Time to CA$H in

University of Toronto commerce students are bracing for this Saturday’s Battle for CA$H competition, sponsored by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario.

There, 39 teams of undergraduate business students selected by student societies from 18 universities across the province will aim to out-fox each other for rewards that include impressing future employers, and also a respectable pile of money.

Evgenia Volodarski, one of this year’s competitors, was also involved in last year’s competition, in which U of T excelled in technical aspects, but lost out in peer judging of their ethics.

“Maybe we were a bit big-headed,” she allowed, promising to be “more humble” this year and “win with decorum and class.”

Team spirit is strong among the first-year students of St. George’s highly competitive commerce program. Andrew Lenjosek, a commerce freshman, said he hopes to beat competing schools to “keep up the U of T pride.”

Beyond bragging rights, prizes include major resumé material, according to competitors.

“I’m really looking forward to representing University of Toronto, the amazing networking opportunities, and the chance to meet other students from their respective universities,” said Belinda Chiu, a junior ambassador for the Accounting Society of U of T.

“It is a great way for students in all years to not only develop their teamwork and interpersonal skills, but also […] a chance to interact with leaders in the accounting industry—notably experienced representatives from the Big Four accounting firms,” added Chiu’s teammate, Boyan Zhao.

All teams will aim to beat last year’s CA$H champs—UTSC—for the $3,000 first place prize and the additional $1,000 that goes to the winning university’s accounting club.

According to Bessie Qu, a second-year commerce student involved in several committees of ASUT and the Commerce Student Association, CA$H allows U of T students to see how they measure up against students from other universities, especially in skills not taught in the classroom.

The competition, which will take place at ICAO’s offices in Toronto this Saturday, will focus not just on arithmetic, but also problemsolving, teamwork, and strategizing.

“All the math skills in the world cannot help without these competencies,” said Perry Jensen, of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. “[CA$H] is also a chance for major employers to talk about what they are looking for and a chance to win money. And who doesn’t love money?”

Listen Up!

The big story of 2007 was the escalation of a number of trends that have been brewing in the underground for quite some time. Indie electro—which fuses rockist aggression with 80s synths and dance beats—continued to rise in popularity, making flirtatious advances on the mainstream by way of cell phone ads featuring Justice and Digitalism plus a massively hyped world tour by Daft Punk back in the summer. Independent record labels also flourished, keeping executives at the majors nervously wondering how far the music business paradigm could shift without cutting them out of the process completely. Radiohead’s split with label EMI/Parlophone and subsequent DIY, pay-what-you-want online distribution experiment highlighted the sea change which is currently underway. And amongst all this indie rock managed to hold its own, offering up some of the best work yet from veterans The National and Kevin Drew as well as splendid debuts from newcomers like Miracle Fortress, Fjord Rowboat, and Black Kids.

1. Radiohead – In Rainbows (Independent/XL)

The band’s best work since 2000’s Kid A, In Rainbows made headlines back in October for its unpredictable musicality and for its novel online release scheme, which allowed buyers to set their own price for the album’s 10 tracks. From the spastic, snare-heavy opener “15 Step” to the haunting comedown closer “Video Tape,” In Rainbows shows no shortage of creative accessibility— something especially evident on the album’s standout single “Jigsaw Falling into Place” and the downbeat gem “All I Need.” The best albums are perfect soundtracks to the season they are released in, and fall 2007 was all In Rainbows.

2. Justice – † (Ed Banger)

No band was more hyped in 2007 than French electro duo Justice. The masterminds behind the ubiquitous remix single “We Are Your Friends” dropped their first full-length album † back in June on Parisian label Ed Banger. Featuring massive, dirty synth riffs and killer club-influenced production, it’s no surprise that rockers and ravers alike spent the summer freaking out to tracks like “D.A.N.C.E.,” “DVNO,” and “Let There Be Light.” Justice also takes home the prize for Best Musical Iconography, planting a telltale Christian cross front and centre on the album’s artwork and at their live shows. They should expect a lawsuit from Jesus Christ as soon as he gets back.

3. The National – Boxer (Beggars Banquet)

After 2005’s Alligator propelled this NYC quintet from indie obscurity to “buzz watch” status, scene watchers knew their next album would make or break these sensitive rockers. When Boxer dropped in late May the response was virtually unanimous—The National had arrived. Singer Mark Berninger’s unique lyrical style—he comes off like a cross between Ian Curtis, Morrissey, and Bruce Springsteen—proved to be one of the album’s strongest elements pushing songs like “Start a War” and “Brainy” into the realm of bona fide genius. Also worthy of praise is drummer Bryan Devendorf, whose creative beats naturally rise to the top on “Squalor Victoria” and the exquisitely arranged “Fake Empire.” Other songs that helped make Boxer a real contender for indie-classic status include the single “Mistaken For Strangers” and “Guest Room.”

4. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver (DFA)

Sound of Silver is a one-man electro tour de force. Here, James Murphy shies away from populist dirty synth sounds to concentrate on building banging rhythms from the ground up. From the energetic opener “Get Innocuous” to the chilling electro-ballad (yes, these exist now) “Someone Great,” which is heavily steeped in 80s angst, to the tongue-in-cheek “North American Scum,” Sound of Silver has cemented Murphy’s reputation as one of the best indie-dance producers around. It now goes without saying that Daft Punk will one day actually play at his house.

5. The Tough Alliance – New Waves (Summer Lovers Unlimited)

This Swedish duo combined tropical rhythms with surging synthesizers to create one of the summer’s best singles “Silly Crimes.” Backed by “Mine Was Real” and “25 Years and Running,” New Waves makes for picture-perfect beach music, and features my favourite album artwork of 2007. Keep an eye on these guys to do something big in 2008.

6. M.I.A. – Kala (XL)

After wowing the world with her spunky debut Arular back in 2005, M.I.A. (her real name’s Mathangi Arulpragasam) returned in August with a more focused and better produced offering, Kala. Drawing on elements of grime, dancehall, and electro, M.I.A.’s agitprop lyrics and creative use of samples for percussion (cash registers and gunshots on the album’s best track “Paper Planes”) received rave reviews while drawing attention to political issues like immigration and the relationship between the first and third worlds.

7. Chromeo – Fancy Footwork (Vice)

A modern-day Hall and Oates? It’s too soon to tell. But right now this Montreal duo is red hot and on the path to achieving a sexy and cheeky form of world domination. Drawing on the best of 80s funk pop and the current trends in electro, Chromeo makes songs that are funny and packed with air-tight beats and hooks. If the title track, “Tenderoni,” and “Bonafide Lovin’” don’t make you want to get up and dance, then you probably hate dancing and are no fun at parties.

8. Miracle Fortress – Five Roses (Secret City)

While losing Canada’s Polaris Prize to label-mates Patrick Watson might have been an injustice, listening to Miracle Fortress’s enthralling melodies, perfect harmonies and pristine, Brian Wilson-style production on Five Roses makes me believe that they’re not the bitter, angry, jealous or vengeful types. With shimmering guitars and dreamlike songwriting, Miracle Fortress were easily one of the best musical surprises of 2007.

9. Fjord Rowboat – Saved The Compliments For Morning (Independent)

Reviving shoegazer, a short-lived and under-appreciated genre of Brit-rock, Toronto’s Fjord Rowboat deliver a solid album of extremely well-crafted songs. Drenched in reverb, these boys practice fantastic melody making, but frontman Craig Gloster and bassist Ian MacKay keep things dark enough to pass muster with even the most dour anglophile hipsters. Saved The Compliments For Morning is a great listen from start to finish and features standout tracks “Taking the Pass” and “Carried Away.” Watch for a new EP from Fjord Rowboat to drop sometime this year.

10. We Are Wolves – Total Magique (Dare To Care)

Montreal trio We Are Wolves brings brass balls to electro rock. Singing in both French and English, WAW layer garage bass lines over dance beats, distorted vocals, and analog synths to create a pulsating, dirty, energetic sound. Anyone who thinks electro is for wusses should listen to “Psychic Kids,” “Magique,” or “Fight and Kiss” off Total Magique—these guys kill.

Honourable Mention The Postage Stamps – This Ugly Arrangement, Kevin Drew – Spirit If…, Digitalism – Idealism

Students at locked-out school demanding refunds

St. Thomas’ University has achieved a dubious record. The small liberal arts school in Fredericton, New Brunswick, is the first post-secondary institution in Canada to lock out its faculty in anticipation of a strike vote.

The school’s nearly 3,000 students, who expected to return to class on Jan. 3, have had the start of their winter term postponed indefinitely, and some are demanding compensation.

“To have to pay back a student loan on an education I didn’t receive would actually make me very angry,” third-year student Laura Darrow told the Canadian Press.

In an open letter released on Dec. 31, STU’s president Michael W. Higgins called the lockout “an effort to fast-track our negotiations and minimize the impact on our students.”

Higgins’ letter laid blame for the lockout on the Faculty Association of the University of St. Thomas, for not accepting the university’s latest offer and voting to leave the bargaining table. Faculty, however, have said that the offer ignored their stated concerns and that the union did not leave negotiations, but only announced a strike vote and asked for extra time to consider the university’s proposal.

Dawn Morgan, an English professor at STU and spokesperson for the FAUST, blamed the university for bringing negotiations to their current impasse. “We are ready to bargain, once the administration considers our concerns and priorities beyond their final offer,” she said.

The Students’ Union of St. Thomas University supported the delayed start of term. SUSTU president Colin Banks told students in a Dec. 18 letter that the move will prevent individuals from hijacking class time to advocate their views on the negotiations. He also applauded the extended break for “preclud[ing] either Faculty Association or the University from using students as leverage during this situation.”

The university announced the lockout on Dec. 26, when negotiations over a new contract broke down. STU has sought to put its latest offer, which faculty negotiators rejected, to a direct vote by the union’s membership, allowable under New Brunswick law. According to Morgan, the union has never moved to block the member vote, but believes it a waste of time because they have advised their constituents to reject the offer.

Morgan accused the university of not being earnest at the bargaining table. “We met with them on Thursday and Friday but they didn’t negotiate. They yelled, taunted and employed sarcasm,” she said.

STU administrators have said that FAUST’s demands are impossible to meet. Higgins claimed that they amount to a 43 per cent increase in salaries and benefits over three years, which he translated into an “immediate revenue requirement” of $1,450 per student. Morgan has said the union is only demanding parity with faculty salaries at peer institutions in the Maritimes.

Throughout negotiations, the union has pushed for health insurance and office space for the school’s 59 part-time faculty, who have no supplemental health care plan and who all share a single office. It is also demanding a reduction of its members’ mandatory teaching load from three to two full courses per term.

STU employs 106 full-time and 59 part-time instructors, most of the latter sessional teachers. The Canadian Association of University Teachers paid FAUST $1 million from their defense fund to support faculty and cover costs, largely those of renting temporary office space in downtown Fredericton.

On Monday, the 167 locked-out faculty voted to go on strike. FAUST released a letter to its members telling them that striking would strengthen their position at the bargaining table by giving them control over when classes will resume.

Turn it down!

Every year there are certain releases that are either so ill-conceived or utterly disappointing that they deserve a special mention. Here’s our list of what totally missed the mark in 2007.

Raine Maida — The Hunter’s Lullaby (Nettwerk): Dear Raine Maida, I can empathize with your desire to “do something different” on your first solo record. I mean, does the world really need another nasally, middle-of-the-road, alt-rock rehash? But seriously, this collection of beat-poetry and spoken word-inspired songs is just a little bit worse. Also, if you’re going to profess a personal connection to the late Syd Barrett, at least spell his name right in the liner notes.

Matthew Good — Hospital Music (Universal): A whole album of whiney acoustic ballads is bad, bad medicine. Hospital Music makes me long for the days of his cookie cutter (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, quiet chorus, build-up, loud chorus, outro) anthemic alt-rock songs. Welcome to your self-prophesized status as a has-been.

Bloc Party — A Weekend in the City (Vice): After showing loads of potential on their fabulous debut, Silent Alarm (Some were saying they could be the next Radiohead—in fact, Radiohead turned out to be the next Radiohead… weird) Bloc Party chose to cut their irresistible urgent energy on this sappy and flaccid follow-up. Aside from “Hunting For Witches,” this album should have never left Kele Okereke’s bedroom.

The Killers — Sawdust (Island): The biggest transgression on The Killers’ latest moneymaker is their glossy cover of Joy Division’s classic track “Shadowplay.” If only they had applied the simple WWICD (What Would Ian Curtis Do?) principle they would have known to leave this gem alone. At least now we can see The Killers for what they really are: the McDonald’s of diluted indie rock.

Sebastian Bach — Angel Down (MRV): This nuclassic- metal offering is proof that there is a place worse than Skid Row.

Hedley — Famous Last Words (Universal): Let’s hope they take this album title seriously.

Ted Nugent — Love Grenade (Eagle Records): To really understand the quality of this recording, let’s examine some lyrics from the title track: “I crave you so bad, it drives me insane, if I don’t have you I’ll die / I am a dangerous weapon baby, I’m your machinegun man / Don’t make me shoot you down baby, I just wanna be your love grenade / I’m comin in, love grenade, pull the pin, love grenade / Look out below, love grenade, I’m about to blow.” And blow he does.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Some Loud Thunder (V2): Talk about squandered potential. After exploding onto the indie scene in 2005, CYHSY followed up their solid debut with this hookless snooze-fest. If someone tries to make you listen to Some Loud Thunder, shake your head, say no.

Korn — Untitled (EMI): Do I really have to tell you that this record really sucked? Well, it did.

The Higher — On Fire (Epitaph): R’n’B and Emo need to stay the fuck away from each other forever. Period.

Report reveals need for better data on schools

In any given year, according to the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, between 40 and 55 per cent of students drop out of their post-secondary institution. Of course, those aren’t all dropouts: many of them simply transfer to another school or switch from university to college. How many? Don’t ask the government.

As the Canadian Council on Learning pointed out in their recent report Strategies for Success, Canada’s federal government collects little data on the post-secondary education system. That puts us behind other countries, says the CCL.

“We found that almost all other developed countries have built not only the national information systems required to optimize policy, but have also—in both unitary and federal states—provided themselves with some of the necessary national tools and mechanisms to adjust, to act and to succeed,” reads the report. “Canada has not.”

This needs to change, argues the report. It recommends a “national data strategy,” which begins with a single student number that would follow students between degrees and institutions, and across provincial borders. Reliable statistics could lead to benchmarks and goals. For Joey Coleman, a writer for Maclean’s education blogs, it’s about accountability.

“Nobody is collecting the data. We’re spending $36 billion a year, and there’s no goal, and no measurement of the outcome,” he said. “We have a system that is facing difficulty but we don’t know what that difficulty is.”

Strategies for Success also hints at integration in other areas, from a national e-learning strategy to better acceptance of transfer credits.

If that comes, it will be too late for Tammy Sprung, who transferred from Dalhousie University after her second year. The fourth-year history student has spent much of the last two years dealing with the fallout of her move. Many of Sprung’s transferred credits came with long lists of U of T courses she was excluded from taking, which complicated course selection and prerequisites later on. She was also forced to go back and take extra 100-level courses.

“I essentially chose my majors and minors based on what kind of deals I could cut with department heads when I transferred,” she said. If she had realized the battle ahead of her, Sprung said, “I don’t think I would have come to U of T.”

Abstinence goes all the way

There is something more than cheeky about a Tom Perotta novel. Although marketed as popular fiction with a big screen adaptation around the bend, they also play host to a mean literary streak. This doesn’t destabilize his output; rather, it makes Perotta exciting and slightly unpredictable. He’s got what you might call authorial moxie.

In previous novels like Election or the terrific Little Children, Perotta demonstrated his knack for blurring the line between adult and child, moral and immoral, grim and funny. He lays out plot and characters so intelligently and sensitively, we navigate his perfect world the way his suburban protagonists cruise their leafy-green neighborhoods in shiny SUVs. This is part of what distinguishes Perotta as a marvelously vigilant writer, but his hand appears maddeningly in the frame. Sometimes, things are too pristine, as if he couldn’t quite let go. The Abstinence Teacher does not differ in this regard, but feels more liberated, partially because the shifting character perspectives work better than they did in Little Children.

At the hub of The Abstinence Teacher is lonely sex-ed teacher Ruth, your liberal-minded, intimacy- promotin’ divorced mother of two. Add one addiction-recovering Born Again named Tim, a regressive new high school curriculum, and what do you get? Ethical hijinks with a light dusting of sexual tension. In spite of this formulaic pop rock of a setup, Abstinence works because the refreshing way in which the “odd couple” cliché is dismantled: it never explodes, but rather keeps simmering to the very last page. Perotta revels in writing about middle-class educated suburbanites with a piece missing from the existential puzzle—he draws it so well—the language, the school politics, the soccer matches. When I finished the book, it was hard to believe I was Canadian, not some Midwestern sap. Perotta handles the so-called “adult world” like a slightly more forgiving John Cheever. He lays the hypocrisy down on the table for all to see, but never tortures his characters for their flaws. All of the villains, like Joann Marlow—perky-breasted advocate of an ABSTINENCE ONLY, CHILDREN! sex-ed program, are viewed in a generous light, ridiculous, rather than nefarious.

Where Perotta shines is in his ability to write children. They are adults without the double-dealing; ingenuous but also cynical. Through the eyes of their floundering parents, they are both sources of delight—as in the way Tim views his daughter, and the team of girls he coaches and objects of mystery and pain, such as Ruth’s response to her teenage daughter’s desire to “want to know Jesus.” Maybe it’s not a stylistic or thematically subtle book, but what it does, it does effectively.

Get nowhere, faster

At the Hart House indoor track, keeners huff and puff—or, more intimidatingly, sprint with blithe ease—as a colony of machines hum along. For adrenaline addicts, the gym is a haven in winter. But what about the rest of us, with our freshly-minted New Year’s resolutions, completely clueless about how pursue them and scared of public workouts?

Your fear might not be completely irrational: Gym class has been used for mind control. “The notion of the state enforcing physical education was part of fascist ideology,” said John McClelland, professor emeritus at the Faculty of Physical Health and Education. He explained, “It’s the idea that you can make a nation strong by making its young people physically strong.”

To the scrawny kids we once were, state-sponsored phys ed may have seemed like torture. But at least the workout was free. For cashstrapped U of T students, it still is—both the Athletic Centre and Hart House offer a number of free drop-in classes and exercise machines, just a T-card swipe away.

Last year, Hart House welcomed 13 new stationary bicycles to the hive. The house already had Lamond and LifeCycle bikes, but these gleaming Schwinn Evolution “racing” stationary bikes are a different beast.

Indoor cycling doesn’t sound like much of a rush. Jason To, OISE student for math and biology, is an athletic services attendant at Hart House. Asked what he thought of stationary bikes, To waxed metaphysical.

“It’s a little strange ’cause you’re pedalling but you’re not going anywhere. It deceives the mind,” he drawled. “It’s a good workout, though.” To said he uses indoor cycles once in a while.

Not so for his co-worker, U of T student Ryan Kerr. “I prefer biking for real,” he one-upped. He agreed that stationary bikes had their benefits. “They’re fantastic for knee reconstruction, because they’re low-impact,” he said. “It’s good for your lower back—it makes you sit up straight and develop core strength. The smoothness is very good for your body.”

Nevertheless, he concluded, “It’s still not going anywhere.”

For Karen Anderson, Hart House’s assistant director of athletics, indoor cycling is going places. Cycle Fit, a class offered for years at the Athletic Centre, recently debuted at Hart House, in a studio near athletics that was left empty when the U of T bookstore’s lease expired. “It’s a program we’ve been missing,” said Anderson. “A lot of people would ask for it.”The first semester’s registration, though, was what Anderson called “modest.”

“It’s a new program. Some people are intimidated, and they have no reason to be.”

Cycle Fit is a descendant of Spinning, the late ’80s brainchild of ultra-endurance athlete Jonathan “Johnny G” Goldberg. Spinning offered high-intensity cardio that is gentle on joints, unlike exercise machines such as treadmills. The low-impact factor makes stationary bikes a favourite for physiotherapy and winter training.

Spinners, sweat-drenched and leaning forward like they are in an indoor Tour de France, don’t need to learn complicated moves or steps. More importantly, especially for couch potatoes—and, er, university students—participants set their own pace. Based on their heart rate or level of exertion, riders experiment with different rhythms and degrees of resistance as they ride over simulated terrain. From the front of the room, the instructor-cheerleader shouts out encouragement.

Spinning is a bona fide brand, complete with branded equipment, accessories, and trademark infringement lawsuits. Soon, though, it garnered the sincerest form of flattery, as group cycling courses rolled Goldberg’s ideas into their own programs.

To entice the reluctant novice, Hart House is offering free “try-me” courses until Thursday, Jan. 17. Commitment-phobes can sign up at the membership services office for a 45-minute workout, gratis. In their subterranean enclave, the Schwinns are waiting.

NFL Playoff Preview

Jacksonville at New England

The question that has been repeated ad nauseam all season: can the Patriots be beat? While an answer is coming soon, cracks in the Pats’ armour have been exposed. A narrow win against the Ravens in week 13, and a record-setting game against the Giants in week 16 both showed that with a strong defensive effort and solid offensive production, a disciplined team could destroy New England’s flawless streak. The problem is that Jacksonville does not look to be that kind of team. Surrendering an 18-point lead against the Steelers in the wildcard matchup is an obvious red flag, especially against the explosive and seemingly unstoppable New England passing game. The silver lining here is David Garrard’s ability to make plays on the run and a potent, two-dimensional ground attack featuring Maurice Jones-Drew and the unexpectedly productive Fred Taylor. Expect the Patriots to load up the box and blitz the run, limiting the yards the Jaguars will get on the ground. Considering Jacksonville’s anemic passing game, the Jaguars face an uphill battle—and this hill is more like a mountain. This one is a no brainer: pick New England.

  • Pick: New England
  • Bet: The farm

San Diego at Indianapolis

The last time the Colts and the Chargers met, Peyton Manning threw an uncharacteristic six interceptions and Adam Vinatieri was certainly not his usual self. However, don’t expect Sunday’s game to be a repeat of that week 10 matchup. The Colts were missing many playmakers due to injury, but all of them, with the exception of Dwight Freeney, are expected to play on Sunday. Though Indianapolis will miss Freeney’s presence, Robert Mathis and Josh Thomas should be able to step up. Like any good defence, the Colts will be looking to stop LaDainian Tomlinson from getting anywhere with the football. Bob Sanders will be a huge threat, especially when he’s the eighth man in the box, playing more like a linebacker than a safety. Containing Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne will prove to be a tough task for the relatively young San Diego defence. But the Colts will need to look out for Chargers defensive back Antonio Cromartie, who led the league in interceptions, three of those coming against Indianapolis in week 10. Philip Rivers will need to take command, especially when it comes to managing the play clock. Due to a sprained toe, Antonio Gates will likely be a game-time decision. If he does sit out on Sunday, San Diego will lose their best receiver. Last time, the Chargers’ special teams were critical in the win over the Colts. However, this time around that may not be enough to stop the defending Superbowl XLI champions.

  • Pick: Indianapolis
  • Bet: The profits from Peyton Manning’s commercials

New York at Dallas

How about them Cowboys? Tony Romo and company had a banner year and their post-season looks to have legs. Against the unreliable Eli Manning, Romo has the upper hand in this quarterback matchup. To be fair, Eli has silenced some of his critics with an exceptional game against New England, and a solid, mistake-free game against the much underrated Buccaneers. Their last meeting in week one was a shootout and all indications show that this game will feature some similarly high scores before it’s over. Terrell Owens is debatable due to a sprained ankle, and Plexico Burress’ tough physical play will be a key asset for the Giants. Jason Witten’s soft hands and ability to find open turf have been utilized well by Romo all season, so expect some game-breaking plays from this young tight end. The running games on both teams compare favorably. Brandon Jacobs’ size advantage over Marion Barber shouldn’t factor in too heavily thanks to the solid play of the Dallas line backers, ranked sixth against the run in the regular season. Provided Jessica Simpson doesn’t show up to pose a distraction to her boyfriend, Tony Romo, Dallas should get the win.

  • Pick: Dallas
  • Bet: This month’s beer money

Seattle at Green Bay

Matt Hasselbeck’s famous last words outline the Seahawks’ ideology best: they want the ball and they’re going to score. Look for the Seattle offense to spread out the Packers defense with multiple wide receiver formations, and then use the draw play to pick up a lot of yards on the ground. Unfortunately for Seattle, Green Bay defensive back Al Harris isn’t afraid of getting physical at the line of scrimmage, which could prove detrimental for the Seahawks’ pass-heavy offense. AJ Hawk and Nick Barnett will be instrumental in stopping the runs, forcing Hasselbeck to throw when he doesn’t want to. Naturally, the Green Bay offense will look to the always impressive Brett Favre to lead them to victory. But Seattle Pro-bowlers Julian Peterson and Patrick Kerney will be ready to sack Favre at every opportunity. The Green Bay offensive line will need to be on their A-game, maintaining the pocket long enough to let Favre do what he does best. To lessen some of the pressure on their veteran quarterback, Green Bay will need rookie running back Ryan Grant to step up and out-run the fast Seattle defence. If the Packers can hold it together like they have all season, they should be able to come away from this close matchup with a win.

  • Pick: Green Bay
  • Bet: A Cheesehead hat