Sunday, November 01, 2009

Packers - ViQueens Game 2 Preview

Perhaps this post should be subtitled, "The Day the Earth Stood Still: Brett Favre Returns to Lambeau Field." Others have taken to calling this day Favre-a-Palooza and Favreaggedon. OK, headbanging...yes, the ultimate end-times, no. Sure, the game will likely be another ratings winner for Fox Sports. They are supposedly going to even new lengths to hype this game via a "Favre cam," a camera dedicated to following Favre all over the field, including the sidelines.

The question which has dominated Wisconsin sports media all week, both print and broadcast, has been how the fans will react -- should react -- when Ol' #4 enters the playing field. The growing consensus seems to be that, as there will be no individual introductions of ViQueens players, fans should -- as they usually do -- boo vociferously the entire 'Queens team, including Favre, when they enter onto the Frozen Tundra. Yes. Definitely. And, just as vociferously, cheer the Pack -- and especially, Aaron Rodgers -- when the players are introduced.

On ESPN, the pundits discussed how Favre will handle the game. Favre admits to being nervous. Not surprising. Tom Jackson said Favre's comments about his current team being the best he's ever played on -- and thus disrespecting the Reggie White-led Super Bowl teams -- really left fans with a bad taste in their mouths (paraphrasing) if there wasn't a bad taste there before.

Former Packers LeRoy Butler and Gilbert Brown spoke to the Favre situation and comments recently as well. Butler said "If you're not in Green 'n' Gold then I don't root for you." Brown, speaking to Favre's "best team" comment on ESPN radio earlier this week, said Jared Allen "couldn't hold Reggie White's jockstrap." Gilbert always did have a way with words. When asked if he would look forward to sacking Favre if he had the chance, he said he would definitely do so. "I wouldn't do the 'Grave Digger' on him (Brown's post-sack celebration move) but I would fart on him." Thank you, Gilbert. May we have another?

Anyway, lots of verbal banter on both sides of things. But to the Packers' players credit, they just seem focused on the task at hand. And well they should. If they beat the 'Queens today they go to 5-2 on the season and travel to Tampa Bay for what is expected to be another win next weekend, taking them to 6-2. The 'Queens, on the other hand, with a loss today will be 6-2 with their bye week coming up. Thus, the Packers and ViQueens could essentially be all tied up 2 weeks from now. That's if the Pack wins today.

The bottom line today
The spread is the Pack by 3, the old home field advantage line. The teams are a little different than when playing a few weeks ago. The Packers are arguably a bit deeper, especially on the offensive line and defensive backfield. The ViQueens are arguably a bit weaker, particularly in the defensive backfield and at receiver. The Packers need to reprise the great defensive job they did on 'Queens RB Adrian Peterson.

But they need to find a way to get pressure on Favre. Interesting stat: the Packers blitzed on just 16.7% of passes in the first meeting in Minnesota and the results, as we know, were not good; you can't give Favre time to throw. Last Sunday in their game at Pittsburgh, the Steelers blitzed Minnesota an estimated 60% of the time. Result? Steelers got to Favre and got a win. It's a definite balancing act for Packers defensive coordinator, Dom Capers. S Atari Bigby was out for the Pack last time around and there were major communication breakdowns in the defensive backfield. It's been bandied about that that was one of the main reasons Capers didn't blitz more in that game: he just didn't trust the backup safety, Derrick Martin, to be in proper cover positions. But Bigby's back. LB Aaron Kampman has begun playing some down pass rush positions and getting to the QB like the good ol' days. Rookie LB Clay Matthews shows he knows how to create some problems. If ever there was a time when the defense can show that the last couple games against mediocre opponents weren't just flukes, this is it.

I think the offensive line will help Ryan Grant -- and maybe even Ahman Green -- to get some runs going; that will help the passing game. I believe that they will do a better job protecting Aaron Rodgers. And I believe the Packers defense will do enough to keep Peterson and Favre in check.

Favre is wearing that funky purple. As Michael Corleone in The Godfather II told his brother Fredo after a betrayal, and we can say to Favre (until the time he returns in his retirement glory to Green Bay, of course): "You're dead to me. You're nothing to me now; you're not a brother, you're not a friend; I don't want to know you or what you do." Boo every time Favre touches the ball. Let him hear the wrath of Lambeau and Lombardi!

It will be a close one, as most of these games are. The home field advantage will count for a lot today. In fact, it might just be the difference.

We're drinking the Green 'n' Gold kool-aid again, Packers fans. We can do no less. Packers 20 - ViQueens 17.

Go Pack Go!!!