Monday, November 24, 2008

UConn-UW AND Packers-Saints

What a night, huh? Two seriously meaningful games for two of this blog's three teams, both coming against high quality opponents.

If you had to set the Tivo on one though, I think it'd have to be the Wisconsin men's basketball team's match-up against UConn. It should be a fascinating match-up, as UConn has a 7' 3" center who's actually pretty skilled and athletic, and a bunch of other guys who are potential pro prospects. It's one of those contests where the other team has "more talent" on paper, so Wisconsin will likely have to outexecute them. Anyhow, I don't expect them to win, largely because this team still seems to developing its own identity, but I hope they keep it close. Also, a loss wouldn't be earth-shattering, as I highly doubt they'll go undefeated this season, and it's really early still. A loss to a very highly touted squad (UConn is currently ranked 2nd), would be absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

In contrast, the Packers game is more important as far as the season's prospects go. Both the Vikings and the Bears won yesterday. To keep pace in the division, Green Bay must beat the New Orleans Saints, who are also desperately fighting for the playoffs. Like the Pack, the Saints are also 5-5, but have gone 4 and 1 in the Superdome. So it's going to be a tough environment. Plus, Drew Brees is the leading passer in the league (yardage wise), and New Orleans has some top-notch talent at key positions, like Reggie Busch (who's questionable) and Deuce McCallister in the backfield, Marques Colston at wideout, and Will Smith at defensive end. As far as the intelligent stats go, the Saints have the third best offense in the league. (See here for Football Outsiders' current batch.) But they're also saddled with a pretty mediocre defense, ranking twenty-sixth in the league. So you'd expect it to be a bit of a shoot-out. Interestingly, it's also something of a homecoming for McCarthy, as he was the offensive coordinator in the Big Easy for a few seasons. He's done pretty well in his "homecoming" games so far (as the Pack won at SF two seasons ago, and won at KC last fall).

Unfortunately, the Packers are a bit unlucky in the timing of this game. Smith and McCallister both tested positive for a naughty supplement (a substance that can help mask the presence of steroids), but their suspensions have yet to be handed down. I guess the NFLPA negotiated some extraordinarily timestaking appeals process for this positive tests. Anyhow, those guys will be on the field tonight, but the Bears will likely get to play the Saints without seeing these two. Argh. (The Bears may also get to play Minnesota with both of the Williams brothers suspended. No way the Packers lose in the triple H Dome two weeks ago if those two monstrosities are sitting on the sidelines.)

Anyhow, enterainment abounds this evening. Get the tivos set and get the "jump" button primed! Go Badgers and go Packers!

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