So...I kind of dropped the ball last week. Midterms caught up with me, and a big Halloween weekend in Madison (including two great Badger Hockey games and that 37-0 shellacking of Purdue) left me with no time on Friday to write a preview for that depressing game last week. But maybe it was for the best. That game was analyzed to death beforehand, and I don't know that I would have come up with anything new that would have been insightful or interesting anyway. In any case, I just wrapped up my one midterm for this week, and since there's none of the holiday craziness in the People's Republic of Madison this weekend, I can actually take a little time off to write up a preview.
The Packers have been fairly predictable this year. They beat the bad teams soundly (STL, DET, CLE) and lose to the very good teams (CIN, MIN). If that trend holds up, the Pack should beat Tampa by double digits this weekend. That said, here are a few things to watch.
1. The Offensive Line (big shocker here)
This is a perfect opportunity to rebound after the line was beaten like a drum by Jared Allen et al. A struggling Buccaneers defense without Monte Kiffin is exactly what the Packers' big uglies want to see to get some confidence back. When I look at your roster and the most recognizable names on the defensive line are Chris Hovan and Michael Bennett, I feel pretty good about going up against your defense. (And I only recognize the name Michael Bennett because he shares a name with a former badger running back).
This guy is quickly becoming one of my favorite players to watch, mainly because he is EVERYWHERE. I must digress here. In my fantasy league with Mitchell, one of our best friends from high school decided on Tuesday after the Browns game that he wanted to pick up Havner because his top TE was on a bye and his 2nd option, Jermichael Finley, just suffered his injury. The problem was, he wasn't even eligible as a TE yet on ESPN's fantasy service. We all laughed him off, and let him play a man down with an empty TE spot and I, as the commish, promised to add him if/when ESPN updated their rosters or give him credit for whatever points he did accrue. Little did we know that Havner would catch those two TDs against the Vikes and make our friend look like a freakin' genius. Anyway, back to my point. I'll be curious to see if Havner is still as involved in the offense as he's been the last two weeks. Plus, I love watching him cover kicks.
3. Linebacker issues
With the loss of Brandon Chillar, someone (I'm looking at you, A.J. Hawk) will need to step up and play well against the run this Sunday. Hawk showed flashes of his potential against a lesser team in Cleveland. Can he do it again in Tampa? I hope so. Then again, he vanished against Minnesota, proving that the Browns can literally make anyone look good on the right day. Hopefully Hawk will earn some extra confidence this week in the same way the O-line does.
Now I'm off to my last class of the day before Badger women's and men's hockey games at 2 and 7 respectively. As always, GO PACK GO!