Thursday, December 20, 2007

Packers favored by 8-1/2 over Da Bearz

The early line on the Packers have them favored by 8-1/2 points versus Da Bearz. That might go up by game time. But that's just for those interested in such things. Many of us just want another "W". But realistically, the Packers should probably win this game by at least 10 points. Da Bearz will be starting Kyle Orton, he of neck-beard visage. But really, does it matter whether it's Orton, Griese or Grossman? They don't have much going for them on offense. And the once vaunted Bearz defense isn't what it was. I mean, Urlacher didn't even make the Pro Bowl this year.

The Pack's biggest -- literally -- resting decision might be Ryan Pickett, who injured his groin in last week's game. He hasn't practiced yet this week. Might do so Friday. But he also hasn't missed a start since coming to the Pack as a free agent last year (something, by the way, St. Louis press were commenting this last week might have been one of the worst free agent mistakes the Rams have made since being in St. Louis). It will likely be a game day decision. If he does play, expect it to be in a very limited role; the coaching staff wants to make sure Pickett is healthy for the playoffs. While there is still something to play for in this game -- namely, still the possibility of home field advantage throughout the playoffs -- it's not worth sacrificing what Pickett can bring in the games that really count coming up. If Pickett doesn't play, the Packers' first round draft pick, Justin Harrell, might get his first NFL start. While he's played more over the last two weeks and acquitted himself well against the run, he's obviously a rookie and not the caliber of Pickett. But he'd be more than serviceable against Da Bearz.

The biggest factor in this game, though, may be the weather. Early weather forecasts have called for rain changing over to sleet and maybe snow as temperatures are expected to drop during the game. That could mean more emphasis on the running game as the day goes on. Which means it would be very nice if the Pack can jump out to a good lead early and make Da Bearz try to come from behind -- something they are not very good at. If the Packers have to rely more on the run they will also have to be relying on John Kuhn at fullback as Korey Hall had a hip injury in the St. Louis game and will miss the final two regular season games. Kuhn's a tough kid who also performs well on special teams. Practice squad fullback Corey White has been getting a lot of reps in practice this week according to reports and could be activated as further insurance at this position. Given the expected conditions at Soldier Field, that may be a very good move.