Who needs balance when you've got Favre?

Pigskin Pick 'Em

Posted: Friday, October 05, 2007

No running game. No problem. The Green Bay Packers have everything they need in Brett Favre.

Coming off a win at Minnesota in which he broke Dan Marino's record for most career touchdown passes, throwing a pair to up his career total to 422, Favre is leading one of the most lopsided offenses in the NFL.

But perhaps that's all you need, as the Packers are on the verge of their first 5-0 start since the AFL/NFL merger of 1970.

Their test this week, a Sunday night game on the near-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field against a crestfallen Chicago Bears' team, may have seemed a bit more formidable last season when the Bears' defense led them to the Super Bowl.

It's a new season, though, and Chicago's defense is seeping with vulnerability.

Just last week, the Bears' surrendered an NFL-record 34 fourth-quarter points to the Detroit Lions, although only 20 of those were actually recorded by an improved Lions' offense.

If Jon Kitna can complete 20-of-24 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception, Favre can certainly do better.

Even if he is throwing to Greg Jennings, James Jones, Ruvell Martin and tight end Donald Lee, along with veterans Donald Driver and Bubba Franks.

"Big things happen when you're playing with No. 4," Jennings told the NFL Network after hauling in Favre's record-breaking TD.

Clearly, they do.

Set to turn 38 on Wednesday, Favre is playing more like a 28-year-old, having thrown eight touchdowns to only two interceptions while completing nearly 66 percent of his passes for 1,205 yards.

And he was considering retirement?

Think again.

Perched alone atop the NFC Central while the Bears (1-3) are tied for last, the Packers, favored by three, own the NFL's worst rushing attack, amassing a mere 54.2 yards a game with no touchdowns, yet still boast the 12th best offense in the league.

Credit Favre with saving that ship from sinking by commandeering the second-best passing offense.

Rookie running back Brandon Jackson, hampered by injuries, leads the team, and he has 97 yards on 38 carries. DeShawn Wynn, another rookie, has the second-most carries on the team with 23, and he's totaled only 87 yards.

Luckily for Green Bay, though, the Bears seem to be having trouble finding holes themselves.

Trading Thomas Jones to the New York Jets after back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons is looking more foolish every week as second-year back Cedric Benson can't seem to carry the load, averaging just under 60 yards a game with one score.

And as usual, the Bears are still searching for a viable option at quarterback, having benched the inconsistent Rex Grossman last week in favor of veteran Brian Griese, who held is own against Detroit, but could struggle against an improved Packers' defense.

Griese will have to contend with DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who leads the team with 4 1/2 sacks and literally owns Chicago's offensive line, having totaled 11 sacks in the teams' last 10 meetings.

Just about the only thing the Packers have to fear is Chicago's kickoff and punt return specialist Devin Hester, who already has two returns for scores to his credit, one year removed from setting an NFL record with six returns for touchdowns.

If they kick away from the NFC special teams player of the month and make Chicago's inept offense beat them, the Packers should win their ninth consecutive game and be halfway to making the postseason.

Happy birthday, Brett.

PACKERS 28-24.

Arizona (minus 3 1/2) at St. Louis

This could be the first time that Arizona has ever been favored on the road. The Rams really are that bad. CARDINALS, 24-21.

Atlanta (plus 8) at Tennessee

Titans are 1-3 coming off a bye week since 2003. They've also won four straight over Atlanta. TITANS, 20-13.

Carolina (plus 3) at New Orleans

It's Reggie Bush's time to shine. SAINTS, 38-24.

Cleveland (plus 17) at New England

The spread continues to grow each week. So do Tom Brady's stats. PATS, 45-17.

Detroit (plus 3 1/2) at Washington

The Lions have never won in Washington. They still won't. REDSKINS, 41-38.

Jacksonville (minus 2) at Kansas City

Maurice Jones-Drew and Larry Johnson, two of the top fantasy players from last season, look to get back on track. Only one of them does. JAGUARS, 27-24.

Miami (plus 5 1/2) at Houston

Miami is allowing a league-worst 199.3 yards rushing per game. I could rack up 100 yards on that pitiful defense. TEXANS, 34-17.

New York Jets (plus 3 1/2) at New York Giants

Fights in the stands should be more interesting than this turnover fest. JETS, 24-23.

Seattle (plus 6) at Pittsburgh

Seahawks look to avenge Super Bowl loss from two years ago. Pittsburgh looks to recover from loss to Arizona last week. STEELERS, 31-28.

Tampa Bay (plus 10) at Indianapolis

Indy seeking franchise-record 12th straight home victory. COLTS, 28-20.

Baltimore (minus 3) at San Francisco

After having nine 100-yard games last season, 49ers running back Frank Gore is still searching for his first this year. RAVENS, 14-7.

San Diego (plus 1 1/2) at Denver

LT has 14 career TDs, including three in each of the last two games against Denver, his most versus any opponent. Broncos are allowing 181 yards per game on the ground. You do the math. CHARGERS, 27-24.


Dallas (minus 10) at Buffalo

Top offense versus the worst defense. The first Monday night game in Buffalo since 1994 is enough to inspire the Bills. BILLS, 27-24.

LAST WEEK: 8-6 (spread); 9-5 (straight up)

SEASON: 35-21-6 (spread); 36-26 (straight up)

Comments and criticisms may be sent to Clarion sports reporter Matthew Carroll at matthew.carroll@peninsulaclarion.com.

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