Monday, January 14, 2008

Packers are early 7 point favorites

The oddsmakers have made the Packers an early 7 favorite for Sunday's NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. Considering the Packers are as healthy as they have been all season, and the Giants are hurting, that seems to be a fair spread at this point. Now, factor in the weather forecast for Sunday and that adds another entire dimension to the game. Single digit temperatures are forecast for the game, with perhaps a high of 7. Throw in the wind chill...maybe not the Ice Bowl, but could be close. This will be the latest that a game has ever been played at Lambeau.

The early take -- at least from here -- is that the Packers' defense should be able to keep -- change that, must keep -- the Giants' offense in check. If they can get to "the other Manning" a few times, he can be rattled. Given the air temps, and depending upon the wind, the ground game will be key. The Giants have two good running backs. But if the Packers' "D" plays as they did against the Seahawks, their impact can be minimized.

That takes us over to the offensive side of things. The Packers are firing on all cylinders, and have their full complement of weapons. The offensive line will be challenged once again by a very good front four, including perhaps the best pair of defensive ends they've faced all year. When the Pack played the Giants earlier in the season, Michael Strahan was still rounding back into form after a training camp holdout and Osi Umenyiora had a banged up knee. Strahan played with a groin injury yesterday against the Cowboys, but replays showed many occasions when the Cowboys still double-teamed him. Tackle Mark Tauscher will once again be called upon to bring his he always does. He neutralized league sack leader Patrick Kerney into a non-entity during the game Saturday. He will need to do the same with Strahan. Chad Clifton will have to maintain control of Umenyiora, who has quick moves. But given the fact that these teams have both played each other, they pretty well know what to expect.

Brett will need to manage the passing game as he did Saturday, and Ryan Grant will need to reprise his fumble-free game. Hanging on to the football will be key. Conditions will be challenging, the field may be frozen, and the Super Bowl is on the line.

It's kind of like the Blue Brothers equivalent of "We've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, we're wearing sunglasses, and it's night. Hit it!"

Poll Open
Newly added to the righthand column (under the store link) is the poll for this week's game: What will be the Packers' margin of victory versus the Giants? Voting is now open and will continue until gametime on Sunday.