Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 15 Preview
In this issue:
The Vikings head to St. Louis
The Lions go to Arizona
The Packers travel to Chicago
The Vikings (7-6) are coming off a 21-14 win over the Bears at the Metrodome (or Mall of America Field). The Rams (6-6-1) found a way to win one late in Buffalo 15-12. Two teams with mediocre records. And as Bill Parcells once said, you are what your record says you are.
The Minnesota Vikings are excellent at running the football. Well, Adrian Peterson is anyway. When it comes to a passing game, not so much. Overall, they score about 22 points a game and give up about the same. But the numbers are much different home and away. At home, they score 25 and give up 19. On the road its almost the exact opposite: scores about 18 and gives up 26. This is not a home game for Minnesota. The Rams numbers don’t change much: they score 18 points a game home or away. They give up 23 points a game at home, and about 21 points a game overall.
The line is St. Louis by 2.5. While neither team scores a lot, the Vikings are just 1-5 on the road. Tough to go against the trend. Rams by 6.
The Detroit Lions are 4-9 and are looking to avoid double digit losses after making the playoffs last season. The Arizona Cardinals have been brutal since Kurt Warner retired. They keep trying to find the right quarterback, throwing money at Kevin Kolb (now on IR), using John Skelton, and even playing rookie Ryan Lindley. But they can’t score points regardless of who’s under center. Part of it is because they have no running game. They average 3.55 yards per carry but some games struggle to average 3. And just 14.5 points per game (18 at home).
The Lions have more passing attempts than anyone in the NFL. Then again, when you think about who you want to run with the ball, I think Calvin Johnson is a better option than any running back on the roster. And Matthew Stafford is having another big year. The Lions can put points on the board, but usually let the other team score a little more. The front four is one of the best, it’s the back 7 that they need to worry about, especially the secondary.
The line is Detroit by 5 and a half. They could blow out Arizona. But if they’ve given up on the season, they could give this one away. Lions by 4.
The 8-4 Packers take on the 8-4 Bears in Chicago. In the first meeting, Jay Cutler was sacked 7 times, threw 4 picks, and was more worried about yelling at linemen and receivers than making plays. He doesn’t like pressure. The Packers won 23-10 and it wasn’t that close. Fast forward to last week. The Bears lost to the Vikings in Minnesota, but Cutler tried to make plays even though he was taking hits, including one that knocked him out of the game. After starting 7-1, the Bears have gone 1-3. Now Brian Urlacher is out for the rest of the regular season, maybe longer.
Brandon Marshall decided to tell the world how he felt about the Packers. He wouldn’t use the word “hate”, but he really dislikes the Packers and the players. Jermichael Finley decided to comment on the Bears injury situation, saying that they are better off without Urlacher. Lance Briggs essentially said that comment wasn’t very smart. But watching Urlacher this year, he just looks slow. His interception return looked like he was in slow motion. The other players were at regular speed, he wasn’t. So while Urlacher has more experience than Nick Roach and does a great job of being in the right place and reading plays, the Bears really aren’t losing as much this year as they would have in previous seasons. So while they lose something it’s not as much as it could be. Finley wasn’t wrong. In response, Urlacher said the Packers won Super Bowl XLV when Finley was on IR so the Packers were definitely better without Finley. He has a point…
Green Bay has been on a roll. After the “loss” to the Seahawks to go 1-2, the Packers have won all but two games (Indy and the Giants). The Packers are starting to get players back. Last week, Sam Shields returned. This week, TJ Lang and Clay Matthews are expected back, and Mike Neal could play as well. Charles Woodson has already been ruled out this week, and the Packers will probably be without Jordy Nelson, James Starks and CJ Wilson again this week. .
While the Packers haven’t had a running back go over 100 yards this season, the team total has been over 100 yards in 4 out of the last 5 games. And Aaron Rodgers is having another great year throwing the ball. Finally, the defense is playing well.
Still, the Bears are in a must win situation. Alshon Jeffery is back. The Green Bay secondary can match up with Jeffery and Marshall. Matt Forte and Michael Bush are a solid tandem. Clay Matthews will help the pass rush. The question is which Jay Cutler will show up. If he’s under pressure, will he melt down or play on?
The line is Green Bay by 3. The guess is Cutler will try to make plays and keep it close. But Rodgers will make more plays. Packers win a close game, and 3 points sounds right. If anything, it might be a little less.