Saturday, December 21, 2013

Week 16: Packers vs. Steelers - Another season-on-the-line game for the Packers

In Green Bay, Sunday's game against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers is pretty much a one-and-done game of sorts. If the Packers win, they continue to control their own destiny going into the final week's game against the Chicago Bears. Lose and the likelihood of any playoff birth is slim and none.

It's simple: if the Packers win their next two games they win the NFC North.

What makes things not so simple is that they will have to do so once again without QB Aaron Rodgers. Of course, after two comeback wins with backup QB Matt Flynn at the helm and RB Eddie Lacy running to daylight, beating the Steelers is certainly within the realm of possibility. (The Packers have a better record than the Steelers, let's not forget.) The much-maligned defense also seemed to get some of its early-season mojo going in the second half last Sunday against the Cowboys; they'll need to continue to play with that same intensity both against the Steelers and Da Bearz if they hope to have any post-season opportunity.

Oddsmakers seem to think the Packers can win with Flynn. Depending upon what source you are looking at, the Pack is favored by anywhere from 1 to 2-1/2 points at the time of the writing of this post. So it's certainly projected to be close, as it no doubt will be. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is getting hot and some think that that will be sufficient to beat the Pack. Maybe. But...

Another factor: the weather
Talent and records aside, probably one of the biggest factors in Sunday's game will be the weather. Here's the forecast as it stands now: "Snow with areas of blowing snow before 3 pm, then snow likely after 3pm. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 26. North northeast wind 14 to 24 mph, with gusts as high as 36 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of around 5 inches."

Sounds lovely, doesn't it? If the weather affects the passing game, that neutralizes to some degree the advantage Pittsburgh has at quarterback. More emphasis will be on the running game. The Steelers have Le'Veon Bell, the Packers have Eddie Lacy. The Steelers drafted Bell ahead of Lacy. Bell's having a very good rookie season. But no rookie running back is having the season Lacy is. Advantage Packers.

The Prediction
This is a tough one indeed, Packer fans. I've picked against the Pack the last two weeks. They've won both times. This week, my faith has been restored.

I'm picking the Packers 24-20.

Go Pack Go!!!