|Oh... OK, I will!|
Still – it’s frustrating that in the aftermath of this meltdown, the Packers won’t get the recognition they deserve for a big, divisional road win. No matter. Frankly, it’s probably for the best. The Packers got plenty of hype in the pre-season. Despite their four-game winning streak, they still seem to be flying under the pundits’ radar as a favorite out of the NFC. Everyone is so enamored of Michael Vick that the Eagles have become the new darlings. Dallas and Minnesota, although they were on many people’s short lists for the Super Bowl at the start of the season, are now regarded as dysfunctional train wrecks. The sports media is clustered on the sidelines like a bunch of ambulance chasers. They are too busy documenting the mushroom cloud to even notice what the Packers have been doing to trigger the destruction.
Hopefully, Rodgers and the rest of the Packers recognize the importance of the win, even if the highlight reels are all about Chilly’s and Favre’s press conferences. The monkey is not only off their backs, it’s road kill. It would obviously be ironic if it was a loss to his former team (and understudy) that triggered Favre’s retirement. As good a game as Rodgers had (over 300 yard passing, 4 TDs, no INTs), it has been the defense, against all odds given the string of injuries, that continues to rise to the occasion and shut teams down. The Packers have allowed 10 points in their last three games – two of them on the road. They are tied with the Bears for fewest points allowed in the NFL at 146 – 14.6 per game. There are very few teams that the Packers’ offense can’t put up at least 14.6 points against, despite the fact that there’s no 1.6 point conversion.
If the Packers manage to go to Atlanta next week and win another road game, then the hype machine should rev back up into full roar. That could prove to be a crucial game in terms of playoff seeding. The focus now needs to be not only on winning the division but getting a first-round bye. A head-to-head win against the Eagles should help with that, and a head-to-head win against the Falcons would be a nice bonus as well. There’s no question that the best path to the Super Bowl is to get a bye and some home field advantage.
But let’s keep taking it one week at a time. Let the NFL intelligentsia forget about the Packers for another week. Let the players continue to build up confidence and momentum. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy watching the circus in Eden Prairie. As the Packers racked up the points Sunday, I almost felt a twinge of guilt for my rant last week about Vikings fans. But they must have known this was coming. You can only mortgage your future for so long before it catches up with you. And if Favre does decide to retire this week, with a broken foot, fired coach and likely fractured marriage, I, for one, would be glad to take him back for a day and let him retire as a Packer – and get his number up there on the sky boxes at Lambeau where it belongs.