Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 4 Preview
In this issue:
The Vikings travel to Detroit
The Bears head to Dallas
The Packers host the Saints
The Vikings need to get a better travel planner. Nobody wants to go to Detroit, but if you do, you might as well play the Lions when they are reeling; coming off an overtime loss to the Titans, and an injury to quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Vikings had split games with the Colts and the Jaguars, then stunned San Francisco in week 3 in Minnesota. The Lions lost to the Niners and the Titans, beating St. Louis with a 4th quarter comeback at home.
Minnesota averages about 23 points a game, giving up 20. None of the teams they have played have the offense of the Lions. Detroit averages 29 points, but gives up 31. They gave up 44 to the Titans, who did nothing the first 2 weeks, but they also put up 41.
The line is Detroit by 4. It’s likely Stafford will play after suffering the leg injury, but will he play the whole game? Detroit quarterbacks have only been sacked 4 times in 3 games. Minnesota has sacked the quarterback 7 times in 3 games. The Lions defense is a big question mark, giving up points to St. Louis and Tennessee, who have struggled to score in other games. Add to it Stafford’s status, and it’s likely the Vikings stay within 4. In fact, the way Christian Ponder is playing, I’ll take Minnesota straight up.
The Bears play in Dallas on Monday Night. Chicago has had some interesting games this season, beating up the teams with inexperienced quarterbacks and not much pass rush (Indy and St. Louis), and dominated by a good team (Green Bay had 7 sacks and 4 picks). The Cowboys started on opening night with a win over the Giants, then went to Seattle and got beat by 20 (it didn’t come down to the last play) before bouncing back against Tampa Bay in their home opener last week. Matt Forte didn’t play last week, but is expected back this week for the Bears.
The line is Dallas by 3 and a half. The Cowboys can get after the quarterback but are off to a modest start (7 times in 3 games). If Dallas can get pressure on Jay Cutler like the Packers did, Dallas wins. If Cutler has time like the other two games, Chicago gets the W. I like the Dallas D to make it tough on Cutler and win by 6.
Like 2011, the Packers host the New Orleans Saints early in the season. Unlike last year, when it was the NFL season opener, the Saints are struggling and come in with an 0-3 record. The Packers are 2-1, but after total incompetence by the replacement officials in Seattle Monday Night, the record is officially 1-2. The good news is the officiating was so bad that the NFL ended the zebra lockout. The regular refs are back for week 4. There will still be bad calls, but nobody expects the lack of control of the game or the obvious blunders made by the fake refs.
The Green Bay defense has been good since the San Francisco game, holding the Bears to 10 points and Seattle to 7 (14 officially, but everyone in America knows it’s 7—well, almost everybody). The Saints are better offensively than Chicago and Seattle so the score will probably go into the 20s or even the 30s. But the Packers have played 3 very good defensive teams, and the scoring average should go up from 19 points a game.
There are some reasons for that. The running game looked pretty good in the second half. The O line gave up 8 sacks in the first half, but Rodgers could have thrown it away at least a few times, and once he slipped and fell and was touched down. Jermichael Finley didn’t have his weekly drop(s). And the biggest reason is the Saints defense. Or lack thereof. New Orleans gives up about 5 yards a carry, and the most points in the NFC (102 points in 3 games, an average of 34 points a game).
The Packers are home. Mike McCarthy is playing on Sunday afternoon again. Mike likes routine, and Sunday afternoon is part of the routine. The Saints routine is to give up a lot of points. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t had a huge game yet this season. The Packers are stunned and angry after having a win yanked away by horrible officiating. Time to take it out on somebody. Looks like a perfect storm—inspired home team taking on a road team that can’t stop anyone. The Packers are a 7 point favorite. Before the season, this looked like a tough game. The Saints have an offense that could keep them in it. But expect the Packers to look like the 2011 version that scored at will. Green Bay by 13.