Thursday, September 08, 2011

Packers vs. Saints: Season Opener Preview

Alrighty then, Packer fans...this is the moment we've waited for since our beloved Green Bay Packers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl XLV: kickoff to the 2011 season and a run at back-to-back Super Bowl championships.

It's obviously not going to be easy. Only a handful of teams have accomplished such a feat. But this Packers team is loaded with talent. Most of the names were on last season's championship roster. The difference this year is that quite a few of those names were also on injured reserve for much or all of last season and were not able to contribute; they are hungry. They want to have their moments in the Super Bowl limelight. Well and good. A bit of incentive is a always a motivator.

So is playing the champs from the prior season.

Hence, a meeting between two of the top teams in the NFL, let alone the NFC to kick things off. As many in the local media are pointing out, this is about as close as the city of Green Bay will get to hosting a Super Bowl. Festivities galore to entertain the masses both on site and on TV. Even Matt Lauer and Al Roker from The Today Show were broadcasting live from Lambeau. Big bands and big jets flying overhead. As David Letterman would say, it's an extravaganza. Indeed.

But back to the game.

The teams are very similar in style, with wide open offenses. But I give the edge to the Packers defense, especially since defensive coordinator Dom Capers has kept his "D" totally under wraps in the preseason. Expect lots of twists and turns tonight. Reading between the lines of some player comments, they may bring pressure from the outside in the form of blitzes and try to collapse the pocket up the middle. After all, as one player noted, QB Drew Brees is only 6 feet tall. Now, that little genetic issue hasn't prevented him from having quite a career. But if anyone can scheme to disrupt a particular quarterback, it's Capers. Brees and the Saints will make their plays and score some points. But the Packers have more to draw upon on both sides of the ball. And they have the home crowd who will be at frenzied pitch throughout the game.

The only area of concern for this game, and for the season at this point, is the lack of depth on the offensive line. The Packers kept only eight O-lineman. Once you get past the starters, it gets a bit iffy. Hopefully, no one goes down.

By the way, the Packers are 4-point favorites at the time of this writing. The over/under is 47.5 points, the highest of any of the first week games. Oddsmakers are figuring on these teams scoring, obviously. So, given everything, our first prediction of the season is this: Packers 31 - Saints 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Season Prediction
It's that time of year when any Packers fan worth their salt (what the heck does that saying mean, anyway???) comes up with their predictions for the Packers win-loss record this season. I don't know how much salt I'm worth, but I'm still willing to toss out my prediction.

First, however, I have to offer the usual proviso that there will be a couple games that the Packers should win that they may lose, and vice versa.

Secondly, I tend to break out the schedule into blocks before the bye week and after the bye week. So, in looking at the Packers schedule, I think the Pack will be 6-1 going into their bye. After the bye, I think the Packers will go 7-2 for an overall record of 13-3.

The team is loaded and if they stay healthy they will not only win the NFC North but advance through the playoffs to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl for the second year in a row. I have hunches as to who the AFC opponent might be but it really serves no purpose at this point to toss out a name. Let's wait till we get there.

But in the meantime, say it with me: It's great to be a Packers fan!