Sunday, November 16, 2008

Packers - Bears Preview Part 2

Contrary to my post of Wednesday, folks, I'm back. At least long enough to update my preview of the 175th meeting -- the longest rivalry in pro football -- between our beloved Packers and, a-hem, Da Bearz. I still won't be able to do my usual in-game postings but, hey, ya get what you pay for, right?

Mid-week, as noted in my Wednesday post, the Pack was favored by 4 points. As also noted, it was expected that that spread would close up by game time. It has, but not by much: the Pack is now favored by 3-1/2.

The only Packer definitely out, as we know, is Nick Barnett...and he's done for the season. Will Blackmon, who had a punt return for a TD last week, had a quadriceps injury that limited his practice until Friday. He's listed as probable, which means he'll play. He's given a spark to the return team, despite his ill-advised (a nice way of saying it) punt return out of his own endzone also last week. Judging from the brief conversation on the sideline between he and Coach McCarthy, caught by TV cameras, there probably is not much chance that will happen again. Hopefully, he can contribute a good return or two today.

DT Justin Harrell is questionable. Shocking, isn't it? Rookie DE Jeremy Thompson is doubtful. So the defensive line that has been unable for most of the season to get pressures on opposing QBs and stop running attacks may still find itself a bit short-handed.

For Da Bearz, QB Kyle Orton is listed as probable. Not sure whether he or Rex Grossman will get the start but most of the talk during the course of the week seemed to be that Grossman would once again start. If he struggles, Orton could see action.

What do the Packers have to do? For one thing, slow down Da Bearz' rookie RB, Matt Forte, who is averaging 21 attempts and 79.2 yards rushing per game. He is a strong and fast back...and given the Pack's struggles against the run this season, they really need to shut him down to put the pressure on Grossman. Chicago has a decent wide receiver in Rashied David and a good young tight end in Greg Olsen. But the Packers defensive backs are as good as they come and should be able to handle anything in the way of the air game. One other perpetual concern, of course, is return man Devin Hester.

But, bottom line, is the Packers desperately need a victory in order to not fall farther behind in the NFC North. They also need redemption from last week's heartbreaker in the Humpdome. The offensive line needs a real gut check...the kind that isn't measuring their girth but rather their heart. That goes for the D-line, too.

A complete game is called for. The Pack has been underachieving all season long. There's no better place to get things turned around than at home against Da Bearz.

Packers 27 - Da Bearz 17.

Go Pack Go!!!