Friday, December 29, 2006

Packers vs. Da Bearz: An Early Perspective

Like many Packers fans, the NFL's switch of game time for the regular season finale from noon to 7:15 p.m. on Sunday means in all likelihood I will not be able to see this game. New Year's Eve plans were made with a noon start in mind. The switch to prime time basically killed the viewing of the game for many fans. News reports this a.m. indicated that Da Bearz fans are unloading their tickets as a result of the time change. Even if the game means nothing to Da Bearz in terms of their playoff position, and even though Da Bearz fans are known for being a bit fickle, it's still the Pack vs. Da Bearz. The fact that apparently so many are trying to unload their tickets means that people made other plans counting on a noon start time.

The biggest problem with all this, of course, is the speculation that this could be Brett Favre's last game. Many fans who would like to watch -- just in case -- are out of luck unless they run out and get a Tivo or tape the game. Either way, not quite the same. And the game is also an important one, of course, because the Pack is still playing for a playoff spot. If the Packers win and the Giants lose -- which is a distinct possibility given their recent play and the fact that Michael Strahan has apparently been placed on injured reserve -- they stand a good shot at the playoffs. According to an article on AOL Sports: "If New York loses, then the Packers would need a win, coupled with either a Rams loss, Panthers win or Falcons win to reach the postseason. If New York wins, Green Bay could remain mathematically alive to win a strength of victory tiebreaker with the Giants, but would need an elaborate, unlikely combination of results from around the league to make that happen."

At the time of this posting, Da Bearz are favored by 3 points. Over the course of his career, Favre is 21-8 against Chicago. Brett has had a couple of mediocre games lately, despite being able to pull out three straight wins. I would count on Brett to have a big game. He's due. Plus, he may be going against Da Bearz' reserves for much of the game. Another lesser known aspect to this game, as reported in an article in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, is the incentive running back Ahman Green has. Read: cash. He only needs 12 yards to hit the 1,000-yard season marker, his sixth, surpassing Jim Taylor's long-standing record of five such seasons as a Packer. He's already earned $500,000 for hitting the 950-yard provision that was part of his one-year contract. But, if he can rush for 162 yards against Da Bearz, and finish with 1,150 yards for the season, Green can cart off another $500,000. Is it possible? Playing against Chicago's back ups, sure. Is it probable? Probably not. Still, you have to admire the way Green came back off that serious thigh injury of last year. He's playing for some extra cash in this game, he's playing to help the team get to the playoffs, and he's playing for his future, either re-signing with the Packers or moving to another team in the off-season.

The prediction: Packers 17, Da Bearz 10.

So, Packer fans, in the likely event that any additional pre-game postings may not occur here, and that a post-game review might be a few days after the fact, I wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope you are able to watch the game and cheer the Packers to a victory. Cheer hard! You'll be rooting for all those fans who can only wish that the NFL hadn't pulled this last-minute switcheroo.

Go Pack Go!!!