Sunday, November 09, 2008

Packers - ViQueens Preview

It's about three hours to kickoff at the HumpDome in Minneapolis, and what do we know? The ViQueens are still favored over the Pack by 2-1/2 points. Both teams are sitting in second place in the NFC North at 4-4. The Packers beat the the 'Queens in the home opener at Lambeau. This game would be one of the tie-breakers if the Packers go on to win it and find themselves in a tie for the division championship at the end of the season. It is QB Aaron Rodgers' first game as starter in the circus that is HumpDome football. As fans will recall, Ol' #4 didn't fare to well there early in his career. So an unknown is how Rodgers will handle his first trip to the former House of Horrors.

We also know that the 'Queens have a great run defense, giving up an average of only 69.6 yards rushing per game. The defensive front is one of the best there is, although it's possible DE Jared Allen may not play. Going against what has heretofore been a mediocre Packers' running game, we probably shouldn't expect much from the Packers in this area today. While the Packers keep claiming they are close to getting the running game going, this isn't the defense against which that stands much chance.

On the other hand, the 'Queens pass defense is very suspect. As a result, while the Pack may use the run to keep the defense honest, it's quite possible that Aaron Rodgers could be in passing mode most of the day. The key for the Packers on offense will be whether they can come away with 7 points rather than 3 when they get into the redzone. Their inability to do that last week led in no small part to the loss against the Titans; it has been an unsettling trend most of the season.

What about the Packers defense vs. the ViQueens offense? Think Adrian Peterson. He's run for more than 100 yards three out of the four games he's played against the Packers. Given the fact that the Packers have not shown any ability to stop the run over the course of an entire game, don't be surprised to see Peterson rack up another 100 yards plus. The key for the Packers will be whether they can keep him out of the endzone. If so, the Packers pass defense will be able to handle Minnesota's receivers. QB Gus Frerotte is another Kerry Collins type: not very mobile. But he does have a stronger arm than Collins. The Packers defense needs to get to Frefotte in ways they were unable to against Collins.

So, what to make of this ramble? The Packers have underperformed to this point in the season, as represented by their 4-4 record. Conversely, it can be argued that Minnesota has overperformed. The Packers have typically been a better second half of the season team. That begins today. By beating the 'Queens the Pack owns the tiebreaker against them and goes to 5-4 on the season. If the Titans are able to pick up a win in Chicago today against Da Bearz, that sets up a meeting at Lambeau next week with Da Bearz and a game being played for the division lead.

Yes, I know, we can't look ahead. The Pack has to take care of today's business. And it is a formidable challenge, no doubt.

But I'm going to put on my green'n'gold-colored glasses once more, drink that Packers Kool-Aid, and predict the Packers will win 31-27.

Go Pack Go!!!

Late Update
ESPN is reporting that Minnesota DE Jared Allen -- he of the $50,000 fine for low hits -- will in fact start today. He is wearing a harness to enable his separated shoulder to be held in place. The Packers offensive line needs to make sure Allen isn't in a position to deliver a cheap shot to Aaron Rodgers.