Saturday, December 23, 2017

NFL Week 16: Packers vs. Vikings

For the last time in this disappointing 2017 season, the Green Bay Packers will don their home uniforms and play at Lambeau Field tonight. The opponent is the rival NFC North Division Champions, the Minnesota ViQueens. Don't expect any Christmas Eve eve miracles. Or even a Festivus miracle. That tank ran dry much earlier in the season.

The Packers play their last home game of the season tonight,
with backup QB Brett Hundley executing the play calls.
(Photo: Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
After a one-game return against Carolina in a losing effort, QB Aaron Rodgers became the Pack's Elf on the Shelf by being placed on the injured reserve list for the rest of the season. A wise move by the powers that be. After this season, there will need to be a number of other wise moves made by the Packers organization, including whether it's time to move GM Ted Thompson down the road (doubtful) or kick defensive coordinator Dom Capers to the curb (more likely). But those are conversations for another time.

For now, let's consider that the Packers, despite a plethora of injuries over the course of the season, have truly underperformed...especially when compared to their purple-clad counterparts. Minnesota, through drafts and free agency, have put together one of the best defenses in the NFL right now. And they are starting their third option at quarterback -- Case Keenum -- and still lighting things up.

The Packers...well...haven't done much this season, particularly after Rodgers went down. Not that there's not talent on the Pack's defense, but it doesn't take much to see how week after week this Packers defense has been out of position, out-schemed, and out-hustled. Granted, losing Aaron Rodgers for half the season exposed just how much he was able to cover up on both sides of the ball. But he didn't play defense. That's on Thompson and the coaching staff. And especially the players for not getting it done. Is it any wonder there were no Packers players voted to the Pro Bowl? (Although, clearly, LT David Bakhtiari got...what's the expression? Oh, yes...hosed!)

For tonight, backup QB Brett Hundley will once again be the starter, as he will in the finale at Detroit. Without his favorite target, Davante Adams, it will be interesting to see who he decides to target. Expect a lot of the run game. Also, expect many young players to see time tonight. In some respects -- even though the Pack says they are playing for pride right now with playoffs off the table -- this will be like a winter preseason game for the Pack, at least in our view. For the Vikes, they are still playing for a first-round bye so expect them to have a bit more incentive than do the Packers. They also want to be the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium should they actually make it through the NFC playoffs. That's also a conversation for another time.

The Prediction

We could spend a lot more time going into who's playing, who's not, etc. But really, let's just cut to the chase. At the time of this posting, Minnesota is listed as an 8-1/2-point favorite over the Pack.

We're calling this one Packers 17 - ViQueens 30.

We hope we're wrong. But on this given day in this given season, it pains us to say that Minnesota is the better team.

Still...Go Pack Go!!!