Why are Bill Simmons and Peter King talking about the Week 15 Giants/Eagles game?

New York Giants Matt Dodge dives for Philadelphia Eagles DeSean Jackson who returns a punt 65 yards for a touchdown with no time remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter at New Meadowlands Stadium in week 15 of the NFL in East Rutherford, New Jersey on December 19, 2010. The Eagles defeated the Giants 38-31. UPI /John Angelillo

I just listened to Bill Simmons’ post-Super Bowl podcast and he said that if the Giants had held on to beat the Eagles in Week 15, the Packers wouldn’t have made the playoffs. Peter King also said that the Packers have the Eagles to thank for their playoff berth.

Green Bay finished 10-6, the last Wild Card team and sixth seed in the NFC, by virtue of winning tiebreakers with the 10-6 Giants and 10-6 Bucs. We all know the Giants story: Up 31-10 over Philly at home with eight minutes left in the game, the Giants gave up 28 points in the last half of the fourth quarter and lost 38-31. The killer was punter Matt Dodge blowing the game and keeping a punt to DeSean Jackson inbounds with 14 seconds left in a 31-all game. Jackson returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. Who knows what would have happened if that game went to overtime, but that’ll stay a mystery.

Maybe I’m missing something here because, clearly, I’m not in the same league as Bill Simmons and Peter King. It appears that Simmons and King are counting the Giants’ win in Week 15, but aren’t considering the Eagles’ loss. If the Eagles lose that game in Week 15, they don’t win the East. The Giants win it at 11-5. Assuming Philly beats Dallas in Week 17 (a reasonable assumption since they didn’t play many of their starters in a 14-13 loss), the Eagles would have finished 10-6 and would have been tied with Tampa Bay and Green Bay for the 6th and final spot in the NFC. This assumes the Eagles would have still lost to the Vikings in Week 16, which is a fair assumption since they played their starters.

The first tiebraker between three teams is a head-to-head sweep, which isn’t applicable because the Bucs didn’t play either the Packers or the Eagles. The second tiebraker is conference record. The Bucs and Packers went 8-4 while the Eagles would have gone 7-5 (with a loss against NYG but a win against DAL), so the Eagles would have been eliminated at this point.

The next tiebraker is record in common games. Both teams were 2-3 in common games. The Packers beat the 49ers and the Lions, and lost to the Lions, Redskins and Falcons. The Bucs beat the 49ers and Redskins, and lost to the Falcons twice and the Lions.

The next tiebraker is strength of victory. I’m not sure how this is calculated or where I can find it, but acccording to CBSSports.com, that was the tiebraker that gave the Packers the No. 6 seed over the Giants and Bucs:

Green Bay is the No. 6 seed over the N.Y. Giants and Tampa Bay based on strength of victory (.475 to the Giants’ .400 and the Buccaneers’ .344).

So the Packers would have gotten the No. 6 seed over the Bucs. They would have played the Giants in the first round of the playoffs. Maybe they would have won or maybe they would have lost, but either way, they would have made the postseason.

So Bill Simmons and Peter King (and anyone else), please stop talking about the Week 15 Giants/Eagles game with regard to the Packers’ Super Bowl win. Thank you.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Final Thoughts: Anthony & John wrap-up Super Bowl XLV

Super Bowl MVP and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers celebrates alongside teammate Clay Matthews after winning Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on February 6, 2011. The Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to win. UPI/Brian Kersey

On most “morning afters,” Anthony and I will discuss the big game over Skype as we go about our work day. Since this is the Super Bowl, we thought we’d have a quick conversation in our usual barstool debate format. Super Bowl XLV was extra special for me, a die-hard Packer fan, while Anthony was rooting for the Packers for…ahem…other reasons.

JP: On Friday I wrote a piece entitled “As a Packer fan, here’s what I’m worried about…” and listed (1) Mike McCarthy’s conservative playcalling, (2) not being able to stop Rashard Mendenhall, (3) the Packers not playing a clean game, (4) that the O-line wouldn’t be able to protect Aaron Rodgers, (5) that the Green Bay receivers wouldn’t be able to hold onto the ball and (6) that the Packers wouldn’t be able to bring down Big Ben as the six biggest things I was worried about heading into the game. Whew, that was a long sentence. Anyway, of those concerns, the biggest issue was the 4-6 drops by the Green Bay receivers, and even they made enough plays to make up for it. Jordy Nelson came back after a drop with a big first down catch and run in the second half, while James Jones made a couple of nice grabs on the Packers’ two fourth quarter scoring drives to make up for his awful drop in the third quarter. Mendenhall was running well (4.5 ypc), but he only got 14 carries when he should have had 20 – and his fumble (and subsequent Rodgers-to-Jennings TD) in the fourth quarter completely changed the game. The O-line played well, McCarthy didn’t retreat into his turtle shell when the Packers had the lead, and GB got enough pressure on Big Ben to rattle him a little – Nick Collins’ interception return TD was obviously a huge play in the first half. The special teams dodged a bullet when they recovered Tramon Williams’ first quarter fumble and on the whole played a reasonably clean game. Well enough to win, anyway. You wrote in your wrap-up that you didn’t think it was a very well-played game. The Steelers made some serious mistakes, but I thought the Packers played a pretty good game.

AS: Outside of the drops I would agree with you, John. If it weren’t for the drops and a few passes that were off the mark in the third quarter, Aaron Rodgers played a near-perfect game. Some will say that the Steelers didn’t pressure him, but they did. He was just that good. Most of his passes were accurate and he did a great job of standing in the pocket and setting his feet. On the other side, there were a handful of passes that Big Ben short-armed in the first half because he didn’t set his feet properly. There was a huge difference in the play of the two quarterbacks and that reflected in the final score. Big Ben put together a nice second quarter when Dom Capers was scrambling to adjust to the injuries of Charles Woodson and Sam Shields, but Roethlisberger came up short in the end. Think about it: the Packers were without two of their top three corners for nearly two and a half quarters and Big Ben produced a 77.4 QB Rating. That’s weak. As a Packer fan how nervous were you when Woodson went down? I thought they might have been it for Green Bay.

Read the rest of this entry »

How did the Packers get here?

With the Green Bay Packers getting ready to face the Bears in the NFC Championship Game this weekend, it’s a good time to stop and reflect on a franchise that was in a serious state of flux as recently as two-and-a-half years ago, when Aaron Rodgers took the reins from Brett Favre.

Ted Thompson is the man who made that call (and countless others) over the past six years, so he’s ultimately responsible for the Packer roster as it stands. A roster that is playing very good football and has enough depth to withstand 15 players on injured reserve, including starters Jermichael Finley, Nick Barnett, Ryan Grant, Brandon Chillar and Mark Tauscher.

Let’s go year-by-year and look at each draft, along with any major transaction that Thompson made.


Thompson took over in January of 2005, with the Packers coming off a 10-6 season and a first round loss to the Vikings at Lambeau Field. Mike Sherman was stripped of his personnel duties, and Thompson was brought in to call the shots.

The 2005 season was a rough one. The Packers went 4-12. Favre tossed 29 interceptions and the Packers were 31st in turnover ratio. It was an excruciating season as Green Bay was just 1-5 in games decided by three points or less. Part of the problem was Thompson’s unwillingness to pay free agent (and Pro Bowl) guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle. The O-line struggled, and so did the Packers.

Here’s a look at that Thompson’s ’05 draft: (1) Aaron Rodgers, (2) Nick Collins, (2) Terrence Murphy, (4) Marviel Underwood, (4) Brady Poppinga, (5) Junius Coston, (5) Mike Hawkins, (6) Michael Montgomery, (6) Craig Bragg, (7) Kurt Campbell, (7) Will Whitticker

Note: Players in bold are starters. Players no longer with the team are in italics.

Of the 11 players selected in that draft, just three remain. But they’re three good ones. Collins was named to his third consecutive Pro Bowl this season and if Rodgers isn’t a top 5 QB, he will be soon. He also landed a starter-caliber LB (Poppinga) in the fourth. Thompson knew that he had to be patient with Rodgers, especially with Favre still on the roster and capable of MVP-type numbers. He passed on a player that could help immediately in order to draft the QB of the future, and he took some grief for it.

Obviously it worked out for the best.

Read the rest of this entry »

2011 NFL Playoff Bracket (Updated 1/18)

Click on the bracket for a bigger version.

Former Bears Scout: Passing on James Starks was the “most embarrassing moment” of my career

Green Bay Packers running back James Starks gains 27 yards to the Packers 32-yard line as he shakes off a tackle attempt by Philadelphia Eagles Kurt Coleman during first quarter action of the Philadelphia Eagles-Green Bay Packers NFC Wildcard playoff game in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field January 9, 2011. UPI/John Anderson

Former Bears scout Greg Gabriel wrote an interesting article for the National Football Post. He describes the scene as the Bears tried to decide between James Starks and Dan LeFevour.

As we got closer to our pick, Angelo made the decision for the Bears to draft Starks. When we drafted a player there was a protocol we followed. After the decision on who to draft was made, Cliff Stein (the Bears contract negotiator) would call the players agent and tell him we were planning on drafting his player. He would tell the agent that the wanted to get a 4-year contract with the player and wanted the contract done by a certain date. If the agent agreed then I would call the player and give him the news that the Bears were going to take him. This is exactly what happened with Starks. I was on the phone for a minute or so with Starks when Angelo walked in my office and told me he had changed his mind and was drafting LeFevour. I put Starks on hold and then said to Angelo that Stein had already talked to the agent and I had the player on the phone…we couldn’t do business like that. He said he was sorry but he decided he wanted LeFevour and the card had been turned in.

I then had to tell the player (a player that I had developed a good relationship with over the previous two years) that in fact we were not drafting him. Hearing a kid go from being extremely excited to silence was not easy. It was the most embarrassing moment I had experienced while scouting.

This is something of a story now that Starks is emerging as the top tailback for the Packers. He rushed 23 times for 123 yards against the Eagles, showing very good burst and wiggle through the hole. He also showed some nice hands out of the backfield, which makes sense since he caught a total of 93 passes in 2007 and 2008 as a member of the Buffalo Bulls.

After Ryan Grant went down, the Packers decided not to add Marshawn Lynch to the mix at tailback and it appears that Starks was the main reason why.

Related Posts