Sunday, October 07, 2012

Packers vs. Colts preview and prediction

The Green Bay Packers begin a consecutive three-game road trip today in Indianapolis. The Colts are coming off their bye week during which their head coach, Chuck Pagano, left the team to receive treatment for recently diagnosed leukemia. The Colts have a record of 1-2. The Packers are coming off a hard-fought battle against the Saints -- and the referees, for a second week in a row. With a 28-27 win, the Pack went to 2-2 on the season.

The Colts come into the game with a very good rookie quarterback in the person of Andrew Luck. Figure Dom Capers to throw a number of different looks at the young QB. Hopefully, the defense will confuse the offense rather than themselves as seemed to be the case for the Packers last weekend when it resembled last season's sieve. Of course, Luck is not Drew Brees, at least not yet. Expect the Packers to have their defense much more together than it was against the Saints. The Pack will also get a boost from the newly-activated DE Mike Neal who is coming off his four-game suspension. According to reports from Green Bay throughout the week, Neal looked very good in practice, much better than anticipated. If he views this as a bit of a new start to things, and plays the way he is capable of playing, he could be a huge factor in this game and going forward for the Packers' defense.

As for the offense, after being sluggish in their first three outings, the Packers seemed to find a bit more of their rhythm against New Orleans. Look for that to continue today agains the Colts. Cedric Benson is getting rolling and provides a much-needed and long-overdue spark to the running game. Aaron Rodgers and the receivers looked much more in sync, and that should also continue today. WR Greg Jennings, however, will not see the field as he is being held out due to his groin injury. Expect Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley to get lots of action against a bland secondary. Donald Driver will appear in his 197th career game for the Pack, which ties him with QB Bart Starr for second place in franchise history. Congrats, Donald!

The pundits have an over-under on this game at the time of this writing of 48 points, with the Packers favored by 7 points. The week after the game against the Colts the Packers play the Houston Texans, who are currently undefeated at 4-0 and looking very good on both sides of the ball. This game against the Colts could be a trap game in the sense that the Packers could wind up looking past them and ahead to the Texans. I don't think head coach Mike McCarthy or the veterans on this team will allow that to happen. The Colts could also come out emotionally charged up to win one for their absent head coach. That may carry them for a while but not throughout an entire game.

I'm calling this one in favor of the Packers (shocking, I know) 34-17.

Go Pack Go!!!