Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pack gets ready to tear Da Bearz a new one you think that headline is too over the top?


This is Packers-Bearz, baby! The greatest rivalry in football. Yeah, I know, the Pack vs. ViQueens thing has come on in recent years -- and has always been there for the Wisconsin-Minnesota border folks -- but really, there's nothing better than the epic clashes between the Packers and Da Bearz. Regardless of their respective records, the two games played each season take on an almost other-worldly aura.

With the season opener coming up Sunday night at Lambeau Field as the major primetime game, and based upon the Pack's preseason performance, how do you feel? Are you cautiously optimistic? Confident? Over-confident?

Packers players yesterday in their locker room media interviews indicated they are confident...but not overconfident. They all realize that, while performing well in the preseason, all that means nothing. Charles Woodson reminded reporters yesterday that for as good as they looked, the starters hadn't even played an entire game yet. He said the defense has come together faster than expected but he noted that there will still be errors made. Just telling it like it is.

The Packers have been installed (so far) as 3-1/2 point favorites. That's probably about right, practically speaking. Although as a fan, and considering the apparent disarray in Da Bearz secondary, one would think the Packers offense could have a very big night. Granted, the Pack is 2-4 in Mike McCarthy's tenure as head coach. But a stat was mentioned yesterday which was also stating the obvious: that in each of those six games the number of turnovers in favor of the winning team was extreme. Da Bearz, as even their fans will admit, have been winning games on defense for years. If the Packers offense doesn't turn the ball over, the Pack wins. If the Packers defense is able to rattle Jay Cutler -- who one commentator sarcastically said is the best QB Da Bearz have had since Sid Luckman -- and what few offensive weapons he has, maybe get a turnover or two, the Pack wins big. Still have to keep Da Bearz special teams in check, of course. That could be the Pack's Achilles heel, as it was when the Packers played at Chicago last season. And, of course, special teams is really the great unknown, especially going into the first game. Who knows how well they will cover punts and kicks? If they do at least a reasonable job, again, the Pack wins.

There are a few articles you might want to check out regarding the upcoming game. This one from today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel discusses the Packers offensive preparation and some of the challenges Da Bearz secondary is facing. There is also an interesting midweek report from Bill "The Big Unit" Michaels at 620WTMJ radio. Check out his blog here.

Raji might not play
The ankle injury that rookie NT B. J. Raji sustained in the final preseason game is not responding as well as he and coaches hoped. If Raji can't go as the back up to Ryan Pickett at nose tackle, Johnny Jolly will be the man in the middle. As noted in the game report post here regarding Raji's injury, it often seems as if these ankle injuries on big bubbas linger throughout the season and affect the player's productivity and impact. Let's hope that's not the case with Raji. The Packers drafted him to play an important role in this new defense. While you want to see him on the field against Da Bearz, you also don't want to aggravate an injury that could affect him the entire season. Will be interesting to see how the Packers trainers and coaching staff manage this injury. Keep your fingers crossed.