Saturday, December 23, 2023

2023 NFL Week 16: Packers vs. Panthers Preview & Prediction

So-o-o-o-o...for the second straight week...looking back...the Green Bay Packers disappointed fans with poor performances. Coming off two great wins no less. Up and down. The story of a young team. But at some point, as even head coach Matt LaFleur acknowledged, that "young" bit doesn't hold water any more.

The season is 3 games from being over. Either the team wins out against poor to so-so teams and keeps their now-slim playoff chance alive, or we start looking to next season. We have said for the past couple weeks that each game was a must-win. Well, if the upcoming Christmas Eve day game vs. the lowly Carolina Panthers isn't a must-win, then Santa is just a fat ol' man. And we know that's not true!

Of course, the Pack have seemed to nearly always make a looser into a winner. Check the performances of the last two winning opponent quarterbacks, for example. Oy. The biggest problem in the last two losses, of course, has been the Joe Barry-led defense. Or, as The Onion declared in a headline following the most recent defensive debacle, "James Webb Telescope Finds Evidence Of Packers Secondary Lined Up 20 Million Light Years Off Receivers".

Let's hope we don't see this Packers secondary coverage scheme any longer.
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The Preview

Do we really need one at this point, Packer fans? We know the Pack is a toss-up team at this stage of the season. When they show you who they are, as the saying goes, believe then. They have shown us that they are a 6-8 team. Meh. So close and yet so far. Yes, they are/were "young". Yes, they've had a lot of injuries at key positions (btw, will Jaire Alexander ever see the field again for the Packers???). Next man up. And with 8 first-round picks on defense as we were reminded ad nauseum this week in the aftermath of the defensive meltdown vs. Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers. Time for these guys to step up. Especially the defense. If going against rookie QB Bryce Young isn't an occasion for feasting on sacks and turnovers...check please. You know what we're saying.

The Panthers are 2-12 for a reason, just as the Packers are 6-8 for a reason. The Packers have better talent on the field. But in sports, especially football, commitment to show up and perform to the best of one's capability is all on the field. This will be a telling game for the Pack. Will they show up and perform? Or have they already packed it in, so to speak (no pun intended), especially on the defensive side of things? We will find out shortly.

The Prediction

The Packers are favored by 4 points. They have won something like 7 straight Christmastime games. Matt LaFleur is 16-2 in December since becoming the head coach of the Packers. This is a game the Packers should win. But we've said that the last 2 weeks and where did that get us? Up the creek without a paddle.

So now what? We're sticking with the Packers because of the "should win" part of the prediction equation. We're calling it Packers 27 - Panthers 17. Confidence level? Take a guess.

Still ... GO PACK GO!!!