Sunday, December 20, 2015

NFL Week 15: Packers vs Raiders

The Green Bay Packers and the Oakland Raiders meet today for a rare game between the two franchises. The Packers, with a win today (or a loss by either Washington or the New York Giants) will secure their seventh consecutive post-season appearance. Are we spoiled or what, Packer fans? Answer: yes. Believe it or not, this accomplishment under head coach Mike McCarthy is something that no other coach in Packers history achieved. Again, this has never been achieved before in Packers history! In the language of this Christmas season, let us rejoice and be glad!

The 6-7 Raiders are still in the AFC playoff hunt, as well. They are a young and upcoming team, no doubt about it. Oakland GM -- and former Packers personnel man -- Reggie McKenzie has taken the lessons he learned in Green Bay and is building the Raiders accordingly. He's got big offensive and defensive linemen, including a sack-monster in the person of linebacker Khalil Mack, a hot young quarterback in Derek Carr, formidable receivers in veteran Michael Crabtree and rookie Amari Cooper, and a wise old veteran in the defensive backfield by the name of Charles Woodson, who made a habit of intercepting Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in practice when he was in the Green 'n' Gold.

Packers offensive linemen will have to contain LB Khalil Mack if they hope to come away with a win in Oakland.
(Photo by Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette Media)

But seeing how the Packers kicked the Cowboys to the curb last Sunday we can certainly feel a bit more confident going into this game than we might have been had the game been played a week or two earlier. It seems as if some of what ailed the Packers -- primarily a lackluster offense -- was cured in that game...or at least, we hope so. Rodgers and his receivers finally looked as if they were back on the same page of the playbook, the special teams players, particularly Jeff Janis, were in full-on mode, and the thunder-and-lightning running combo of Eddie Lacy and James Starks racked up rushing yardage that the team hadn't seen logged in years.

The only player listed as questionable today is C Corey Linsley, but it can certainly be argued that J.C. Tretter resumed his starter role without missing a beat. The offensive line is still a bit beat up, but who isn't at this time of the season. They need to do what they did last week and if running early and often is what gets them into beast mode, then by all means, Coach McCarthy, run! Of course, we still expect Rodgers and company to have a good day, as well...especially if that running game can help keep Khalil Mack from bull rushing on every dropback.

The Packers defense today should take care of business. They are holding opposing offenses to an average of 15.6 points per game. That's pretty darn good, especially when you expect Rodgers et al to put up at least 17 points in their sleep (at least, on a good day).

The Prediction
We know the Raiders, especially coming off their upset win in Denver last week, will be playing with gusto to keep their playoff hopes alive. That effort will go up a notch, if that's possible, with the Raiders playing at home. The Packers are playing for playoff positioning, too, of course. So, there's that. The Packers are the better team, but that still didn't stop them from losing to Detroit and Da Bears at Lambeau, did it? This game, in The Black Pit of Oakland, will certainly not be easy. The Pack will have to be at their best, as they were last week, in order to come away with the win.

But if the Packers do what they should do, the current 3-1/2 point spread in favor of the Packers should hold.

We're calling this game 24-17 in favor of the Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!