Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Packers enter the home stretch

Currently sitting with a 7-4 record and in prime position for a wildcard spot in the playoffs, the Packers need to win at least 3 of their next 5 games to likely secure such a spot. Two games are home, three away, with two of the latter being back-to-back. Four out of the five will be played in cold winter conditions; the final game of the season is a warm weather respite on Jan. 3 at Arizona.

So, let's take a brief look at each of the games and what the likelihood of each outcome might be.

The first game of this home stretch is Monday night at Lambeau Field versus the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens pulled out a 20-17 overtime victory Sunday evening versus a Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers to go to 6-5 on the season. After this tough overtime win, and despite the presence of Ray Lewis on defense, the Packers should be able to win this game at home in a tough one. The Ravens have good offensive weapons, but the Packers now have -- believe it or not -- the number 1 overall defense in the league. The current spread on the game favors the Pack by 3. Check back the day of the game for my score prediction.

Next up on Dec. 13 is Da Bearz at the Mistake by the Lake, otherwise known as Soldier Field. If Da Bearz really wanted to honor our soldiers they would just not bother showing up at all. But the dysfunctional Bearz will take the field. Don't know the spread of this game yet. Should be something like favorite son Al Bundy's bajillion points or so, though, in favor of the Pack don't you think?

The following week brings the second of the back-to-back road games, this one at Pittsburgh. Unless Roethlisberger gets dinged again, expect him to be under center at game time. This will be a close one, and if the Packers stumble this would seem to be one of the likely candidates. The Steelers should be coming off wins at home over Oakland and on the road at Cleveland. Geesh, could it get any easier? Anyway, more on this game as it nears, obviously.

Two days after Christmas, the Pack takes on the Seahawks at home. The Seahawks are having a miserable season and this game should go in the "W" column for the Pack.

The final game of the regular season, as noted earlier, comes Jan. 3 at Arizona. The Cardinals are a team that is difficult to assess, especially looking ahead five games. Whether or not QB Kurt Warner will be available and healthy at that time will obviously be a factor. But this is definitely not the team that made it to the Super Bowl last season.

So, there's the rundown on the upcoming games with some very early and cursory views. Are the Packers capable of running the table? Yes. Will they? Unlikely. Should they be able to win at least win 3 out of the 5? Yes. Will they? Yes.

But what do you think? We're running a poll in the righthand column for you to let us know how many games out of the 5 remaining you think the Packers will win. So...what's your take on what lies ahead? Share, please.