Sunday, September 07, 2008

Packer predictions and more

Even though the NFL season officially kicked off last Thursday night, for most fans it starts today. And for Packer fans, it comes Monday night, when the Pack meets the ViQueens at Lambeau Field and retire Brett Favre's, wait...forgot...that last part was supposed to be on the agenda but, well, things happen as they say. The number retirement thing will have to wait a year or two. Never mind.

So, as we root for Brett's success in that funky Jets uniform beginning today against Miami -- after all, the better he does and the Jets do, the higher the draft pick the Packers receive next year -- we might also want to take a few moments to take a look at what some of the pundits are saying.

Might as well take first things first, which would be tomorrow night's game. Adam Duerson's "Inside the NFL" feature for Sports Illustrated has the Pack vs 'Queens game as the Game of the Week. He has a number of things to watch for in the game. But his bottom line? "I see Rodgers getting tossed around in this one, maybe even handing Minnesota a few defensive points. Add a score for A.P. (Adrian Peterson) and I've got the Vikings winning 14-9."

Admittedly, this game will be a tough one, as most games are these days between the Pack and 'Queens. Minnesota has arguably the best defensive front in the league. And the Packers' O-line is a bit nicked up with center Scott Wells questionable for the game. Factor in that the Pack's #3 receiver, James Jones, is also questionable and the ability of the Pack to use the passing game -- as it did last year against Minnesota -- to open up the run is a big question mark. Throw in the new QB and this will be a challenging opener. If the Packers defense can bottle up Peterson and force 'Queen's QB Tarvaris Jackson to win the game, the home field advantage may do the trick for the Pack.

I'll take the Pack 17-14 in a game that goes down to the wire.

You can read Duerson's article here.

Season overviews

While we have addressed the first game, there is plenty to be said about the entire season, of course. Most pundits are predicting the ViQueens to come out on top of the NFC North Division. Detroit, as usual, doesn't have much. Da Bearz still suck. Expectations are that, without Favre, the Pack will have a precipitous fall from the top, which basically leaves Minnesota on top by default.

If you care to read one reporter's opinion (again) of how the Packers blew it by letting Favre escape, and how this will affect the Packers fortunes this season, go here.

If you want to enter into a whole section of articles about virtually every aspect of the Packers -- beginning with Rodgers, to the defense, to the running game, etc. -- go here, and then check out the links in the righthand column for the individual stories of interest.

In particular, be sure to check out Bob McGinn's article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Rating the 2008 Packers." McGinn is the Journal-Sentinel's longtime Packers beat reporter. He conducted the interview with Coach McCarthy linked to in yesterday's post. He's been around awhile and is well respected for his observations and insights. That's why it's a bit disturbing to have McGinn rate the Packers as having anywhere from a 4 to 8 game drop off in wins versus a season ago (in an article available in the print edition of the paper and the subscription-only Packers Insider online edition...if you are really quick on your browser stop/refresh buttons you may be able to see the entire article here before you get the "pay up" screen if you are not a subscriber).

In fact, in looking at all the Journal-Sentinel's sportswriters' predictions, McGinn is the most pessimistic, giving the Packers a 6-10 final record. Two of the others give the Pack a 10-6 final record and the remaining two give the Pack an 11-5 record. season prediction
In looking at the Packers' schedule, I have to concur with those who are giving the Pack a final 10-6 record. There will be perhaps two games the Packers loose that they should have won. Conversely, there will be two games the Pack shouldn't win that they do. So those games are a wash. They will win the series with both Da Bearz and the Lions. There's four wins. I think they will split with the ViQueens, that's five wins. They beat Atlanta and Tennessee...we're up to seven wins. Ditto for the Saints and Texans. There's nine wins. Take your pick for (at least) one more against Tampa Bay, Seattle, Carolina or Jacksonville.

Packers. 10-6. Playoffs. Whether as division champ -- if they can pull off a sweep of the 'Queens -- or as a wild card team remains to be seen.

As always, a lot depends upon injuries. The Pack goes in to the opener a bit banged up. But if key players can stay healthy, our prediction is a good one. On the other hand, a lot of this depends upon whether new starting QB Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy and play in all 16 games. If he goes down early -- or often -- McGinn's 8-game drop off from last year could come into play quite easily. But it's the start of the season and we're thinking nothing but positives here.

Go Pack Go!!!