Sunday, December 16, 2007

Packers-Rams Preview

First things first. We must give a hearty and well-deserved congratulations to the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater football team on their winning the NCAA Division III National Championship in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. The Warhawks beat the unbeaten and seemingly unstoppable Mount Union Purple Raiders 31-21 yesterday. The Warhawks were in command virtually the entire game, despite Mount Union closing the lead to within 3 points on two occasions. Gagliardi Award winner Justin Beaver led UW-W with 31 rushes for 249 yards and a touchdown. (The Gagliardi Award, by the way, is the Division III equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.) Beaver was named the game's Most Valuable Player. He's played for over a month with a fractured rib. A great win for the Warhawks, who had finished runner-up to Mount Union the last two years. As they say, third time is the charm. If you want to read more about the game, check out this article. If you want to know more about UW-Whitewater (from which some of this writer's acquaintances somehow managed to graduate despite spending more time at the local watering holes than is humanly possible), click here.

Now...about that Packers game...

The Packers are 9 point favorites going into the game against the 3-10 Rams in St. Louis. This is a game the Packers should win by beating the spread. Brett needs 184 yards to pass Dan Marino as the all-time leader in passing yards. That should be no problem, although the Rams will be blitzing often, so protection for Brett will be key. If the line can't pick up the blitzes it might be a difficult day. But if they do their job, there should be plenty of opportunities to hit lots of receivers. And let's not forget the running game. Since week 8 of the season, no running back has gained more yardage than our own Ryan Grant. That's right, Ryan Grant. He's rushed for 717 yards since week 8. That's more than any other back in the league. More than Ladanian Tomlinson, Justin Fargas, Clinton Portis, Adrian Peterson, and whoever else is out there. Grant should have another 100-yard game today.

What do the Packers have to worry about? Well, Rams QB Marc Bulger will start today after coming off a concussion. But he will be working behind an offensive line missing 4 of 5 starters. There's still Tory Holt to deal with. But he has lost a step. Al Harris should be able to hold him in check. And the Packers defense should be able to get some sacks again, after going without any the last two games. The Rams do have a fine running back in Steven Jackson, and he could generate some yards if the Packers forget about him...which they won't. All in all, the Rams don't have enough to stay with the Pack. And that's not even counting any newly found special teams pizzazz the Packers might have today courtesy of Will Blackmon.

The Packers win 31-17 today. A first round bye in the playoffs? Why not. All we need besides a Packers win today is a Seattle loss or tie.