Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The 15 - What else is there besides Jabari & The Greek Freak?

The 2014-15 Milwaukee Bucks start the seasons on the road tonight against the artists formerly known as the Charlotte Bobcats.  Although it is just a season opener on the road, today could go down as one of the most important moments in franchise history given that for the first time in almost a decade there is real hope that the Bucks will actually be relevant at a national level.  With all due respect to long time former Bucks owner Herb Kohl, most of that optimism stems from the fact that the Bucks have new majority owners in Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry along with ton of local minority owners that seem to want to build a long-term NBA title contender, even if that involves some non-playoff growing pains, instead of just being an occasional fringe playoff contender.

We are less than a year into the new ownership group's tenure but the team already looks in great shape given that Bucks general manager John Hammond added two potential franchise players via the last two drafts.  Hammond drafted The Greek Freak with the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and Jabari Parker with the 2nd pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.  Sure the new ownership group stubbed their toe when they acquired Jason Kidd as their new head coach without involving general manager John Hammond in the process but if that is the biggest misstep of the new ownership group, the Bucks are in good hands.

There are nine guys on The 15 for the Bucks to start the 2014-15 season that were on The 15 at the end of the 2013-14 season: Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo, Khris Middleton, Zaza Pachulia, Larry Sanders, and Nate Wolters.  That means there are six guys from the final 2013-14 team that are no longer with the organization: Jeff Adrien, Carlos Delfino, Miroslav Raduljica, Ramon Sessions, Ekpe Udoh, and Chris Wright.  Hammond replaced those six guys with six other guys via trade (Jared Dudley), free agency (Jerryd Bayless), a waiver claim (Kendall Marshall) and the 2014 NBA Draft (Damien Inglis, Johnny O'Bryant III, and Jabari Parker).  I gave a detailed breakdown of my thoughts all the moves above in late August and I've seen nothing since to change my thoughts other than that I am liking the Dudley trade more and more everyday.

Sure The Greek Freak and Jabari will ultimately determine whether the Bucks actually turn into a perennial playoff contender but there are some other very talented guys on The 15 too so here is my look at a couple of other players on The 15:

3) Brandon Knight (PG): There is a school of thought that unless you have a potential Top 5 point guard (Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, John Wall, or Russell Westbrook) that you do NOT overpay point guards because the difference between the sixth and twenty sixth point guard is not that big.  I have no grand illusions that Knight will turn into the best point guard in the NBA but given his diverse sill set, I do think he is a player worth paying fairly big long-term money.  The question is how much money will Knight command.  Based on last season, it looks like Knight could be a franchise point guard with a decent chance to be a Top 10 point guard.  Worst-case scenario, Knight is a combo guard that is a 3rd or 4th option on a really good playoff team.  Knight can become a restricted free agent this off-season.  In terms of potential comps for Knight's extension, a couple of good comps on the low end are Jeff Teague's four-year, $32 million contract and Mike Conley's five-year, $40 million contract.  A couple of good comparisons on the high end are Jrue Holliday's four-year, $41 million contract and Ty Lawson's four-year, $48 million contract.  Since I am not related the Knight, I would much rather see the Bucks get Knight signed to a deal like Teague's or Conley's but if Knight performs well this season I could see him pushing for a much more expensive extension and possibly even a max deal.  Yeah, you read that correctly that Knight might be a max player, especially given the upcoming spike in NBA revenue thanks to their new national television contract, which will result in a huge jump in the salary cap.  Knight bet on himself by not agreeing to long-term extension before the season with the Bucks.  My guess is that the Bucks and Knight ultimately work out a long-term deal in the off-season, the question is whether Knight has a below average season to hurt his market value or a great season to push his value into the max stratosphere.

The 15
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (SG/SF)
2. Jabari Parker (SF/PF)
3. Brandon Knight (PG)
4. John Henson (PF/C)
5. Larry Sanders (C)
6. Ersan Ilyasova (PF)
7. Khris Middleton (SF)
8. Nate Wolters (PG)
9. Jared Dudley (SG/SF)
10. Jerryd Bayless (PG/SG)
11. O.J. Mayo (SG)
12. Kendall Marshall (PG)
13. Zaza Pachulia (C)
14. Johnny O'Bryant III (PF)
15. Damien Inglis (SF)
5) Larry Sanders (C): Speaking of expensive contract extensions, this is the first year of Sanders' four-year, $44 million extension.  Sanders is tied with JaVale McGee as the 16th highest paid center this season. Right now, based on how Sanders fought off the court and played on the court last season, he is no where close to being the 16th best center in the NBA yet the Bucks received a number of calls to see if Sanders was available last off-season.  I don't know what teams were offering but my guess is that teams were trying to buy low on Sanders given how far his stock fell.  Given Sanders's impressive defensive skills and his improving offensive abilities, if he can keep his head on straight he might turn into a steal at $11 million a season.  That or Sanders could continue to get into trouble off the court, which will hamper his growth on the court.  If that happens, Hammond will not only regret that he signed Sanders to an expensive extension but he will be even more disappointed that he double-down when he didn't move sanders when he had the chance.  Hey now Larry, the ball is in your court.

12) Kendall Marshall (PG): I thought it was a no brainer to claim Marshall off waivers from the Los Angeles Lakers given that he would cost the Bucks a mere $915,243 for his services this season.  That seems like a pittance by NBA standards for a backup point guard.  The Bucks decided to guarantee Marshall's contract at the start of the season despite the fact they could have held off till January 10, 2015 to guarantee his contract for this season.  Sure the odds are low that the Bucks would have cut Marshall this season but why not keep the flexibility until early 2015 in case there are a ton of injuries that would necessitate making a move since the Bucks already had 14 guaranteed contracts on The 15 before they guaranteed Marshall's contract.  I guess now The 15 should be called The (Financially) Guaranteed 15.  Given that everyone on The 15 is expendable besides The Greek Freak and Jabari Parker this move seemed borderline ridiculous.  That was until I realized that Marshall’s agent is Alex Saratsis.  I've never heard of Saratsis until today and the only reason that I learned about Saratsis is that he is The Greek Freak's agent so that move was clearly a courtesy by the Bucks to get in the good graces with Saratsis given that the Bucks are going to have potentially franchise altering negotiations with him over the next few years.

I am not a huge fan of season predictions but feel an obligation to make a quick one given that this is a season preview of The 15.  Despite the fact that almost everyone thinks the Bucks are going to be one of the worst teams in the league, I actually think they will fight for the 5th or 6th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.  If Hammond makes any moves, make sure to check out my thoughts in this space, otherwise check back in a month when I have my updated rankings for The 15.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Building The 53 - Robinson & Dorsey In, Mulumba & Taylor Out

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson made some interesting moves in Building The 53 so far this season.  The most curious decision was keeping just 52 healthy guys on The 53 for almost two weeks.  This all started when outside linebacker Andy Mulumba suffered a season ending injury in the Packers/Jets game.  Thompson waited five days to place Mulumba on injured reserve, which opened a spot on The 53 just a few days before the Packers traveled to Detroit to face the Lions.  Despite having 10 guys on the practice squad, Thompson left an open spot not only for the Lions game but also for the next week on the road against the Chicago Bears.

Thompson finally filled every spot on The 53 when he promoted defensive lineman Luther Robinson from the practice squad to The 53 just hours before the Packers hosted the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football.  Thompson was essentially forced to promote Robinson to The 53 from the practice squad because he only had five true 3-4 defensive lineman on The 53 and defensive Josh Boyd was not healthy enough to play against the Vikings.  That meant that if Thompson didn't add Robinson to The 53, they would have faced the Vikings with just four healthy defensive lineman.

I've long advocated for a better short-term injured reserve set-up, for The 53 in the NFL because without it there is a negative waterfall effect on The 53.  A perfect illustration of that phenomenon is Thompson's most recent change to The 53.  Thompson cut tight end and former special teams standout Ryan Taylor in order to add wide receiver Kevin Dorsey to The 53.  With Taylor no longer on The 53 that leaves just three guys drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft still on The 53: offensive tackle Derek Sherrod, wide receiver Randall Cobb, and cornerback Davon House.  That also leaves the Packers with just three tight ends and six wide receivers.

Some might find that odd that Thompson would decrease the number of tight ends on The 53 but that is all due to wide receiver Jarrett Boykin's health.  With Boykin hobbled the last few games that left the Packers with just four healthy wide receivers.  There is chance that Boykin will be back next week but given that the tight end position has been marginalized this season without Jermichael Finley, clearly Thompson wanted to add a wide receiver to The 53 even if it came at the expense of a tight end.  Besides Dorsey, Thompson also had the option to add wide Myles White from the practice squad to The 53.  I am sure that White is bummed to lose out to Dorsey but I would have a hard time choosing between Dorsey and White too.  Back to my original point.  If the Packers could have put Boykin on a short-term injured list they would have promoted Dorsey to The 53 till Boykin was healthy and then tried to pass Dorsey through waivers to resign him to the practice squad again.  Instead Thompson was forced to cut Taylor, which hurt the depth that the Packers had at the tight end position The 53.

With the moves to The 53 out of the way, let's close with my thoughts on the practice squad.  The Packers lost cornerback Jumal Rolle off the practice squad when the Houston Texans added Rolle to their 53.  You could make the argument that Rolle deserved a spot on The 53 ahead of rookie cornerback Demetri Goodson.  Leaving that aside, even though Thompson signed cornerback Tay Glover-Wright to the practice squad to fill Rolle's spot, the Packers still only have eight of their ten practice squad spots filled.  I am not sure if Thompson is becoming a penny pincher but I would hope that he keeps The 53 and 10-man practice squad filled for the rest of the season.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Man City Report - So Far So Good...NOT Great...Just Good

It has been an interesting start to the 2014-15 season for Man City.  After a great start to their EPL title defense (beat Newcastle and Liverpool), Man City got a very tough draw in Group E (Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, and Roma) of the Champions League group stage.  A few days after my look at Man City's tough Champions League group stage draw, Man City went into the first international break of the season with a whimper thanks to a 1-0 at home loss to Stoke.

Man City didn't do much to improve their roster in the 2014 Summer Transfer Window, instead they tried to clean-up their books to comply with UEFA's Financial Fair Play Regulations.  Coming out of the first international break, Man City had seven matches in September and early October before the next international break: four EPL matches, two UEFA Champions League group stage matches, and one Capital One Cup match.

In the first of the aforementioned matches, Man City tied Arsenal 2-2 on the road in the EPL.  Man City followed that up with a loss on the road 1-0 to Bayern Munich on a goal by former Man City defender Jerome Boetang at the death in their opening Champions League match.  Man City returned home to notch a 1-1 tie against Chelsea in the EPL thanks to a strike by former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.  Man City followed that up with a 7-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup where all seven goals were scored in the second half.  Man City righted the ship in the EPL with a 4-2 win over Hull City on the road.  Man City closed out September with a 1-1 tie at home to AS Roma in their second of six Champions League group stage matches.  Finally Man City beat Aston Villa 2-0 on the road in the EPL to head into their second international break on a high note despite a couple uneven performances in September.

Here are my initial rankings of the roster for Man City at the second international break of the 2014-15 season:

1) Yaya Toure (M): In the off-season speculation swirled that Toure might leave the club after he was less than please with how Man City recognized his 31st birthday on May 13, 2014.  Keep in mind that happened just two days after Toure helped Man City win their second EPL title in three much for enjoying their EPL title.  For how well Toure played in the EPL last season when he scored 20 goals, he started the 2014-15 EPL season with a hangover.  Still Toure's ability to dictate the pace of an entire match makes him one of the most irreplaceable players in the world, which means Man City need to sort out how they are going to fill their central midfield spots when they lose Toure for almost a month for the African Cup of Nations in early 2015.

2014-15 Player Rankings 1.0
1. Yaya Toure (M)
2. Sergio Aguero (F)
3. Vincent Kompany (D)
4. David Silva (M)
5. Pablo Zabaleta (D)
6. Samir Nasri (M)
7. Edin Dzeko (F)
8. Fernandinho (M)
9. Joe Hart (GK)
10. Jesus Navas (M)
11. James Milner (M)
12. Fernando (M)
13. Stevan Jovetic (F)
14. Eliaquim Mangala (D)
15. Aleksandar Kolarov (D)
16. Gael Clichy (D)
17. Martin Demichelis (D)
18. Willy Caballero (GK)
19. Bacary Sagna (D)
20. Matija Nastasic (D)
21. Dedryck Boyata (D)
22. Scott Sinclair (M) 

23. José Ángel Pozo (M)
24. Sinan Bytyqi (M)
25. Frank Lampard (M)
26. Richard Wright (GK)
9) Joe Hart (GK): When manager Manuel Pellegrini purchased goalkeeper Willy Caballero for $10 million from Malaga before the season, Hart must have wondered how secure his spot was as Man City's starting keeper.  In just the 3rd EPL match of the season Hart conceded a horrible nutmeg goal to Stoke for Man City to lose 1-0 at home, which really put his starting spot in question.  In an odd twist, just a few days later Hart signed a five-year contract extension with Man City, which had to give Hart some security.  Needless to say, the last few months have been a roller coaster for Hart.  If I were Pellegrini I would ride Hart at all cost but given that Pellegrini spent $10 million on Caballero, he is clearly not ready to ride Hart at all cost despite signing him to a five-year contract extension so it will be interesting to see how the starting goalkeeper position plays out this season for Man City.

14) Eliaquim Mangala (D): Man City have been searching for a central defender to slot next to Vincent Kompany for almost five seasons.  In my review of the 2014 Summer Transfer Window for Man City, I wondered how long it would take Mangala to perform well in the EPL. If Mangala's performance against Hull City (conceded an own goal and fouled a player in the box to concede a penalty) is any indication of how he will perform for the club over the long haul then Mangala picked up where Jolean Lescott and Matija Nastasic left off.  Sadly at this point that means that Martin Demichelis is a better option than Mangala next to Kompany.

25) Frank Lampard (M): My ranking of Lampard is a good illustration of how these rankings work.  Clearly Lampard is much more talented than 25th on the roster but he is on loan from Man City's MLS "sister" club New York City FC, which severely decreases his value since Man City has almost zero chance of keeping him long-term.  Lampard scored a goal against Chelsea to help Man City gut out a draw against his former club.  In a touch of class, Lampard did not celebrate his goal against Chelsea, which makes sense given that he scored the most goals in club history for Chelsea despite not even being a striker.  Lampard followed up that goal with two more against Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup and scored another goal against Hull City in the EPL.  Given Lampard's age, Man City can ill afford to start him regularly.  Instead they can use Lamard as a "super-sub" of sorts so they can get him into almost every match.  Once Lampard scored against Chelsea, the rumor mill of keeping Lampard on loan past January started and went into over drive after his performances against Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City.  I would be surprised if New York City FC was so accommodating to Man City unless they could get an outlandish fee from Man City for Lampard's services through the end of the 2014-15 EPL season, which doesn't seem likely given all the pressure Man City is under to comply with UEFA's Financial Fair Play Regulations.

Unless something major happens, make sure to check back after the next international break in early November for another Man City Report.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The 53 - Packers are 3-2 & Looking Good

It has been a interesting start to the season for the Green Bay Packers.  The Packers were absolutely slaughtered 36-16 on the road to open the season against the reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football.  Gaber, Sug, Uncle Patty, and I had tickets to the Packers/Jets game, which we thought would be a slam dunk win for the Packers in their home opener.  Unfortunately just a few minutes into the second quarter the Packers trailed 21-3.  Thankfully the Packers stormed back to win 31-24.  I thought their comeback against the Jets would catapult the Packers into a nice winning streak.  Unfortunately the Packers looked listless on offense in their first divisional game of the season when they lost 19-7 on the road to the Detroit Lions.  Thankfully the Packers redeemed themselves within the division winning consecutive games on the road 38-17 against the Chicago Bears and 42-10 at home against the Minnesota Vikings last night on Thursday Night Football.

The only upshot of Thursday night games are that the teams essentially get a mini-bye and that is truly the only upshot of Thursday night games given that they've all been blowouts so far this season since most of the games involve less than full strength rosters because players are still recovering from the game they played the previous SundayThe Packers/Vikings game is a great example. The Packers luckily got to face Ponder instead of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater because Bridgewater sprained his ankle against the Atlanta Falcons in a Sunday late afternoon game so he had less than four days to recover.  If the game was played on Sunday instead of Thursday, my guess is that Bridgewater's ankle would have been healthy enough for him to play.

Thanks to two consecutive divisional wins, the Packers are currently on an upswing but let's not get too excited given some of their uneven performances so far this season.  Here are my updated thoughts on The 53 with five regular season games in the books:

The 53 2.0 for 2014
1. Aaron Rodgers (QB, LR 1)
2. Jordy Nelson (WR, LR 6)
3. Clay Matthews (OLB, LR 2)
4. Josh Sitton (G, LR 5)
5. Sam Shields (CB, LR 4)
6. T.J. Lang (G, LR 8)
7. Micah Hyde (S, LR 9)
8. Mike Daniels (DE, LR 7)
9. Julius Peppers (DE/OLB, LR 10) 
10. Randall Cobb (WR, LR 11) 
11. David Bakhtiari (T, LR 12) 
12. Eddie Lacy (RB, LR 3)
13. Morgan Burnett (S, LR 15)
14. Bryan Bulaga (T, LR 17)
15. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, LR 14)
16. Tramon Williams (CB, LR 18)
17. Davante Adams (WR, LR 20)
18. A.J. Hawk (MLB, LR 25)
19. Datone Jones (DE, LR 19)
20. Corey Linsley (C, LR 26)
21. Jamari Lattimore (MLB, LR 37)
22. Josh Boyd (DT, LR 21)
23. Mike Neal (DE/OLB, LR 16)
24. Casey Hayward (CB, LR 13)
25. Tim Masthay (P, LR 23)
26. Davon House (CB, LR 30)
27. Mason Crosby (K, LR 35)
28. Letroy Guion (DT, LR 42)
29. Andrew Quarless (TE, LR 33)
30. Brett Goode (LS, LR 41)
31. Nick Perry (OLB, LR 27)
32. James Starks (RB, LR 28)
33. John Kuhn (FB, LR 29)
34. Sean Richardson (S, LR 45)
35. Richard Rodgers (TE, LR 22)
36. Jarett Boykin (WR, LR 24)

37. Jarrett Bush (CB, LR 32)
38. Matt Flynn (QB, LR 34)
39. Jeff Janis (WR, LR 38)
40. Brandon Bostick (TE, LR 31)
41. Scott Tolzien (QB, LR 39)
42. DuJuan Harris (RB, LR 40)
43. Brad Jones (MLB, LR 43)
44. Sam Barrington (OLB, LR 48)
45. Mike Pennel (DT, LR 47)
46. Luther Robinson (DL, LR N/A)
47. Ryan Taylor (TE, LR 44)
48. Jayrone Elliott (OLB, LR 49)
49. Carl Bradford (MLB, LR 36)
50. Derek Sherrod (T, LR 50)
51. Lane Taylor (G, LR 51)
52. Garth Gerhart (C, LR 52)
53. Demetri Goodson (CB, LR 53)
Injured Reserve -
Designated for Return:
J.C. Tretter 
Injured Reserve
1. Don Barclay (T/G/C, LR 1)
2. B.J. Raji (DT, LR 2)
3. Jared Abbrederis (WR, LR 3)
4. Andy Mulumba (OLB, LR N/A
5. Nate Plamer (LB, LR 4)
6. Khyri Thornton (DT, LR 5)
7. Aaron Adams (T, LR 6)
2) Jordy Nelson (WR, LR 6): Through fives games Nelson has 34 catches on 52 targets for 525 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns.  Wide receiver Randall Cobb is the only other player on The 53 with more than 100 yards receiving so far this season (24 catches on 34 targets for 273 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns).  Sure Nelson has been targeted on a ton more passes than any other pass catcher on The 53 but his rise in the rankings is based on what he is doing despite facing so many double-teams this season.  I ranked Nelson as having the 5th worst contract on The 53 before the season.  That was due more to the structure of Nelson's contract and all the depth that I thought the Packers had on The 53 at wide receiver.  Although Nelson's production so far this season makes me look somewhat foolish, I am not quire ready to do a 180 on that contract even though Nelson looks like he will post his most productive season yet.

9) Julius Peppers (DE/OLB, LR 10): There is no question that Pepper is the player that I wrote the most about in the off-season given how rare it is for Packers general manager Ted Thompson to sign free agents, let along free agents in their mid-30'sSo far, Peppers has lived up to the hype.  Peppers' mere presence on the field has loomed large because that has caused teams to have to focus on a pass rusher other than Clay Matthews, which freed up other defenders to make plays despite the fact that Peppers hasn't put up huge numbers: 15 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 interception that was returned for a touchdown, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovered.  Peppers showed athleticism on most of his pick-six against the Vikings.  I say most of the pick-six because Peppers had an underwhelming Lambeau Leap.  That might not be Peppers' last Lambeau Leap because the lack of big plays from the tight end position combined with the fact that Peppers is 6'6" makes me think we will see him at tight end in the red zone this season.

21) Jamari Lattimore (MLB, LR 37): Despite playing sparingly in the season opener, Lattimore played extensively in the next four games and is currently tied for 3rd on the defense with 28 tackles.  I wonder how excited we should get about that stat though because it seems like middle linebackers in 3-4 defenses essentially fall into 80 or 90 tackles a season.  Based on how Lattimore played the last few games, he looks like a better option at middle linebacker than Brad Jones but that isn't saying much.  Lattimore is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season but that does NOT mean that the Packers should break the bank for Lattimore given that the Packers have foolishly handed out extensions to middle linebackers in the past.  That's right, I'm looking at you A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones.

27) Mason Crosby (K, LR 35): So far Crosby is 5 of 6 on field goal attempts and a perfect 15 of 15 on extra points.  Thankfully Crosby got a miss out of the way in garbage time on the road against the Chicago Bears when it was clear that the Packers were going to win.  Avid readers of this blog know I think it is waste of cap space to spend anything over the league minimum on a place kicker.  The one thing that cuts against that thinking is how well Crosby performed this year from over 50 yards.  Sure it is a small sample size given that Crosby is only 2 for 2 from over 50 yards but it is nice to see him making lengthy kicks given that he was always supposed to have a big leg but he has been very erratic from long distance so far in his NFL career.  It will be interesting to see if Crosby can continue to kick well from distance as the season wears on because that would actually provide more than replacement value at the kicker position because not only does it put points on the board but it prevents the opposition from taking over near midfield on misses.

29) Andrew Quarless (TE, LR 33): Man do the Packers miss tight end Jermichael Finley.  So far this season Quarless has just 10 catches on 13 targets for 96 receiving yards and a touchdown.  Sadly that is the most in each major category of any tight end on The 53.  In fact the only other tight end with on The 53 with even a catch is rookie Richard Rodgers with two catches on four targets for 54 yards and no touchdowns.  The Packers traditionally get much more production out of the tight end position but they also usually have much more talent at the position too.  Sure some of their lack of production at the tight end position is due to the fact that Brandon Bostick has been less than 100% for the entire season but even if Bostick gets healthy soon the trio of Bostick, Quarless, and Rodgers combined brings less to the table this season for the Packers than a healthy Finely gave them last season. In fact, I could see a healthy Finley signed to a reasonable, long-term contract as high as #2 on my rankings of The 53.  Sadly that does not seem likely so the Packers need to get more from their current trio of tight ends.

41) Scott Tolzien (QB, LR 39): I don't get why Thompson keeps Tolzien on The 53 if he is going to be inactive each week.  I know those 46 gameday spots are precious but I would plan for nightmare scenarios with the active roster, which is why I think it is better to have three quarterbacks active on the remote chance the starer and backup gets hurt instead of keeping nine linebackers active.

Following their mini-bye, the Packers head out on the road next week to play the Miami Dolphins. If Thompson makes any moves between now and next Saturday, check back in this space for my detailed thoughts.  If not, do your best to enjoy your second non-Packer NFL weekend in the first five weeks of the 2014 NFL season.