Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pack vs. 'Queens: a should-be win

It's nice that after a 3-0 start, even the talking heads on ESPN NFL Countdown are talking about the Packers as possible Super Bowl contenders. Some say yes, some say no, especially without a running game. The talk is premature about a Super Bowl. Although, given the pre-season projections about this team, it's still nice to think about.

But taking a cue from the unbeaten University of Wisconsin football team (Go Badgers!) might be helpful here. Their working slogan is "1-0". That's it. Just go 1-0 each week and the rest will take care of itself.

In this case, the Packers need to forget their 3-0 start and just go 1-0 against the ViQueens today at the Hump Dome.

Let's look at this game briefly. The Packers -- for the first time this season -- are actually favored in a game, by 2 points today. The Pack has consecutively beaten three playoff teams for their 3-0 start, only -- if memory serves -- the fourth time in league history that this has been done. The 'Queens, on the other hand, opened by beating the downtrodden and Vick-less Atlanta Falcons and then lost to the Lions and KC. The Pack has one of the greatest, if not the greatest, quarterbacks of all time looking like he's 10 years younger, firing on all cylinders, and ready to set the all-time record for TD passes. The 'Queens...don't have a QB. They do, however, have a legitimate running back threat in rookie Adrian Peterson. The Packers have running back by committee, a committee with one less member as it appears rookie Brandon Jackson might be out this week -- it's always someone, right? Vernand Morency might see his first action of the season today, but likely it will be a combination of DeShawn Wynn and Ryan Grant that will carry the running load. Wait. Can we actually describe probably fewer than 20 carries in the game as a "load"? Probably not. But you know what I mean. As for defenses, the edge has to go to the Pack. So, with all aspects of the game in the Packers favor with the exception of the running game, it should be a Packers win.

While feeling very good about the odds of the Packers winning this game, there are probably more than a few Packers fans, though, who still think of the Hump Dome as a house of horrors. And it certainly has been historically. Although, the Pack has won 3 out of the last 4 games there, this is a place and rivalry where things do not always go as they should. Looking at recent history, perhaps Brett has exorcised his demons in this place.

Look for Brett to break the TD record today. And, as a sentimental favorite, I know I'm not the only one hoping that record-breaking pass goes to Donald Driver. And, by the way, if you want to read a really great article about the top four TD pass receivers for Brett over his career, check out this article in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel which has interviews with (in chronological order) Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, and Donald Driver. Brett has thrown TD passes to 42 different receivers in his career, but these four stand atop the list for many reasons, not only for their number of catches. Some very good insights by these receivers into their own play as well as the play and development of ol' #4 himself.

Some pundits are saying this game sets itself up as a classic trap game for the Pack, not only because of the location, but because of the Pack looking ahead to Da Bearz game next week. I don't think this will happen. This young team is really believing in itself. The defense and special teams are performing well. The receiving corps is healthy and at full speed -- which should scare the bejeezus out of any secondary -- and gives Brett so many options that it should be a big day for him. Some are saying that he might actually break Marino's TD pass record (needing 1) and George Blanda's interception records (needing 2) in the same game. Maybe. So what? The Pack still wins. Even all 5 pundits on ESPN's NFL Countdown just predicted the same. Not that I'd always take that to the bank, but today, yes.

It will be a great day for Brett personally. And a great day for the Pack as a team. 4-0. Let's enjoy it, Packer fans! It's a great start to the first quarter of the season. 4-0. Sweet.