Monday, December 12, 2011

Packers route Raiders, 46-16; witnessing "greatness"?

Are there really any more superlatives one can use to describe the 2011 Green Bay Packers? Apparently so. Yesterday, before the Packers took the Oakland Raiders to the Lambeau Field woodshed for a whupping, former Steelers coach Bill Cowher declared that, "In my opinion, no team has been greater." That certainly sets up a conversation filled with opinions. But for now, at least, the Packers are certainly the greatest team this season...and unarguably the second greatest over a two-season span, winning 19 consecutive games going back to last year. This Packers team trails only the New England Patriots of several years back who reeled off 21 games in a row over two seasons.

The Pack are enjoying a historic season from a team perspective, setting records for scoring, consecutive wins, etc. QB Aaron Rodgers finally had his NFL record consecutive streak of games with a passer rating over 100 snapped yesterday, falling just short of that mark. Even an MVP has an off day now and then.

Anyway, back to the Raiders game. Oh, why bother? They didn't show up to play, why should I show up to write about them? Exactly!

The Pack had their most complete game of the season yesterday. Scoring almost at will in the first half, and generating five turnovers on defense. Three players that hadn't scored yet this season got added to the total, now making 19 in all. Ryan Grant, Erik Walden and rookie Ryan Taylor all notched a TD. The only blemish on a perfect day was a blocked PAT...but that just kept the score at 43 points at that time instead of 44. Ah well. Even backup QB Matt Flynn saw more than a quarter's worth of playing time.

Oh...and with the win, the Packers secured a first round bye in the playoffs. If they beat Kanssas City on the road this coming Sunday, they will secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Anyone think that's not going to happen? KC? Puh-leze. All roads will lead to Lambeau this season, Packer fans!

The downside to the game was the injury to WR Greg Jennings, a sprained knee (originally reported as a torn MCL) which will sideline him probably through the end of the regular season. While, no one thinks losing Jennings is a plus, is anyone really worried that things won't keep churning along? The depth that GM Ted Thompson has built is remarkable. One guy goes down, another comes in without any apparent drop off.

Still, injuries are starting to pile up. RB Brandon Saine -- himself a replacement -- had his playing time shortened yesterday after sustaining a concussion. Ditto for Ryan Pickett. Offensive linemen Chad Clifton and Josh Sitton are still out. LBs A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop are ailing. It's nowhere near as bad as last year. But still. Injuries to key personnel, most notably Rodgers, would be about the only thing that would derail this juggernaut. Keep your fingers crossed, folks. Things are looking good. But players need to stay healthy for the final push through the post-season to the Super Bowl.

The Packers are on their way again. And we can all enjoy the ride.

Say it with me: it's great to be a Packers fan!