Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 8 Preview
In this issue:
The Vikings host the Bucs
The Bears host Carolina
The Lions host Seattle
Green Bay hosts the Jags
The Minnesota Vikings are undefeated at home and look to stay that way when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night on the NFL Network. Josh Freeman is coming off a huge game where he threw for over 400 yards. Sounds impressive, but it was against the Saints who haven’t slowed down a passing offense all season. On the other side, Christian Ponder had a horrible game, especially in the second half, and had just 58 yards passing. It was against Arizona who has a good pass defense.
So the Vikings will probably do a little better offensively, the Bucs won’t do as well. Adrian Peterson had over 150 yards rushing against the Cards. The home numbers for the Vikings look stronger than the away numbers for Tampa Bay. Specifically, the Vikings score 25 points per game and allow 14, while the Bucs score 22 and give up over 28. The line is Minnesota by 7. The Vikings should win, but 7 is a lot to give, especially when the offense looked pretty pathetic last Sunday. But the Bucs haven’t done well on the road, so 7 is about right. The pick is Minnesota, but don’t be surprised if Tampa Bay keeps it close.
The Chicago Bears host the Carolina Panthers. The Bears defense played a great game, and they had to with the offense taking the night off against the Lions. Detroit turned the ball over 4 times, including several times in the red zone. The Lions got pressure on Jay Cutler, and he doesn’t play well when he doesn’t have time. When things are going well, so is Cutler. When he is under pressure he doesn’t perform well (Detroit and Green Bay). This time he had a decent excuse, Ndamukong Suh landed on him. While he was able to return to the game, he wasn’t able to put up very good numbers, unlike pretty much any other quarterback against the Lions secondary.
The Panthers aren’t good. Cam Newton, who had a great rookie season, is struggling this year. The Panthers fired their GM and head coach Ron Rivera said that other changes are possible, such as getting rid of coaches or players, or benching players. Nice to know the big guy has your back.
There is no line, but Chicago is the home team and the better team. One thing to keep in mind is that Carolina is averaging 4.5 sacks per game on the road this season. If they can get to Cutler and Cam can have a flashback game to last season, the Panthers can win. Not a very good chance of that happening, but we can hope.
The Detroit Lions host Seattle. The Seahawks are in every game they play, especially at home. Yeah, they’ve been lucky, getting credit for a win over Green Bay and coming back with a late rally against New England at home. They rely on defense and a running game and rookie QB Russell Wilson not turning the ball over (or throwing for much over a buck fifty a game). But they are just 1-3 on the road.
The Lions have the same key players as last year, but there is little resemblance to last season’s playoff team. Well, the weaknesses are still there—a secondary that gives up big plays, an iffy O line and a lack of a running game. The strengths from last year, a dynamic passing offense and a dominating front four haven’t been the same. And now Nate Burleson is lost for the season with a broken leg.
There is no line. The Lions are 1-1 at home, this is just their
third home game in the first 8 weeks. The Seahawks aren’t the same team on the road. After playing well against Chicago other than turnovers, I think the Lions find a way to win this week.
The Green Bay Packers host the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags were offensively challenged before Sunday. In their game against the Raiders, running back Maurice Jones-Drew was injured and is expected to be out a few weeks. In addition, quarterback Blaine Gabbart was injured, a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. Some people would call it his left shoulder. Either way, it would affect his throwing motion and while he hasn’t been ruled out, he won’t play.
The Packers lost Charles Woodson at the end of the Rams game. In addition, starters Greg Jennings, Cedric Benson, BJ Raji, Nick Perry, DJ Smith (out for the season) and Sam Shields missed that game. This is written before the injury reports later in the week, but Benson is out and it’s unlikely Jennings will play. The Packers don’t need any of these guys and are still the better team.
So this week isn’t about winning—there is no reason to lose to the Jags if Gabbart and MJD aren’t playing. It’s about moving on with who is available. Can Alex Green be effective at running back? How will Mike McCarthy get Randall Cobb more touches? Casey Heyward is better than Shields already, although he doesn’t have the speed of Shields. Can the D line get after the quarterback? Will the absence of Woodson be noticed?
The schedule helps-with two offensively challenged teams (the Jags and the Cardinals) and a bye week to work in the new guys replacing Woodson. At 36 and having lost a little in recent years (he gets flagged for holding and illegal contact more than most), he isn’t the same guy he was in the Super Bowl season of 2010. Still, the defense is showing signs of improvement.
Another game with no line. Without the starting quarterback or running back, this could be ugly. On the season, the Jags score about 23 points a game, and give up about the same in their road games. But the Packers aren’t much different at home, although they are starting to light up the scoreboard in recent games (which were on the road in Houston and St. Louis). The Packers win by 14.