As I type this on Sunday morning, the Packers are -3 with an over/under of 45 according to this line.
Before I can decide on if the Packers can cover or not (or if they can even win the game) we need to consider some of the following...
This is, admittedly, a whole lot harder this year because I am so close to the Packers. I've seen their strengths and glaring weaknesses, and I've seen how defensive coordinator Dom Capers has adjusted to the continuing string of defensive personnel changes. There is no other way than to over-analyze because of this.
Last year, for example, I knew that both Indianapolis and New Orleans - for being prolific offenses - had some clunker games late in the season, and I could wing-off a guess that they wouldn't come anywhere near the 56 point over/under. But that analysis was done with the passing eye of a football fan... not one who is emotionally and economically invested in the team. The challenge is to try to be objective in how I break this down.
What scares me is the last five minutes of just about every game the Packers have played this season in which they have not had an insurmountable lead (like the NY Giants game Week 16, or the Atlanta playoff game). Here is what happened in some of those games....
Week 1 vs Philly - Michael Vick lead the Eagles down the field late in the game for the potential tying touchdown. The first Maalox Moment of the season. The Eagles turned the ball over on downs and the Packers won.
Week 3 vs the Bears - The Bears kicked a game-tying FG with 4:00 remaining. The Packers gave the ball right back and the Bears kicked the game winning FG with 0:04 remaining. Not being able to take time off the clock late in the game, and not being able to stop the opposing team late is becoming a trend.
Week 4 vs the Lions - The Packers have a big lead, but let the Lions chip away with two 4th quarter FGs. Hold off a late Lions rally to win by 2 pts.
Week 5 vs Washington - The Packers are leading 13-3 heading into the 4th quarter, but give up a TD and a late FG (see, there is the trend again) before losing on a FG in OT.
(The pattern keeps going, lets move on to later in the season.)
Week 12 vs Atlanta - The Packers charge down the field to score a TD with a minute left in the game, but a long kickoff return and a sieve-like defense allow the Falcons to win with a FG with 0:09 remaining.
Week 14 vs Detroit - Ugh. You can't call yourself a playoff team when you can only put up 3 pts against the Lions.
Week 15 vs the Patriots - Had the ball in a position for the winning TD, but can't get their 2 minute offense to click.
Week 17 vs the Bears - In a game they needed to win to make the playoffs, the Packers scored a late TD for the lead, but let the "no need to win this game" Bears get to the GB 32 yard line before making an interception to end the game.
Playoffs vs Philly - Packers couldn't get a first down to ice the game and allowed the Eagles to get into Packers territory before making an interception to end the game.
Playoffs vs the Bears - Packers couldn't get a first down to ice the game and allowed some guy I've never heard of to get the Bears into Packers territory before making an interception to end the game.
I am sorry, but in a close game, the Packers have no 4-minute offense to kill the clock, and are always allowing late drives by the opponents. Wear the green and gold, cheer like hell, but take Pittsburgh +3.
As for the over/under, both defenses are very good. That means turnovers, some returned for TDs, and some that just give a short field for the opposing offense. I think a significant number of points will be scored related to turnovers, so take the OVER 45.
Now, I've got the guacamole and salsa made, I just have to start my white chicken enchiladas so I can put them in the oven for when the guests arrive. Have fun, and lets hope the Packers take a huge lead so that we don't have to worry about all that crap I just posted!