Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 6 Preview
In this issue:
The Lions get back to work in Philly
The Vikings head to Washington
The Packers play in Houston on SNF
The Detroit Lions had a bye last week. They needed it, getting off to a 1-3 start. The Lions haven’t looked good on offense, and the defense hasn’t shown any real improvement so far. It’s somewhat surprising that the offense completes 67% of the passes thrown, and the defense allows a completion percentage of 66%. Not that the Lions wouldn’t be good throwing the ball, nobody is going to stop Calvin Johnson. And the secondary isn’t good, so the opponents will complete a high percentage of passes. It’s just strange to see the completion percentage almost identical for offense and defense.
This week, they play another team that has struggled, especially Michael Vick. So much so that Andy Reid is being asked if Vick will the starter. This is a guy that just signed a big contract last year, but other than one season has had a hard time completing passes. He’s also had a hard time staying healthy. Philly can run the ball while Detroit can’t. They aren’t great at stopping the run, but that won’t be much of a factor since the Lions can’t run anyway. Matthew Stafford has been a good quarterback for a few years.
The line is Philly by 5 and a half. This looks like a close game. If Vick doesn’t turn it over, the Eagles should win by a touchdown. If he does and the Lions are plus 2 or better, Detroit can steal a win. Philly.
The Redskins have been entertaining but not necessarily winning, starting 2-3. Robert Griffin III took a big hit and suffered a mild concussion last week, but has been cleared to play this week. Christian Ponder threw his first 2 picks of the season last week, but the Vikings still won easily to improve to 4-1.. He doesn’t throw deep, but he doesn’t turn it over. Adrian Peterson is back and looks as good or better than before the knee injury. The defense has been solid but hasn’t faced a great offense yet. The Redskins don’t qualify as a great offense, but they can be exciting. Injuries have taken a toll, especially at running back.
Minnesota is one of the surprise teams of the year. They aren’t at home, so even though Washington isn’t a great team, the Vikings have to show they aren’t just good at home. Their only loss of the season is a road loss. The line is the Redskins by 2 and a half. That says the Vikings are the better team. They are. Minnesota wins by 4.
The Green Bay Packers (2-3) have lost two games in the last minutes / last play of the game. Houston is 5-0 and hasn’t found a way to lose yet, although the Jets had chances Monday Night. With the Bears and the Vikings at 4-1, the Packers are already in bad position. Plenty of season left, and you don’t have to look any further than the Giants (twice, 2007 and 2011) and the Packers in 2010 to know that a team that struggles early and gets hot at the end of the season can ride the momentum all the way to the Super Bowl.
But the Packers don’t have the look of a Super Bowl team right now. With Cedric Benson out, there is no proven running back. With BJ Raji hobbling, the D line’s best player isn’t at full strength and might not play this week. The O line has given up 18 sacks. Greg Jennings is out and is making the Packers re-think the strategy of letting him go after this season. He’s a legit number one receiver, it’s clear that there isn’t another number one on the roster. Jordy Nelson does a lot better when he doesn’t have the opponent’s best corner on him, and on down. Rodgers has missed open receivers more often than last year. The receivers have been dropping the ball way too often. They are in too many games that are decided on the last possession. Elite teams put other teams away.
The Texans haven’t played a tough schedule. Their numbers are impressive, they’ve been able to stay in the league leaders in several categories on both offense and defense.
On paper, the Texans win. But the Packers have seen first hand that the better team doesn’t always win. They need to come out inspired, they need to take care of the ball, and they need replacements at running back and on the D line to play well. Look for the Packers to run the ball with Alex Green and maybe James Starks. Rodgers will have to make quicker decisions, or JJ Watt will add to his sack total early and often.
The line is Houston by 5.5. Green Bay fans hope this is the week the Packers look like a Super Bowl contender. The Texans have had that look all season but haven’t really played a tough schedule and the Jets hung around. The Packers have the talent, and if they have the motivation and execution they will win. But other than the Chicago game, that hasn’t happened this season. Tough to make a pick based on hope. Texans by 7.