Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016 NFL Week 15: Packers vs. Bears Preview and Prediction

In what might be the coldest meeting ever between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears in their storied rivalry (think about that for a moment), the Packers look to keep their three-game winning streak going at Soldier Field today and, in the process, get to all-square in terms of wins with Da Bearz. Not wins this season, of course. Overall wins. That would be 94 each. Chicago has held the edge for the last 83 years. That ends today.

It won't be easy given the cold and the wind. The air temperature is supposed to be somewhere around zero...a degree or two either way, really, at this stage of things does it even matter? Nope. Throw in what are expected to be wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph coming off Lake Michigan and the wind chill will feel like -30.
Much of the Packers' success today against Chicago will depend
upon how long QB Aaron Rodgers can stay on the field.

Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

While these conditions are tough on one and all, they are especially so for a quarterback nursing both hamstring and calf injuries. That would be Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers had essentially no practice this week as the choice was made to help his body recover as much as possible. But as a sign of possible uncertainty as to how much he might be able to go today -- and, even though listed as questionable on the injury report, make no mistake: Rodgers will play -- the Packers elevated QB Joe Callahan to the active roster. Brett Hundley is the backup to Rodgers. But if something were to happen to him? So, Callahan gets activated and LB Carl Bradford is released to make room.

There are many angles to today's game. But as game time fast approaches (an hour to game time!), we need to get onto the prediction. So here it is...

The Prediction
The Packers are favored by either 4-1/2 or 5-1/2 points depending upon what source you are looking at. Total-points of 38-1/2, the lowest of the weekend, means the pundits are factoring in the weather, as they should. The Packers are finding their game just in time. As long as they play the way they have the last few weeks -- last week in particular -- the Packers should win this game. But adjustments will need to be made for the cold and wind. That means more reliance, one would imagine, on the running game. Da Bearz have a legitimate running back in rookie Jordan Howard out of Indiana. The Packers? Well, we have a receiver-turned-running-back in Ty Montgomery, journeyman running back Christine Michael and FB Aaron Ripowski. Advantage, one would imagine, Chicago in this aspect of the game. But in a quarterback match up between Aaron Rodgers and Matt Barkley...c''s long as he can stay on the field, of course. The Pack's defense is coming into form, finally, and that means good things today. A few turnovers should be there for the taking.

Alright, alright (and a third alright for any Matthew McConaughey fans out there), to the prediction...

We're calling it 24-13 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!