Brewers By The Numbers, Packers and Cowboys Preview

On Monday I blogged about the Milwaukee Brewers’ stunning firing of manager Ned Yost, hinting that the team’s collapse couldn’t get any worse.

Well, it did. On Tuesday, C.C. Sabathia lost his first game as a Brewer. On Wednesday, despite beating Chicago 6-2, the Brewers lost Ben Sheets, probably for the season, when he left the game complaining of soreness in his elbow. Then on Thursday, the Brewers suffered perhaps their most humiliating and deflating defeat of the season when Solomon Torres, nursing a 6-2 lead with two outs and nobody on, gave up four runs in the ninth inning, allowing the Cubs to tie the game and eventually win it in the 12th. 

Oh, and this just in: Ryan Braun has asked for a sabbatical from the Brewers to join the cast of Dancing With The Stars. And Corey Hart and Bill Hall both are nursing injuries after a team game of drunken Twister went horribly wrong.

OK, that last paragraph was full of lies. But after the month the Brewers have had, would either of those occurrences surprise you that much?

To put the Brewers’ September swoon in some objective perspective, I went to a Web site called Baseball Prospectus. On this site they run each team’s stats through some crazy computer program that’s way beyond my level of comprehension (hey, I could get my Atari 800 to repeat the word “booger” endlessly across the screen when I was about ten, then I lost interest in computer programming) to determine each team’s likelihood of reaching the postseason. According to Baseball Prospectus, on September 1, the Brewers had a 96 percent chance of making the playoffs. On September 19, that likelihood had plummeted to 37 percent. (In contrast, the Phillies started the month with a 38 percent chance of making the playoffs, and as of September 19, had a 88 percent likelihood of going to the postseason.)

Hey, after watching the Brewers over the last two weeks, 37 percent seems awfully high. They ain’t making the playoffs.

Even though it’s early in their season, one team that does seem destined for the postseason is the 2-0 Green Bay Packers, who face their most difficult test of the young season in this week’s no-brainer best game of the week when they welcome the 2-0 Dallas Cowboys to Lambeau Field. 

I’m not going to waste time building up any suspense here. I like the Packers to win this game, which looks to be an enjoyable, high-scoring game, perfect for NBC’s primetime Sunday Night Football showcase. Oddly enough, the Cowboys have never won at Lambeau Field. I repeat, the Cowboys have never won at Lambeau Field. I haven’t been that surprised by a football-related stat since I read that Raiders owner Al Davis is less than 100 years old. (Have you seen Davis lately? Dude looks like the Tales from the Crypt guy.) Also, Burlington, Wisconsin, native Tony Romo, who stinks in big games, will be the starter at LambeauField for the first time and will likely be nervous. I count on him fumbling once and getting picked twice. In his defense, he’ll probably also get to second base with half of Green Bay’s female population by sunrise Monday morning.

Elsewhere, when he wasn’t embarassing himself with his premature celebrations, Eagles rookie receiver DeSean Jackson torched the Cowboys’ secondary for 110 yards. That a rookie playing in his second game could do that on the road means that Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, and maybe even James Jones should have big games. Oh, and that new guy that throws the ball, who is second in the NFC in passer rating, should have a third-straight strong game.

I also expect the Tony Romo-to-Terrell Owens combination to come up big; if Kitna and Calvin Johnson can connect for six passes for 129 yards, T.O. and Romo should at least equal that. Jason Witten should be able to shake off a sore shoulder to get his as well.

In the running game, I worry about Ryan Grant. And since he’s on my fantasy team, I worry about Ryan Grant more than I worry about the fact that we’re heading into a global recession. (But I have Chester Taylor on my bench, which could be big if Adrian Peterson can’t go.) Grant rushed 15 times for 20 yards last week, and that was against Detroit’s horrid defense, which is as impenetrable as Sarah Palin’s daughters. If Grant can’t play — and maybe even if he can — Dallas, with Marion Barber and Felix Jones, will have a decided advantage in the running game, which could be huge in a game in which keeping the opponents’ offense off the field is important to winning.

So I give the edge to the Cowboys’ run game, I give the edge to the Packers’ pass game, and I give the edge to the Packers’ defense, particularly as it relates to the possibility of creating turnovers. And the Packers are at home, so I like the Packers. If I’m at all hesitant, it’s that the Packers have won playing two weak division opponents, beating one narrowly (Minnesota) and falling asleep on another, albeit briefly (Detroit). So it’s possible the Packers are not as good as we think. How they perform on Sunday night will clear that up as the winner will have to be considered, perhaps along with the New York Giants, as the best team in the NFC.

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One Response

  1. So how do you do that Atari trick!? And when are you going to eat what you said about the Packers beating the Cowboys? Always remember: Past results are no guarantee of future performance, grasshopper … and stop being so hard on Tony Romo. He’s no Troy Aikman, but don’t be hating the homies!

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