Thursday, January 07, 2010

News flash: It's good to be warm and not hurt

As the Packers get ready to head to the Arizona desert for their playoff showdown with the Cardinals on Sunday, two articles today are of particular interest.

The first is that, as much as everyone loves The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field, truth be told is that players prefer playing in conditions that are just a bit warmer. And this time of year, that "just a bit" equates to something like 60 or 70 degrees warmer. OK, we can understand that. And that's also why, while the Pack won't have the home field advantage of 70,000 screaming and frozen fans, probably 15,000 or so will find their way to the Arizona sun.

For the players, the advantages are obvious, as the article points out: being able to play faster and more naturally, being able to run, throw, kick and hang on to the ball...all rather essential in the game of football. And as opposed to the Packers of the mid-1990s where you had a couple certified "mudders" in the backfield -- Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens -- the squad these days....not so much. You might say the team is built more for dome and warm weather play than the Ice Bowl.

Which bodes well as the Pack takes on the Cards for the second week in a row. The players like it there. And, if they get the win Sunday -- and is there really any Packer fan here who doesn't think that??? -- they will go on to play in another dome and climate-controlled atmosphere, either at New Orleans or the Humpty Dump against the ViQueens.

You can read the article here.

The second article of interest also reminds us that the team which rested its players for most of the game this last week (that would the Cardinals for those unaware) seems to also be the one that is also still hurting the most going into this game. The Cardinals have some key owies while the Packers are entering the game relatively healthy. Even NT Ryan Pickett was finally able to practice yesterday for the first time in about a month.

The Packers have all their weapons available on offense and defense. The Cardinals are banged up and may not have all their weapons. The Packers also, as we have seen over the last half of the season, have become a very physical team especially on defense. They finished #2 overall. And if they play that way again, despite going against a seasoned QB such as Kurt Warner, the Pack will come out with a victory.

You can read the full article here.

Judging by Packers player comments, they are confident, not cocky. They know the level that they have been playing at and they know if they keep it up they can beat anybody...anybody!

Comparisons have been made in some quarters between the 2007 NY Giants and this season's Packers. The Giants struggled early in their season, then got on a roll. They were a wildcard team and had to play every game on the road and win. And win they did, even, as we regrettably recall, in the NFC Championship Game in overtime against the Packers. And they won the Super Bowl, too. The Packers will have to follow suit if they want to yet again bring the Lombardi Trophy back home to Green Bay where it belongs. There is no reason to suspect that they can't right now.

But it all starts in Arizona on Sunday. One game at a time. And while there is no place like home, for the next few weeks it will be more like Home Sweet Dome.