Sunday, November 30, 2008

Packers - Panthers preview

It's just a few hours until kickoff at Lambeau. And this time of year, in addition to the teams and individual players we also start to pay a bit more attention to the weather. The weather forecast for Green Bay today calls for temps in the upper 30's, winds at 15-25 mph, and a chance of steady snow at some point in the afternoon. Oh, and did I mention that there is actually a winter storm warning in effect until 6 a.m. Monday? The forecast seems to indicate most of that possibility coming this evening, however, and with most of the accumulation to the south of Green Bay. So those folks traveling back to the Milwaukee area after the game, for example, may have to be wary of road conditions. As we all know, when it comes to these first of the season major snow warnings, it's a bit of an iffy proposition.

Anyway...enough of Mr. Meteorologist. What about the game?

These days, that prognostication seems as iffy as the weather forecast. Which Packers team will show up? The team that dominated Da Bearz? Or the team that got blown out by the Saints? It has been an up and down season, as reflected by our team's 5-6 record. Yes, the Packers get the home field advantage spread of 3 points going into the game. But Carolina is 8-3. Statistically? Well, going into Monday night most of that advantage went to the Pack over the guess we shouldn't make too much of that comparison this week. Except, perhaps, for the fact that Panthers' running back DeAngelo Williams has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last four games. The Pack hasn't exactly been too consistent in stopping the run. So, he could present problems. As could WR Steve Smith, of course, especially if the Packers defensive backfield falls asleep two games in a row. QB Jake Delhomme is a smart veteran not prone to make mistakes. His arm hasn't fully returned to his pre-surgery strength, but smarts can help him compensate. As to the defense, RE Julius Peppers is a pass rush threat.

On the Packers side of things, the injury report is as long as it's been all season. Lots of guys dinged up. But it's also time for whoever is in there to step it up. Play has been pretty flat of late. If they show up today with the same lack of energy they had in New Orleans you can forget the playoffs. With just four games remaining after today, if the Packers were to lose they'd fall either 2 games behind Da Bearz or the ViQueens (who play each other today...and because of potential tie-breakers, we have to root for the 'Queens today!). In short, that makes today's game a must-win for the Pack. Even with a win, they'd still be a game behind. But 2 games behind? Something we can't even think about it.

The Pack needs to get Ryan Grant cranked up and run, run, run the ball today. The Packers offense needs to minimize the number of times it has to call upon so-called punter Derrick Frost who is more of an asset to the opponent with his kicking game than he is to the Packers. The Pack also needs to somehow, some way stop the Panthers' running game and also get a pass rush once in a while. Delhomme, while no Drew Brees, could certainly do some damage through the air if he's allowed to stand back in the pocket and not worry about getting smacked once in a while.

This is a tough game to call. The Pack needs this game badly. But which team will show up? If Coach Mike McCarthy isn't able to get his team jazzed for this one...

I'll drink that green 'n' gold kool-aide one more time: Packers 24 - Panthers 20.

Go Pack Go!!!