Friday, October 22, 2010

A long week for Packer fans; Vikings come to Lambeau Field

This week has been a long one for fans of the Green Bay Packers. Coming off a second 3-point overtime loss in two consecutive weeks can suck the life right out of you. Couple that with the other 3-point loss of the season -- to Da Bearz, no less! --'s been a tough start to the season, to say the least.

From what was expected to be a Super Bowl-caliber team to one which can't put four good quarters together in a single game, the 2010 edition of the Pack has yet to find its stride. That's not something that should be happening in the 7th week of the NFL season. Coaching begins to be called into question when you see the same problems cropping up over and over again, game after game. And let's not even start the debate over trades vs. drafting to build a championship-capable roster.

Yet, the good news is, the rest of the NFL is nearly equally as inept at this point. Within the NFC North, we're just a game behind Chicago (yeah, go figure), and a game up on the ViQueens. That other team, the Lions, is still at the bottom...although lest we forget, they gave the Pack a serious run for the money during their visit to Lambeau.

The tale of the late-game stats
There's a disquieting stat which has started to show up in some reports. Namely, that since Aaron Rodgers took over as the starting QB in 2008, the Packers are 1-11 in the 12 games that have been decided since then by four points or less. The lone victory, by the way, was in that game earlier this season against the Lions. Just as a point of reference, from 1992-2007 (is this even fair???), Ol' #4 was 33-30 in games (including playoffs) decided by 4 points or less.

Now, this is not about bashing Rodgers, although right now he's certainly not performing like the QB we saw last season either. You win as a team and lose as a team, and certainly the Packers of late have found more ways to do the latter than the former. The inability of the Packers to close out opponents when they've had opportunities to do so has come back to haunt them time and again. As has the Packers' woeful 4th quarter and overtime scoring ability: opponents have outscored the Pack 52-24 in that critical time range.

Now, as Ol' #4 and his ViQueen teammates come to Lambeau, the Pack can either get their season back on track, or continue to slide into the abyss of mediocrity. The good news is that a few players, CB Al Harris, S Atari Bigby and RB James Starks are back at practice after having come off the PUP list. According to reports, Harris looks as if he'll be the most ready to see action on Sunday. Even better, LB Clay Matthews looks as if he'll be ready to go on Sunday, as will DE Ryan Pickett. And GM Ted Thompson actually executed a trade -- a trade! -- after the loss to Miami to pick up S Anthony Smith from the Jaguars for a conditional 7th round pick. None of that matters, however, if the Packers can't get pressure on Favre. They didn't in either of the two games last season and he ate the Pack for lunch.

It's expected that the 'Queens will try to rely more on RB Adrian Peterson. Don't forget Randy Moss. And certainly don't forget Percy Harvin who is not only a solid receiving threat but also a very dangerous return man. And with special teams being as bad as they are for the Packers -- and a punter who may be on the verge of losing a job -- Harvin is not somebody you want to see get loose on a return.

We'll have more to say in the way of a preview before Sunday's game. Keep checking back.