Plus the fact that your guy Trump (and many, many other right wingers, both political figures and pundits) has been vaccinated against COVID-19 says quite a lot about the mindless thoughts they echo that people should resist getting vaccinated. 

You cannot have it both ways. 

Real Americans get vaccinated and help to stop the spread of this virus and get back to living a normal life once again. All you folks are doing by not getting the vaccine is showing how stupid you are. Disinformation and political revenge is what is fueling this insane movement. 

Period. End of discussion. 

It's very easy to do so and doesn't hurt that much. It's a shot folks. Remember getting those when you were little kids going to school? Four months ago I got mine and being fully vaccinated feels right. 

Don't be afraid people, just get it done. You will not regret it. 


 

 







Sunday, June 27, 2021

Stanley Cup Finals And Other Sports Musings

The Stanley Cup Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens begin on Monday evening in what could be one of two scenarios. 

The Canadiens have been the upstarts this year in the NHL Playoffs, upsetting the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and the (Las) Vegas Golden Knights. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the defending Stanley Cup champions, were pretty much expected to reach this round and they are coming off a grueling seven-game series win against the New York Islanders and are big favorites to retain the Stanley Cup trophy. 

The team from Montreal is a tradition rich franchise and has 24 Stanley Cup titles, the last one coming way back in 1993 when they defeated the Los Angeles Kings in five games. In fact, they are the last team from Canada to win the Stanley Cup. This series could be over in a hurry with Tampa Bay once again winning or it could possibly go six or the full seven games with perhaps the Canadiens adding that elusive 25th Stanley Cup trophy to their collection. 

The call here is Tampa Bay winning in five or six games, but anything is possible in the finals. 

Meanwhile, the NBA playoffs are winding down and so far, it is the Phoenix Suns up 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns haven't been in the NBA Finals since 1993, when they were beaten in six games by the mighty Chicago Bulls, who dominated the 1990's with six NBA titles. 

The Suns should get back there this time around, barring a major collapse. In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks are tied at one game apiece in their best-of-seven round to advance to the finals. The Bucks are favored to reach their first NBA Finals since 1974 while the Hawks haven't won since the 1958 season, when they were still located in St. Louis. 

The pick here is Phoenix and Milwaukee in the finals with the Suns getting their first ever NBA championship. 

On to Major League Baseball where so far it has been a unique season with all the ho-hitters being tossed by pitchers. Seven (or eight if you count Madison Bumgarner's seven inning effort in late April) so far with the latest a combined four pitcher effort by the Chicago Cubs against the Los Angeles Dodgers just this past week. 

It should be interesting to see how the scrutiny on pitchers for doctoring the baseball plays out as the season winds on and on this summer. Back a few years ago, MLB wanted to speed things up by putting a pitch clock in the game and also prohibiting batters from stepping out of the batter's box after every single pitch to adjust batting gloves, etc. That didn't last too long and is almost never enforced by the umpires any longer.  

The league standings in baseball have some surprises this season as the Fourth of July and All-Star break approach in the next couple of weeks. 

The biggest surprise has to be the San Francisco Giants in first place with a comfortable lead in the National League West division over both the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. The Dodgers and Padres are deemed the two heavyweights in that division. But there is still a lot of baseball to be played this season. 

Over in the American League, the Boston Red Sox continue to confound the "experts" as they remain at or near the top of the American League East division. The Tampa Bay Rays have a one-half game lead over the Bosox right now with the favored New York Yankees floundering around in third place to this point. Anything is possible it seems it the game these days, so stay tuned. 

Both Chicago teams are contenders so far this year. The White Sox have been in first place in the AL Central for quite some time with only Cleveland mounting a challenge. The Minnesota Twins were thought to be the favorites to grab a third consecutive AL Central title this year, but they are tied for last place with the Detroit Tigers at this point of the season. 

Meanwhile, the Cubs are in second place in the NL Central, two games behind the Milwaukee Brewers while the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals are attempting to get closer in the race. The New York Mets lead the NL East by five games with a log jam of the other four teams in that division trying to get closer. 

The AL West has the Houston Astros three games ahead of the Oakland A's right now and they both are way ahead of Seattle, Los Angeles (Angels) and Texas in that division race. But again, there is still a lot of baseball to be played this summer. 

And don't forget, football will be getting going in a about a month from now with NFL training camps and the college football teams preparing for the 2021 season. Here is hoping the players and coaching staffs and teams make a wise decision regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and we don't see anything go wrong like what just happened with the North Carolina State baseball team being kicked out of the College World Series due to an outbreak of covid infections on the team. 

That stemmed from two players who were not vaccinated. It's their choice, but people need to choose wisely in this age of the pandemic, which appears to be coming closer and closer to an end. 

Hopefully, that continues and we can all enjoy the good old summertime the way it is meant to be. 



 


 


Saturday, June 12, 2021

30 Years Ago Today? Un-BULL-lieve-a-BULL

Michael Jordan with the championship trophy.
The Chicago Bulls won their first ever NBA championship 30 years ago today with a 108-101 victory in Los Angeles against the Lakers, winning the series four games to one with Michael Jordan winning the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. 

30 years ago? Really?

 

My oh my, where has the time gone? 

I remember, like many Chicagoans, the Bulls celebrating on the floor of the Great Western Forum on the night of June 12, 1991 as the clock ran out and of course, Jordan clutching the championship trophy and weeping tears of joy with his parents at his side in the Bulls' locker room following the game. There were many big efforts from the team that night, especially guard John Paxson nailing clutch shots down the stretch to help salt the game away. Forward Scottie Pippen led the Bulls in scoring in the decisive game with 32 points. 

For me personally, it was so gratifying to see as I was the Bulls sound engineer for a seven year period (from 1987-1994) at the home games and a great sense of pride was felt when they won that game to clinch the title. 

Awesome times indeed. 

Just so hard to believe that was 30 years ago. The memories always live on and many, many people in Chicago will always cherish those sports memories. The Bulls would go on to win SIX NBA championships in the decade of the '90s, which included two "three-peats" happening from 1991-1993 and again from the 1996-98 seasons. 

Thank You once again Chicago Bulls.