Crystal Ball Gazing: A Look Ahead at the Green Bay Packers' Second Half
This time of the year brings out some frightening and horrifying images. The Halloween season attracts ghosts, ghouls, and monsters of all shapes and sizes.
Fortunately, the Green Bay Packers’ schedule in the second half of the 2008 football season isn’t as terrifying as undead zombies or blood-sucking vampires.
Will the Packers scare up enough wins to make it to the postseason?
Come along with me as we peer into the crystal ball to see what the second half of 2008 has in store...if you dare.
Week Nine: @ Tennessee Titans (7-0)
Straight off the bye week, Green Bay faces the best team in the league in the Music City. After soundly defeating the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night, the Tennessee Titans moved to 7-0 and are the sole undefeated team remaining in the NFL.
Kerry Collins has effectively led the Titans’ offense following Vince Young’s injury and off-field drama. However, it has been the Tennessee running attack that has stepped up and put points on the board. Halfback Chris Johnson is a lightning-fast back who is fifth in the league in rushing yards (626), and LenDale White has provided the thunder, finding the end zone 10 times.
On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth continues to be a beast, racking up 27 tackles and six sacks.
The Packers’ bugaboo this season has been stopping the run, and the Titans could take advantage of that. Despite Green Bay getting some of its injured defenders back, Tennessee will pound the rock to a victory.
Prediction: Tennessee 28, Green Bay 17
Week 10: @ Minnesota Vikings (3-4)
Looking for revenge following a loss at Lambeau on the season’s first Monday night, the Vikings again feature a running game that could give the Packers fits. Despite that, Minnesota Head Coach Brad Childress opted to throw the ball more often than was expected in Week One.
Star running back Adrian Peterson was handed the ball only 19 times in the opening-week matchup, his third-lowest total of the year.
With Gus Ferotte under center instead of Tarvaris Jackson, the Vikings will put up a good fight again, but Green Bay will get the job done in the HHH Metrodome, using turnovers to spark the victory.
Prediction: Green Bay 21, Minnesota 16
Week 11: Chicago Bears (4-3)
The first time the two storied rivals meet this season will no doubt have playoff implications.
The surprisingly-efficient play of quarterback Kyle Orton has helped propel the Bears to the top of the NFC North, along with the solid running of Matt Forte and an always-tenacious defense.
In what should be the first of two epic contests between the evenly-matched foes, I have to go with the home team in game one.
Prediction: Green Bay 31, Chicago 27
Week 12: @ New Orleans Saints (4-4)
New Orleans may be sporting a depleted roster when the Packers come into town. Reports flooded in last week concerning several Saints players and the use of a banned substance.
If the implicated players (who are appealing the ruling together) are handed suspensions, it will force the team to completely restructure.
The impending suspensions, an injury to Reggie Bush, and a defense that can be suspect at times should be enough to give the Packers the advantage in this one.
Prediction: Green Bay 34, New Orleans 24
Week 13: Carolina Panthers (6-2)
The cream of the NFC South crop heads to Green Bay in what could be a playoff preview in Week 13.
The Panthers have used a balanced attack to start the season with a 6-2 record. The Jake Delhomme-to-Steve Smith combination has been particularly dangerous, with Delhomme tossing four of his nine touchdowns to Carolina’s No. 1 wideout.
The Panthers’ defense must also take some credit for the team’s early-season success, as Carolina has held opponents to 10 points or less five times.
Playing at Lambeau might not help the Packers as much as it did in the past, as evident by Green Bay’s loss to Atlanta earlier this year. That looks like it could also be the case here.
Prediction: Carolina 21, Green Bay 17
Week 14: Houston Texans (3-4)
Quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson make a formidable duo, and Steve Slaton is dangerous in the backfield, but the Texans aren’t yet ready to compete with the league’s elite.
Prediction: Green Bay 30, Houston 14
Week 15: @ Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)
Jacksonville’s 3-4 record is not indicative of how talented the team is. Stuck in the logjam in second place in the AFC South, the Jaguars still rely on their two-headed monster in the backfield.
Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor have somewhat underperformed this year, as Jacksonville ranks 16th in the league in rushing. Quarterback David Garrard already has more interceptions this year (four) than all of last year (three).
The defense has also been mediocre at best, ranking in the bottom half of the league in total yards, passing yards, and touchdowns allowed.
That being said, the Jags will be battle-tested by this point in the season and get the Packers at home. I give a slight edge to Jacksonville in this one.
Prediction: Jacksonville 17, Green Bay 13
Week 16: @ Chicago Bears
In a contest that will possibly play a huge role in deciding the division championship, the Bears will try to avenge the previously-predicted loss in Week 11.
However, it will be Green Bay that gets retribution.
Making up for last year’s season sweep at the hands of the Bears, the Packers will go 2-0 against the Monsters of the Midway in 2008.
Prediction: Green Bay 23, Chicago 20
Week 17: Detroit Lions (0-7)
The final game of the season could greatly affect Green Bay’s playoff hopes. Luckily, the Packers get one of the worst teams in the league at home to finish out the year.
Detroit has struggled all season and is still in search of win No. 1. The team lost QB Jon Kitna to injured reserve and wide out Roy Williams to the Cowboys.
The Packers will want to make a statement and gain momentum heading into the playoffs. Green Bay should get a sizable lead and rest their starters to prepare for the postseason.
Prediction: Green Bay 37, Detroit 13
Bottom Line: Green Bay finishes with a 10-6 record and wins the NFC North
Granted, these predictions are based on the current situations of each team. As most fans know, anything can happen over the course of just a few weeks in the NFL. But for now, as I see it, the Packers should make a playoff run in 2008.
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