Back to the blog. Just a heads-up that during football season, I will be attempting to post commentaries on Badgers and Packers games that may or may not be included in the blog but will definitely be accessible elsewhere on Channel 3000. Just so you don’t think I’m not posting anything when in reality I try to post more stuff during football season.
So, here we go. Summer vacation is over, schools and universities are back in session, Big Brother is almost over (sigh) and the NFL season has begun with Thursday’s trashing of the Saints at the hands of the defending Super Bowl champ Colts. (Thanks for nothing, Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister. Glad I drafted you on my fantasy team.)
Actually, despite being largely embarrassed in the NFL’s annual kick-off spectacular, I still think the Saints will be fine going head-to-head with other NFC teams. There is just that whopping disparity between the best of the AFC and the best of the NFC.
Which brings us to the Packers. Should they be considered among “the best of the NFC”? How will they fare in Mike McCarthy’s sophomore campaign? Can a team post a winning record with almost no running attack? Let’s look at how I think the season will play out for the Packers in what will be Brett Favre’s last season. (Yep, I’m calling it. Now we don’t have to go through that interminable “will he or won’t he” offseason stuff. See, I just saved you like three months of worry.)
Week 1. Philadelphia. The Packers haven’t beaten the Eagles since 2000, and last year’s game was a good old-fashioned whooping, with Philly beating the Pack to the tune of 31-9. I don’t think Sunday’s season opener will be anywhere near as lopsided, but two trends are working against the Packers — their slow start of recent years, and the Eagles’ recent domination of the Packers. Plus the Eagles have Brian Westbrook and the Packers have Brandon Jackson. Final score: Eagles 27, Packers 21.
Week 2. at New York Giants. The Giants make a lot of news, and none of it very good. Seems like no one, past or present, likes the coach, no one, past or present, thinks Eli Manning is anything more than Fredo Corleone to brother Payton’s Michael, and — oh yeah — their best player retired. I like the Packers to win their first road contest. Final score: Packers 20, Giants 13.
Week 3. San Diego. Remember what I said about the disparity between the NFC and AFC? While I think the massive turnover among San Diego’s coaching staff will be their downfall this season, their stash of offensive weapons will serve them fine this week. Plus the Chargers have LaDainian Tomlinson and the Packers have Brandon Jackson. Final score: Chargers 30, Packers 20.
Week 4. at Minnesota. Some people think the Vikings will be OK this year, with the addition of Adrian Peterson bolstering what was a pathetic offense last season. I’m not one of those people. Plus the Packers have Brett Favre and the Vikings have Tavaris Jackson. Final score: Packers 13, Vikings 10.
Week 5. Chicago. Trading away Thomas Jones in favor of Cedric Benson was a colossal mistake by the Bears. No team that lost in the Super Bowl has returned to the Super Bowl the next season for fifteen years. I don’t think Rex Grossman will ever get better. In short, I don’t expect that much from the Bears this season. Final score: Packers 24, Bears 21.
Week 6. Washington. I keep wanting to pick the Redskins to be a playoff contender this season. I like Chris Cooley. I like Santana Moss. I like Ladell Betts and Clinton Portis (if Portis can stay or even get healthy). I think Jason Campbell could surprise. But I just can’t pick this team to do very well. I just don’t like this team period. Final score: Packers 30, Redskins 21.
Week 7. Bye. The Packers and their fans take time to enjoy the team’s 4-2 record and three-game win streak.
Week 8. at Denver. The enjoyment doesn’t last long as the Packers head to Mile High for a Monday night matchup. Jay Cutler’s going to be better this year, Travis Henry was a good pick-up, and Javon Walker will be excited to play against his former team. Every year there’s a game like this, and I think this will be the game. Luckily, Ron Jaworski puts enough people to sleep that most of America will miss much of the lopsided affair. Final score: Broncos 42, Packers 21. (This one’s for departing WISC-TV sports anchor Alanna Rizzo, who’s is returning home to Colorado and her beloved Broncos. Good luck, Alanna!)
Week 9. at Kansas City. Remember what I said about the disparity between the NFC and the AFC? Fortunately, Kansas City will be not only one of the worst teams in the AFC, but one of the worst teams in football, period. Being at home will help them, but not much. Not convinced? Damon Huard is their starting quarterback. Enough said. Final score: Packers 35, Chiefs 14.
Week 10. Minnesota. Even when the rest of the league seemed to be intimidated by playing at Lambeau Field, the Vikings never seemed to be. But (see above), the Vikings won’t be that good, and Adrian Peterson will just about be hitting the wall around this point in his rookie season. Final score: Packers 13, Vikings 10.
Week 11. Carolina. You know what the Panthers are? Boring. You know what else they are? On the downward spiral. Sure, they’ve got Steve Smith, but Jake Delhomme’s best days are behind him and the DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams are DeOverrated. Final Score: Packers 20, Panthers 10.
Week 12. at Detroit. By this point in the season (Thanksgiving Day), we’ll know whether these Lions are the Lions of old or the 10-win Lions that QB Jon Kitna thinks they’ll be. Last I checked, Kitna went to Central Washington and not MIT. Translation: He’s not that smart. And last I checked, Matt Millen was still in charge of this team. And last I checked, they have a lot of sexy wide receivers that underachieve and not much else. Final score: Packers 24, Lions 21.
Week 13. at Dallas. I’m not that sold on Dallas. Nor do I buy any of the talk that this year’s Dallas team will be better off with Wade Phillips as opposed to Bill Parcells. But I think Tony Romo will be good enough, and Julius Jones and Marion Barber will be a solid backfield. Plus some guy named Terrell Owens is pretty good. Unfortunately, most people around Madison won’t be able to see what should a good game because it’s being carried by the NFL Network. Final score: Cowboys 28, Packers 27.
Week 14. Oakland. I may be woozy from the loss of blood from too many mosquito bites, but I actually think the Raiders might not stink this year. They’ll have a pretty good defense, and should have a solid running attack with Dominic Rhodes and LaMont Jordan. I even think Josh McCown might not be too bad. All this adds up to an upset special: Raiders 20, Packers 13.
Week 15. at St. Louis. St. Louis could be a sleeper team this year. If you can call a team with Steven Jackson, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Marc Bulger a sleeper team. Final score: Rams 30, Packers 17.
Week 16. at Chicago. Look for the Packers to take the broom to the Bears. Plus, the game’s right around the holidays (December 23), and we all know that Rex Grossman will have better things — like Christmas shopping and New Year’s Eve party plans — on his mind. Final score: Packers 16, Bears 10.
Week 17. Detroit. I’m giving this game to the Lions only because if all of my previous predictions are right (yeah, right), the Packers would sweep the NFC North with a win in this game. And I just can’t see that happening. Let’s say that with Rod Marinelli almost certain to be fired at season’s end, the Lions muster enough cohesiveness to win this game. Final score: Lions 21, Packers 14.
So they you go. 9-7. A one-game improvement on last season. Not good enough to make Favre’s swansong truly memorable, but still a positive as he goes out on a winning note.
Enjoy the football. And the Big Brother finale. Seriously CBS, can’t you do that show year-round?