Monday, September 08, 2008

Heading North

Yes, the woman, a close friend (Senor Busch), and myself are heading up to Green Bay this afternoon for the Packers' season opener against the Vikings, rendevouzing with the Pops at the gas station where the Packer mini-bus parks. This is surely a game the ViQueens have had circled since Favre retired (and after the Packers whipped them and injured Adrian Peterson last November). After Thompson's refusal to release Favre and let him sign with the 'Queens, and the team's justified filing of tampering charges against the 'Queens after old UW compadres Bevell and Childress kissed his ass out of retirement, the Minnesota brass must have double and triple circled this game.

If you're looking to heighten the foreboding, consider the injury situations at defensive line, a strength going into last season, the shuffling and injuries of the O-line, A-Rodg's very likely jitters, Grant having played one snap all preseason, AJ Hawk and James Jones likely being out, and finally, Favre's face being on the tickets. (Not joking-- I'll have to take a picture of the tickets themselves tomorrow.)

Plus, it's supposed to rain tonight, and the wind is coming straight out of the North from Canada-- the same stupid wind that brought us the subarctic temperatures resulting in Ice Bowl II 8 months ago, which, in my estimation, deprived the Packers of a trip to the Super Bowl.

Anyhow, the signs are pointing against a Packers' victory in this one. But there are reasons for hope. Despite the addition of drunk-driving NFL-sacks leader Jared Allen to their D-line, the Vikings secondary hasn't really changed. They paid big bucks to a safety from the Bengals (?) to run tandem with Darren Sharper, but he's injured. Rodgers will likely not be last season's Favre. But the receivers, even without Jones, are still the receivers, perhaps the deepest group in the league. They should be able to get open and make some plays.

Plus, the 'Queens left tackle, Mt. McKinnie, is suspended. He's a solid pass protector and, with Steve Hutchinson at guard, half of a formidable run-blocking duo. His absence should make Adrian Peterson a bit less effective, at least when running to that side. And KGB, if he's good to go, should be schooling McKinni'e back-up and putting heat on Tavaris Jackson on passing downs.

What will likely decide the game is the performance of the lines. The Packers 3-man run-down DT rotation needs to be able to prevent Hutchinson and Birk from cleaving big holes for Peterson. Then Kampman, Jolly, KGB, Monty, Hunter, Poppinga and Jenkins need to put heat on Jackson when the Packers force passing downs. The reshuffled interior O-line will only need to hold the fort for a few seconds when the Packers throw the ball, as I'm sure McCarthy will emphasize short passing routes. On run downs, the Pack linemen need to cut-block Pat Williams like crazy. If they can get his fat, but surprisingly nimble, behind on the ground, and Grant should find some room to run. You know the 'Queens safeties won't be crowding the box.

Unfortunately, I don't think the Packers will win the majority of these battles. Thus, I agree with the conclusion of the J-S panel, that the Pack will likely lose. If the weather turns messy, I predict the game will get messier for Green Bay-- more holes for Peterson, slippery hands for the Pack's wideouts. It could get ugly. Come the fourth quarter tonight, I fear I'll be shivering in a rain-soaked poncho, staring at a double-digit deficit on the scoreboard, trying to pretend I didn't hear my wife's demands to leave early. Boy, I hope I'm wrong though. At least my friend agreed to drive on the way back from the game--that way, if they do lose, I can try to get some sleep and forget about the debacle.

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