Sunday, January 09, 2011

For Packers, it's V-E Day!

For anyone historically challenged (OK, let's be honest, that would be most Americans, but I digress...), the V-E I'm speaking of isn't that other V-E day; Victory in Europe will not get the Green Bay Packers anywhere today (and, please, don't even think about starting a conversation about the NFL playing in Europe!). However, a Victory over the Philadelphia Eagles will certainly be a great V-E Day for Packer fans everywhere!

And that's what we're looking for today: the Packers to beat the Eagles. V-E Day.

This will be a quick and concise preview. (Who said "Yay!"? I heard that!).

The Eagles are favored by 2-1/2 points, not even given the full usual benefit of the home field advantage. The weather is supposed to be cloudy and in the low 30's...not bad. However, the current conditions and forecast call for the wind to be a possible concern, with gusts forecast up to 35 mph. So, if it comes down to a kicking game, there could be issues, as they say. Punts could be affected, kickoffs could be affected and, especially, field goal attempts could be affected. We don't want to see a directional kick from Mason Crosby or punt from Tim Masthay taken by the wind and give returner DeSean Jackson opportunities he was not intended to get. Nor do we want to see a Crosby field goal attempt ding off an upright or get pushed wide and be the deciding factor in the game. Horrors! Bottom line: the Packers' special teams did a great job last weekend against Devin Hester and Da Bearz; they need an equally big game today against Jackson and the Eagles, and they can't let the wind determine the outcome of the game.

The Packers' defense must figure out a way to contain the Eagles running game and bottle up QB Michael Vick. That means keeping him in the pocket and hitting him as much as possible. The ViQueens laid out a great blueprint in terms of how to do that. Given that Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has been a master at scheming all season long, we should expect nothing less than a great performance today from the Pack's defense. In addition, the defensive line will benefit from the return of DE Cullen Jenkins. It's not certain how much he'll be able to play, but the fact that he will be able to make an impact when needed certainly is a boost to a unit that has been playing at an exceptional level for the last half of the season especially.

On the offensive side of the ball, QB Aaron Rodgers and the air attack should be able to shred a questionable Eagles' secondary. Again, that's assuming that the wind doesn't adversely affect the downfield passing attack of the Packers. Being able to hit those big plays is a major part of the Pack's offense; take that away and...? Still, if the Packers can muster any semblance of a running game -- just to keep the Eagles honest -- that will enable Rodgers to find his receivers wherever they may be. And, of course, being able to convert touchdowns rather than field goals will be critical when the offense gets inside the redzone. If the Pack can get off to a fast start today -- instead of falling into the sluggish form that has appeared way too often -- that will go a long way towards securing a victory.

The Packers are feeling very good about where they are momentum-wise right now. They believe their playoff season started two weeks ago, as they needed to win to get in. Make no mistake, the Eagles have the weapons to win; that and the home field are making them the favorites going into the game. But most pundits seem to be predicting the Packers to win this game.

Include yours truly in that group.

I'm calling it 30-24 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

P.S. That quick and concise preview thing I mentioned earlier on...never mind...