Monday, October 13, 2008

As Good As They Need to Be

After a surprising loss to the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field last weekend, I had asked if the Packers might actually be bad. The team had looked good at the beginning of the season, but then dropped three straight games, two of those at home. I know I wasn't the only one wondering if this team maybe wasn't cut out to be a playoff contender.

Now, a week later, I'm a little more optimistic. Not to say I was ever worried, as it was only five weeks into a very young NFL season. The Packers righted the ship on Sunday, beating Seattle 27-17, and this team is starting to play like the team I thought it was. And this season is starting to come a little more into focus.

It wasn't exactly easy, however. When you're down 10-3 to the Charlie Frye-led Seahawks (or any team led by Charlie Frye, for that matter), you need to take a step back and think about where you want to go as a football team. And this Packers team wasn't going to let another game slip away.

Aaron Rodgers once again was the difference maker for the Packers, tying the game at 10-10 with another QB sneak for a touchdown. Rodgers must have a rushing touchdown incentive clause in his contract or something, because he is piling them on.

After half-time, it was Rodgers by air that put the Packers out in front. He threw an absolute perfectly placed ball to Greg Jennings who went in for the 45 yard touchdown score. A John Kuhn one yard TD pass (as you see above) then assured the Packers a victory.

So what do we take away from this game? Well, Rodgers is a stud, and anyone who doesn't think that by now is lying to themselves. Sure, Brett Favre has the Jets at 3-2, and I give him all the credit in the world for that, I really do. But Rodgers has been showing the leadership, as well as the talent, to be the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. If he hasn't won you over by now, well then you're just being stubborn.

In addition, the defense looked better, especially the defensive line. Elsewhere on defense, Charles Woodson's legend in Green Bay is growing. As far as the running game, well, Ryan Grant finally remembered how to use the offensive line to his advantage. And the backups that are filling in for those who are out with injuries are starting to really step up.

The Packers are 3-3, which isn't quite what I was hoping for after six weeks. But we are in front in the NFC North. What a great division to be in, right? The Vikings are an annual over-hyped affair, the Bears are the most inconsistent team in the league, and the Lions really haven't been competitive at any point in their history. Whoever wins the division will probably be able to do it at 9-7, and with four more games against NFC North opponents, that should be an easy task for the Green and Gold.

Also, our loss to the Falcons might not look that bad. They beat the Bears this weekend, improving to 4-2. That's the same record as the other two teams that beat us, Tampa Bay at Dallas. The Packers lose to winning teams, and beat losing teams. That's not the most ideal way to get to the playoffs, but as I said, this is the NFC North.

So at 3-3, I'm feeling alright about this team. They played well enough to be a team they needed to beat, no matter how hard Jon Ryan was trying to kick the ball as revenge against Ted Thompson. The Packers will play their first affair against an AFC opponent next weekend as they host the Indianapolis Colts, who are finally hitting their stride.

How do I feel about that game? I'm not sure just yet, but either way, it really doesn't matter. I still don't feel the Packers have hit their stride, and even if it takes awhile yet, it's not a big deal.

Because even though the Packers might not be that good, they're still the best the NFC North has to offer.


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