Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Bye-Bye Bye Week, Hello Bears Week!

The Green Bay Packers went into their mid-season bye week on a down note last week. After reeling off four consecutive wins, the road trip to New Orleans saw the Pack face a rather desperate Saints team on its home turf where they usually come away with a win. And they did.

Still, at 5-3 at the mid-point of the 2014 NFL season, the Packers are right where we thought they’d be (see our season preview and prediction here).

Monday News
Yesterday, the Packers made several moves, only one roster related. The team extended head coach Mike McCarthy’s contract another five years. Effectively, McCarthy, GM Ted Thompson, and QB Aaron Rodgers are pretty much hitched to the same wagon for the next half-decade. We’ll assume most Packer fans are pretty happy with that arrangement. The one main knock on McCarthy, despite a string of consecutive NFC North Championships, playoffs in six of his eight years, and winning one Super Bowl, is that his defenses under defensive coordinator Dom Capers have been inconsistent to put it mildly and downright dreadful to be blunt. How McCarthy will up the ante in the second half of this season and beyond as regards his defenses may well tell the tale of whether he adds another Lombardi Trophy to his list of accomplishments. Offensively, they have things covered. Defensively…not so much.

The other move of the day on Monday was the release of 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod to make room for the return from the Injured Reserve – Designated for Return list of center/offensive lineman, J.C. Tretter. Tretter’s return will add some much needed depth to a sparse Packers offensive line. While slated to be the starter at center this season, an early injury opened the way for rookie Corey Linsley to take over the job. He has performed so well that replacing him with Tretter at this point is not even being considered. Instead, look for the Packers to use Tretter as back-up at either of the two guard positions, and at center, of course, should Linsley suffer an injury.

Derek Sherrod was released by the Packers Monday
Photo by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As for Sherrod, three-and-a-half years into his pro career, with roughly two years spent sidelined due to a horrible leg injury, the Packers finally decided to cut bait. There was, according to reports, no shortage of effort on the part of the young man to get back onto the field and be productive. Everyone raved about his character. But as the season opener clearly showed for the world to see, when Sherrod was placed in the role of having to play tackle and protect Aaron Rodgers, he couldn’t do it physically. It was time to let him go and they finally did. We wish nothing but the best for Mr. Sherrod going forward.

Here come Da Bearz!
With the bye week behind them, the Packers find themselves in second place in the NFC North behind the surprising Detroit Lions. First up on the schedule is the foe from south of the border, the Chicago Bears, who now find themselves in last place in the division at 3-5. Desperation will accompany them to Lambeau Field for the Sunday night contest, as a loss will likely doom any outside chance Da Bearz have of making the playoffs barring a miraculous turnaround. Considering the chaos that has been widely reported in recent weeks surrounding the team, a miracle of that nature seems unlikely. This is somewhat of a do-or-die game for Chicago if they hope to stay within spitting distance of the Packers and Detroit.

The Packers can do their part this weekend by keeping Da Bearz down. With only one win in his career against the Packers, don’t expect Jay Cutler to author one on this occasion. Yes, the odds at some point should turn in his favor. Even a blind squirrel finds a few nuts once in a while, as the saying goes. And, granted, Chicago has many weapons on offense. Running back Matt Forte could chew up what has been a miserable run defense on the part of the Packers. If Chicago has any chance for a win at Green Bay Sunday, they should hand the ball to Forte at least 30 times during the game.

On the other hand, if the Packers can figure out a way to minimize Forte’s impact and put the game in the hands of Cutler, the Packers should come away with interceptions and seal a win, particularly if the Pack can get up early and force Chicago to play from behind, a scenario which is clearly not in their favor despite their acknowledged receiving talent.

As we get closer to game time, be sure to visit us again for updates. The Pack is currently listed as 7-1/2 point favorites, with a high-scoring game expected by the oddsmakers. Keep up to date on all the latest by visiting our Amazing 2nd Page! and by following us on Twitter.