Bears-Packers. Week 17. The best rivalry in football, complete with playoff implications. What's better?
Dane took some time to share some questions with Acme Packing Company. You can find his answers to their questions over at their site. A big thanks to Brandon and the APC gang, and we look forward to the big sporting match on Sunday afternoon.
WCG: How much differently would the season have gone for the Packers had they not sent what is essentially a third of their roster to the IR? Would you guys truly have been an untouchable juggernaut?
Brandon: I don't think the stats or rankings would have been that much different, but the record would have been. The Packers have lost all 6 games by 4 points or less, and having all those players available would have helped in those close games. The major injuries were to the players who are still playing. They lost all four games when either Clay Matthews or Aaron Rodgers was injured mid-game or out for the entire game. It's a testament to the depth on the team that they've been able to hang together despite all the injuries.
WCG: What is the fanbase's current impression of the coaching staff, and the overall management of the team?
Brandon: It all depends on whether the team's lost. Some fans were calling for blood after losing to the Lions, while others were telling everyone to chill. Personally I think they're all doing a great job (special teams coach excepted.)
WCG: What are some key match-ups for us to keep an eye on both offensively and defensively this weekend?
Brandon: The defense has been susceptible to receiving tight ends, and they were much better against the run in 2009. Can Olson[sic] and Forte get it going? Knox and Hester are going to have trouble against Woodson and Williams, but the Packers nickelback has been injured this week. Can the Bears No. 3 receiver do some damage? The best thing to stop Aaron Rodgers is a strong pass rush (something the Giants manage last week) and will the Bears be able to pressure him?
WCG: How are the Packers special teams units performing this season, and how comfortable are you that they can stack up against the Bears ST units?
Brandon: The Packers special teams unit stinks. Nearly every key special teams gunner is out for the season, and their returners have done nothing. The Packers rookie punter is much better now than he was back in Week 3, and he won't be kicking to Devin Hester anymore. But overall the Packers aren't in the same league as the Bears special teams.
WCG: After watching Julius Peppers cause 700 yards in penalties during the first meeting, the Packers have really tightened up their ship. How did you guys nip that in the bud so quickly, and so effectively?
Brandon: Penalities were a major problem in 2009, and Mike McCarthy made it a point to turn that ship around in 2010. Their Week 3 matchup was a fluke. Overall they have the 4th fewest penalties per game. I haven't seen anything like that at any other point this season.
WCG: What will be the final score?
Brandon: Packers 31, Bears 17
Thanks again to the APC crew!