Sunday, December 09, 2018

2018 NFL Week 14: Packers vs Falcons Preview & Prediction

How are we feeling today, Packers fans? More specifically, how are we feeling about today's game between the 4-7-1 Green Bay Packers versus the equally mediocre 4-8 Atlanta Falcons? Both teams were preseason picks to be challengers for not only their Division titles but also potential Super Bowl contenders. So much for that idea. Lest we forget, that actually did happen in the 2016 season, with both teams meeting in the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta. Yeah, that was then. now (sigh).

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had his hands - and facemask - full in the
NFC Championship Game played in Atlanta in Jan. 2017.

(Photo: Getty Images)
The Packers made a number of changes to the roster this week, placing some players on IR and promoting some others from the practice squad. But, of course, the biggest move of all was the firing of head coach Mike McCarthy following the disheartening loss at Lambeau Field to the then 2-9 Arizona Cardinals. More on that later.

But can we really expect any huge changes after just a week under interim head coach Joe Philbin? C'mon. No. With just four games remaining in this dismal season, and given the injuries which have also significantly impacted this team's performance over the season, it is what it is. Granted, Philbin will now be dong the play-calling, something he hasn't done in about 20 years. So we may see some different philosophy at work, and perhaps some oddness, as well. But as Philbin was a close associate of McCarthy, things will probably be pretty much along the lines of what we have seen overall offensively. The defense under coordinator Mike Pettine will be the same, still lacking a pass rush and fielding some defensively challenged defensive backs (is that redundant, by the way?).

The Prediction

No need to drag this out, is there? Both teams are train wrecks this season. And even though the Packers are favored at the time of this writing by either 4-1/2 or 5 points depending on what line you're following (as a reminder, the Packers were 14-point favorites last did that work out?), does anyone out there feel comfortable picking them?

I hate to say it, Packer fans, but this is one of those pick 'em games at this point, at least as it seems on this end. Week after week we've been hoping against hope...or, at least, logic...that the Pack would get it together and at least once this season play a complete game. We're still waiting.

Will McCarthy's exit be enough to rally this team somehow? Maybe. But what else is a motivator? The season is done. So perhaps jobs for next season for those players not under contract or who are auditioning for a future role in Green Bay or elsewhere? Maybe.

Logic seems to indicate that given the under-performance of both teams, the game could very well turn on one play, a turnover, a missed tackle, a special teams breakdown or success. That and the Packers inability to perform well in the second half of games lately and close things out, would seem to give the Falcons the edge, despite being on the road. After all, if the woeful Cards can come into Lambeau with an inexperienced QB and pull out a win, what can QB Matt Ryan do today, with a receiver like Julio Junes ready to make big plays against a porous Packers secondary?

Still, we've looked at the Pack all season through Green 'n' Gold-colored why stop now? The odds say that at some point the Packers have to win onw of their last remaining games. This is as good a chance as any.

We're calling it Packers 27 - Falcons 24.

Go Pack Go!!!

Thank you, coach McCarthy

Before signing off, we just want to thank former head coach Mike McCarthy for all he brought during his 13 years of service to the Green Bay Packers and the broader Green Bay community. He was and remains a class act. Certainly, this was not the way he or anyone would have wished for him to depart. But it was time.

He is the second-winningest head coach in Packers history, only trailing the guy whose name is on the Super Bowl trophy, one Vince Lombardi. He went to the playoffs eight straight years -- eight! That's something that is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself and one that we probably began to take for granted. He brought a Super Bowl trophy back to Green Bay. And it is a given that he will be in the Packers Hall of Fame sometime soon, as he rightfully should be.

Good luck, coach. You'll land in another head coaching position very guess would be Cleveland, to rejoin a number of other Packers front office personnel in helping to resurrect that franchise.

Let's close with this exceptionally heartfelt thank you from McCarthy to the Packers, the fans, Green Bay and Wisconsin. Well done, coach. Well done, indeed. And thank you!