Sunday, November 22, 2015

2015 NFL Week 11: Packers vs. Vikings Preview and Prediction

First things first: regular readers of our Packer Fans United blog no doubt recognize that we did not post a post-game review of the Packers loss to the Lions. Reason? Hell froze over and it took us this long to get out.

Seriously, what can one say about that dismal, depressing game? Let's move on.

So we now get to visit Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, they say. Although, truth be told, Wisconsin actually has more lakes than our neighbor to the west. So there's that. By the end of this afternoon's game between the Packers and the ViQueens that might still be the only thing Packer fans have to hold over our friends in purple.

If it sounds as if we are leery of the late afternoon game today, yes, we are. Why shouldn't we be? After all, the Packers have really shown us nothing over the past three games -- and especially the last -- to make us think that they will have their collective act together to beat Minnesota on their home field.

While the Packers have been kings of the NFC North for quite a while, their recent struggles over a three-game losing streak combined with the ViQueens five-game winning streak, now see the Pack a game behind Minnesota. Who could have imagined it? Even worse, imagine if the Packers lose today: they will be a full two games behind Minnesota in the division with six games remaining, including three more divisional games. Throw the Cowboys, Raiders and Cardinals in that mix (the last two back-to-back on the road) and the Pack could find themselves in a world of hurt if they don't get this train back on track. Soon. Like, today for instance.

Packers RB Eddie Lacy needs more carries to help turn things around.
Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Packers will have their hands full on both sides of the ball, trying to fend off an aggressive defense managed by the head coach himself, Mike Zimmer, and a very good offense under coordinator Norv Turner. Oh, and did we mention that RB Adrian Peterson is back to his old self...unfortunately...tearing up the turf once again? Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has come along nicely, as well. Even without the Pack's recent skid, Minnesota is obviously the real deal this season. Playing their arch-nemesis, Green Bay, on their home field will only make this game even more difficult for a seemingly bewildered and unconfident Packers team.

It's hard to explain, let alone know, what is actually ailing the Packers at this stage of the season. It seems as if they start off quickly, then fall apart, and then in the closing minutes of the game put together another run or two to make it close. But it's that 50-minutes-or-so part of the game between the start and the finish that seems to have been the team's Achilles heal; they just get too far behind. Go figure.

Some fans have suggested that offensively it's a matter of play calling and that head coach Mike McCarthy should resume those play-calling duties. Both Wayne Larrivee (radio voice of the Packers) and sidekick Packers Hall of Famer, Larry McCarren, have each made the point that from their perspective it's not a matter of who calls the plays; the plays still have to be executed and right now the players are just not executing the plays...for whatever reason.

Will the Pack continue their bumbling ways today? Or, somehow, get it together to avoid an outright tailspin? As we mentioned in the preview to last weekend's game, if the Pack couldn't beat the 1-7 Lions at Lambeau Field we would know the wheels have really fallen off. Well, the wheels did indeed fall off. The question for today is: did a new and improved set of wheels get installed that can win this game?

The Prediction
As the Five Things to Watch article by Rob Reischel in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel states: "Green Bay is in the midst of its first three-game losing streak under Aaron Rodgers since late in the 2008 season. The Packers rank 21st in total offense and 22nd in passing offense. Green Bay also hasn't had a sack in three games and plummeted to 23rd in total defense. Green Bay heads to Minnesota one game out of the lead in the NFC North, trails the Vikings in all major tiebreakers and finds itself at a crossroads. If the Packers can't fix some of what ails them Sunday, they might not be able to save this sinking season."

Minnesota is favored by 1 point by some oddsmakers at the time of this writing, while others have this game listed as a toss up. It's a bit surprising that spread isn't greater in favor of Minnesota given trends by both teams. As much as we view things through Green 'n' Gold-colored glasses around here, until the Packers show us they have turned things around it just seems as if the recent past is a good predictor of the immediate future.

We have to call this one in favor of the ViQueens 27 - 20 over the Packers.

With that said, hope we're wrong today...and...Go Pack Go!!!