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5 things to watch in the Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers game — plus our Week 2 predictions

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5 Things To Watch In The Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers Game — Plus Our Week 2 Predictions
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After pulling off a wild Week 1 win, the Chicago Bears will try to accomplish something Sunday night they haven’t since 2015 — win at Lambeau Field.

The Bears have lost six straight to the Green Bay Packers and 11 of 12 but will try to turn the tide in coach Matt Eberflus’ first taste of the rivalry.

As kickoff approaches, here’s our snapshot look at the game.

1. Player in the spotlight

Aaron Rodgers

Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams has a message for his players this week.

“Don’t drink the Kool-Aid of what the media is trying to sell that there’s gloom and doom in Green Bay,” Williams said. “Don’t fall into that trap.”

Rodgers is in the spotlight of most every Bears-Packers game given his 23-5 record in the series, but this time it’s because the Packers are coming off a 23-7, season-opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Rodgers threw an interception and lost a fumble. With Packers offensive linemen David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins sidelined, the Vikings sacked Rodgers four times. And rookie wide receiver Christian Watson dropped what could have been a 75-yard touchdown pass.

But Williams wants his players to remain cognizant of Rodgers’ ability to bounce back from a loss, including last year’s 38-3 season-opening defeat to the New Orleans Saints. The Packers won their next seven games.

Rodgers is in new territory playing without longtime top receiver Davante Adams, who was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Packers also played without wide receiver Allen Lazard, and Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson said the absences showed on film.

“They’re really learning,” Johnson said. “You can see that (the receivers) are not in the spots that he would want them to be. You can tell that he’s not as comfortable as he’s been in the previous years. But I definitely feel like they’re going to improve. So I’m not looking for those same mess-ups or anything like that this coming week.”

Williams believes the quarterback will help his teammates along.

“Don’t underestimate the power of great leadership,” Williams said. “He is a great leader, and he will get those guys into shape. What we’re trying to do is to block out everything else and focus on the task at hand, which is improving each week, follow the process, stay the course.”

2. Pressing question

Can Justin Fields and the Bears offense build on their Week 1 second half?

Despite an ugly first half in the Bears’ Week 1 win over the San Francisco 49ers, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy liked quarterback Justin Fields’ mindset.

“I was really impressed by how he handled every situation,” Getsy said, “the way we were able to talk about what happened on the field when you’re backed up and then he throws an interception.

“That whole time, that dude was stone cold. He was ready to go. There was no ‘woe is me’ at all in that young man.”

Fields’ final numbers weren’t great: 121 passing yards and two touchdowns, one interception and 28 rushing yards. But he helped spark the Bears to three consecutive touchdown drives in the second half to salvage the win.

Now the Bears are going up against a Packers defense that Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson destroyed on the way to nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bears don’t have a player like Jefferson, but they’re hopeful they can take advantage of Packers mistakes to make progress in the passing game. Only running back David Montgomery had more than one catch Sunday.

“There are a lot of explosive plays that can be made,” Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney said. “They kind of got confused on certain things. But last year they were 0-1 (after) Week 1 and they went on to win seven games. You can’t focus on Week 1 at all. You’ve got to go out there and play ball.”

3. Keep an eye on…

Williams had an interesting name for the Packers’ two-headed run threat of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, who combined for 94 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. They also had eight catches for 73 yards.

“We call them ‘thickians.’ That means they have thicker lower bodies,” Williams said. “They can move the pile. Good jump cuts. They have great vision. They can catch the football. They protect well. Two very complete backs. Two backs that can change the ballgame. Two backs that can move the sticks.

“So we’re going to have our hands full in terms of where that’s concerned. We’re going to have to bring extra guys to make sure we stop those two. We need six, seven, eight guys to take care of those two guys.”

It might not be the heavy downpours of the Bears-49ers game, but weather reports predict some rain might fall at Lambeau Field on Sunday night. We’ll see if that changes either team’s game plan.

4. Odds and ends

Three prominent members of the Bears offense are returning to Lambeau Field for the first time since switching sides in the rivalry.

Getsy worked for the Packers for seven seasons, most recently as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Center Lucas Patrick played in 73 games over five seasons in Green Bay. And wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown had 37 catches for 543 yards over three seasons with the Packers.

Getsy said it’s more fun than emotional to return to Green Bay, where he got his start in the NFL in 2014.

“We had an unbelievable time up there,” Getsy said. “We have so many friends in that town. That’s the part where it was hard to leave, the friendships that you have with the people of Green Bay. And obviously the people in the organization. Three of my sons love ball — I mean love ball. So they quickly were all about Justin Fields.”

5. Injury report

Patrick could remain in a right guard rotation with Teven Jenkins as he wears a cast while recovering from a right thumb injury. Getsy said he thought the rotation went well and benefited both players, though he wouldn’t commit to it this week. Patrick said he is comfortable with it.

“My first few years in the league I was a rotational inside guy, so I understand internally how to prepare myself to go in at a moment’s notice or come out at a moment’s notice,” Patrick said. “I’ve gone in for guys when their shoelaces popped and run four plays and come out. And I’ve gone in when guys unfortunately don’t return to finish the game. So another scenario I have a lot of banked reps at.”

Bears rookie wide receiver/returner Velus Jones Jr., who missed the opener, missed practice Thursday as he continues to battle a hamstring injury.

For the Packers, Bakhtiari (knee) and guard Jon Runyan (concussion) missed practice Thursday, while Jenkins (knee) and Lazard (ankle) were limited.

Predictions

Brad Biggs (0-1)

The last time the Packers lost consecutive regular-season games, the Bears were 12 games into the Matt Nagy regime. That was a long time ago. The Packers are seeking consistency with young wide receivers, and injuries complicate matters for the offensive line protecting Aaron Rodgers. The Bears have their own challenges on offense, and it’s hard to imagine Rodgers and Co. looking out of sorts again after a rough start on the road against the Vikings.

Packers 24, Bears 17

Colleen Kane (0-1)

I’m with Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams: Don’t let the Packers’ season-opening loss to the Vikings fool you. Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers, and while he might be adjusting to life without Davante Adams, he always seems to find a way to will the Packers to victory. At least against the Bears, who seem to draw out his motivation. The Bears offense still has a lot to prove, and they don’t have a Justin Jefferson to tear up the Packers defense. The Bears’ rivalry losing streak is likely to continue.

Packers 23, Bears 17

Dan Wiederer (0-1)

Aaron Rodgers has five Week 1 losses on his career resume but has never started 0-2. Even with so many moving parts around him — a young and reshuffled receiving corps, an injury-riddled line, new offensive assistants — Rodgers has a knack for figuring things out. He also has a knack for getting up to face the Bears. Yes, Matt Eberflus’ team is focused and feisty enough to keep this game competitive. Bu they might have a few more steps to go before they’re ready to win a high-profile road game against a championship contender.

Packers 24, Bears 13

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Five questions facing Twins as they head into the offseason

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Five Questions Facing Twins As They Head Into The Offseason
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The Twins headed into the 2022 season with a rebuilt roster and their eyes set on a return to the postseason after a disappointing fifth-place finish in the American League Central division the year prior.

That, of course, didn’t happen.

A September collapse left a team that was in first place for most of the season on the outside looking in as the playoffs kicked off on Friday. The Twins concluded their season Wednesday with a 78-84 record, a full 14 games back from division-winning Cleveland, a team which they were tied with atop the division as late as Sept. 4.

Here are five questions facing the Twins as the offseason begins:

What will happen with Carlos Correa?

The decision is Carlos Correa’s: The star shortstop can opt into the second season of his contract, or he can decide to test free agency for the second straight season. The decision on his opt out must be made no later than five days after the conclusion of the World Series.

But really, Correa has shifted the decision to the Twins: They can offer him a long-term deal, one that would far exceed anything they’ve ever doled out, or they can watch him depart for elsewhere.

Correa has talked about how much he loved it in Minnesota and his interest in staying. But he’s also made it clear that he’s looking for a long-term home, and the most likely scenario is that he finds that with a different organization.

The 28-year-old finished his season hitting .291 with a .834 OPS and 140 OPS+ (100 is league average). His 5.4 bWAR (Wins Above Replacement per Baseball Reference) led the Twins, and he quickly became a clubhouse leader with his new team.

“Hopefully the Twins can see the player that I am, the person that I am, the passion that I have for this game and the love that I have for this game, and we can get into some serious conversations,” Correa said Wednesday.

If Correa doesn’t come back, what will the Twins do at shortstop?

When the Twins first signed Correa, the expectation was that they could pivot to Royce Lewis, who, like Correa, a No. 1 overall draft pick. But Lewis’s first season in the majors ended shortly after it started with a second anterior cruciate ligament surgery in his right knee; he also had surgery on his ACL in spring 2021, missing all of last season.

His timeline would not have him ready to return by Opening Day next season, which means if Correa departs, the Twins will need a different plan. Brooks Lee, the No. 8 pick in the draft, made it all the way to Double-A before the end of the season, but it doesn’t seem as if he would be ready by Opening Day either.

While there are a number of players who theoretically could play shortstop for a period of time to start the season, including Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon and Jermaine Palacios, none are true answers or good options there, which could leave the Twins looking externally for a shortstop for a third straight season.

What staff changes will the Twins make?

President of baseball operations Derek Falvey already has said that manager Rocco Baldelli will be back in the dugout for his fifth season in Minneapolis next year. But will there be other changes to the coaching staff? And to the medical staff?

The Twins changed pitching coaches abruptly at the end of June when Wes Johnson departed to take the same job at Louisiana State University. In his place, they promoted bullpen coach Pete Maki to his role and run prevention coordinator Colby Suggs into Maki’s former role.

As they enter the offseason, the Twins could opt to embark on a more thorough pitching coach search.

There’s also questions on the medical side, and the Twins could choose to make changes after they placed 32 different players on the injured list during the course of the season, many for extended periods of time, or repeat visit for the same injury.

Falvey will meet with the media on Monday at Target Field and any potential changes will likely be announced then.

Will the Twins upgrade their pitching rotation?

On paper, the Twins have a glut of starting pitchers coming back next season. Sonny Gray (whom they hold a team option on that they are expected to exercise), Tyler Mahle and Joe Ryan could front the rotation.

After missing all of this season following Tommy John surgery in September 2021, Kenta Maeda is heading into the offseason healthy. Bailey Ober is too after missing most of this year with a groin injury. His performance after his September return featured a lot for the Twins to like.

Josh Winder, Simeon Woods Richardson and Louie Varland should provide good depth options for the Twins, and Chris Paddack (Tommy John surgery) is expected back near the end of the year.

But there’s also questions about the health of this group — Mahle had shoulder issues that forced him out down the stretch, Gray landed on the IL three separate times over the course of the season, Ober has had injury issues throughout his professional career and Maeda is coming off of a major surgery.

Further, this group lacks an ace, and if Correa bolts in free agency, the Twins would have plenty of money to devote to a top-tier starter.

Who can the Twins rely upon in the outfield?

The Twins’ outfield group was among the most injured: Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Kyle Garlick all ended the season on the IL. Three of them who are expected to be relied upon next season — Buxton, Kirilloff and Larnach — will all be coming off surgery.

Buxton had an arthroscopic procedure to address a knee issue that plagued him throughout the season. Will that completely address the issue?

Kirilloff, who also plays first base, played in just 45 games before requiring a second season-ending wrist surgery. Can the Twins reasonably know what to expect from the once-top prospect next year?

Larnach played in 51 games, requiring a core muscle surgery that kept him out for three months. As he was about to return, a wrist issue flared up.

And Kepler underperformed this season, hitting .227 with nine home runs and a 93 OPS+ (100 is league average) in 115 games. His .348 slugging percentage and .666 OPS were career lows. Could he possibly be a candidate to be traded?

Nick Gordon, a converted infielder, and Gilberto Celestino, who had his fair share of mental lapses, particularly on the bases, saw plenty of time in the outfield. As the season wore on and the injuries piled up, Jake Cave and Mark Contreras and Matt Wallner started seeing playing time in the outfield. Wallner, a Minnesota native who is one of the organization’s top prospects, should factor in the team’s plans going forward.

But with so many question marks surrounding the health of this group, will the Twins go out and supplement the outfield in any way this offseason?

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Vikings’ Kwesi Adofo-Mensah vs. Bears’ Ryan Poles: The divergent paths of two new GMs

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Vikings’ Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Vs. Bears’ Ryan Poles: The Divergent Paths Of Two New Gms
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For better or worse, for the rest of their NFL careers, general managers Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Ryan Poles are going to be attached at the hip.

After making a name for themselves in NFL front offices over the past decade, both emerged as prime candidates last offseason. Ultimately, the Bears hired Poles on Jan. 25, and the Vikings chose Adofo-Mensah the very next day.

The similarities stop there. Over the past 10 months, Adofo-Mensah and Poles have taken completely different approaches to building their teams, the Vikings opting to stay competitive in their pursuit of a Super Bowl, and the Bears opting for what sure looks like a complete rebuild.

With kickoff set for noon Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Vikings (3-1) have more to lose than the Bears (2-2) this week. Let’s take a look at how each team got to this point.

WHAT THE VIKINGS DID

The fact that the Vikings are off to their best start since 2016 probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Remember, co-owner Mark Wilf made it clear last offseason that he expects the team to be “super competitive” in 2022.

That was part of the job description when the Vikings started their search to find a new general manager.

Look at the moves Adofo-Mensah made after he got the job. He hired head coach Kevin O’Connell on Feb. 16, bringing on “a partner” that shared his vision for the franchise. With his head coach in place, Adofo-Mensah got to work on the roster itself, extending quarterback Kirk Cousins, then signing edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, and linebacker Jordan Hicks in free agency.

“It didn’t matter who the Vikings hired as their general manager because this was going to be the plan no matter who they brought in,” said Marc Ross, an analyst at NFL Network, who previously served in the front offices of the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. “The ownership wanted to be competitive, and with Kirk Cousins in place, whoever got the job had to have a plan of how they were going to succeed with him.”

That’s exactly what Adofo-Mensah has managed to do so far. All of his decisions have been designed to help the Vikings contend right now, and a month into this season, the team is 3-1 and looking like it might actually have a chance with most of the NFC struggling so far. Of course, a soft opening schedule has helped, too. Games get tougher later in the season.

“I’m going to give Kwesi a ton of credit here because I don’t think I fully grasped how flat the league was going to be,” said Eric Eager, vice president of research and development at SumerSports, who previously worked in the same role at Pro Football Focus. “I think Kwesi did a good job of examining the league and saying, ‘OK, I could tear this thing down, or I could generate some good will by winning some games in Year 1.’ There were a lot of people, myself included, who thought they should’ve torn it down.”

No doubt the most polarizing decision Adofo-Mensah made last offseason was extending Cousins’ contract. He moved forward with the status quo, choosing not to trade for a quarterback or go for a project player in the 2022 NFL Draft.

That looks like another solid decision by Adofo-Mensah. Look at some of the quarterbacks who changed teams this season. Even those that aren’t fond of Cousins would agree he’s a much better option than Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz or Baker Mayfield, among others.

“It wasn’t the best year by all accounts to find a long-term quarterback,” said Dan Graziano, an NFL Insider at ESPN. “There were a lot of imperfect options on the open market, and the Vikings had someone in place that they knew was capable. Plus, Kevin O’Connell had a prior relationship with him. I think they decided to delay the long-term quarterback conversation and decided to go with a pretty good team and see what they could do with it.”

As the Vikings continue to bank wins, it’s also important to remember that Adofo-Mensah is a trailblazer in the industry as the only general manager in the NFL with an analytics background. That fact is not insignificant.

“The moment he doesn’t have success, people are going to be like, ‘See. It didn’t work. We should’ve got some footbally football guy in here,’ ” Eager said. “For him to build some good will in Year 1, whether it’s real or not, I can’t blame him one bit. He bet that the league was going to be bad and felt like they could at least be decent with a bad schedule. He’s absolutely hit on that.”

WHAT THE BEARS DID

After interviewing with the Vikings, and establishing himself as a finalist, Poles ultimately picked the Bears as his preferred landing spot.

“It does appear that Ryan Poles preferred a job where he could blank canvas the whole thing,” Eager said. “He is building that roster completely in his own image.”

Not long after being hired, Poles made a splash, trading star edge rusher Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for a haul of draft picks. He followed that up by letting receiver Allen Robinson and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks walk in free agency.

It’s worth noting that Poles didn’t exactly step into the best situation. Not only did the previous regime trade the farm to acquire quarterback Justin Fields in the 2021 draft, they doled out a number of hefty contract that left the Bears with virtually no cap space last offseason.

“I’s almost like, ‘What’s another rebuild?’ ” Eager said. “The roster was always going to be pretty bad. It made sense for Ryan Poles to break it down and build it up because if they stink this year no one is firing him.”

Though the Bears have overachieved to this point, and head coach Matt Eberflus has them flying around on defense, the offense has been abysmal to this point. It’s left many to wonder if Fields is the answer at quarterback. The counterpoint is that the Bears haven’t exactly put him in a position to succeed.

“It definitely feels like they’re rebuilding and trying to figure out which areas to invest in,” said Cynthia Frelund, analytics expert at NFL Network. “They started in a space that was very difficult and now they are slowly digging out of that.”

FUTURE OF THE FRANCHISES

The divergent paths of the Vikings and the Bears over the past 10 months raises the question: Which franchise will have more success in the future?

There’s no doubt the Vikings were in a much better position than the Bears for immediate success. They had more talent in place, equipped with a number of weapons on offense, starting with running back Dalvin Cook, star receiver Justin Justin, and veteran receiver Adam Thielen. They also had some playmakers in place on defense in the form edge rusher Danielle Hunter, linebacker Eric Kendricks and safety Harrison Smith, among others.

On the flip side, the Bears have way more wiggle room than the Vikings down the the road. They are projected to have a whopping $115 million in cap space next offseason. That should give Poles the ability to put his stamp on the franchise.

“In some ways, it’s going to be more difficult for the Vikings to build a Super Bowl roster, than it will be for the Bears,” Eager said. “In the NFL, there’s a much easier path building from nothing than building from average, so it’ll be interesting to see a few years from now where the rosters are for both teams.”

It’s most likely going to come down to which quarterback Adofo-Mensah and Poles choose to ride moving forward.

Maybe the Vikings stick with Cousins. Maybe the Bears stick with Fields. Maybe a couple of years from now both teams have decided to move on.

“We can compare these guys as much as we want,” Frelund said. “The reality is neither guy has picked a quarterback. That will be the real test. Eventually both guys will have to make that decision, and they will ultimately be judged by that.”

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Final designs revealed for proposed Mississippi Learning Center at St. Paul’s Crosby Farm Park

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Architectural Rendering Of The Proposed Mississippi River Learning Center To Be Built Near Crosby Farm Regional Park In St. Paul.
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To unveil the final designs for the Mississippi Learning Center planned for St. Paul’s Crosby Farm Park, the city of St. Paul and the Great River Passage Conservancy hosted a celebratory event this week at Watergate Marina.

Undated architectural rendering, circa October 2022, of the proposed Mississippi River Learning Center to be built near Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul.  (Courtesy of W Architecture)

The goal of the project is to make the Mississippi River more accessible to visitors, providing the space to wade in the water, launch a boat, and from above, hike an elevated walkway that provides a variety of viewpoints of the waterway.

With the vision for the area complete, organizers plan to spend the next six months diving deeper into the details, such as establishing roles, developing ideas for community programming and requesting the funding from the state Legislature necessary to make it all happen.

“It really does get at being able to touch the water, creating a very, very safe space for people to adults and children who like to paddle in the summertime and to walk across in the wintertime,” said Mary deLaittre, executive director of the Great River Passage Conservancy. “Experiencing nature is very important for us.”

Architectural Rendering Of The Proposed Mississippi River Learning Center To Be Built Near Crosby Farm Regional Park In St. Paul.
Undated architectural rendering, circa October 2022, of the proposed Mississippi River Learning Center to be built near Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul. (Courtesy of W Architecture)

The River Learning Center would be owned by the city, with the various tenants leasing space and covering operational expenses.

The overall project, whose cost hasn’t been finalized, is to be funded with public and private resources. The city unsuccessfully sought $20 million in state bonding money during the 2022 legislative session.

Along with the River Learning Center project, the Great River Passage Conservancy is planning for two more major projects along the St. Paul riverfront.

There are proposals for a quarter-mile promenade along the downtown bluffs called the River Balcony and a design to connect the East Side River District, including Pig’s Eye Lake, with the rest of the city.

Architectural Rendering Of The Proposed Mississippi River Learning Center To Be Built Near Crosby Farm Regional Park In St. Paul.
Undated architectural rendering, circa October 2022, of the proposed Mississippi River Learning Center to be built near Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul.  (Courtesy of W Architecture)
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Bears at Vikings picks: Expect an ugly game … and a Vikings victory

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Bears At Vikings Picks: Expect An Ugly Game … And A Vikings Victory
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Pioneer Press reporters who cover the Vikings forecast Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium:

DANE MIZUTANI

Vikings 17, Bears 10: It won’t be pretty, but the Vikings are better than the Bears and they will prove it on Sunday.

JOHN SHIPLEY

Vikings 22, Bears 16: The Vikings are developing a knack for beating second-division NFL teams. Here’s another pelt for their belts.

CHRIS TOMASSON

Vikings 23, Bears 20: Once again, it might not be pretty for the Vikings against an outmanned foe. But they will manage to move to 3-0 in the NFC North for the first time since 2015. And they won the division that year

CHARLEY WALTERS

Vikings 24, Bears 10: Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison could total 150 yards rushing against the NFL’s worst run defense.

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Bears hope to continue U.S. Bank Stadium mastery of Vikings on Sunday

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Bears Hope To Continue U.s. Bank Stadium Mastery Of Vikings On Sunday
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BEARS (2-2) AT VIKINGS (3-1)

Kickoff: Noon Sunday

Where: U.S. Bank Stadium

TV: KMSP-Channel 9; Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink

Radio: KFXN-FM 100.3; Paul Allen, Pete Bercich, Ben Leber

Referee: Shawn Hochuli

Series: Vikings lead 62-57-2

Line: Vikings by 7 1/2

The Vikings will go for their third straight win and try to raise their record to 3-0 against NFC North opponents. Minnesota, which already defeated Green Bay and Detroit at home, has all its home division games early in the season and all its road games late.

The Bears have managed a 2-2 record despite being outscored by 13 points overall and having continued struggles on both offense and defense. On offense, quarterback Justin Fields has been effective at times using his legs but has thrown for just 471 yards. On defense, the Bears are giving up an average of 183.3 yards rushing per game.

The Vikings will try to take advantage of Chicago’s shaky run defense with Dalvin Cook, who carried 20 times for 76 yards in last Sunday’s 28-25 win over New Orleans in London after coming back from a shoulder injury suffered in the win over the Lions the week before. But the Vikings also have plenty of weapons through the air, with Kirk Cousins throwing for 273 yards against the Saints and Justin Jefferson making 10 catches for 147 yards.

The Bears have won three of the past four games over the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. December home losses to Chicago in 2018 and 2020 were very damaging, and ended up keeping the Vikings out of the playoffs.

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How will OPEC+ cuts affect gas prices, inflation?

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How Will Opec+ Cuts Affect Gas Prices, Inflation?
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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Major oil-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia and Russia have decided to slash the amount of oil they deliver to the global economy.

And the law of supply and demand suggests that can only mean one thing: higher prices are on the way for crude, and for the diesel fuel, gasoline and heating oil that are produced from oil.

The decision by the OPEC+ alliance to cut 2 million barrels a day starting next month comes as the Western allies are trying to cap the oil money flowing into Moscow’s war chest after it invaded Ukraine.

Here is what to know about the OPEC+ decision and what it could mean for the economy and the oil price cap:

WHY IS OPEC+ CUTTING PRODUCTION?

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman says that the alliance is being proactive in adjusting supply ahead of a possible downturn in demand because a slowing global economy needs less fuel for travel and industry.

“We are going through a period of diverse uncertainties which could come our way, it’s a brewing cloud,” he said, and OPEC+ sought to remain “ahead of the curve.” He described the group’s role as “a moderating force, to bring about stability.”

Oil prices had fallen after a summer of highs. Now, after the OPEC+ decision, they are heading for their biggest weekly gain since March. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 3.2% on Friday, to $91.31 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 2.8% to $97.09, though it’s still down 20% from mid-June, when it traded at over $123 per barrel.

One big reason for the slide is fears that large parts of the global economy are slipping into recession as high energy prices — for oil, natural gas and electricity — drive inflation and rob consumers of spending power.

Another reason: The summer highs came about because of fears that much of Russia’s oil production would be lost to the market over the war in Ukraine.

As Western traders shunned Russian oil even without sanctions, customers in India and China bought those barrels at a steep discount, so the hit to supply wasn’t as bad as expected.

Oil producers are wary of a sudden collapse in prices if the global economy goes downhill faster than expected. That’s what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and during the global financial crisis in 2008-2009.

HOW IS THE WEST TARGETING RUSSIAN OIL?

The U.S. and Britain imposed bans that were mostly symbolic because neither country imported much Russia oil. The White House held off pressing the European Union for an import ban because EU countries got a quarter of their oil from Russia.

In the end, the 27-nation bloc decided to cut off Russian oil that comes by ship on Dec. 5, while keeping a small amount of pipeline supplies that some Eastern European countries rely on.

Beyond that, the U.S. and other Group of Seven major democracies are working out the details on a price cap on Russian oil. It would target insurers and other service providers that facilitate oil shipments from Russia to other countries. The EU approved a measure along those lines this week.

Many of those providers are based in Europe and would be barred from dealing with Russian oil if the price is above the cap.

HOW WILL OIL CUTS, PRICE CAPS AND EMBARGOES CLASH?

The idea behind the price cap is to keep Russian oil flowing to the global market, just at lower prices. Russia, however, has threatened to simply stop deliveries to a country or companies that observe the cap. That could take more Russian oil off the market and push prices higher.

That could push costs at the pump higher, too.

U.S. gasoline prices that soared to record highs of $5.02 a gallon in mid-June had been falling recently, but they have been on the rise again, posing political problems for President Joe Biden a month before midterm elections.

Biden, facing inflation at near 40-year highs, had touted the falling pump prices. Over the past week, the national average price for a gallon rose 9 cents, to $3.87. That’s 65 cents more than Americans were paying a year ago.

“It’s a disappointment, and we’re looking at what alternatives we may have,” he told reporters about the OPEC+ decision.

WILL THE OPEC PRODUCTION CUT MAKE INFLATION WORSE?

Likely yes. Brent crude should reach $100 per barrel by December, says Jorge Leon, senior vice president at Rystad Energy. That is up from an earlier prediction of $89.

Part of the 2 million-barrel-per-day cut is only on paper as some OPEC+ countries aren’t able to produce their quota. So the group can deliver only about 1.2 million barrels a day in actual cuts.

That’s still going to have a “significant” effect on prices, Leon said.

“Higher oil prices will inevitably add to the inflation headache that global central banks are fighting, and higher oil prices will factor into the calculus of further increasing interest rates to cool down the economy,” he wrote in a note.

That would exacerbate an energy crisis in Europe largely tied to Russian cutbacks of natural gas supplies used for heating, electricity and in factories and would send gasoline prices up worldwide. As that fuels inflation, people have less money to spend on other things like food and rent.

Other factors also could affect oil prices, including the depth of any possible recession in the U.S. or Europe and the duration of China’s COVID-19 restrictions, which have sapped demand for fuel.

WHAT WILL THIS MEAN FOR RUSSIA?

Analysts say that Russia, the biggest producer among the non-OPEC members in the alliance, would benefit from higher oil prices ahead of a price cap. If Russia has to sell oil at a discount, at least the reduction starts at a higher price level.

High oil prices earlier this year offset much of Russia’s sales lost from Western buyers avoiding its supply. The country also has managed to reroute some two-thirds of its typical Western sales to customers in places like India.

But then Moscow saw its take from oil slip from $21 billion in June to $19 billion in July to $17.7 billion in August as prices and sales volumes fell, according to the International Energy Agency. A third of Russia’s state budget comes from oil and gas revenue, so the price caps would further erode a key source of revenue.

Meanwhile, the rest of Russia’s economy is shrinking due to sanctions and the withdrawal of foreign businesses and investors.

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