Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 2 Preview
In this issue:
The Lions should cruise in their home opener
The Vikings have a tough draw in their home opener
The Bears road trip takes a turn
The Pack takes on a rookie sensation
Week 2 brings some possible blowouts, and some defining games on who is for real and who isn’t. The Ravens, Lions, and Steelers have a chance to crush their opponents. The Chargers-Patriots, Bears-Saints, and Eagles-Falcons games might show both are good teams, or one of them is a pretender.
The Detroit Lions are hosting the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were abysmal in Week 1 at home, getting crushed 41-7 by Buffalo. They were able to put together a pretty good season last year, getting some comeback wins to finish 10-6. It’s still early, and they have some weapons like Jamal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, and Matt Cassel. But offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss went back to college, and it doesn’t look like the transition to a new OC was very smooth.
Meanwhile, the Lions went to Tampa Bay and won 27-20. One of Detroit’s play makers, Calvin Johnson, hasn’t practiced this week due to an ankle injury. But he said he’d play. Hey, the way you can pad your stats against one of the 5 worst teams in the NFL, at least early in the season, you’d find a way to play in a full body cast. And Jahvid Best, Brandon Pettigrew, Matthew Stafford and the rest of the team is fine.
The line is Detroit by 8. Are they calling the game in the second quarter? If not, Detroit by at least 14, and probably a lot more. This could get ugly.
The Minnesota Vikings host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their home opener. The Vikings couldn’t hold a 17-7 lead and lost 24-17 to the Chargers in San Diego in Week 1. The offense was not good as Donovan McNabb threw for just 39 yards and Adrian Peterson was held to under 100 yards rushing. One of the TDs was a kickoff return for a TD, so the offense actually put up just 10 points.
It doesn’t get any easier this week. The Bucs were a good team last year and are expected to challenge New Orleans for the NFC South title. The Vikings have a questionable offensive line, don’t have Sidney Rice, and have a quarterback issue. The issue is how long to stick with Donovan McNabb. He’ll have some time before they think about a change, but anything close to 39 yards passing in the next week or two will get at least the fans thinking about a change.
Tampa struggled week one against Detroit, but can move the ball through the air. Quarterback Josh Freeman isn’t in the elite category, but he’s pretty good. Running backs LaGarrett Blount and ex-Packer Kregg Lumpkin can balance the play calling, and the defense is solid.
The line is Minnesota by 3. That says it’s an even game, but the Vikings get 3 points for home field. Both teams lost to good teams by a touchdown, Minnesota at San Diego and Tampa at home against Detroit. It’s not even, Tampa is the better team and wins by 4.
The Chicago Bears hit the road to play the New Orleans Saints. The Saints played a classic against Green Bay on the NFL Thursday night opener before losing 42-34. The Saints offense looked impressive, but the Packers made more plays. Drew Brees, Robert Meachem, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles played well and need to show up this week because Marques Colston is out. The Bears defense was impressive holding Atlanta to 12 points. Brian Urlacher was named the NFC’s defensive player of the year. Matt Forte and Jay Cutler had big games on offense.
New Orleans is dominant at home, and the Bears can be beat on the road by good teams. But now there’s some extra motivation as Brian Urlacher’s mom died. When Brett Favre’s dad died, Farve threw for 400 yards and the Packers crushed the Raiders in Oakland. Lance Briggs said they want to support their friend, and Urlacher is coming off a huge game. If he can stay focused, he might play even better this week.
The line is New Orleans by 7. Without the extra motivation, the Saints would probably win by 10. But we’ve seen impact players step up when personal issues hit. The Bears stay within 7, and probably win the game.
Finally, the Green Bay Packers play their first road game against the Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton threw for a rookie record of 422 yards passing in his first NFL game. And while that is impressive, he wasn’t under a lot of pressure, and most of the receivers were open, or at least had good position where the throw was safe. His targets make it easy. He has Steve Smith, Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey to throw to. The running game makes it easy to be balanced run and pass with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart carrying the ball.
The Packers have the NFC Offensive player of the week, Aaron Rodgers. A few other items of note. Defensive lineman Mike Neal had knee surgery and is expected to be out at least 4-6 weeks. James Jones wasn’t happy about the amount of time he was on the field (19 snaps, most in running formations). Tramon Williams has an arm injury and hasn’t practiced and might not play. Ryan Grant started at running back, but in the second half James Starks got more carries and was playing when the game was on the line. Grant might be the starter, but Starks is the go-to guy. Grant is more patient and waits for the block, Starks likes to find an opening (or not), and go, especially on short yardage situations.
The line is Green Bay by 10. With Neal out, someone on the D line needs to get some pressure on the QB so they can’t focus on Clay Matthews. With Tramon Williams doubtful, the Packers are still in good shape with Charles Woodson and Sam Shields at corner. Either can shut down Smith. And Dom Capers will find a way to confuse the rookie, and probably get to him as well. The Pack stays unbeaten, winning by 14.