Gregor’s Packer Analysis
Week 17 Preview
In this issue:
The Bears need a win and are big fans of the Packers
The Packers need a win, the Vikings need one more
Oh the irony of it all. The Chicago Bears need a win and then they need help. Help from the Green Bay Packers. If they win and the Packers win, they are in the playoffs. Chicago has some injury issues. Matt Forte, Tim Jennings and Brian Urlacher all missed practice during the week. One or more of them could miss the game on Sunday.
Not that it will matter. Detroit didn’t play for four quarters last week and that was when they were trying to get Calvin Johnson (who also missed practice) the single season record for receiving yards (they did). This week, the Bears are desperate for a win. The Lions are desperate to pack up and get out of town. Their season is already over, but it’s official after the game on Sunday.
The line is Chicago by 3. It could stay close because both teams have key injuries. Calvin Johnson is the only reliable wide receiver the Lions have left (Stafford also looks for tight end Tony Scheffler). If he doesn’t play, it’s an easy win for the Bears. If he does, then the Chicago injuries are a bigger problem. They’ll try to pad his numbers. But even with backups, the Bears are motivated to win the game. And cheer for the Packers. Bears by 7.
The Green Bay Packers take on the Vikings in Minnesota this week. The Packers will get the second seed and a first round playoff bye with a win. Even if they lose the Packers will be the 3rd seed (they’ll still be the second seed if Seattle and San Francisco both lose—highly unlikely), but that means playing on Wild Card weekend instead of the bye. They would also have to travel to the second seed, either San Francisco or Seattle if they win on Wild Card Weekend. To beat those teams on the road would be extremely difficult. It was close in Seattle on the Monday Night game. Seattle is at a different level right now.
But the Packers are in. The Vikings probably have to win to get in. They could lose and get help to get in, but with a win they are sure to be in as a Wild Card. They also want Adrian Peterson to get 208 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record. While that sounds like a lot, he got 210 yards in the first game at Green Bay. The Vikings won’t get much through the air so Peterson will need a big game, including at least a few runs that end up in the end zone to stay close.
The Packers are getting Jordy Nelson back this week and Josh Sitton is coming back from a concussion, but won’t have Charles Woodson or James Starks. The offense will depend on the offensive line, especially tackles Marshall Newhouse and Don Barclay. If they can keep Jared Allen and the Vikings pass rush off Aaron Rodgers the Packers will be fine. If not, they’ll need to keep tight ends or backs in to block and that limits what they can do.
Teams will usually play their starters most or all of the last game of the regular season if they have a bye week coming, but will pull out their starters much earlier or sit some key players the whole game if they have to play again the next week. At this point the Packers don’t know where they are at. The game figures to be close and Mike McCarthy has said that the 2nd seed is more desirable than the 3rd seed. So the Packers will likely play their starters most or all of the game unless it’s a blowout one way or the other.
The line is Green Bay by 3. That sounds about right, but if the Packers have a double digit lead in the second half it will be tough for the Vikings to come back since they don’t pass well, especially without Percy Harvin. Throwing to the tight end is reliable, but seldom results in big plays. Peterson is the guy who can get chunks of yardage. Hard to go against a team in a must win situation, and while Minnesota has the better running game, Green Bay has a far superior quarterback and receivers. This is a passing league and the game is in a dome so weather won’t be a factor. Crowd noise can be, but not if the home team is down big. If the Packers get the second seed they probably make the Super Bowl because they can win in Atlanta. If they are the 3rd seed they have to win next week just to have a chance to play against Seattle or San Francisco on the road in the Divisional Round, and they probably don’t win at either place. So it’s win or no playoffs for the Vikings. Win or no Super Bowl for the Packers. Green Bay by 10.