Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cold Makes it Even - Can the Pack Take Advantage?

Yesterday, the Jets were 2 point favorites going into today's game against the Pack at Lambeau. Apparently, the cold (actually a balmy 29 degrees forecast for gametime) has evened things out. As of this morning, the line is even.

The question is, though, can the Packers take advantage of the home field advantage, including the cold. They haven't been doing much of that lately. Today might be a good time to re-establish that advantage.

One of the Wisconsin market Packer TV shows that airs weekly is "Inside Lambeau." One of the hosts is Wayne Larrivee, the radio voice of the Packers and also one of the hosts for the radio version of Pro Football Weekly. Larrivee is an excellent analyst and typically cuts right to the chase in calling things as he seems them. In reviewing the upcoming game against the Jets, Larrivee outlined what he sees as two keys to today's game: the Packers must run the ball, and they must get Jets' QB Chad Pennington to move so he doesn't get in a rhythm.

So, the Packers must run. That would be goooooooood. The problem is, since right tackle Mark Tauscher has been sidelined so has the running game. Perhaps, after 3 games of working together, the predominately rookie offensive line might be able to finally start opening some holes for Ahman Green. Maybe. Let's hope so. Let's also hope Coach McCarthy sticks to the running game. Green always gets stronger the more carries he gets. Getting him only a handful of carries isn't going to get it done. Seattle Coach Mike Holmgren -- known in some circles for liking the passing game -- gave the ball to RB Shaun Alexander more than 40 times in Monday night's win against the Packers. Holy handoff, Batman! That's alotta ground game! Maybe it's time to give the O-line a challenge to make the ground game work. Let's see what happens.

As for getting Pennington on the move, that's going to require constant pressure and good downfield coverage. Pressure has been intermittent. And downfield coverage? Do we even need to go there? Interesting stat: the 21 touchdown passes opponents have thrown against the Packers have averaged 24 yards. What was that we were saying about good downfield coverage?

The Packers have a chance today to win at home and gain some respect. But they need to play an entire 4 quarters on both sides of the ball. Giving up leads defensively and failing to take advantage of gift-wrapped scoring opportunities have been common themes this season. It's time -- long past time -- that a complete game leads to a win.

Let's call this game for the a close one.